Hunter's force cover
Building Character, On Writing

Meet Hunter Wilson of Hunter’s Force

Val Penny is the next author to participate in what I call the Building Character series on this website. I invite authors to write about one of the characters crucial to their novel. In this case it is D.I. Hunter Wilson, protagonist of Val’s The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. She’s on to number three — Hunter’s Force. I’ve read the first two, enjoyed them, and fans of UK crime stories should take note of this series. Hunter’s smart and a great boss, who enjoys darts and beer when he’s not solving crimes. I’ll let Val tell you all about him.

Who is your character?

Author pic Edinburgh

Author Val Penny

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is the main protagonist of all my novels. He is a career policeman
with a keen sense of justice. He is loyal to his children, his police team and his darts team. His partner is pathologist Meera Sharma. Hunter is besotted with her.

What does he/she look like?

Hunter is 48 years old. He is slim, 5’11” tall with intelligent, piercing blue eyes and short, straight brown hair.

What is your character’s back story?

Hunter is the son of a Church of Scotland minister. He and his brother were educated in the state system, not privately. He is intelligent but not University educated. Hunter and his wife divorced several years ago, after her sister had an affair with Hunter’s boss. When the man, Sir Peter Myerscough, dumped Hunter’s sister-in-law, the stress within the family caused Hunter and his wife to split. Hunter loathes Sir Peter but is fiercely protective of Sir Peter’s son, Tim who is a member of Hunter’s team

What is your character’s role in your novel?

Hunter leads the police team that investigates the crimes in my novels. He is central to the stories and he knows of the strengths of each member of his team and utilizes these to solve the cases.

Why should readers care about this character?

Hunter is a good guy. He cares about the safety of the citizens of Edinburgh, the well being of his team and the future of his children, Alison and Cameron. He is a normal, real person who enjoys going out with his partner Meera, and playing darts with the team in his local pub. He also enjoys a beer with friends.

 Give a brief excerpt featuring your character.

DI Hunter Wilson looked at the time on his phone before he answered the call. 4.03am. If this was some comedian from the sub-continent calling to tell him about putting in a claim for the accident he hadn’t had… Then he noticed it was Cameron calling him.

“What’s the matter, son? This is a hell of a time to phone.” Hunter whispered.

“I didn’t know who else to call.”

“What’s the matter? And it had better be good.”

“It’s far from good.” Cameron told his father of the scene that had met him and his new friends when they got back to his flat.

“She’s had what cut off? Bloody hell!”

“I know, Dad, I know. And her head has been bashed in too. What do I do?”

“Well, now we have Police Scotland in place there is a Major Incidents Team, imaginatively know as MIT, that deals with cases like this.”

“Oh Dad no! The other girls’ll go mental. You come. Please? At least at first. I need your help.”

Hunter thought back to the days when Cameron used to ask for his help regularly: tying his shoelaces, drying him after swimming, learning to ride a bike. Those had been the golden years. It had been a long, long time since his son had sounded so desperate and pleaded for his help. It made Hunter feel good. He could help Cameron again. Brilliant!

Hunter’s Force Blurb

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature 

Can DI Hunter Wilson keep Edinburgh safe when he is the hunted?

DI Hunter Wilson is woken in the early hours of the morning by a call from his son, Cameron. Who has murdered the young student who shares Cameron’s flat? Why would anybody want to kill a young woman recently arrived in the city? 

Hunter's Force bannerNow that the united police force, Police Scotland exists, Hunter must call in the new Major Incident Team (MIT) to lead the investigation. Hunter’s ability to investigate anything further is put in severe doubt when someone from his past decides to take revenge on him. He goes missing and his team have no idea where to look for him. Who would want to stop Hunter in his tracks?  

Hunter’s team must work closely with MIT, with or without him, to solve the murder in this taut crime thriller.  

Author Bio

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, Hunter’s Chase, Hunter’s Revenge, and Hunter’s Force are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fourth book in the series, Hunter’s Blood, follows shortly.

Author contact details

Author buy links 

Checking the Traps, Isabel Long Mystery Series

Spreading the Word

I’ve just completed a marathon session writing blog posts about Checking the Traps, the third book in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. The posts will appear on other people’s blogs — all part of a plan to spread the net wide for readers. In all I wrote 20 posts, each on a different topic. Yeah, that’s a lot.

The first batch was for a 10-day blog tour I’ve booked on Rachel’s Random Resources that begins March 22, the day Checking the Traps is officially released. Many of the blogs will have reviews. Others will feature excerpts, with an intro I wrote. The rest of the bloggers wanted original posts, including one Q&A.

The second batch I wrote for authors. Most are with my publisher, Crooked Cat Books. I have yet to meet any of them in person since the publishing house is an international one. But I am chuffed, as my UK friends say, at the support they’ve offered through social media and our occasional Skype meetups.

So, how did I come up with 20 topics? First, I made a list. Then I started writing. I aimed for 300-400 words with an excerpt from Checking the Traps to illustrate my point.

The topics range from “my next victim” to “when a bad boy becomes a good guy” to “what’s with the title Checking the Traps?” The victim in this book wrote poetry, so I had to write poetry. I tell readers about that. I write about the characters and their relationships. One blogger wanted something history-related, and amazingly, I was able to do that.

Admittedly, it was a bit tricky since Checking the Traps is book three in a series. I didn’t want to spoil anything plot-wise for those who haven’t caught up with the other two books. I also didn’t want to give away anything crucial about the current one. So, I had to be a bit coy about details. I chose excerpts toward the start of the book.

I got into a rhythm, and wrote two or three a day. It was actually fun, especially now that they are done.

The posts will begin in mid-March. When one appears on a blog, I will let you know. I will also post it on my website. Yes, its all about spreading the word.

ORDERING: Kindle fans can pre-order Checking the Traps on Amazon now for $2.99 and it will pop into your device on March 22. Paperback fans can get their copy now for $10.99. Here’s the link:

Thank you for your support!

Your Secrets Safe With Me Cover 1
Building Character, On Writing

Meet Becca Gates of Your Secret’s Safe With Me

Rosie Travers is the next author to appear in what I call my Building Character series, in which I invite authors to write about an important character in their novel. In this post, the character is Becca Gates from Rosie’s novel, Your Secret’s Safe With Me, which had a Feb. 18 release. This is the second book for this UK author.

She describes her character this way: “Everything Becca does is ‘sensible’ and controlled.” I get the feeling things are going to change. Here, I will let Rosie tell you all about her.

Who is your character?

My character is Becca Gates, age 39, single, works as a Personal Assistant and Editor to her mother IMG_0076 (1)Pearl, a best-selling romantic novelist.

What does he/she look like?

Becca is 5’ 6, slightly heavier than she wants to be, shoulder length mid-brown hair. She dresses ‘sensibly’, wears subdued coloured clothing, practical shoes. Everything Becca does is ‘sensible’ and controlled.  She is the antithesis of her mother.

What is your character’s back story?

Becca’s father was killed in a motorbike accident when she was a baby. She and Pearl were on their own for several years before Pearl met and married Dieter, husband number two. Becca was eighteen, studying at finishing school in Switzerland when Pearl and Dieter embarked on a bitter divorce just as baby Freddy arrived on the scene. Becca was recalled to London to help out and has been in charge ever since. She once thought she’d found her soul-mate in policeman Nick, but he broke her heart when he jilted her at the altar.  Managing Pearl’s writing career has taken precedence ever since.

What is your character’s role in your novel?

Your Secret’s Safe with Me is a story about the intricacies of family relationships and the consequences of keeping secrets.

Becca is the lead protagonist and faces the dilemma of family loyalty versus independence.

When Pearl announces she is about to get married for the third time to Jack, a man she has only just met, Becca is determined to prevent her mother from making another disastrous mistake. Pearl is equally as adamant the wedding will go ahead, further insisting she intends to quit writing and retire to Rivermede, Jack’s idyllic home on the coast.  This immediately causes conflict between the two women. Becca doesn’t want to up-rooted from her home and she certainly doesn’t want her mother’s career and subsequently her own livelihood to end.

All families have taboos and Becca, Pearl and Freddy, along with new fiancé Jack, have plenty to hide from each other and those around them.  At first Becca struggles to adapt to her new surroundings and situation, but gradually, as a new career opportunity unexpectedly comes her way, she realises this is her chance to break out of the cycle of co-dependency within the family and forge a new life for herself. However, her plans stall at the first hurdle when she encounters an unwelcome face from her past, and receives a grim warning that Rivermede is not the calm, safe haven it seems to be.  Becca takes on the pivotal role in protecting her family from danger, but in doing so, she has to risk exposing an awful lot of secrets.

Why should readers care about this character?

Becca is intelligent and self-effacing but her past heartbreak makes her very vulnerable. She has made a lot of sacrifices to ensure Pearl’s career flourishes and to provide stability for Freddy but in doing so has created her own personal comfort zone. As the strings that bind Becca to Pearl and Freddy begin to unravel and the family dynamic begins to change, the threat of danger awakens Becca’s hitherto hidden powers of resilience and tenacity.

I’m hoping readers will be rooting for the new, improved, Becca, to pull through.

Give a brief excerpt featuring your character.

‘I don’t know why you’re making such a fuss about it.’ Freddy yawned as he spoke, and his words, like his arms, stretched towards the ceiling. ‘Maybe this’ll be third time lucky. Don’t you want her to be happy?’

‘You think this toy boy will make her happy? I’ve Googled this Jack Robshaw character, look, Freddy, look at him.’ I held out my phone, thrusting the screen into his face. ‘A former world championship powerboat racer? Twenty years her junior. Is that what you want for a step-father?’

Pearl’s phone call had left me shell-shocked. How could she do it again?  I’d fended off palpitations with deep breathing exercises, whale songs and a mug of camomile tea, but it had been impossible to get back to sleep. I’d called Freddy first thing to impart the news and he’d very reluctantly agreed to meet me for lunch to plan a campaign strategy. His lack of concern was demoralising. He could hardly keep his eyes open despite a second coffee.

‘I am not going to let her make another disastrous marriage,’  I continued. ‘I can’t bear the thought of another gold-digger like Dieter coming into our lives. This guy is hardly her type, is he.’

‘Who knows what Pearl’s type is?’ Freddy replied, brushing my phone away. ‘She’s had her fair share of oddballs over the years.’

This was true, although luckily none of them had hung around for very long, least of all Dieter, the last husband. The aftermath of Pearl’s catastrophic second marriage had heralded a horrendous period in our lives. Freddy, now age twenty-one and struggling through his final year of an art degree, was the one positive to come out of the whole sorry episode. At least Pear had now reached the age when childbearing was no longer an option.

She referred to Dieter as her cloud, and Freddy our silver lining. I’d been a teenager at the time, unaware of the financial implications of my mother’s messy divorce. Now I was an adult, and very conscious of the consequences. Jack Robshaw wasn’t so much a cloud as a potential thunderstorm.

Brief Synopsis

Career Girl Becca Gates’ organised life is thrown into chaos when her mother, romantic novelist Pearl, announces her surprise engagement to Jack, a man she has only just met.

Becca reluctantly follows Pearl to Rivermede, Jack’s home in an affluent sailing community on the south coast of England, where she encounters an unwelcome face from her past. She receives a grim warning that all is not as calm as it seems at picturesque Rivermede and her family are in grave danger. But why should Becca trust the man who has betrayed her before, the man who broke her heart, the man who thinks he knows all her secrets?

Rosie Travers Bio

I grew up on the south coast of England and after initially training as a secretary I juggled a career in local government with raising my family. I moved to Southern California with my husband in 2009 and began a blog about life as an ex-pat wife which re-kindled a teenage desire to become a writer. On my return to the UK I took a part-time course in creative writing and following some success in short story competitions, I joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers’ Scheme. My debut novel, The Theatre of Dreams, was accepted for publication by Crooked Cat Books and officially launched on in August 2018. My second book, Your Secret’s Safe With Me, was published on 18 February 2019.

Universal buying links:


Twitter @RosieTravers

Instagram: rosietraversauthor






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Checking the Traps, Isabel Long Mystery Series

Paperback fans: Checking the Traps Is Ready

Here is some exciting news for those who like to read books the old-fashioned way: the paperback version of Checking the Traps is now available. That’s also exciting news for me as this is the third book in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. I will cut to the chase. Price is $10.99/£6.99. Here is the link to buy it:

Most of the sales for my publisher, Crooked Cat Books, comes from eBooks. Based in Europe, its authors and market are global. (By the way, Kindle fans can pre-order Checking the Traps using the same link above. The book will pop into your device on March 22.)

But I will be honest though. I prefer touching paper when I read a book. I spend so much time staring at a computer screen for my writing and editing work. My eyes enjoy the change. (I also enjoy collecting books in hard copy — first editions that I tend to find at bargain prices in the most unlikely places.)

Anyway, here’s a blurb about the Checking the Traps that appears on the back cover:

Isabel Long is a bit banged up from her last case with a broken collarbone and her arm in a sling. But that doesn’t stop her from pouring beer at the Rooster Bar or taking her third case with Gary Beaumont, a local drug dealer who once terrorized her. Gary is convinced his brother didn’t jump off a bridge known for suicides. Somebody pushed him.

Gary’s brother was a boozer who drove for a highway crew. But what interests Isabel and her ‘Watson’ — her 93-year-old mother who lives with her — is that the man wrote poetry.

The chief suspects are one of Gary’s business associates and a famous poet who plagiarized his brother’s poetry for an award-winning book. Yes, he was that good.

As a journalist, Isabel did regular meetups with her sources for stories. She called it checking the traps. She does the same as a private investigator, and this time, she’ll make sure she doesn’t get caught in one.

Those who have read the first two in this series will find many of my favorite characters return with this one, such the feral Beaumont brothers from the second book. Then, there’s Jack, Isabel’s love interest and the owner of the Rooster Bar, plus the Old Farts, those nosy old men in the general store’s backroom, and those rough-and-tumble cousins, Marsha and Annette.

But I’ve dreamed up several new characters for this one, including a character Isabel calls the Big Shot Poet. I even made him a suspect.

Interested? Then get thee to Amazon.




Joan Brownie
Life lessons

Looking Back: I Should Have Said Hello

I found this post from 2 1/2 years ago when I was searching through this website’s archives. Here, I wrote about a lesson I learned about race as a young child, one that certainly has influenced me as an adult. Given what is happening in the news these days, I wanted to share it again.

I don’t have many regrets in my life. I can think of a few things I’ve thrown away I wish I still owned, but no biggies there. There’s some stupid stuff I’ve said. I will admit, also, to mistakes I’ve made with relationships. The one experience that bugs me, likely prompted by the news these days, happened when I was a child.

I was eight or nine, perhaps, and a Brownie Scout. That’s a picture of me above, looking awfully skinny in my uniform. One year, I found out I could go to a day camp for free if I sold enough Girl Scout cookies. My enthusiastic parents, especially my Dad, went into full gear, hitting up the people they knew. They sold enough, so I could go.

It was my first experience away from home and school. I didn’t know any of the girls, but as the week went on, I got close to one. I will also note she was Black, which shouldn’t make any difference, but it does later in this story. We did the activities and ate lunch together. We acted like the silly, little girls we were.

Later that summer, I was with my mother and sisters shopping in downtown New Bedford — a lively strip then of department and other stores during those pre-mall days. We were walking along the sidewalk when I spotted my camper friend and her mother.

I remember the girl was happy when she recognized me. But what did I do? I passed by and pretended I didn’t know her. I recall distinctly she asked her mother why I didn’t say hello. I didn’t hear her response.

I knew then I did wrong. I should have said hello. I should have told my mother we went to camp together.

But I didn’t. And I wish I had.

Yes, I was a shy girl then. (That might surprise some folks who know me now, but I worked on it.) I lived a sheltered life in a small town. Also, being fully Portuguese, I am more brown than white. It was the fifties. But still… I ponder today what stopped me then from doing what should have been a natural thing.

Compared to what is happening now, my snub may seem rather small. But I believe it’s one of those lessons I had as a kid that has helped shape me as an adult. When it comes to my fellow human beings, I try to look for common denominators. I want to know about our different experiences. Certainly, living in big cities, small towns, and in multicultural Northern New Mexico has given me numerous opportunities.

But when it comes to that little girl, I honestly wish for a do-over, but sadly that’s not possible. Lesson learned.