The Portrait Artist
Steven Vaughn is thirty-nine years old, emotionally self-contained and financially self-sufficient. He works part time as a lecturer, drives an old Peugeot mini-van, sub-lets a room in the house left to him by his mother, and eats food grown in a small vegetable plot at the bottom of his garden. This minimal but viable lifestyle allows him to pursue his vocation as a portrait painter – something for which he has a subtle and enduring gift.
One evening, as he tidies away at the end of a lecture, a teenage girl introduces herself to him – she is Stella, the daughter he abandoned fifteen years earlier. Ignoring the protestations of Steven, and to the dismay of her mother, Stella inserts herself into his life and his art, demands answers to questions he isn’t ready to face, and begins to dismantle the barriers of paint and canvas that he has erected between himself and the world.
First draft completed…
Sid Beckett’s War
Sid Beckett is a bloody good soldier, but he’s also a wastrel and a thief, and only the fact that the British are running out of tank crews is keeping him out of Colchester Army Prison. Because after almost five years of fighting Sid’s come to the conclusion that the entire German army is hell-bent set on killing him. And he’s not about to let that happen.
Sid’s decided that, whatever the allied High Command might say to the contrary, his primary mission is to survive the war and get back home to his mum, safely and in one piece. So when Sid and his misfit crew are given a suicide mission that somehow involves repatriating a horde of stolen Nazi gold, drinking a cellar full of vintage wine and rescuing a Mother Superior who’s been hiding a gaggle of refugee children, he’s more determined than ever to survive.
And if that means taking on the Wehrmacht’s top Tiger Tank ace, defying explicit orders from Field Marshall Montgomery, helping effect a mid-battle repair to Rommel’s staff car, and calling down the fury of the Roman Catholic church, then he’s up for a fight.
Sid Beckett’s War is a rollicking wartime tall-tale of men, machines and misfits doing whatever it takes to survive.
Some said he was a Georgian, others that he was Jewish, or Arab. They said he’d served in Seal Team Six, he was Spetsnaz, he was former IDF, ex SBS, that he was a radical green activist, a former Jihadi, gone global, a lone wolf, ex CIA.
No one knew for sure.
Whatever he was, they said, it was all bad: everyone wanted him dead.
But Mark Barrett knew who he was and what he really looked like, and he wasn’t telling. Because he gave his word. Gave his word to a solitary man in an almost empty airport – a man he trusted; a man who, after one brief meeting, he actually liked. This was the man the slavers called Dracul; the man the sheiks believed was the ghost of Hassan al Sabbah returned to strike down the wicked; the man the Cartels called Gun Jesus.
And while Mark didn’t think the man was a dragon, or the reincarnation of the first assassin, or the son of God, he recognised a saint when he saw one.