Tag Archives: crossing the line

Miles and Reese (Deleted Scenes 1)


Miles and Reese are two characters that flit around the periphery of the Dereham novels. We first meet them in Sorrow Mystica, where they are habitués of Copsehill, although sceptical of the Dereham mystery. They might yet become secondary but important characters in the as-yet unwritten German Overalls. Reese himself plays a small but pivotal role in Crossing the Line, when he meets Archie in Reading. 

The following scene takes place on Copsehill, in 1972, just after Peta, Archie and other assembled skywatchers have spotted a UFO, known locally as a red rambler.

Peta noticed the two hippies sitting atop the gates that barred the rough roadway to the copse at Copsehill. They were separate from the assembled skywatchers, a part of the gathering but apart from it. Miles Stephens  and Reese Johns. They kept themselves to themselves most of the time, although were always friendly.

Miles struggled to roll a joint in the dark while trying to keep his long blonde hair out of the way. “Did you catch that, Reese? Old Patterson said the News of the World are up here on Saturday. He said it would put Dereham on the map.”

Reese laughed quietly. “It’s already on the bloody map, isn’t it? Otherwise how did all these skywatchers find their way here?”

“Intuition? Lured by the siren’s song? Guided by the light?”

“Do you think we should tell Dyson?” Perhaps, as the purveyors of this fine news, he’d finally allow us to join his merry band of hoaxers and japers.”

Miles smiled. Not only had he succeeded in constructing his joint, he also knew Reese had a point. “Yeah. Terry’s a bloody tit in that department. He likes to keep his activities secret and hush-hush. Like he’s in the bloody military or something. And yet not so secret that we don’t know about it.” Miles lit the joint and toked at it, then looked into the dark sky. “Do you think he was behind that display a few minutes ago?”

Reese shook his head. “I think not. It was far too good for him. He can’t make them go round corners yet. You never know, that might have been one of old man Patterson’s real yoo-fos.” He emphasized the last word in a broad West Country accent, parodying his own country burr.

Miles passed the joint to Reese. “You mean to tell me you actually believe that was a UFO? Good Lord, young man! You’ll be signing up with Patterson’s lot next!”

“Men from Mars and all that stuff? I should jolly well say not!” Reese paused, thoughtfully. “But, what did we just observe, Mr. Sceptic Man?”

Miles shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. After all, it’s not as if we had a chance to capture it and subject it to our sceptical scalpels. Helicopter? Lights shining on the underbelly of a nightjar? A secret military test-bed?”

Miles playfully thumped his friend on the arm. “Well, why no sound? It’s a clear, moonless, still night.”

“What difference does there being no moon make, buffoon?”

“I don’t know. It’s just that the stars seem bright, the very atmosphere pellucid, without her cracked and scarred face frowning down on us.”

“Very pretty,” Miles said.

“You know what I mean. That red rambler was dazzling, man! Scintillating! A coruscating crimson in its nocturnal wanderings!”

Reese handed the joint back to Miles. He inhaled deeply, exhaled slowly. “Indeed,” her finally said. “It did glitter and sparkle in its night-time weaving.”

“And still you refuse to come to the point, my good man. Why the absence of sound you would expect of any terrestrially-designed aeroform?”

“Well, if it were a night-jar, you wouldn’t expect a sound.”

“But it would sing. Wheep, it would go. Wheep. Wheep.”

“Call that a song? It’s enough to make me weep.”

“Yes, but that’s what we would hear.”

“How the fuck do you know?”

“I saw a television programme once. I learnt its call. The skylark was too bloody difficult, man.” Reece paused. “Wheep,” he said. “Wheep.”

“Sounds like an alien, to me. Are you sure you weren’t watching Dr Who?”

“No, that would be Meep. Meep meep.”

“Don’t talk shit, man!” Miles paused. “That’s a fucking aardvark.”

Reese started laughing. “How would you know?”

“I saw it on a television programme. Once.”

“Nonetheless, young jackanapes — why no sound?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps it was a secret military test-bed using anti-gravitational and geomagnetic energy drives reverse-engineered from a crashed flying saucer. Anyway, all this ratiocination is making me cotton-mouthed. What time is it?”

Reese looked at his watch, a rather expensive one with a lot of dials. He squinted for a moment. “It’s just gone ten, I think.”

“You should have bought one with fluorescent hands,” Miles pointed out.

“Yeah, but does have a rotating bezel! Pass me your lighter, will you, good man?”

Miles re-lit the joint, and then passed over the lighter. Reese flicked it a couple of times before the dim flame sparked into life. “Yes. Five past ten. We might get to the nearest pub if we get a move on.”

“Only if you get the first round in,” Miles said.

“Oh, no, not again! It’s always my bloody round! Still, I’ve got your lighter.”

“Yeah, but I’ve got the joint.”

They jumped down from the gate. Just as they landed, the shrill electronic sound of a UFO detector sounded.

“Bit bloody late,” Miles said loudly.

Some of the skywatchers overheard him, and chuckled.

Miles and Reese began to thread their way through the skywatchers. As they passed Peta, both glanced at her.

Further down the hill, Miles said, “Foxy.”

“Meep, meep,” Reese said.


So,Where Are We?

A comment by one of my readers  about whether the Panylraeans — the aliens of the first book, Sorrow Mystica – return in later novels got me thinking about how I have arrived at a position where I know there will be at least seven novels (Nodes 0 and 2-6), and possibly eight if Node 1 (Operation Flashlight) ever gets finished. And possibly more. And that the Panylraeans may not (but then again, they might) return.

So – to begin at the beginning. The first of the Dereham Nodes to be written is the one recently published, Raven of Dispersion. As it was my first novel, there were things I wasn’t happy with, so several million rewrites occurred. Okay, so several million is an exaggeration. About twenty drafts.

During these travails I helped Kevin Goodman write his UFO Warminster: Cradle of Contact. After we finished that, Kevin suggested we write something else. Knowing of his interest in science fiction and UFOs, I suggested fiction with a sci fi bent. Of course, Kevin wanted aliens in there somewhere. I wanted to subvert such notions. So we kind of compromised on a Ruth Rendell-style sci fi involving aliens, contactees, relationships and… well… read it, and you’ll see how it all came together. But, because Raven already involved the paranormal and young people looking for flying saucers, I thought it might be fun if we set at least part of Sorrow in Dereham, the ufological hotspot I had already invented for Raven. The seeds for a series were thus sown.

After I’d finished writing Raven of Dispersion and was editing that and Kev’s book, I had an idea for a novel I thought of as “Band Novel”, that would move the characters of “Raven” to 1984 — older, possibly wiser, possibly madder in some cases, some of whom would be, yes, you guessed it, in a band. So I started making notes.

However, while I was making notes for “Band Novel”, I was looking at some of my old writing notes, and noticed one that involved a hitman. What, I thought, if a bunch of young Wiltshire hippies were confronted with somebody who claimed he was a hitman? Wouldn’t they just think him delusional? And what if they started following him around. What would happen? And so The Ethical Hitman — the next novel to be published — took shape.

Meanwhile, Kevin had become interested in what had happened to some of the characters from Sorrow Mystica, and what they might get up to after that book finished. So he started sending me rough ideas for a kind of thriller spy-type book. Given that I’d already started working on The Ethical Hitman, and knew “Band Novel” would happen at some point in the future, I could see ways to tie all these together, and make fun interconnections between all the books.

Kevin wanted  what was to become Crossing the Line to be a spy-thriller-guns-explosions type of book. But I wanted to subvert that. So, we compromised on a Ruth Rendell-style spy-thriller-guns-explosions type book. Yes, we were mashing genres. We wrote Crossing really quickly, enjoying ourselves immensely, finishing it and the drafts of Sorrow while I was still on draft 12 of Raven.

Sorrow Mystica and Crossing the Line are set in 1971/1972, while Raven of Dispersion is set in 1976. It made sense then that, when I decided to self-publish, the novels should be released in the same order as their timeline.

So next then will be The Ethical Hitman, Genial (both set in 1976), and then German Overalls (set in 1984).

Kevin and I are also working on Panlyrae: A Message for Mankind and Operation Flashlight, which would be nodes 0 and 1, and will be set in the 40s/50s/60s. These could be released at any point in the series.

And then, there might well be something set on the planet Panlyrae at some indeterminate point in the age of the universe. I have ideas…

There might also be something about a couple of characters from Dereham dithering about whether to take a trip on the Settle and Carlisle railway. This one will be a hoot. I might need Kevin to subvert the rather Ruth Rendell-ish, Anita Brookner-ish nature of it with guns, bombs, aliens and spies.

NODE 3 – “Crossing the Line” Published

The second book in the Dereham Connections series has now been published. Node 3, Crossing the Line was finally unleashed upon a suspecting world a few weeks back. Here’s the blurb…

Peta Shepherd had already crossed the line. Archie Conn might know why, and Harry Roberts would cross lines to find him. Emily Freeman had crossed a line, leaving the US and moving to London to be with Len Stone, Peta’s friend, Archie’s nemesis. Her head was full of secrets; why was she leaving? Colonel Skinner would cross lines to discover why, and to keep the Brits off his back. Mick Edge would cross lines to discover why the Yanks were operating on his soil without his authorisation, and what Archie had learned from Peta Shepherd about the aliens she had once talked to.

And Archibald Franklin Conn? He had crossed many lines in his time – but the line he was about to cross would put him far beyond the pale.

In the end, all lines cross – and the outcome changes lives forever.

The book is available from Amazon as a paperback and as a Kindle book. Here’s a link to the paperback.






I am currently editing Raven of Dispersion, Node 4.0 in the Dereham Connections and it should be published some when in July/August…

Node 3 – Crossing the Line

Having established that all the Nodes in the Dereham Connections have some linkage to Dereham, how are they connected?

Well, I can’t tell you too much without giving several games away. While all the books are designed to stand alone, inevitably, things happen in the books that will affect other books.

Still, Node 3 is called Crossing the Line. In Crossing the Line, several lines are crossed. Spies spy on people they really shouldn’t, agencies operate where they’re not allowed and chase information fruitlessly. An agent falls in love with the sister of the woman he was watching. Security services work with terrorists. A bad man becomes much worse. And all because Peta Shepherd might finally have discovered something and told nobody except Archibald Franklin Conn. Everybody is searching for information. Many people are searching for Archie, for various reasons. All Archie is searching for is an easy life.

Set in London, South Wales and Reading, in late 1972 and early 1973, Crossing the Line is the book that has least to do with Dereham. And yet the events in Dereham, described in Sorrow Mystica, are the impetus for the drama in Crossing the Line. And the man who Archie becomes in Crossing the Line reverberates through the connections and has consequences in 1976, in Node 5.

After the vague sci-fi feel of Sorrow Mystica, Crossing the Line crosses into the spy and thriller genres. There are no aliens or spaceships, no skywatchers or paranormal mysteries. But the aliens we meet in Sorrow Mystica, and their channel, Peta Shepherd, provide the McGuffin that propels Crossing the Line.

Crossing the Line should be available early in the new year.