Lesley and I met through a mutual friend. I’ve enjoyed talking writing with her. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her.
Lesley Wilson began writing at an early age. She turned her father’s garage into a theatre and produced juvenile dramas. Local kids who watched her shows were persuaded to donate a penny to the RSPCA. In her early teens, Lesley joined a theatre company and took part in many productions.
In 1957, during a holiday in Italy, Lesley met a young man. A whirlwind courtship followed before he joined the British Army. Fifteen months and hundreds of letters later, Lesley, aged seventeen, boarded a troopship bound for Singapore, where she married the love of her life.
Lesley’s careers have included fashion modelling, market research and, latterly, running her own business, but writing has always been her passion.
She now lives in North Queensland and enjoys frequent visits from her adult grandchildren. When Lesley isn’t writing, she loves to read, work in her garden, entertain friends, and travel, Covid virus permitting.
Tell us about yourself.
Born in North Yorkshire during the war, I began writing stories at an early age. Together with a bunch of young friends, I turned my dad’s garage into a theatre, never mind that his much-loved SS Jag had to stand outside in all weather. What a patient man he was. I shanghaied local kids into watching our shows and extracted a penny from each of them to donate to the RSPCA. A taste for treading the boards was ingrained, and I joined a theatre company in my early teens. My major claim to fame was when Sir John Gielgud opened a new theatre in my hometown. I had a bit part in George Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra and stood within three feet of the great man as he made his opening speech. I was equally thrilled, during a recent trip back to England to see a photograph of the play in full swing, hanging in pride of place in the theatre foyer, and there I was, doing my bit in a crowd scene.
Aged sixteen, I caught a train to Italy. Back then, it took many hours to make the journey, and I fell asleep on a young man’s shoulder. I didn’t realise, but he was to become my husband!
In 1958, my beau joined the British Army. Fifteen months and hundreds of letters later, aged seventeen, I boarded a troopship bound for Singapore where I married the love of my life. We recently celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary. Where did all those years go?
North Queensland is now my home. My family lives close by and I see them all regularly, though my two grandchildren are now grown up. (No great grandchildren yet.)
Various careers have included fashion modelling, market research and running various businesses, over the years, with my husband.
When I’m not glued to my computer, writing, I love to read, work in the garden, entertain friends, and travel, though the latter option has been curtailed because of Covid.
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I have scribbled pretty much all my life and, in my early thirties I completed a course in Journalism with the London School of Writing. This exercise confirmed my love of writing.
As a young woman, the backwoods of Yorkshire were my playground and I cycled and hiked across acres of heather and gorse-clad moors, winter and summer, come rain, hail and shine. Many medieval towns and villages that exist to this day provided me with a wonderful backdrop on which to base my stories, but I didn’t begin writing in earnest until I retired.
After migrating to Australia, I joined a writers’ group. I also became interested in doll making. The figure of an apothecary, which I needle sculpted on a wire armature, began talking to me, and the seed for my first novel grew in my mind. That was over twenty years ago. My first ‘G’ rated medieval adventure was published in 2015. I completed the trilogy in 2017.
Ichtheus, the little man who kick started my writing career
What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in?
I read many books. Biographies, romance, thriller, nonfiction—usually to do with writing techniques, mystery, psychological thriller. I’m not keen on paranormal, erotica, or sci-fi. However, I will read any genre if an author asks me to. I always leave an honest review. Even if I don’t enjoy the story, I award 5 stars if I think the writing style merits it. Anything less than 3 stars, I try to contact the author for a chat.
Is your book for adults, young adults or children?
Initially, I thought my books were for young adults, however, many older folk loved them and gave me good reviews. Of course, I have had a couple of bad ones, but I always take comments, whatever they are on board. There is always something one can learn.
What is your current release or project?
The Final Twist. An MA rated psychological thriller/romance set in the early 1960s. I hope to release the book next year, but don’t want to pin myself down to a definite date until I am sure it’s ready to publish. I am working on my tenth, but final, re-write. LOL.
Tell us about the key characters
Albert Tomlin, aka Albie, is an oversexed, womanizing, psychopath. He is also the manager of the Cravendale Estate in Yorkshire.
Anne Craven. Pretty eighteen-year-old daughter of Major John and Mrs Flora Craven.
Corporal Paul Eckland, a local boy, recently demobilized by the army. Foot loose and fancy free, he is living with his parents until he finds a job.
Secondary characters. Major John and Mrs Flora Craven. Madam Clementine De Bruisac, Anne’s eccentric aunt, divorced from her French husband and living in a villa on the Cote d’azur.
What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?
Major John Craven must give up his army career and return to Yorkshire to run the crumbling family estate, after the sudden death of his elder brother. He faces crippling, government death duties and, to bring money into his coffers, he determines to marry his daughter, Anne, to the bucolic son of a wealthy neighbour. Outraged when she falls in love with Paul Eckland, a decent but penniless youth from the village, John determines to send Anne to finishing school in Paris and pays a year’s fees in advance.
Paul borrows his parent’s camping gear and runs away to Europe with Anne. Their destination, Anne’s Aunt Clementine’s villa in the South of France
Albie Tomlin, son of a London prostitute, is raised in London’s sleazy back street during the second world war. His mother dies in an air raid; Albie survives and spends time in an orphanage. In his teens, he runs away to the country. He learns about farming and land management, teaches himself to speak Queen’s English, and practices the social graces necessary to fit in with the landed gentry. He scores a job as manager of the Cravendale Estate. For several years he lives off the fat of the land, dabbling in many illegal transactions. A sex crazed predator, he ill-uses every woman who crosses his path.
The incumbent playboy Squire is killed in a car accident and afraid of detection, Albie ceases his black-market activities. The new Squire knows nothing of country ways and relies on his manager to run the estate. Albie immediately resumes his illegal regime. Obsessed with becoming a wealthy country gentleman, he sets his sights on Major Craven’s teenage daughter.
When John learns of Anne’s elopement, he is unwilling to involve the police, for fear of causing a scandal and ruining her chances of marrying well. Instead, he sends Tomlin after the runaways with instructions to fetch Anne home.
Share an excerpt
North Yorkshire: Autumn: 1962
Albie Tomlin hadn’t planned to kill the French backpacker—but what did she expect? Getting around his part of Yorkshire with her short skirts and cocky attitude. He’d given her a good time, bought her fish and chips. She’d got plastered on his best cider. Then he’d had to fight the little cat for a spot of nookie. Not his fault her stupid neck cracked in the struggle.
Blades of grass, growing around the edge of a bog, rustled in the breeze. Albie lit a cigarette and contemplated his victim’s broken body. Finished his smoke, he ground the stub into her belly button.
“Goodbye,” he said, nudging the girl into her soggy grave. Her clothes, shoes, and handbag met the same fate. A chunk of her hair hacked off with his penknife to keep as a souvenir, reposed in his wallet.
Albie parked his Land Rover in the yard and crawled upstairs to his flat above the estate office. Exhausted after his nocturnal activities, he peeled off his clothes and forgot to turn out the hall light before falling into bed.
Thunderous knocking jerked him awake. He snapped on his bedside lamp to check the time, but his wristwatch was missing.
The hammering increased, as did Albie’s heartbeat. He peered through the bedroom window, his cheek twitching.
Two shadowy figures stood in the yard below.
“Police!” one man yelled. “Open up!”
Albie’s muddy boots and bloodstained clothes lay in a crumpled pile on the floor. Galvanized into action, he looked for something else to wear.
‘Get rid of that lot quick smart.’
Albie growled at his inner voice, but it refused to be silenced.
‘Suppose somebody’s found the girl’s body?’
“It’s at the bottom of a bog, for God’s sake!”
‘Your choice, mate.’
“I hear you!” Albie bundled up the incriminating evidence, tossed it into a crawl space under the eaves, and heaved a chest of drawers across the access point.
‘Attack’s the best form of defence.’
Dressed in jeans and a sweater, Albie thundered downstairs two at a time, and yanked open the outer door. “I hope you’re not here to tell me poachers have been after the Squire’s game—again.”
“I’m afraid it’s worse than that, sir.”
Rather than allow the two coppers access to his private quarters, Albie ushered them into his office on the ground floor. He perched his backside on the edge of the desk, crossed his ankles, and folded his arms across his broad chest. “You are…”
“Sergeant Foley and PC Thomas, sir. We’re from Dramcannon Bay Police Station.”
Albie smirked. “Must be something dire to fetch two police officers from the big smoke.”
“I’d not call Dramcannon Bay the big smoke, sir, and twenty miles isn’t too far. Who are you?”
“Tomlin! Albie Tomlin, Cravendale’s estate manager, and I don’t appreciate folk dragging me out of bed in the middle of the night. What are you here for?”
“It’s the Squire, sir. He’s had an accident in his car.”
Albie raised his eyebrows. It was a miracle the boss had escaped mishap to date, considering his penchant for drinking and womanizing. “In the Cottage Hospital, is he?”
Foley didn’t care for the large man’s arrogant attitude. “No, sir, the morgue, and his son’s laid on a slab beside him.”
“Good God!” Albie catapulted off his desk like it had grown spikes. “When did this happen?”
“Couple of hours ago. We tried to raise someone in the big house, but no-one answered our knock. We saw the light over here and came to investigate.”
“I’m the only employee living here, full time. The manor’s empty because the boss took his son out to celebrate his twenty-first birthday.”
‘Their last supper…’
Albie ignored the gibe.
“Does your employer have other relatives?” asked Sargeant Foley
“A younger brother serves overseas with the military, but he’s never visited Cravendale during my time.” Albie rasped a hand over a growth of dark stubble on his chin. “According to other staff members, the pair don’t… didn’t see eye to eye.”
“The Squire’s not got a wife, sir?”
“I believe she died in childbirth. He never remarried.”
‘The bugger didn’t need to, not with the lascivious lifestyle he led!’
Albie flipped open a pack of cigarettes, tapped one out and lit up. “Brother’s going to fall on his feet inheriting this place,” he said, drawing smoke deep into his lungs. “Always assuming he can be located!”
“Don’t worry, sir, we’ll find him.”
“I’m sure you will, Sergeant.”
Albie slammed the front door and leaned against it until his heart rate returned to normal.
‘Thought your number was up, killing that girl, didn’t you?’
“I couldn’t give a rat’s about the silly bitch, but some bloody upstart poking through the company accounts is cause for deep concern.”
Do you have a favorite scene?
So many different scenes, some of them confronting, I would be hard pressed to single out just one.
What advice would you give a beginner?
Before putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, read all the textbooks you can find on every aspect of writing and the correct production of the English language. How I wish someone had given me that advice before I began my writing career
Writing is a skill and must honed until it is word perfect. Many authors, me included, re-write as many as ten times before they are satisfied with their work. I have written stuff most of my life, though not professionally in the beginning. To this day textbooks remain high on my list, and I keep a substantial reference library. Reading fellow author’s work is a must, too.
When you are on a high, having finished your first book, don’t imagine that’s the end. Send it off to a publisher and hey presto, fame and fortune follow? Certainly not, unless you are one of the rare few authors who make the big time from the upshot. Writing your book is the simple part. I cannot explain the rigamarole you are likely to face, getting your publication into the public reading domain.
Finally, watch out for sharks and scammers. There are many rip-off merchants under the guise of publishers ready to butter your ego, take your money, and do nothing more to help you. With millions of books being independently and traditionally published, authors face an uphill battle to recoup their expenses. So why, I can hear you ask, am I still writing? Because I can’t help it. If I stop, I will die—simple as that
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