The Story Behind the Story – The Brother in Law

Hi there!

Welcome to Readerly Ramblings for September

My focus for this month is The Brother in Law, a novella that I offer freely to all readers who join my ‘keep in touch list.’

This blog post celebrates the six month mark since I released it, and all the wonderful comments I’ve had from readers. And here's a quote to give you a flavour of the two main characters:

"As we all follow each other towards the exit, Calum veers right towards the bar. Through the crowd, I watch him say something to a blonde woman he was talking to earlier. Although she has her back to me, I see her press something into his hand. He glances at me to see if I’m watching, and I look away. I think of my sister-in-law and am reminded of the reason Calum is a person I wouldn’t choose to be friends with."

Drew – The Brother in Law

Cover Credit: Darran Holmes

The Idea

The idea for The Brother in Law emerged from a real life story that came my way about an acquaintance of an acquaintance of an acquaintance.

The set of circumstances were totally different and it was a pair of friends, rather than a family situation like I have depicted in my story.  Somebody had been blackmailed, and as is the case in many stories like this, greed and jealousy were at the root.

At the time I decided to write it, readers who joined my list received a link to download a collection of short stories with a domestic thriller theme, but for a while I’d been wanting to offer something bigger and better.

It then came to me that The Brother in Law would be more powerful as a novella-sized story and the subtitle ‘keep your enemies close’ fired up within me.

Why keep them close?  Because knowledge is power and power is control.  And this story is not short of any of either of these aspects.

Constructing a Page Turner!

The Brother in Law was a quick book to write.  I wrote it at the start of 2021 and thoroughly enjoyed the process. The chapters are as short and punchy as the novella itself which ended as planned, at 30,000 words.

There’s a real liberation in unleashing the nastiness that existed between the characters Drew and Calum onto the page. Like I often say, we domestic thrillers are very nice people in real life as all our darkness is exorcised in our stories!

You will be wondering ‘whodunnit’ as you read the novella and it should be extra hard for you to work out as even I didn’t decide the perpetrator and victim until I was approaching the ending.

The characters went their own way on the page and their actions surprised me more and more as the novella progressed.

Reviews and Research

As with my other stories, Google was great for all my dastardly searches:

Can conversations be completely erased from mobile phones?

How hard is it to move a dead body?

How to time and date stamp digital photographs.

What is the prison sentence for blackmail?

Can crypto currency be traced?

I’ve got enough books out now to prove I’m a crime writer if the internet police come a-knocking

Hopefully the searches alone will have whet your appetite to read this free novella, but here’s part of the prologue if you’d like a little more…


With a scrape of wood against the back of my legs, I lower myself down the other side of the gate and am startled as my feet connect with something beneath me. I shriek as I realise the something is a someone. I grapple in my bag for my phone. Which is probably what I should have done in the first place.

Shining the light of the phone in front of me I realise the someone is in fact, my husband, who is laid out behind our gate. That will explain his silence over the last couple of hours. He’s evidently drunk more than his own body weight in alcohol.

“Wake up.” I nudge him with my foot. “Come on. What are you playing at?” God knows how I’ll get him inside.

“Bloody hell. Wake up, will you? I can’t leave you out here all night.” Even though it’s the middle of September and still fairly warm by day, the temperature falls sharply overnight. I drop into a crouch and reach towards him. He’s certainly out for the count.

As I roll him over towards me, I gasp. There’s blood everywhere. In the faint light, I can’t tell whether his swollen eyes are open or closed. But of one thing, there is no doubt. Even as I reach for his wrist to check his pulse, I’m almost certain that he’s dead.

To get your copy of The Brother in Law, click here: (This will also add you to my 'keep in touch' list.)


Reader Review

"The prologue of this book is pure genius. It immediately makes you want to read on if only to find out which brother-in-law died. This teaser keeps you guessing until almost the very last page. The author builds brilliantly on her characters. The highly unpleasant Calum and the more sympathetic Drew. Knowing one of them was dead I know who I wanted it to be from the beginning. What I didn’t expect was what happened at the end. The plot is clever and well thought out. I know the phrase page turner is clichéd but I really cannot think of any other way to describe this exciting and well written novella." (Charlotte – Goodreads Reviewer)

If you’re already on my ‘keep in touch’ list but joined before I made The Brother in Law available, drop me a line and I’ll send you a link to download it.

What I am Reading:

The Woman at the Door by Daniel Hirst.  Definitely a page turner and has all the ingredients I look for in a domestic thriller – particularly the knowledge that it could happen to you!

What I am Writing:

In His Shadow: She believes whatever he tells her

I’m now approaching the 40,000 word mark with my novel that’s scheduled for a Spring 2022 release.

This novel has given me the opportunity to approach the subject of gaslighting and at first was going to be a psychological thriller without a death.  But of course, once my imagination got to work, it has ended up opening with one in the prologue!

What I am Editing:

I’m at the final editing stage now with Drowned Voices, the sequel to The Yorkshire Dipper and I’m excited to announce that I believe this has legs as a potential trilogy. As an author of standalone books, this is quite a departure for me!

I’m very excited to hear what my Advance Reader Team think when I pass it to them in a couple of months.

Quote of the Month:

Thanks for being here – and for all your wonderful support.  It would be lovely if you said hello in the comments – hearing from my readers is the best part of my job.

Bye for now,


PS: This blog post is also available in video format on YouTube. I post a new blog for my readers on the second Thursday of every month.


Click below to download a second FREE novella from Amazon.