Ritchie’s life is shadowed by the death of his wife, Cat, in a car accident twenty-two years previously. He was the driver. He loves his children – Nic, who is bi-polar and often impulsive, and Jack. Both are active in the campaign to welcome asylum-seekers and refugees to Britain. His life comes to a crisis as he realises how much his children despise his trade in advertising and how much the loss of Cat still means to them all.
Ritchie abandons his career but achieves new success in driving Britain’s treatment of refugees up the political agenda. This earns him the respect of his children but brings him to the attention of Makepeace, the populist Home Secretary. Nic, his daughter, strives to show she can overcome her disorder. She infiltrates a people-trafficking gang but is arrested as a criminal. Makepeace uses this to blackmail Ritchie to help him in his political schemes. Ritchie is horrified to discover that his task is to sell the reintroduction of forced labour, modern slavery, to the public. As a result he is once again rejected by his children.
Ritchie has reached rock bottom. He is desolate but believes he can outsmart Makepeace. Blood Ties shows how he finally resolves the situation, embraces the causes his children hold dear and reunites his family.
1. Do you always take a book/e-reader wherever you go?
Yes – but the book is often my note-book which I fill up with sketches, characters and situations, even odd phrases and turns of speech. I end up using about four per cent of them.
2. Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
Difficult – who is most sympathetically presented? If I’m in a novel I’d like the reader to understand me, my desires and my fears, what drives me on. I’d like them to grasp why I behave as I do, no matter whether I’m good or bad.
3. Where can I find you when you are reading?
If I’m lucky it’s a shed at the bottom of the garden on a sunny day, but often it’s on a commuter train or in a corner at work.
4. Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
Talking to someone, walking round the countryside.
5. Can you walk past a bookstore without going inside?
Only under duress. It’s the small independent bookstores I love, you never know what you are going to find.
6. What are you most proud of?
It has to be my latest novel “Blood Ties” because I feel I did what I wanted to do in it (but I know there are scenes that could do with more work, not saying which ones!)
7. What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Triumph – I did this! – mingled with fear – “Little book you are going forth into the world. I do hope people are kind to you”.
8. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write! Write as much as you can, just think of a character and take them for a walk that ends up in the supermarket or riding a motorbike or meeting the love of their life. Also talk! And make sure you talk to other writers.
9. Who would you like/have liked to interview?
So many! Can I have Toni Morrison – she goes straight to the heart of things, and Byron – rich, privileged, he lived an interesting life and made such an awful mess of it.
10. When and where do you prefer to write?
Wherever I can – it’s not so much the place it’s the ideas. What I love about it is that moment when you have in your head something that no-one else has ever had, you don’t know why or where it came from, but it’s your job to try to get it onto paper.
Thank you, Peter Taylor-Gooby and Love Books Group
About the author
I enjoy talking to my children, holidays, hill-walking and riding my bike. I’ve worked on adventure playgrounds, as a teacher, as an antique dealer and in a social security office in Newcastle. Before that I spent a year on a Gandhian Ashram in Vijayawada, supporting myself as assistant editor on a local English-language newspaper. In my day job I’m an academic but I believe that you can only truly understand the issues that matter to people through your feelings, your imagination and your compassion. That’s why I write novels. My first novel, The Baby Auction, 2017, is a love story set in a fantasy world where the only rule is the law of the market. That someone should help another because they care for them simply doesn’t make sense to the citizens of Market World, any more that auctioning babies might to us. My second, Ardent Justice, 2018, is a crime story set in the world of high finance and city fat-cats, where money rules, but greed can trip even the most successful. My third, Blood Ties, 2020, is about the ties of love in a troubled family, and the bonds of debt that chain illegal immigrants to people-traffickers, and how they can be broken through self-sacrifice. I hope you enjoy them.