Tag Archives: Sorrow Mystica

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.


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.

Why Connections, and Why Nodes?

The perspicacious among you might have noticed the subtitle to Sorrow MysticaDereham Connections: Node 2 — and wondered what that was all about…

Well, the novels so far written are all connected in some way. They are a series, a chronicle, or what have you. Informally, they were known for some time as The Dereham Chronicles; but that implied they were all set in the imaginary Dereham — that they were a chronicle of the town. However, the series is not so much about Dereham, as about people whose lives intersect and are in some way influenced by events in the town. (Although, if the books also lead you to want to move to Dereham, I’ll have done my job.)

Still, I wanted to give notice that the novels are connected in some way. I thought an overall title like A Dance to the Music of Time might work. But then I thought something like that might be a bit too… precious… for some scifi-spy-thriller-paranormal-romance-based novels; such a “series” title might make the books appear as, “that is to say, literature”, as Henry Miller once wrote. And the fact that at least one of the books is not set in Dereham bugged me. And then one day I concluded that the books were about the connections
between the characters in them; it was the connections that were important. And that’s how Dereham Connections came to be.

And then I saw each novel as a coming together, a meeting point, of the strands and webs of the lives I was weaving, where the connections created a knot, a tangle of wires — a node. And that was how each book came to be called a Node. So why is the first book Node: 2? Because there is no Node 1. Not yet, at any rate. All the Nodes are ordered by when they are set – starting in 1971 for Node 2, and ending in 1984 for Node 6. But they might yet be published in a different order; expect the unexpected.

Anyway, here are the nodes that we — co-author Kevin and I — know for sure will be published over the next year or so:

Node 2          Sorrow Mystica                                                    
Node 3          Crossing the Line
Node 3.5       Genial — Being the Tale of the Courtship of Simon and Julie
Node 4          Raven of Dispersion
Node 5          The Ethical Hitman
Node 6          German Overalls

Only Node 6 remains unwritten — but I know what it’s about. There are notes. And it has to be written. Nodes 2 and 3 are co-written with Kevin. Nodes 3.5 through 6 are written solely by me.

There are other nodes in the pipeline, but they remain a little vague (and depend on my co-author)…

Sorrow Mystica

So, finally, the first book in the Dereham Connections sequence — or chronicles, or volumes, or loosely-connected series, however we might think of it — has been published.

Titled Sorrow Mystica, it is set in the early 1970s in London and Wiltshire (yes, in the imaginary town of Dereham that provides the name for this blog), and also in 1950s California and at some unknown point on the planet Panlyrae.

So, what is it about? The blurb is thus:

Gang member turned hippie Len Stone searched for enlightenment and experience. He’d tried it all – gurus and mysticism, journeys to the East, drugs and religion. But then, on a grubby bookstall in the cold streets of London, Stone chanced upon Panlyrae: A Message for Mankind, the story of Ed Freeman and his contact with aliens.

Intrigued by Freeman’s story, he hoped he too could learn the secrets of the universe through interaction with benevolent aliens. And then, in the nightclub he managed, he met a young woman, a runaway, and thought he’d found at last his soror mystica, his mystical sister. Together, they began to explore alien worlds.

When Stone employed a handsome bruiser to mind the doors, however, he let trouble in rather than keeping it out.

Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the planet Panlyrae look on, unable to intervene, yet deeply and obsessively fascinated by the planet they appear to have discovered.

Spanning continents, decades and worlds, Sorrow Mystica is a tale of alien contact, intrigue, mirage men, espionage, and death. It is also an exploration of narrative, fiction and truth.

If Sorrow Mystica is the first in a loosely-connected series, you might wonder about later books. Have they been written? How many are there? How do they connect?

Well, yes, all but two have been written. There are six, possibly seven books in the series. If one of them doesn’t get written, it won’t matter to the series. How they connect, though, will be subject of further posts.

Sorrow Mystica front cover

Sorrow Mystica
(Dereham Connections: Node 2.0)
at Amazon UK
at Amazon US