Retribution to the End – May 26th 2017

What a month it’s been this May. As if it wasn’t exciting enough getting my latest book out, I enjoyed some unexpected promotion.

The quest to finish my British decade-spanning series, ‘Same Face Different Place’ began in August 2015 and with the final edits complete, the first part of the book ‘Retribution’ was published on Amazon for pre-order.

At the beginning of May, fellow CHINDI author, Michael Parker very kindly offered to do a cross promotion. He suggested I brought out a special offer on my boxed set (books 1 -3 ) and devised a campaign to plug the series to his 1200 newsletter subscribers. It certainly brought some sales and I am delighted to have some new readers. Michael writes gripping global thrillers and you can read more about his work via his blog.

In following weeks, I did some extra promotions of my own, offering ‘Visions’ and finally ‘Pleasures’ for 99p with the hope I would attract some more new followers. Retribution (Phase 1) was launched on May 19th and I’ve had a lovely 5 star review already; a delightful testimony which advocates my books as being “up there with Kimberley Chambers and Martina Cole…”

WOW, can you imagine how thrilled I was? Little unheard of ME, being compared to best selling world famous authors! I feel quite humbled.

But May is almost over and I’m just about to embark on another trip to London with my husband, Peter. He’s playing in the London Open Backgammon Tournament in Golders Green, leaving me to explore some of my favourite haunts in the Capital. I am excited but at the same time, anxious…

No one can ignore the atrocities in Manchester this week; a terrorist attack which stole the lives of 22 innocent people, many of whom were in their youth. This suicide bomb attack resulted in devastation and heartbreak. It makes me realise that nowhere in the world is safe. But none of us should live in fear. These are random attacks and whilst they are horrific, we have to get on with our lives.

So I’m off to London. The chances are, I’ll have a wonderful time and get home safe but what if…

Morbid thoughts and for this reason alone, the final book has been published on Amazon for pre-order in August. Regrettably it’s not the final edited, proof read version (which may not matter to people who have loved my series from the start), but at least it’s finished. Having invested 7 years of my life in writing a series, I can’t relax until the final part of Retribution is available. Some days, I feel as if you have to live every day as it is your last, as you never know what’s round the corner thus I would hate to exit this world without completing it.

This long running thriller mystery which started in the 70s has been a most satisfying diversion. But in ‘Retribution End Game’ will the mystery is finally solved? Will all the wrongs of the 70s, 80s and 90s be put right, every loose end tied up before the story reaches its shattering conclusion?

Given the more likely scenario, I’ll be back at my desk on Bank Holiday Monday, I will continue with the editing process. I have loved writing this series. It captures everything I’ve lived through, good and bad, and chronicles the decades as I remember them. Whilst writing Same Face Different Place, I’ve realised, times might have changed but people never do.

Thanks to those who supported me and don’t dwell – have a lovely bank holiday and we can only pray for more peaceful times.

Helen J. Christmas

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Who are the Bad Characters?

Following on from my last post, it’s the turn of the evil characters to take centre stage. So here’s the low down on the nastiest baddies to be found in this series.

Since writing ‘Beginnings’ in 2011, the list of evil characters has grown considerably from the main protagonists who appeared in the first book. But like the good characters, the cast has branched out as the saga proceeds through the decades.

The London Criminal Underworld

Set in the 1970s with a background of organised crime, the first nasty guy to be introduced into the story was a violent gang leader, by the name of Dominic Theakston, so it seems apt to start with him. From the turf war that started in 1972, Dominic was determined to move in on ‘Sammie Maxwell’s Patch’ and make his mark in the East End. He carefully selected a bunch of the most violent thugs in the Capital to build up his army. It was his deadly threats that drove Eleanor’s father underground, his next mission to hunt her down but it wasn’t his only agenda…

Hired by people in power, Dominic was a contract killer; destined to end the life of the Dutch musician, Jake Jansen, who witnessed a suspicious scene at the site of a car bomb explosion. But not everything is how it seems. At the end of the book, Dominic revealed a softer side and before the end of the 2nd instalment, ‘Visions’, he had abandoned a life of crime to settle down with a family and start his own health club. But his ultimate dream was to run a night club, a goal that inevitably drew him to Rosebrook, home town of Eleanor and her family. For a short time, everyone’s fears were resurrected and none so much as Eleanor’s. Her greatest terror was the possibility that he might still be on the payroll of her deadliest enemies, about to do their bidding yet again.

So where is Dominic now?

Before the end of Book 3 Pleasures, no one really knew who’s side Dominic was on. He is still a terrifying character, under the scrutiny of the law and it’s not impossible, he might yet stand trial and face a conviction for the murder that took place in ‘Beginnings.’ For that very reason, he had levied further threats towards Eleanor. Having already threatened to harm her son in the 70s, his latest threat was levelled towards her husband, Charlie, if he was ever to suffer the consequences of her original testimony. Dominic is ambitious, powerful and intimidating, he takes no prisoners refuses to side with anyone, good or bad.

Robin Whaley

“How could anyone forget Robin Whaley? A man who materialised out of no-where – smooth, silver-tongued, disturbingly convincing. A man who had pretended to be an ally, before he spun a web of deceit.” This is how I described Robin Whaley in ‘Visions,’ the sinister ward councillor, turned planning officer at Rosebrook Council. Despite his respectable image, there is no doubt, Robin Whaley is evil and duplicitous. He has always allied himself with the enemies of the series and is unlikely to change. His hatred of Eleanor and her community holds no bounds. He is as determined to destroy her as ever and will stop at nothing to save his own skin and boost his power.

Ben Hampton

Without a doubt, Ben Hampton is the most sadistic and evil character in the series. He first appeared in ‘Visions’ at the age of 21 as a coke snorting yuppie and an obsessive stalker. The fear he engendered in his victims was always a huge turn on, not to mention his appetite for cruelty and pain. From book 3 ‘Pleasures’ we even learned a little about his past. He was responsible for the death of a pupil at the tender age of 8 but no one thought to have him medically assessed, a mistake that inevitably allowed him to develop into the loathsome psychopath he is now. Ben will stop at nothing to exact retribution on his enemies; the theme of the final book, which prevails right to the end of the saga.

Alan Levy

The nature of organised crime changed throughout the decades. From the hedonistic London of the 70s, where gangsters ruled by fear but had some control over the nature of crime – to the unscrupulous 90s where profit became the main incentive. Gang leader, Alan Levy, was always considered a bit of nut-case, a womaniser and a drug taker, with incredible power. Small in stature, he exudes menace. His favourite weapon is a scalpel and he enjoys disfiguring his victims before killing them. In the final book ‘Retribution’ Alan takes his viciousness to new heights with the fated ‘Levy Mark,’ a scar that marks people as ‘suspects’ should he ever fall foul of the law. He is not a man to mess with.

Mai-Lin

The only female ‘player’ in Alan Levy’s gang is the cunning and streetwise Mai-Lin. She is a new character in ‘Retribution.’ Alan ‘fostered’ her when she was just 13, a victim of abuse who grew up in  his home, to evolve into his most successful crack/cocaine dealer. Even though she comes across as somewhat ‘child-like’ she has a devious mind, quick to use her feminine wiles to deceive people. The teenager has few scruples and will even assist Alan in killing people, if he requires it. Later in the story, readers will see exactly how Mai-Lin casts her net whilst remaining virtually immune to the power of the law.

The publication of, dark thriller, ‘Retribution’ is happening very soon, and will shortly be available on Amazon kindle and in paperback. 100% edited with just the final proof-reading to be done, the wait is nearly over…

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Who are the Good Characters?

As I come close to completing the final edits of book 4 ‘Retribution’ it’s got me thinking about the main characters of this series in a little more depth.

It was actually suggested to me by one of my beta readers, to include a family tree, just to remind readers who’s who. I think this is an excellent idea – not so much a family tree but a list of every character who appears in the story, past and present… and there are quite a few of them. So before I reveal too much more about the cast, I will start with the ‘good’ characters of the story, first the Bailey family.

The Bailey Family Tree (characters from Same Face Different Place)

Let’s start from the Beginning with Elijah

Elijah was born in book 1 Beginnings (1973). His mother, Eleanor, was the daughter of an East End gangster known as Oliver Chapman. Ollie married a beautiful half caste night club singer, named Martina, but she was tragically killed in a car accident when Eleanor was just 8. At 16 Eleanor, knew nothing about the sleazy criminal underworld of the 1970s her father was immersed in until he was forced to go on the run.

In 1972, Eleanor’s life took an unexpected twist when she met a mysterious young rock musician from Holland; Jake Jansen (son of Rutger and Elspeth). The couple hooked up after escaping from a dangerous gang leader. Yet Eleanor was left vulnerable and alone, hiding a remote village, where the protection of Jake’s son, Elijah, became the most important role in her life. Elijah grew up in the idyllic village of Aldwyck, (Kent), in a caravan with this mother, a timid child who was bullied at school and branded a ‘gypsy.’ In book 2 Visions, he started to question his mother’s past but at the same time, developed an incredible artistic talent. The story was set in the era of the 80s, when unemployment was high; a time when Eleanor met a man named Charlie Bailey, along with his children, Andrew and Margaret. Charlie’s wife tragically died from a lung infection in 1984, leaving him a widow but at the end of the book, the families were finally united.

So where is Elijah now?

I am not going to reveal any more of the plot that unravels in the 3rd book, Pleasures, but let’s just say Elijah has changed. He is artistic, passionate and brave. He has suffered more terror than most boys of his age and with a hankering to study interior design at University, he is determined to make the most of his life. He may be a little shy especially where girls are concerned. Yet he is loyal to his family and loves them dearly. He will do anything for them. He follows the grunge fashion of the 90s and loves rock music, especially bands like the Levellers, which remind him of his father’s band, Free Spirit.

Eleanor

Eleanor survived some of the worst horrors imaginable. She never did discover what happened to her father but remained resolute in her quest to fight her enemies as a pledge to her beloved Jake. As resident of Aldwyck, she defended the corner of her neighbours, the Barton-Wells family, as well as the Baileys, who she identified as yet another set of victims in a heartless society. Trained as a nurse, Eleanor married Charlie in 1987 just after they moved the nearby town of Rosebrook. Added to her strong family values, she took on a role as a volunteer at Rosebrook Community Centre and cares deeply for her fellow citizens. Eleanor is a feisty, courageous young woman, who refuses to back down against powerful enemies.

Moving onto Charlie and his family…

Charlie is everyone’s favourite character; noble and strong with a passionate nature. He can be a bit of a hot head, especially in politics, fighting the corner for the ordinary working man. He was devastated by the death of his wife, Anna, but there is no question he loves Eleanor and her son. Trained as a builder, Charlie went on to study an Open University degree in architecture where his visionary talent earned him a reputation as one of the most revered master builders in Rosebrook. Charlie takes no nonsense especially when it comes to fighting the local council in various planning committees; determined to protect his family.

Andrew Bailey

Charlie’s son is a complex character. He’s never quite got over the death of his mother, Anna, and after suffering a spell of teenage angst, turned to drugs to mask his pain. Throughout the series, he is a deeply troubled youth, easily led but possessive of his friends and anyone who shows an interest in him. Working alongside his father as a labourer, he has never inherited Charlie’s visionary talent, unlike Elijah. It is a situation which evokes jealousy and rivalry between the two brothers. Suspicious of Eleanor, he fears she will destroy any last lingering bonds in his family, which is perhaps the reason he is desperate to secure the loyalty of his little sister, Margaret.

Margaret Bailey

Margaret is the most vulnerable member of the Bailey family. She was 9 when her mother died but bounced back. Unlike Andrew, she bonded easily with Eleanor, loves having her as a stepmother and adores Elijah. Margaret is a pretty girl but she was sadly lacking in confidence as a teenager; first she battled with anorexia before turning to binge drinking. Yet she is easy going, gentle and has a big heart like her dad. During her brief stay at Westbourne House, she developed a passion for cooking and trains as a chef. It is regrettable that the enemies of the series see her as an easy target and know how easily they can exploit her.

With less than 30% of the 4th book to edit, ‘Retribution’ will be published very soon. Over the next few weeks I plan to publish many more blogs about the characters and will shortly be introducing a few of the baddies.

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The 1990’s, Princess Di, MC Hammer (not to forget the recession)

Well – I am over half way through the final edit of Retribution (Phase 1), Book 4 in my crime noir thriller series, based across the decades of Britain… 23 chapters have undergone a complete editting process with only 11 more to go, to deliver a total of 35.

Having gone through the story again, piece by piece, I have to warn readers, this story is a lot darker than the previous books!

Running from the year 1992, (where the last book, ‘Pleasures’ ended), we follow the characters through the next three years . But throughout the coming chapters, I have addressed some of the worse depravities human beings are capable of; from the abuse of children in the Catholic care system, to the sadistic cravings of those labelled in our society as ‘sociopaths.’ As I continue with the edit, I have already started thinking about the next Pinterest board for the 4th book in the series.

So here is a sample of the fashion, music, TV and current affairs that stirred our lives in the early 90s…

CURRENT AFFAIRS

THE CATHOLIC CHILD ABUSE SCANDAL

St. Vincent de Paul Orphanage

St. Benedict Orphanage – fictitious example of an orphanage where a character was abused by a Catholic priest. It is not a real location, but based on this sketch of St. Vincent de Paul Orphanage, Glasnevin, Dublin. Note the imposing chapel which dominates the design.

THE WAR IN BOSNIA

UN Peackeepers including British Troops

The war across Yugoslavia is an ongoing concern for army officer, William as depicted in one of my earlier posts (click to view the post.)

John Major

PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN JOHN MAJOR

(Source Wikipedia) Throughout his reign, John struggled with the early 1990s recession, the Gulf War, the Downing Street mortar attack 1991, ratification of the Maastricht Treaty and the Maastricht Rebels, Privatisation of British Rail, The National Lottery, “Back to Basics” campaign and the Dangerous Dogs Act to name but a few…

TV AND FILM

Robin Hood and the Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner was a big blockbuster in 1991, never to forget the soundtrack by Bryan Adams which stuck at the number 1 spot in the UK music charts for 11 weeks. In 1992, the big movie was the Bodyguard along with its timeless track by Whitney Houston.

TV shows mentioned in ‘Retribution’ include the Australian soap opera Neighbours which is still going and the early series of Men Behaving Badly with Harry Enfield.

MUSIC AND FASHION

Princess Diana was an icon of fashion in the 90s. I can relate to owning a pretty, pastel suit very similar to this. Throughout the decade there were extremes in fashion, from the ultra chic, to the utterly outrageous, including Grunge fashion.

Princess Diana - Source Mirrorpix

In many ways, the 90s was a decade of huge diversity – something that is slightly lacking nowadays. It was the same with music; added to the echoes of early 90s rave, the hit parade was dominated by a mishmash of styles from the energetic beat of MC Hammer to the subdued melodies of Simply Red. But if there is one song that features prominently in this book, it is ‘Fairytale of New York’ by the Pogues, featuring Kirsty Maccoll.

You’re handsome – you’re pretty – queen of New York City…’ It delights me to hear that this is still a very popular Christmas hit and there was even a petition to get it to no. 1 for Christmas, this year (2016.)

SO THAT’S MY RESUME.
SAME FACE DIFFERENT PLACE ‘RETRIBUTION – Phase 1’ is due out this year, possibly in April but definitely before the end of Spring 2017.

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That Romantic Time of Year Again – 7th February 2017

As part of a joint promotion, indie authors from CHINDI have clubbed together to launch “Different Shades of Romance” in time for Valentines Day. The one thing we have in common is that all our books contain romance, so between the 10th and 17th of February, we’ll be tweeting about our books using the hash tag #DifferentShadesOfRomance.

dsor-fb

As the name suggests, romance is a genre which involves a love story between one or more of its characters. In addition, there are so many different sub-genres: for example, contemporary romance, YA romance, paranormal romance, historic romance and the list goes on… So how would I describe my novels? Well, the first book of my ‘Same Face Different Place’ series is certainly a love story but set in the context of a mystery thriller. Part romantic suspense and part British crime Noir, it falls between both genres; but I would loosely describe my fictional work as ‘Dark Romance.’

But what is the definition of ‘dark romance?’ Where ‘light’ implies gentle and humorous, so ‘dark’ is used to describe stories that are emotionally powerful and disturbing.

‘Beginnings’ is a romantic thriller set in the criminal underworld of London; a tale of two young people on the run who fall in love.

In this first story, set in 1972, we meet Eleanor – a naive 16 year old who has led a sheltered life. Her father, Ollie, is secretly involved in organised crime under the employment of London crime boss, Sammie Maxwell. Having spent much of her life in a girls’ boarding school, Eleanor hasn’t met many boys and has never fallen in love.

At the beginning of the book, Eleanor finds herself in a terrifying situation. Yet when she stumbles across a mysterious, young male, imprisoned in an underground cell, she doesn’t know what she is getting herself into but at the same time, she cannot leave him… Filled with a sense he is about to be murdered, she frees him and the two of them escape. But their situation worsens when they attract the wrath of London’s most feared gang leader, Dominic Theakston – a situation which inevitably has them on the run.

Jake is a sensitive, intelligent, Dutch born musician who has fallen foul of a sinister conspiracy. He is the only witness to a suspicious scene, hours before a British MP is blown up in a car bomb explosion.

Those responsible are desperate to kill him.

Eleanor meanwhile, cannot help falling in love with him and after a few days in hiding, she pledges, she will do anything to keep Jake alive.

Beginnings is a heart-wrenching tale of two people’s desperate fight for survival. Described as ‘emotionally charged,’ it is their tender love bond that keeps you turning the pages as they live on a knife edge, desperate to escape the deadly enemies who stalk them.

COMPETITION TIME

sfdp2-graphic-hires

As part of our #DifferentShadesOfRomance promotion, I am giving away a signed paperback copy of ‘Beginnings’ along with a heart shaped box of delicious Raffaello chocolates. So for this Valentines Day, you could be enjoying a fast paced love story whilst dipping into creamy white chocolate truffles, where darkness and light collide.

Competition is open to UK residents only, via my Facebook page.
GOOD LUCK xx

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1st Synopsis for Book 4 Retribution – 9th January 2017

It seems hard to believe I’ve been working on this novel since August 4th 2015. The first draft was completed in just over a year and I am finally coming to the end of my 3rd draft. The final book of the series is pretty much in shape now, but before I begin my final edit, it is time I presented a synopsis of the first instalment.

RETRIBUTION – Phase 1

Front cover visual for novel 'Retribution' by Helen J. Christmas“Avenge me,” he whispered evilly. “Make them pay – all of them!”

Ben Hampton has always known he was special. Inspired by his father’s pledge, he has never forgiven his enemies. They thwarted Perry’s mission throughout the decades and now finally, someone is going to pay!

In order to fulfil his ambition, Ben knows he must join the murky criminal underworld of London. Unsure how to proceed, he lashes out indiscriminately: his first victim is the charismatic community leader, Peter Summerville, who he blames for his father’s downfall. Next on the list is the former London gangster, Dominic Theakston, who switched sides. Ben not only wants to pin him for a historic murder in the 70s but is desperate to hold some dominion over him. It is only when his reckless plans start to go wrong, he seeks the guidance of his father’s oldest confident, Robin Whaley. Together they unleash a scheme so devastating, it is about to rip the heart of out the community in ways no-one could imagine…

Insatiable in his mission, Ben has always wanted to save the best until last.

Images of a country road in Kent and character 'Eleanor' from book 4 Retribution

It is ultimately the ill-fated heroine of the series, Eleanor, who must face her worst battle. She has spent her whole life fighting against the evils inspired by Ben’s family but is she powerful enough to stand up against the sinister dark forces about to engulf the lives of everyone she has left?

Retribution is a saga of one man’s revenge; a chilling story of control, desire and obsession.

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Visit to the Surrey Hills (Teaser) – 3rd January 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE and this is my first blog for 2017. So I’ll kick of with the latest progress on Book 4 Retribution.

wotton

It was at the end of the summer I finished my first draft… but unable to leave any stone unturned, there was one more significant place I needed to complete my research. In the final scenes of this saga, Eleanor is lured to a remote farm. It’s a place I remember from years ago; Leith Hill in Surrey. Having already written the scene beforehand, I am now approaching the end of my second draft and have edited it as follows: so here is a short extract and it includes a little teaser.

Eleanor gripped the seat edge as they surged around the next bend. Nestling in the heart of the Surrey Hills, the village of Wotton was more remote than she thought; flanked by fields on corn on the approach road, the next turn plunged them down a thickly wooded lane. It seemed even more perilous than the road to Aldwyck; steep banks carved into the hillside, dense with an overhead canopy of forest. A suffocating darkness enclosed them with just a brief scattering of lights escaping from another branch in the lane – one that led to a remote country hotel…

“So this is Wotton,” she said numbly. “Ironic isn’t it? It seems hard to imagine, Jake being here all those years ago – Perry loitering in some remote spot by the roadside…”

“Forget the past,” Dominic snapped. “It’s now we’ve gotta worry about.”

Her hand crept to her neck, fumbling with some sort of pendant. Dominic sighed. Even in the gloom, he didn’t miss the terror on her face. This was the last roll of the dice, his grip on the wheel tightening as they crept down the lane, the signpost to Leith Hill looming. Eleanor’s eyes whipped from left to right as he rolled into the car park.

*****

Same Face Different Place is a series of novels that begins in the 70s and stretches over 3 decades. The fourth and final book will be released in 2 parts starting with Retribution Phase 1, which will be published in Spring 2o17.

A remote pocket of countryside or a deadly trap? (Book 4 Retribution)

A remote pocket of countryside or a deadly trap? Book 4 Retribution.

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