Some of the influences behind Same Face Different Place

In the run up to my new release, I have started thinking about some of the influences which inspired my series.

Rosebrook based in Kent, is a fictitious town but very much based on the small market town of Loughborough which is where I grew up. Some may wonder why I didn’t just stick to Loughborough. I would have liked to – only the town needed to be in easy reach of London and a short distance to the south.

One of the most prominent locations in ‘Same Face Different Place’ is the Community Centre. It is the place where Eleanor works as a volunteer – but it was actually inspired by a place called ‘John Storer House,’ where I worked for a while. In 1989, I worked there as ‘Information Officer’ responsible for running the Information Centre and producing in-house leaflets such as ‘Hotels and Guest Houses’ and lists of self-help groups. It was a varied role as well as one of the most enjoyable jobs, I have ever had.

John Storer House

The manager, Bernard Smith, was a kind man and possibly inspired some of the book’s more virtuous characters such as Bernard James (manager of Toynbee Hall in Book 1 Beginningsand his protégée, Peter Summerville. I was impressed when he and his wife opened up the Community Centre on Christmas Day, mainly for those less fortunate (such as the elderly and the lonely) as a social hub where they could enjoy a little company and get a Christmas dinner.

What influences came into Pleasures?

Some of the Community Liaison officers are based on real people. Being a Community Centre, John Storer house was a nucleus for the multi-cultural society of Loughborough. In the year I worked there, we were invited to have dinner at the house of a Muslim girl, whose family prepared us a wonderful buffet and couldn’t have made us feel more welcome. That same year, I managed to wangle about 5 Christmas dinners, including a special lunch for the volunteers and a meal at our local Hindu temple.

I saw this Community Centre as the microcosm of a perfect world. People from all cultures and religions getting together to eat, drink, celebrate and generally have a great time together. Oh, if only, this was true across the globe! 

The best thing about John Storer House was that it was run by a really nice bunch of people – many of whom were volunteers. It was designed to promote good causes, it was home to the CAB and WRVS as well as being a drop-in centre for the elderly.

In the context of ‘Same Face Different Place,’ Rosebrook Community Centre is managed by a man named Peter, a counsellor, a man so caring, he is almost saint like (though he hides a dark past – an abused runaway from a Catholic run Care Home in Ireland, Peter hides the fact that he was also once an IRA supporter.)

The one thing I learned from my employment at John Storer House, was that people from all backgrounds could mingle and support each other. We live in a world of varied cultures where we should respect each other; form a society based on friendship, not hate.

Same Face Different Place is a mystery suspense thriller which unravels over 4 decades, but at the core of the book is a group of wronged individuals who join forces to create their own perfect community – yet overshadowed by the deadliest of enemies.

Look out for Book 3 Pleasures, with free prelude, ‘The Battle for the Land’ soon to be released.

Posted in England, Locations, Story, The Decades, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1st Synopsis for Book 3 Pleasures – 16th October 2014

It is almost a year to this day, I started writing my 3rd novel, Pleasures and I am delighted to announce, that on Monday (13th) I finally completed it. With the entire story now drafted, I’ve had some time to reflect and before the 2nd stage of editing begins, would like to present a synopsis.

Book 3 – Pleasures

My character, Perry HamptonPerry Hampton is a man who is used to the finer pleasures of life: wealth, power, a beautiful wife and mistress, a successful stockbroker son and two magnificent properties. His life should be perfect but it is not: first, through his fear that he is haunted by the victims of his villainy; whilst, a few miles away, lives his most deadly nemesis. Her name is Eleanor and she possesses a secret file, which he truly believes could destroy him.

Eleanor is driven by her quest to prove Perry’s evil: she has pledged to do everything she can, to protect and avenge those she loves. So when a trail of clues draws her towards uncovering Perry’s most covert secrets, she cannot resist following them – determined to prove his crimes, whilst aware, his spies are watching her every move.

But Perry will not rest until he can overpower her community – a ruthless campaign whereby he enlists the help of old faces, including a senior planning officer and a former London gangster. Characters, good and evil are drawn into a concentrated battle over a piece of land; but this is just the start of a more sinister game. Perry knows how he can unhinge them – even if it means encouraging his only son, to immerse himself into the dark labyrinths of the criminal underground, thereby granting him a dangerous advantage.

Scenes from Book 3 Pleasures, show the Criminal Court and character, Robin Whaley

Meanwhile, Eleanor’s son, Elijah, is finally drawn into their secrets; where the younger generation are growing up fast. It is a notion which inspires them to inaugurate their own fight against injustice. Yet, this is the catalyst which sparks a war – one which will bear deadly consequences and from where there can only be one winner.

Pleasures can be read as a standalone thriller and is Book 3 in the British series ‘Same Face Different Place.’

Posted in England, Fictional Characters, Novel, Story, Thrillers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London Research Trip – 3rd October 2014

This post is a follow up to my last article: Update on Progress: Book 3 Pleasures which I wrote, just before embarking on my latest trip to London to revisit some of the places, where the final scenes of ‘Pleasures’ were about to take place. So it’s time to reflect on that journey – in fact, it couldn’t have been better timed. It started at the Grosvenor Hotel near Victoria; the setting for one of the most gripping scenes of the story, in which arch baddie, Perry and the heroine of the story are drawn into a terrifying standoff. A chance for me to enjoy a coffee, as well as photograph the interior – where staff could not have been more helpful, in explaining a little about the decor throughout the years. Next stop was Holborn, location of Eleanor’s solicitor John Sharp. From Book 1 ‘Beginnings’ I have made numerous mention of an ‘expanse of tall white office blocks… blue sky, streaked with plumes of white cloud, brightly reflected in the mirrored panes of hundreds of windows.’ Luckily, it was a beautiful day with an abundance of blue sky. I photographed a number of white office blocks - where this smart example of 60s/70s architecture seemed perfect.

Office Block in Holborn

Office Block in Holborn

After a good walk around Holborn, I finally ended up in St Paul’s – taking careful note of the escalators and tube stations, which pop up in various chapters; such as an episode where Perry is actually tailing Eleanor, on one of her ‘secret trips.’

The Dome at St Pauls Cathedral in London

I was heading for the Old Bailey, yet stumbled across the London Stock Exchange in Paternoster Square – a lucky co-incidence, which I wasn’t expecting, since this is the work place of Ben, Perry’s evil son. I also discovered that in 1990, it was damaged by an IRA bomb – it all fits in very neatly with the location, the story and the era! Photos of the London Stock Exchange, front and back Finally, I found myself facing the Old Bailey itself, location for the last dramatic court case before the end of Book 3 ‘Pleasures.’ It has been the inspiration behind much of the writing I have done in the last week, where more photos allowed me to capture its stunning facade: blog-facade

‘Eleanor stole a final glance at the imposing archway where a cast iron grill protected the entrance. An Ionic column towered above – a cloaked statue crouching between the two, which reminded her of the Grim Reaper and as her eyes travelled upwards, she could clearly read the motto. ‘Defend the Children of the Poor and Punish the Wrongdoer.’

Yet its beauty no way compensates for the atmosphere you feel inside. This is after all, London’s most notorious Criminal Court. ‘The building may have appeared outwardly striking – the intricate, classic architecture, a feast for Charlie’s eyes; yet the atmosphere inside felt dark and ominous.’


I observed 3 cases, including manslaughter, drug trafficking and ABH, with some disturbing content, not to mention a sense of menace in the public gallery – which has been the inspiration behind some of my recent story lines: ‘Those walls had veiled some hideous crimes, over the years, she found herself thinking – imagining the passage of evil people, through those same corridors and stairways.’

I am extremely grateful to the staff too, especially the very nice security guard on the 2nd floor, who took me under his wing and warned of the hostile atmosphere. In summary, it was an incredibly absorbing day, which in some ways left me troubled, but definitely put me in the right mindset for creating a convincing ‘Trial’ in the penultimate chapter of ‘Pleasures.’

Same Face Different Face – Book 3 ‘Pleasures’ will be published in 2015, with a FREE prelaunch sequel, scheduled before Christmas.

Posted in England, Locations, Research, Story, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update on Progress: Book 3 Pleasures – 24th September 2014

It’s time for another update on the 3rd book of my series, ‘Pleasures.’ 

It was back in June this year, I completed the major part of this book but came to a standstill. I wrote an explosive storyline which finally reached a peak – but it left me with the feeling of having reached a cliff top, practically toppling over the edge, fearing the story could easily fall flat on its face. I knew where the story was going, it was now just a matter of how to get to next point, without readers losing interest.

I have spent the last 3 months editing the first 25 chapters (shorter chapters than the last book) with the hope, that by the time I reached the point where I stopped, I would have a better idea how to end the story. I’m happy to say, I reached that point in early September and am now finishing the book.

There is one trouble with a gripping climax – nobody likes a weak aftermath. It’s like the hangover you get after a heavy night’s partying. So instead of carrying on, where the story left off, I decided to jump one year ahead and recapture all the main points in a series of flash backs. It worked, allowing me to move the story swiftly onwards.

The Old Bailey

Without giving away too much, someone has to stand trial, but from what I understand, preparing for a court case can take years.

In order to cover the time in between, I have not gone into too much detail of the characters’ lives, this time – more, a condensed summary of what everyone’s been up to, in order to get to the most powerful story lines more quickly.

One of the final chapters is based in the Criminal Court, in London, so what better way to inspire myself than to take a visit? It’s been a long while since I’ve been to London or done any further location research. So before I write the last thrilling episode, I’m off to revisit some of the places, where the final scenes of ‘Pleasures’ take place, including Holborn, Victoria and finally, the Old Bailey, where I hope to see some court action. I’ll be adding to this post very soon, with lots of photos, so watch this space -  and making another special announcement very soon.

Posted in England, Locations, Research, Story, Thrillers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One Lovely Blog Award – and other blog recommendations

7 facts about me?

It’s a very wet August Bank Holiday in England when I check my notifications on Twitter.  I’ve been mentioned and retweeted several times, more specifically, to take part in a new blogging initiative by JuliaProofreader, ( I was introduced to Julia on Twitter via the very talented Terry Tyler, who is one of my favourite authors.

One Lovely Blog Award

Surprised, I was nominated for this Blog Award – not, to mention flattered, who the hell would want to know seven things about me, I thought? So where shall I start… Here goes.

I met my husband via a newspaper advert

After a very long period of being single, my Mum cut out an advert in the newspaper and urged me to join. It was called ‘Meeting Place’ and cost nothing – so what did I have to lose? Bless my mum! 4th date was the evening I met my Peter. We hooked up in a local pub, got chatting and got along so well, the evening flew by. It was the start of a lovely friendship, a powerful love bond and after 7 years living together, we decided to tie the knot.

Like Julia, we too, love living by the sea

We are lucky to live close to the beach in Bognor Regis, where at very low tide, two rows of rocks not only give rise to an unusual coastline, but expose the sand and 50 million year old clays which contain fossils, known as Rotularia bognoriensis. It’s a lovely place to stroll with our dog in all seasons, especially winter when we get some spectacular sunsets.


I live in a very old house

I’ve always been fascinated by older buildings and adore houses and cottages which have a bit of character. When I first left home, I bought a modern flat in Worthing and was surprised to suffer so many problems, due to insufficient heating and dampness. Yet, the 17th Century Grade II thatched cottage we live in now is solid in structure; its thick stone walls keep us warm in winter and cool in summer, which just proves the old adage ‘They don’t make things like they used to.’

I’m a country bumpkin at heart

I grew up in a village and am one of those people who desperately tries to hang on to old traditions. When I lived at home, we used to make country wines. These days, my husband and I still grow our own vegetables and love to pick blackberries in the countryside. We don’t make wine, but we do occasionally make flavoured oils and pickles from an abundance of produce, such as courgettes, tomatoes and chilli peppers.


I am a web designer by profession

In 1998 husband Peter and I quit the rat race and set up our own web design business from home. We’re not rich, but have a great quality of life. Over the years we’ve met some interesting clients, both good and evil, we take the rough with the smooth and generally enjoy being our own bosses – and in this rapidly changing industry. We love the challenge.

I belong to a local walking group

Peter and I joined a walking group in 2003 and this has become a major part of our social life. Walking keeps us both fit and living in Sussex, we are surrounded by gorgeous countryside, which includes the chalky South Downs, between Chichester and Worthing, as well as some lovely landmarks, for example Arundel Castle and the River Arun. Every other Sunday, we don our walking boots and join the group for a 3-5 mile hike, followed by a pub lunch in some idyllic pub.

I am a big fan of Drum and Base music

I might as well end with something off the wall. It’s true – I enjoy the same sort of music as my teenage nieces, while my generation listen Radio 2. At some point when I started my 1st book, I was drawn to the duo ‘Chase and Status’ who produced some really weird stuff, very dark and gangland. My favourite musical decade is still the 80s, but alongside the newest Depeche Mode album, my i-pod is crammed full of dubstep, hip-hop and electronic dance.

Last but not least: here are 7 people who I am also going to nominate for this award, most of whom are author’s from our very own West Sussex group CHINDI ( and other’s who I have had the pleasure of networking with via Facebook and Twitter.

Independent publisher and author

Bestselling Author, Infopreneur, Trance-Formation Coach

Independent Children’s author:

Author of the historical novel; The Butcher’s Son

Author of romance suspense ‘The Cheesemaker’s House.

Copywriter, Copy-editor, Proofreader & Social Media Marketer

Writer of historical novels. ASMSG member. Also addicted reader

Posted in Blogging, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Meet my Character Blog Tour – 16th August 2014

I was invited to participate in a “Meet My Character” blog tour by highly acclaimed author, Jane Cable, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Winchester Writer’s Festival. Jane’s big breakthrough in writing came when she was picked as a finalist in The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition in 2011 and whose first published novel, The Cheesemaker’s House, is a gripping romance-suspense.

Click Here to read about Jane’s own Character

In this post, I’ll to be talking about my debut novel, Beginnings, which is the first book in my British thriller series, “Same Face Different Place.” When I first published on Kindle in 2012, my book attracted enough favourable reviews to motivate me to continue writing. So I’m going to reveal a little about ‘Eleanor’, much loved main character in this series.

SFDPbeginnings-thumb1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Eleanor Chapman a fictional character, who evolves throughout the series. In Book 1 ‘Beginnings’, she is a naive, yet feisty 16 year old, who’s spent the majority of her teenage years at boarding school. Now, she is back home in London, ready to start the school holidays, where her life is about to change forever.

2) When and where is the story set?

The story begins in 1972; an era characterised by Glam Rock fashion, flares, platform shoes, as well as early 70’s hippiedom. Most of the scenes are set around the dark criminal underworld of East London, which includes the shadier areas of Whitechapel, Poplar and Bethnal Green.

3) What should we know about him/her?

Eleanor is a kind, sensitive and attractive girl of mixed race. Her mother (a glamourous afro-carribean nightclub singer, likened to Diana Ross) died when she was small, leaving her father in an emotional turmoil. She is not entirely sure what he does for a living but they never seem to go short of much. She is already suspicious of his mysterious, night time disappearances – struck by the notion, his boss is some sort of gangster.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Eleanor’s father is forced to go on the run, leaving her in the care of an unscrupulous couple, who dump her in a brothel. Eleanor only very narrowly avoids becoming a prostitute, when she attempts to escape – except, to add to her troubles, she is caught up in a sinister conspiracy, when she discovers a young Dutch man, (Jake), being kept prisoner. She knows he is about to be killed and rescues him, oblivious to the mortal danger she is about to land herself in.

What is the personal goal of the character?

To stay hidden from dangerous enemies. She falls in love with Jake and will do anything to him him alive. They are lying low, desperate to escape from London to reach Jake’s homeland – and preferably without being spotted by the ruthless gang leader who is hunting them. Her later goal is protect their unborn child.

Is there a working title for this novel if it is a WIP, and can we read more about it?

The title of the book is ‘Beginnings,’ first book in my series, ‘Same Face Different Place’ (available on Amazon.) More information about this book and others in the series can be found on my website and also via my blog which has regular updates on the latest books in the series.

Helen Christmas

Bio: Helen Christmas was born in Chichester, West Sussex and now lives in a grade II listed cottage, with her husband, close to Aldwick Seafront.

“Writing is something I am not only passionate about, but feel has always been in my blood. I have been writing stories since I was 6 years old and have always wanted to be an author.”

Helen is dedicated to writing not just one book, but four. She describes her series ‘Same Face Different Place’ as being “quintessentially English, with a powerful connection to the music, fashion, culture and politics of each decade.” The novels are part thriller and part romance, at the heart of which lies a mystery, which unravels over 4 decades.

AND FINALLY: Here is the follow up to my Character Blog, written by American novelist Cynthia Harrison.

Cindy has written 3 books, Sister IssuesThe Paris Notebook and Blue Heaven. These  are contemporary women’s fiction with a strong romance element, Gypsy is a paranormal, but again with romantic elements. Humour is also something she also likes to sprinkle on her stories. You can read all about her here.


Posted in Character Blog Tour, Fictional Characters, Novel, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Characters in Context – 14th August 2014

I have recently been invited to take part in a “Character Blog Tour”  so watch this space, for when I publish this at a later date.

With characters on the brain, it struck me (as I am editing my 3rd novel ‘Pleasures’) that in the current chapter, a lot of characters are featured. This is unusual. It is a multi-stranded tale, with a huge cast of characters from both Books 1 and 2, where chapter, by chapter, the book tends to focus on one group, in particular. 

It seems odd, how so many have converged in this chapter – on the other hand, it is 1989, the story is about to hot up, as both sides prepare for war. So this is where I am at; and a great opportunity to blog about characters. For a change, I thought I’d list them as they appear throughout this chapter. I am not going  to describe them fully, but feature a book snippet for each one of them, to create a first impression.

Forest Scene:

Joshua Merriman (music journalist from London, now living in Aldwyck)

Joshua pulled up his hood and set off on foot. He strode along the woodland path – secure in the knowledge, the cloak of trees would conceal him, until finally, Westbourne House slid into view.

Toby Baxter (gentleman farmer)

“His original plan was to demolish the walled garden, to make way for a conference centre; but there was an outcry. Planning permission was refused.”


Pub Scene: 

Joshua, his girlfriend, Lucy, along with the locals, including Toby’s father, Herbert and the pub landlord, Boris.

Joshua and Lucy squeezed into a corner, close to the bar – choosing one of the upright barrels, which served as a makeshift table. In some ways, Joshua hoped they were sufficiently hidden behind Herbert’s vast bulk, as he propped up the bar, still crowing over their victory.
“I swore to those kids, we’d keep an eye on that place!” he smirked, raising his beer glass, “get straight onto the council, if there was ever a hint he was trying to ruin it!”
“That was after ‘J’s’ funeral,” Boris reflected dreamily. “It seems, you kept your pledge, Herbert.”

Perry (ambitious property developer)

Rowena (his haughty wife)

Elliot (their long suffering butler)

Without warning, Perry strutted into the pub. His cold eyes swept around the room like searchlights, piercing into each one of them in turn. Rowena wandered in after him and to Boris’s even greater surprise, Elliot ambled submissively at the rear. Herbert stood his ground, turning on his heel, resolute in protecting Joshua from his probing eyes. Toby was quick to follow his lead – wary, the couple had already been given some hassle – and without knowing why, they suddenly felt nervous for them.

Caravan Scene:

Nathan, Perry’s security guard.

She opened her mouth as if to speak – when the angry roar of a motorbike burst through the silence. Joshua backed away – clocking the leather clad figure, straddling a Harley Davidson, now rolling towards the caravan.

Community Centre Scene:


Rowena, Elliot 

Deep down, Rowena knew otherwise. She knew what demons lay in Perry’s past and it was an admission which turned her cold.

“Would you like me to enquire on your behalf?” Elliot suggested.

Peter (counsellor and manager Community Centre manager)

Peter stroked his chin, careful not to ask too much – unsure how much Elliot knew.
“And what sort of advice is Rowena hoping I can give you?” he frowned.

Eleanor (heroine of the story: nurse, mother, community volunteer)

Eleanor turned – she almost dropped her tray of cups, as he ambled, smiling towards her. “What are you doing here?” she breathed.

Avalon (aristocratic 19 year old, who works as an antique dealer)

Avalon found herself drifting towards the Community Centre, then froze. Her eyes stopped dead, as a familiar black Jaguar shimmered in the sunlight – her father’s old car? It couldn’t be! She found herself backing away, unable to make sense of it.

Avalon’s Dinner Party:

Avalon, Peter, William (Avalon’s brother, currently a sixth former)

By the time William came bounding into the room, he had changed into his denim jeans and a T-shirt, bearing a yellow smiley face and caption ‘Acid is Music, not Drugs.’
“So, tell me about Elliot!” he breathed, grabbing a beer from the kitchen. “You say, you saw him outside the Community Centre? With Rowena Hampton!”

Richard, Avalon’s boyfriend

For a moment, she studied his arrogant face – the small beard, which in some way, enhanced his pained expression and something inside her flipped.
“Avalon, for God’s sake!” he whined. “We need to talk…”

Village Scene:


I could finish without mentioning the kids of the story, as they visit Aldwyck Village. Avalon and William, joined by:

Elijah (Eleanor’s 15 year old son, a visionary and an artist) 

Almost on cue, Elijah wandered into view. Ben smiled, clocking his appealing young face, the sweep of his long, slender brows, above those mysterious eyes. He might have sprung a little taller, but his looks hadn’t changed. Even the reddish gleam of his hair was discernible, despite the persistent gloom which sapped all the colour from the landscape.

Andrew (Elijah’s older step brother)

Andrew was impressed. He had only ever met Joshua very briefly. Yet he too, was captivated by this couple – loving their eclectic lifestyle, their slightly hippy style, as well as Joshua’s dedication to music. “You get to travel to gigs and interview bands?” he mused. “That sounds cool!”

Margaret (Elijah’s younger step sister)

Yet, no-one appeared to notice, that Margaret had said very little – her eyes dreamy, as they drifted beyond the window, where the allotments lay under a mantle of drizzle.

Matt and Angel (friends of Andrew)

Moments later, Elijah clambered into Joshua’s land rover, followed by two boys he didn’t recognise: one slightly hippy-like, with long, mousy hair tied in a ponytail – the other, some laid-back, West Indian boy, who’s long, loping strides reminded him of a panther.

Finally, Perry’s son Ben Hampton spies on them, accompanied by Nathan

“So, what do you supposed they’re up to?” he muttered, as if thinking out loud.
“What, other than surveying their precious land?” Ben sneered. He snatched back the binoculars, assessing the situation. “You’re right, this does seem a little odd. My guess is, they’re plotting something – though, I can’t imagine what.”

(Note: whenever an initial was used, I didn’t want to reveal who this character was)

Posted in Fictional Characters, Novel, Story, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment