November Update – History’s Footsteps

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I’m developing the third book in the Blue Panther, Liberty One series right now and playing with different ways to move the characters through historical events.

It’s good old fashioned scribbling on modern tech at this stage. The pen frees the mind according to an old pyramid principle to separate thinking from writing.

I really needed the summer off but knew my head would return to creative pursuits in autumn. Blue Panther was in focus this time last year. Fresh eyes help too. I broke several times, for as long as a year, in between drafts of Liberty One. Blue Panther was first outlined a some years ago.


From what I recall, the world was tense in the early eighties period of the new book (living memory for some, history for others). I’d just exited a small boarding school bubble and fell into a real world ruff and tumble London state school. Cold War nukes were poised, Andropov had a finger on the buttonduring NATO’s Able Archer, and our government posted self-protection leaflets in case of armageddon. Worse still, mullets and shoulder pads were everywhere, and kids in shell suits spun on their heads for entertainment. Then there was Star Wars – the Ronald Reagan type. Seems like sci-fi today. I wish I’d taken notes at the time but never imagined I’d return to research a novel someday.

Anyway, when will this book be done? I’m a planner and there’s still scene work needed before writing can start. Plus, it has to be fun. Writing’s not a production line or treadmill for me. My busy ‘normal’ weekday career’s important too. That said, I do like to ship and share the story. Three other books are outlined and waiting too.

Germany, the Cold War and the Space Race

The eighties weren’t lost entirely. I liked Miami Vice and Back to the Future. NASA’s space shuttle was quite a spectacle. Did you know Russia had one too? I was in Speyer in Germany in August to see it during a WW2 and Cold War history trip. Berlin defined the eighties in many ways before the wall fell along with Soviet tyranny in 1989. 

Follow my history time-travel on YouTube or TikTok (don’t forget to like & subscribe for more).

Click here for the Intro
Click here for V2 to Saturn

Writing the book on a phone

I’m experimenting to see if I can write the novel on my phone or iPad to avoid lugging my MacBook when out and about. Nuts! you must think. Super convenient, I say, for short bursts of word capture with the help of some basic kit.

I do this sort of thing every several years to shake things up and see what’s possible. AI’s exploding right now which could make the difference. Novel writing apps are out there too. A lot of the new story outline is being scribbled on an iPhone with a £12 Amazon stylus/pen which is remarkably competent at taming my scrawls. I’m drafting this mail on a Magic Keyboard connected to my device. It works, though I can’t imagine tackling the follow on production and marketing activities on this little thing.

What I’ve been watching and reading

  • Ad Astra. Nicely filmed sci-fi space thriller with a very unhappy astronaut in need of a therapist’s chair more than a rocket seat.
  • Oppenheimer. A big screen political rivalry biography more than a thriller (it was a toss up against Barbie). I’d watch it again.
  • Edge of Tomorrow. A Tom Cruise time travel flick on Netflix. Clever futuristic sci-fi repurposing of WW2 D-Day landings.
  • All The Light We Cannot See. A well done Netflix WW2 drama novel adapted for the small screen. Telly’snormally too slow for me but this one doesn’t drag (at x1.5 speed).
  • Roald Dhal short stories on Netflix. A handful of stars read and act out some of Dhal’s best stories. Great for everyone and even includes the Dhal character in his hallowed writing chair which would have been occupied just a few miles from here.
  • Nobody. Bob Odenkirk of Better Call Saul plays a family man who turns rogue. The violence and ageing 1980s stars weren’t my bag.
  • I also viewed a lot of 1944-45 Berlin footage and read some books before my trip in August (I’ll post some reviews). If I could go back to a time, it would be to this century defining moment. How about you? When would you go back to?

What made me laugh

I sat on a jury recently and listened to straight faced British whigs in court echoing and scribbling the most vile swearing in evidence during trial. You had to be there. Great material for a court comedy. 🤣 🤣

What I’ve been listening to

History Extra’s probably my favourite podcast but I also like Realtime 1960s. For Liberty One fans, here’s JFK speaking about the build up of nukes in Cuba in 1964 (The ads are cute too).

This interesting YouTube snippet will also resonate with Liberty One fans. ‘A Cold War between China and the US will be fought ‘in space’ | Tim Marshall


Have a glance at these book reviews if you missed any and need a good read (click the title name):

Road to Surrender: Focuses tightly on a handful of politicians and senior military officers involved in America’s decision to nuke Japan and its surrender in World War II. Not for everyone. I scanned it.

Atonement: I’m not a romance reader but this is one of my favourite historical fiction stories with an innovative ending, a really compelling screen adaptation and a superb movie score. I met the composer too.

Checkmate in Berlin: Loved it! I was glued and thrilled beginning to end. You must read this book first, and take it with you if you visit Berlin with an eye on history. It also illuminates Russia’s war in 2022 in many ways.

Slaughterhouse-Five: Very readable WW2 fiction, if you can get over the odd combination of Dresden vs aliens and Eternalism, and an ambiguous ending.

Astronaut Wives Club: A great non-fiction book which does exactly what it says in the title.

Rocket Men: Another amazing book which retells mankind’s first foray to the moon on Apollo 8.

The Book of Daniel: A thriller which echoes the fate of the real Rosenbergs, convicted and executed as American Communists during the fifties Red Scare.

And Finally…

If you’ve just joined us, welcome. It’s good to have you. 👋

Till next time, enjoy the Christmas countdown. 🍁 (and leaf clearing) 😩

All the best,