Read all about it! I continue to make the press (Pt I)

Our local paper, the Lichfield Mercury, just ran this story on me. Very pleased to see this.


News Reporter

A LICHFIELD author who pens Sherlock Holmes stories is pursuing his most challenging case to date – matching the number of official adventures starring the fictional detective.

Hugh Ashton, who works with a digital security and forensics company, writes in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories and his books have sold thousands of copies internationally since the publication of his first Sherlock story in 20 I 2.

Married Hugh, who lives in Lichfield with wife Yoshiko, has already published 37 short stories and two novellas featuring Holmes.

But within the next five years Hugh, 63, hopes to complete a further 19 short stories and two novellas – the equivalent of more than four per year.

Hugh, the secretary of Lichfield Mysteries CommunityArts, which produces adaptations of medieval mystery plays across the city, admitted the challenge was far from elementary.

“Sir Arthur ConaDoyle produced a total of 56 short stories and four novellas about Holmes,which is a prodigious achievement for any writer” said Hugh.

“I greatly admire Sir Arthur and his works, and as such I have made it my professional ambition to follow in his footsteps a little further.

“It won’t be easy, but with hard work – and a little luck – I hope to complete that objective and match Sir Arthur’s output by2024:’

Hugh, an alumnus of Christ’s College, Cambridge, is no stranger to criminal investigations, having previously worked on the production of a cyber-investigative software training manual used by police forces and intelligence agencies around the world.

He has also worked for major organisations including the NHS and, in Japan his wife’s home country – for Yamaha, TEAC (Tokyo Electric Acoustic Company), and two of its Prime Ministers.

He currently works as an associate with a London-based firm that provides digital forensic and security services, and is studying for a master’s degree in forensic psychology with the Open University.

He has since added another 35 short stories and two novellas – The Death of Cardinal Tosca and The Darlington Substitution to his expanding Holmes collectionwhich have been collected together in his ‘Deed Box’ and ‘Dispatch-box series. Most of the adventures, which are based on the fictional premise that Hugh received the boxes containing Doctor Watson’s notes on untold cases of the great sleuth, have hit the top 10 bestsellers in their genre on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

They are all new stories, but are written and produced in the same authentic style as Sir Arthur’s originals, even down to the use of 19th-century typography in the printed editions.

Like the originals, all are set in the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras, with the majority based on “untold” stories mentioned briefly by Dr Watson it his accounts of Sherlock Holmes’ cases.  Hugh is also a regular contributor to the MX Collections of Sherlock Holmes adventures, which is the worldlargest publisher of Holmes pastiches. Proceeds from the sales of these anthologies go to Stepping Stones Undershaw, a special needs school based at Sir Arthur’s former home in Hindhead, Surrey.

Now Hugh is planning to “leave his stamp” on the genre by writing a total of 21 new stories over the next five years.

One of those stories, The Bloody Steps, will have its roots in the infamous murder of Christina Collins in Rugeleybetween Stafford and Lichfield, in 1839.

In it, Holmes will visit Rugeley and investigate the legend, which endures today, of the “bloody steps” a flight of stone stairs up which Christina’s body was carried to rest at the nearby Talbot.Inn.

Hugh, who is planning to publish The Bloody Steps, along with a new Sherlock novella based on the untold case of Baron Maupertuis mentioned by Watson in The Adventure of the Reigate Squires, later this yearsaid: “I have my work cut out, but my reward comes when I uncover a little more about the life of the worlds most famous detective and can share it with the thousands of Sherlock Holmes fans around the world.

There may be more later – watch this space.

Something nasty in the woodshed – REVIEW of Cold Comfort Farm

I suppose quite a few people are familiar with this phrase (the one about the woodshed, I mean), and some people might even know where it comes from – I used it myself just the other day. However, I’d never read Cold Comfort Farm until now, and I regret not having done so before.

As a non-fan of D.H.Lawrence (as a novelist, though I do like a lot of his poetry), I particularly enojoyed the book, and it actually had me laughing out loud on the train as I read it.

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Just finished a 3k+ word short story which ventures into new territory. The protagonist is a youngish woman, and the situation is one I have never personally experienced.

It’s all from a very intimate third-person POV, and though there are flashbacks, the majority of the action occurs in one small room and one person’s mind – it’s quite claustrophobic.

There’s a lot of swearing and four-letter words at one point. Still not sure whether to leave them there, but they do fit the character and her mood at this point.

The style is closest to my Tales of Old Japanese – a very sparse style –  not too many adverbs, and very little in the way of physical description.

There’s an element of the supernatural here, but there’s also ambiguity here – I hope, and I also hope that it’s quite scary from a psychological point of view (as opposed to people being eaten by zombies or chopped up with chainsaws, etc.).

Oh, and the title, and the image I’ve chosen to decorate this page with? All part of the story.

…she kept coming back to Bee-bee, as she had done for over thirty years.

Bee-bee was six months younger than Anne, and she had been given to Anne by her grandmother, who had died less than a year later. From the start, Anne had instantly fallen in love with the rag doll, who seemed to always have been called Bee-bee. No-one could remember who she was called that, or why.

Now on her fourth set of button eyes, and after many major surgical operations to repair almost ripped off limbs, severe abdominal lesions, and general old age, Bee-bee went everywhere with Anne, whether Anne was on her own or not. Bee-bee was always there to listen, sitting at the head of her bed, whenever Anne had doubts, or when her heart was broken as yet another man walked out of her life.

Now, what to do with what I’ve written… Any agents or publishers interested?

Beginning at the end

Our writers’ group, the Lichfield Writers, gave us an interesting exercise this week. Usually, a writing exercise gives you the opening sentence of a piece. This time, we were presented with the end.

As night turned to day, he started to understand the truth.

I ended up writing a genre which is somewhat unfamiliar to me. I think it almost works.

Continue reading “Beginning at the end”