Latest updates

Happy Birthday!

Friday, 19 August 2022

Today, 19th August, marks one whole year since 'A Hundred Years to Arras' was published. It came to life because of your support, and it's one of my proudest achievements.

When Unbound agreed to take it on, it was on the understanding that production, editing and - ahem - marketing were paid for through crowdfunding. Unlike something like Kickstarter, it isn't just anybody who gets to do it…

A hole in the roof

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

I thought I'd share a little from my Work in Progress, the novel based around the Tonypandy Riots. Just a first draft, but this is my first paragraph. Be kind.

Jubilee Birthday Blues

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Happy Jubilee Week, if you're into that sort of thing...

The crowdfunding campaign on Unbound started on 7th June 2019, auspiciously my 51st birthday. It came to an end about a year later. The book eventually came out in August 2021, so we're coming up to ten months since publication, and three years since it all started. Thanks again for all of that. 

I've had quite a crisis of confidence recently…

An Hour Before it's Dark: The Mines of Arras in 1917, the Tonypandy Riots in 1910, and the light at the end of the tunnel in 2022

Sunday, 13 March 2022

It’s been difficult, it’s fair to say, to concentrate on much over the last couple of weeks. The news is dominated with what’s going on in the Ukraine and, for lots of reasons, I’ve found it hard to really get into anything. My own to-be-read pile grows by the day and I find myself looking at it, changing the order of what I’m going to read, starting something new, but then fizzling out. It’s the…

Happy New Hundred Years

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Happy New Year!

I sincerely hope you all had a great Christmas and that 2022 will be a good year for you.

I know you've all received your copies of A Hundred Years to Arras and I'm so humbled by the reviews and messages I've had from many of you. But that leaves a lot of you who I haven't heard from. If you get the chance, it would mean an awful lot if you could leave a review on Amazon and…

Spread the word...

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Hello everyone. I hope you're all well, all received your books and are enjoying it or already enjoyed it. As usual, my first request is if you could pop a review on Amazon, it would be much appreciated. Even if people don't buy from Amazon (local independent booksellers are always best!), reviews do hold a lot of sway. I don't know if it's an urban myth or it's true, but legend has it that when you…

Out in the world, our baby takes its first steps.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Read, Review, Repeat!

Well, I really hope everyone has received their copies of the book now. I've heard from a few people who ordered the digital version without realising it and would prefer the paperback. If that's you, do let me know and we'll see what we can do!

A launch party wasn't a logistical possibility sadly in the week of release. It would still be good to do something, maybe online…

Interviews and Incursions

Friday, 6 August 2021

By now, you will hopefully all have received your subscriber copies of the book. Please email Unbound if you haven't - all physical copies should have been sent out by now, and an email with a link to the digital version should have arrived for e-backers. 

Once more, a heartfelt thank you for pre-ordering and for your faith in the book. Initial responses have been overwhelmingly positive, including…

Unboxing and reviews

Monday, 26 July 2021

Hopefully this works... the obligatory unboxing video. Damn, I hate my voice! Anyway, I have some author copies now, which means your subscriber copies will be imminent and hopefully you'll have them in your hands well before they're in the shops. I've yet to see any reviews of the book, so I hope you'll all feel you can review it in all the usual places online when you've read it. Every little helps…

Adventures into Bookshops and onto Radio

Friday, 4 June 2021

So the marketing for pre-launch is picking up steam. This week is half term so, being a teacher, I'm not at work. I've managed to read a book (Your Friend Forever by Zena Barrie, which is brilliant) and start in on another couple. I've always got 3 or 4 books I'm trying to juggle. Too many books, not enough time. 

Aaaanyway, that's also the dilemma that faces independent booksellers, so I set myself…

"April is the cruellest month..."

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

When I think about why and how I decided that I wanted to write, I can't help but go back to school. I mean, I do that every day anyway, but bear with me. I remember annoying my Chemistry teacher because, try as I might, I just couldn't get it. I was quite clever and very good at English and Art, as well as being a pretty good young athlete (until I was about 16 and discovered other pursuits), so…

And now... the cover reveal!

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

As a thank you to all of you for supporting this book, you're the first people outside of myself and Unbound to see the cover in its full glory. Thank you for investing financially and, let's face it, emotionally, in the crowdfunding campaign. You helped publish this book. It's thanks to you that this will be what you will see on bookshelves when you walk into bookshops. Without further ado, then…

A Goose for Christmas

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Well, hello! Thank you for your continued patience, ladies and gentlemen. Edits are well underway - the structural edit is more or less completed, and then the manuscript will be in the hands of the copy editor. Conversations have taken place with regard to cover design and things along those lines. Unbound have their own go-to source for cover design, so that's all very exciting indeed.

A by-product…

Manuscript done!

Friday, 14 August 2020

Hi folks

This is just a quick update to let you know that I've submitted the complete manuscript of 'A Hundred Years to Arras' to Unbound. I thought it was ready earlier in the week, but spending another couple of days on it has sharpened it up immensely.

What happens next? 

Watch this space...

Thanks again for all your support. The first of you to have pledged for the radio show option…

Progress and Radio Playlist Pledges!

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Hi folks

Just time for a quick update, as we go into summer shenanigans. Thanks once again for all the support - we are comfortably over the line, and you would have noticed that the status is "Writing in progress". This doesn't mean I'm only starting to write now of course; I am, however, tinkering with the manuscript as you might expect, in anticipation for the call to send it forth into the…

Progress and Radio Playlist Pledges!

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Hi folks

Just time for a quick update, as we go into summer shenanigans. Thanks once again for all the support - we are comfortably over the line, and you would have noticed that the status is "Writing in progress". This doesn't mean I'm only starting to write now of course; I am, however, tinkering with the manuscript as you might expect, in anticipation for the call to send it forth into the…

We did it!

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Well, finally, with a few generous donations in the last couple of weeks, we are there. Crowdfunding has been arduous and stressful, I don't mind admitting. I can say this to all of you because you've taken the leap of faith to support this book.

From the absolute bottom of my heart and every nerve ending radiating outwards, THANK YOU. Many of you are friends, some of you are family, others are…

"If My Calculations Are Correct, When This Baby Hits 88 Miles Per Hour, You're Gonna See Some Serious S***.”

Monday, 29 June 2020

Great Scott!

We hit 88! 88 per cent, that is. Not miles per hour. 

But I couldn't resist the movie quote - from one of the greatest movies ever made, of course!

We're at that stage where I'm going all out to get as much support as possible to reach 100%. I'm going through the manuscript sentence by sentence, adding, subtracting, changing, improving (I hope!) in full knowledge that once an…

A whole year closer to Arras...

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

On 7th June, we reached a year of this crowdfunding campaign. If truth be told, I never thought this would work. But here we are, at 79% and 182 supporters. We are getting close to the finish line, and I wouldn't have managed it if it wasn't for the support of all of you. I'm expecting to be able to wrap things up soon so that the next phase can begin. Truth be told, lockdown has given me some mopre…

What makes life meaningful...

Monday, 1 June 2020

I’m not a prolific writer. My main focus at the moment is getting ‘A Hundred Years to Arras’ ready. As I type, we’re at 65% with 176 supporters. Welcome and thank you to those new backers who have joined us since my last update.

The lockdown situation we’re all in has obviously affected the timing of Unbound’s releases, but I don’t want A Hundred Years to carry on funding for a hundred years, so…

Easter Monday: Arras 103

Monday, 13 April 2020

9th April was the 103rd anniversary of the Battle of Arras. With Easter being literally a moveable feast, Easter Monday actually falls today, 13th April. But, in 1917, it was Easter Monday when thousands of troops emerged from the tunnels beneath Arras and the villages outside the town to push the German front line back as far as they could. 

As you know, on the hundredth anniversary, I visited…

Happiness is the Road

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

The greatest blessing that we have

Is the dawn of each new day

A chance to finish what we started

And made a mess of yesterday

As day comes out of night

A chance to get it right

A chance to start again

A chance to get it right

- Lyrics by Steve Hogarth, from the song 'Happiness is the Road' by Marillion. 

I woke up with these words on my mind today. Today wasn't really anything special…

Funny Old Weeks and TV Retreats

Monday, 16 March 2020

Sometimes retreat is the only answer.

It’s been a funny old week. The United States has closed its borders. Italy and France are in lockdown. Britain can’t decide whether to protect capital or people. Or neither. Messages are mixed and toilet rolls are scarce. We may mock those who are panic buying when there really is no need, but at the heart of it is a complicated set of emotions, even if the…

Of Liberty, memorials and coffee. Lots of coffee.

Monday, 2 March 2020

"In a New York minute, everything can change

In a New York minute, you can get out of the rain

In a New York minute, everything can change

In a New York minute

And in these days, darkness falls early

And people rush home to the ones they love

You'd better take a fool's advice than take care of your own

One day they're here, next day they're gone"

- Thus sang Don Henley. The first time…

Meet the Author: Tom Ward's 'The Lion and the Unicorn'

Monday, 17 February 2020

This is the latest in an occasional series of interviews with fellow Unbound authors. Tom Ward is the author of ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’, currently funding on Unbound. Here’s the premise:

London, 2054. A policeman, H, is called to investigate the murder of a former reality television star, now an outlawed profession.

Since the revolution, the new government has objectively ruled…

Did you know...?

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Did you know...?

1. 38 million soldiers were killed, wounded or went missing in World War One.

2. 19,240 British soldiers died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

3. In the Battle of Arras, there were 158,660 casualties.

4. In Messines Ridge, British miners detonated 900,000lbs of explosives in one go, destroying the German Front Line. It was so loud that it could be heard in…

Zero to Hero?

Friday, 31 January 2020

My journey as a writer began when I was very young. In the right circumstances, I was a sociable child, but I needed my own downtime, my time alone, which I spent drawing and writing stories. We didn’t have much in the way of telly, of course. We didn’t even have central heating until 1981, after we’d moved house to an MOD quarter in Chatham Dockyard in the biting, bitter winter of 1980. My Dad was…

January Blues - and Some Jazz

Monday, 13 January 2020

It's a new year. I hope this will be the year that A Hundred Years to Arras is published! We're 52% of the way there, with 159 supporters, and every single one of you keep me plugging away simply by being there.

This year I will also 'celebrate' twenty-eight years as a teacher. Twenty-eight. Crikey. Yes, I started in the womb, clearly.

January inevitably is a bit of a limbo period for some people…

Christmas wonderment awaits

Friday, 20 December 2019


Thank you so much to all of you who have supported the book these past few months. We're at 51% with 157 wonderful supporters but we ain't finished yet! 

Don't forget - one of the reward levels is to have a personalised short story written. What a great Christmas gift that could make - there's still time if you order soon. Imagine fending off Germans yourself in a rain-sodden trench, or even…


Friday, 29 November 2019

It's nearly Christmas - less than a month away. What better time to buy a present for the book lover in your life? With today's Black Friday discount (it's only today up until midnight), you can get 15% discount on Unbound with the code BOOKFRIDAY15.

You could upgrade your pledge at a discount if you fancy it, or buy another copy as a present for someone who appreciates exciting new fiction - remember…

To Hull and Back

Monday, 11 November 2019

Blimey. A photo in which I don't look completely awful. There's a thing. On the weekend, I was invited along to Ian Judson's play 'An Ordinary Hero', which is the story of Rugby League player Jack Harrison, who fought in The Great War and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Oppy Wood in May 1917, just a month after the Battle of Arras. The link between our two protagonists was too…

Living on a Prayer... nearly

Monday, 28 October 2019

Who-ah, we're half way there... nearly.

Things seemed to have stalled. Whether it's the time of year, uncertain politics or other reasons I don't know, but I'm intending that we should get a boost in backers on Saturday 9th November, when I will be in Hull at Park Street Performing Arts Centre. I'll be all set up to take some more pre-orders before and after the play that has been written by Ian…

Meet the Author: Alan Gillespie

Monday, 14 October 2019

Good morning / afternoon / evening, Troops! We're so near to 50% I can almost touch it. I guess it's a psychological benchmark in that we could hopefully gain a bit more momentum after that point, so please do direct anyone this way who you think would be interested in the book.

One of the best things about doing this crowdfunding thing is that it's really opened up my eyes to a whole wealth…

Roll up! Roll up! Comic Cons, Radio Stations and Theatres.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

The crowdfunding wagon trundles on. In a near-last minute decision, I've taken a table at Leamington Comic Con on Saturday 5th October. I'll be there selling some of my comics, including my adaptation with the wonderful David Hitchcock of Charles Dickens' 'The Signal-Man' and my original graphic novel with James Gray, 'Amnesia Agents'. There'll be other sundries there too, but my main reason for having…

I've got merch! And a plan...

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Welcome to my new supporters who reported to the Regimental HQ this weekend! September has kicked into life with some new opportunities to get the word out. I spent a very pleasant afternoon at The Treehouse Bookshop in Kenilworth, with my merch (yes, I know the lingo now) set up (pictures below) and an even more pleasant time having a long chat with a couple of ladies, one of whom pledged for the…

Open Mic shenanigans

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

You are all beautiful people. Whenever I feel a bit despondent, I think of the 135 people who have faith in this project. We'll get there, by hook or by crook! (Well, hopefully not by crooked means but you know what I mean).

In Kenilworth where I live, we have two totally wonderful bookshops: Kenilworth Books and The Treehouse Bookshop. Both have been fantastically supportive of me and of the book…

Down the Rabbit Hole

Friday, 30 August 2019

I fell down a rabbit hole today. Fellow Unbound author posted a link on social media to a TED Talk by the musician Amanda Palmer (more on that some other time maybe), which led to a bit of a click chain. I watched a number of TED talks on the now-ubiquitous YouTube whilst I was typing away on something else – it’s the advantage of having a large enough PC screen to be able to have two things open…

Readings on the radio

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Thanks for your continued support, folks. We are growing in supporters all the time, although there's the inevitable slowdown during August as we all enjoy the rain - I mean, the sun -  and jet off here and there. For us, we've acquired a dog from Dog's Trust, and she's taking up all our time!

I've just completed a script for Commando, and you're the first to know the title: it's called 'Red Snow…

The Pitch Video

Monday, 29 July 2019

I'm not sure this uploaded properly last time...

Anyway, here's my ugly mug with the original pitch video.

If you can't take the heat... get a dog.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

It's been hot. Too hot for me. Forunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I've been somewhat tied to the house this week. We adopted a dog from The Dog's Trust last week, and she's settling in nicely, although slightly nervous. She still doesn't quite have to confidence to venture any further than she can see out of the window. We tried walking her around the block, but as soon…

The return of the video with my ugly mug

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

The official 'landing' video of the project has been replaced, but I thought it would be useful to put the original back in as an update for anyone who has yet to see me waffling on about the book...

A video...

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Radio interview and readings!

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

A couple of weeks ago, I was a guest on Brunch With the Bradleys on Radio Abbey. The show is in two parts. The interview with me starts at about 30 minutes into Part 1 and continues into Part 2. I talk about the background to the novel and do a couple of readings of extracts from the novel. Listen here on Mixcloud:…

An extract... barbed wire and banter.

Friday, 28 June 2019


I promised another extract. This is taken from later in the novel, where the friends Robert, Stanley and Ernest are following orders to break through the enemy barbed wire...

“What are you doing?” It was Ernest, beside him, ducking, half crouching, bayonet forward, ready to press on.

“I fell,” began Robert.

“Fall in then! Come on! Stand still and you’re target practice!” Ernest replied…

On the radio!

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Good afternoon everyone (or good morning, or evening, or brunchtime, whenever you're reading this),

As of today, we've reached 15% of our target with 75 backers. It's been wonderful to see a whole range of people pre-ordering the book: old schoolfriends; Facebook friends; family; work colleagues; fellow creatives (including rock musicians, writers, artists); and complete strangers! It's been hard…

Flashback to research

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Thanks so much to all of you who have backed so far. It means a lot to know that you're there encouraging the project. We're at 13% as I write, and I thought I'd flash back to a blogpost I wrote near the beginning of the drafting of the novel, when I was still researching:

July 2016:

Reading up on the Battle of Arras has been interesting. I'm into the end of the first week of my summer holiday…

A Hundred Years to Arras: And we're launched!

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

This is where it all began:

The attack began at 5.30 a.m on 9th April 1917. It was a Monday. Depending on your attitude to work, Monday mornings are full of either expectation or trepidation. Knowing what faced them, many having already lived through the Somme earlier in the Great War, trepidation was the least the young men of the British and Canadian regiments were feeling as they prepared to…

Publication date: August 2021
103% funded
212 backers