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Susan Boulton

Authors on Characters

Penmore Press authors offer a rich and entertaining array of short reflections on characters and how they were created in the novels.  READ

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Susan Boulton

Devilish Doings in England’s Green and Pleasant Land — Susan Boulton, as in the song by the Police, was born in the ’50s and came into the world 200 yards from where Tolkien spent time thinking about hobbits 37 years before. Having loved to read since she was very young, Susan began to wonder if she could actually write a novel. Once she tried she found it addictive. She’s been writing stories, long and short, ever since.

Susan has lived all her life in rural Staffordshire and has a passion for the countryside, its history, its myths, and its legends, all of which influence her work. Her first novel, Oracle, is a steampunk fantasy of political intrigue. She’s also published numerous short stories, including “Jac” (Dark Fiction Spotlight, 2010), “The Giving of Adela” (Tales of the Sword,edited by Dorothy Davis), and “Death Won’t Be Cheated” (Malevolence: Tales from Beyond the Veil, edited by J. Scott-Marryat, 2014).

Married with two grown daughters, Susan now puts her overactive imagination (once the bane of her parents and teachers) to good use in her writing.

Hand of Glory was inspired by Susan’s combined interests in World War I (fueled by family stories of both her grandfathers), the many historical memorials throughout local villages, and a deep appreciation of the myths, folklore, and supernatural stories of her region. You can read more about her influences in the “Author’s Note” below.

Hand of Glory by Susan Boulton

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Hand of Glory

1790s Europe is embroiled in a battle for control of the sea and colonies. Tall ships navigate familiar and foreign waters, and ambitious young men without rank or status seek their futures in Naval commands. First Lieutenant Alexander Clay of HMS Agrius is self-made, clever, and ready for the new age. But the old world, dominated by patronage, retains a tight hold on advancement. Though Clay has proven himself many times over, Captain Percy Follett is determined to promote his own nephew. Before Clay finds a way to receive due credit for his exploits, he’ll first need to survive them. Ill-conceived expeditions ashore, hunts for privateers in treacherous fog, and a desperate chase across the Atlantic are only some of the challenges he faces. He must endeavor to bring his ship and crew through a series of adventures stretching from the bleak coast of Flanders to the warm waters of the Caribbean. Only then might high society recognize his achievements—and allow him to ask for the hand of Lydia Browning, the woman who loves him regardless of his station.

“In Hand Of Glory, Susan Boulton deftly conjures the traumatic fragility of England in the years following the Great War, interweaving a love story and supernatural crime thriller with an unflinching appraisal of the true horrors of conflict. Recommended.” — Neil Williamson, award winning author of The Moon King.

“An intriguing story, beautifully researched with well-drawn characters and an involving central intrigue. Something a little different for the genre and all the better for it. — Jo Zebedee. author of Abendau’s Heir, the inheritance trilogy and Inish Carraig.

“From the horrors of the First World War to the decadence of the Roaring Twenties, Hand of Glory is a revenge tale worthy of a Hammer Horror production. Grisly murders, creepy séances, and gaslight shenanigans, not to mention the overriding presence of a certain severed limb with an occult power from beyond the grave, are combined with a sense of mortal danger to keep the pages turning.” — Mark Yon, Sffworld and book reviewer.

“A stunning and authentic tale of the supernatural, bound to give you goosebumps.” — Alex Davis, author, published in Dark Horizons, The Harrow and Carillon.

Author’s Note on the Influences:

I am not sure when my interest in World War I began. Both my grandfathers served, and I was lucky: both survived the conflict, though my paternal grandfather died before I was born, the effects of being gassed on the Western front in 1917 finally taking their toll.

Perhaps it was the snatches of conversations half overheard as a child that led me to study World War I poetry for my GSE exams at the age of 16. Perhaps it was the memorials in every village and town, some large bronze statues on large marble plinths. Perhaps it was a village hall in the village where I was born, built with donations and dedicated to the young men who never returned. All part of everyday life, a backdrop, yet a solid statement of grief that had stuck in every community.

However I gained an interest, it grew over the years. I knew I wanted to write a story about that time, but how? How to show the upheaval, the clash of the old and the new, the dying of old myths and the creation of new ones? Hand of Glory was born out of this desire, and as it began to be written it merged with my love of ghost stories, old myths, and legends from my part of the world. Those beliefs, though submerged beneath the modern world, have become stronger in many ways, changing and growing with each retelling and new generation.

Such is the myth of the Hand of Glory. I needed a supernatural element to bind my story together, a reason for my “ghosts” to return, and a driving force for my antagonist. While looking through one of the many books on English myths and legends that line my bookshelves, I came across a small paragraph about the Hand of Glory, which had been donated to the Whitby Museum in 1935. The article also made reference to the Ingoldsby Legends, a series of poems and stories by Richard Harris Barham under the pseudonym of Thomas Ingoldsby. The moment I read the Nurse’s Story, I knew I had found what I was looking for.

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