The Midsomer work camp

I’m sure all the Midsomer Murders aficionados out there will understand that Inspector Barnaby would lament the demise of this admirable institution on his patch (and rue its subsequent use).

thelearningprofessor

You might realise by now that I enjoy a bit of crime fiction, and that includes a taste for Midsomer Murders, even though it is way past its peak as a more or less gentle mockery of middle class manners. Midsomer doesn’t exist, of course, but its county capital, Cawston, is largely filmed in the Thames Valley market town of Wallingford. And Wallingford, as well as being the fictional home of many a murderous snob with status anxieties, has a history.

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In 1911, the Christian Social Union, effectively the social service arm of the Congregationalist and Presbyterian Churches, purchased a farm near Wallingford for use as a labour colony. The Congregationalists viewed social service as a form of missionary work, a view articulated particularly by the Nottingham minister John Brown Paton, who helped popularise in Britain the ideas of the Lutheran Pastor von Bodelschwingh, who had launched an elaborate system…

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Danger by Association Giveaway

Win a paperback thriller!

Heather Burnside Author

Next month is the last of my giveaways for paperback copies of The Riverhill Trilogy. Big congratulations to those of you who have already won signed copies of Slur and A Gangster’s Grip.

If you didn’t win a copy, don’t worry, you can still be in with a chance of winning a signed, original copy of Danger by Association.

Readers will be notified by newsletter of how to enter the giveaway. To receive my newsletters you will need to sign up to my mailing list by following the link: Heather’s Readers. It’s quick and easy to sign up and means you will also be amongst the first readers to find out about new releases and special offers.

Bye for now and good luck.

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Murderous learning – more reflections on adult education in crime fiction

Can adult education have a sinister side?

thelearningprofessor

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Recently I’ve been enjoying a crime novel by an Irish writer, Tana French. The Trespasser is set in Dublin, and its central character is Antoinette Conway, a hard-boiled murder squad detective of mixed race. The novel is interesting on belonging, family, gender, low-level racism, and internal hierarchies in the police. And it also touches upon adult education.

Aislinn, the murder victim, is described as a serial attender of evening classes. The detectives draw up a list of all the classes she took with a view to checking out ‘all the other students or whatever they call them’, a lead they pursue by looking though her financial records for fee payments.

I’d wondered whether this meant that the murder turned on an evening class, which would have been mightily entertaining. But no; Antoinette describes the list of evening classes as ‘depressing as hell’:

Aislinn genuinely paid actual money for a…

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Adult educators and the UK honours system

The business of accepting honours from ‘the Establishment’ is a thorny problem and, in the end, has to sit well (or otherwise) with one’s conscience.

thelearningprofessor

Alan Tuckett Arise, Sir Alan

I’ve been quietly celebrating the award of a knighthood to Alan Tuckett, a lifelong adult educator who is probably best known for his leadership of the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education. Celebrating because the award acknowledges the way in which Alan didn’t simply ‘do his job’, but used his position to provide leadership and visibility for the wider field of adult learning, so that the knighthood can be understood as a public recognition of an important but often overlooked field.

All of this said, I don’t approve of the UK honours system on principle. The system rests on patronage and has been thoroughly tainted by cronyism and rewards for people – notably civil servants – who simply have ‘done their job’. It perpetuates the language of Empire and aristocratic rule, so I find it hard to see how it sits with the egalitarian and meritocratic world…

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Ahoy there, Faye Sewell!

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Faye Sewell

The next in the occasional series of posts offered to guest authors by Wilfred Books will be presented in the style of an interview, in which she explains how she became an author, with Faye Sewell (right), who is already an established actor, with a wide & varied roster of screen rôles under her belt, but couldn’t resist the urge to write! She has now published three classic ‘Pirate’ novels, which will be detailed below.

Is writing currently your main activity, on a regular basis?

Writing is my secondary occupation, Acting is my primary one. I feel like they’re very complimentary to one another, I have always enjoyed getting inside characters’ heads and building them, whether from clues in a script or a person who walks into my imagination and demands to be written down.

When did you first start writing seriously?

I’ve always written from as far back as I can remember, but all my work would end up being first drafts and incomplete – something I was excited about briefly but had no follow through to complete. Then a few years back I started a book and finished it, realized I just hadn’t been writing about anything that interested me enough in the past – and became so obsessed with my new book that finishing it and going on to complete the trilogy was something that I absolutely had to do.

Which route into publishing did you follow?

I didn’t approach publishers directly as a lot of them seemed closed to unsolicited submissions and while I did write to a few agents, I got tired with stock responses and decided to take matters into my own hands. I was very keen to just get my story out there and having spoken to other writers and hearing how long it could take to find an an agent and from that point on, yet more time to find a publisher, I felt that self-publishing was the way to go for me.

Would you have been open to an offer from a publisher, if one had been forthcoming?

If I had been approached by a publisher and offered a deal, it would have definitely been something that I would have considered – but very dependent on the circumstances. I am very protective of my characters and maintaining their integrity and what I set out to do with my trilogy was and is very important to me. I would of course have been open to feedback, but no major changes and nothing that would compromise creative control to a large extent.

How do you see the future for your writing, from now on?

I’m very lucky in that I do have a lot of time to write and when I’m not acting I can write full-time. I love variety and I think it makes me a better writer, having breaks to work on acting jobs and then returning to what I’m working on with a fresh perspective.

Your Black Feather Trilogy looks very exciting, and deserves to be very successful. The first image below is a link to the Kindle Store on Amazon.co.uk. Thank you very much, Faye, and the best of luck with your writing!

The KestrelEbbing Tides

The third book in this trilogy, Cresting Waves, can be seen in the banner image at the top of this post.