Tyack and Frayne just go from strength to strength. The third book in this series is just awe inspiring I couldn’t put the book down. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!
Harper is in the SSBR armchair today talking about ancient Cornish sites, their inspiration and how they feature in her books
A Word from The Author on
Ancient Cornish Sites
When I first saw Lanyon Quoit, an extraordinary reconstructed stone dolmen up on the moors near Morvah, I was gathering research material for my first Samhain novel, Driftwood. Lanyon is one of Cornwall’s most accessible ancient sites. You don’t have to tramp across acres of gorse to find it. In fact it appears to spring out at you as you drive up across the moor top. And my first thought about it, once I’d avoided a near-miss with oncoming traffic, parked, stumbled blindly over the stile and fallen to my knees in open-mouthed wonder at its beauty was – wow, what a place to set a sex scene. And that’s where Tom and Flynn in Driftwood have their first full-on, no-holds-barred encounter.
I suppose most authors are constantly scouring their surroundings for potential. At first it seemed a little odd to me that the Cornish ancient sites – the circles, the eerie monoliths, the mysterious tunnels called fogous – were calling out to me so strongly as backdrops for erotic romance novels. After all, these are sacred places, right? Centres of peace, purity, sanctity.
But something I’ve striven towards all my life is a dissolution of those barriers between sacred and profane. As a Catholic-reared girl of Jewish descent, you can bet I had some pretty high barricades! So part of my on going mental health has depended upon finding a new view. I now automatically challenge those divisions. Tom and Flynn’s scene at Lanyon Quoit is a raunchy one, but I think it reconnects with a larger view of what is holy and pure about human sexuality than the narrow interpretation many of us are stuck with now. “He was on his knees, chest and belly lightly pressed against the quoit’s uprights, hands grasping at its grey flanks, which were warm as a beast’s in the sun... Would the old gods tip the capstone down on top of them in wrath, or would they rejoice with him?”
I don’t try to answer Tom’s question about the gods of the ancient stones. Two good reasons for that – nobody, no matter how convincingly they might argue, really has any sure evidence for the purpose and meaning of the megaliths. So to try and extrapolate their builders’ intentions immediately puts you onto shaky ground. Secondly, what I love about the Cornish sites and all Britain’s circles, barrows, quoits and fogous is simply that they do raise those questions, with such powerful and mystic force that I don’t think we’ll ever stop investigating, even though our connection with the mindset of those Neolithic and Bronze Age builders has been so completely severed. At the noble extreme of that phenomenon is the idea of “the quest of its own sake” – you might never find the Holy Grail, but that kind of doesn’t matter as long as you’re searching. At the hilarious end is this song, which makes me laugh no matter how often I play it.……………
(contains some adult content!)
Who the f*ck builds a Stonehenge, indeed?
And, hell, yes, the sites are sexy places. I don’t ascribe to any one sure theory but you can’t look at all those wondrous upthrusting monoliths and serenely gleaming rounds of quartz without thinking, “Hmm.” So pick up your Jewishy-Catholic author, put her in a landscape where you can hardly move without falling over one of these amazing constructs, and no wonder the line between the sacred and profane evaporates and she finds herself using the stones to springboard stories of passion and erotic connection. It’s kind of inevitable, and very nice. Background, setting, is crucial to my work, and here I feel absolutely besieged by places crying out to become my next location.
Which might help explain why I’ve written four novels since we moved down here a year ago. Well, The Lost Prince and three novellae, but it’s not bad output. Driftwood was a standalone novel but I really wanted to take my time, in the Tyack & Frayne Mysteries, to set up a Cornish couple and let their adventures play out over a series. Police constable Gideon and his clairvoyant lover Lee meet on the bleak moor near Bodmin in book one, find out the grim secrets locked behind a misplaced sacred stone in the second, and in the third Lee tackles the demon that’s haunted him from the very beginning in one of those mysterious fogou tunnels I mentioned. For each of these books, I was able to use the open-ended mysteries of Cornwall to join with my readers in asking questions about life and death, and what part of us might survive, and why that matters, and the beauty of living in a liminal, “what-if” sort of landscape is that there wasn’t any divide for me between tackling these spiritual matters and writing them up in a passionate love story between two of my favourite protagonists so far. I don’t seem to be alone in my preference – I’ve had more feedback about Gideon and Lee than I have about any of my other boys, and I’m delighted that readers are enjoying them. I’m going to be writing lots more adventures for them, that’s for sure.
In the third book, Don’t Let Go, I really wanted to create a location where all the events of the preceding books could focus in a combination womb or tomb, where you could just as easily die as come to life. You can’t do better than a Cornish fogou for that! The Don’t Let Go site was fictional, but I based it on a stunning place called Carn Euny, which has not only a numinous, initiatory chamber but a passage or souterrain built so well that, two thousand years later, it’s almost intact. What is it all for? (Who the f*ck builds a fogou? :-D ) Storage? A refuge during attack? The first is a possibility, though a long shot when you consider the inconvenience of hauling goods in and out of there, and as for the second, you’d be trapped. For Lee, it was a place to encounter and deal with a terrifying spirit from the depths of his past. A cauldron, a crucible, where the benign forces in his life can take their places and align themselves against the dark. Because Lee doesn’t have any preconceived ideas or answers about this ancient site on his family’s land, the Tyack fogou can be what he needs it to be in order to play out his scene and find peace.
Carn Euny Fogou
So I shall always be grateful to Cornwall – and to its people, whose accents and phrasing I can sometimes catch and channel through the mouths of my Cornish protagonists, and whose independent, bright, insightful and good-humoured view of the world has been truly inspiring, as well as making this a fantastic county to live in. I didn’t just want to use the megaliths as backdrop – I really did want to connect with them, and with the people who care for them, so I’ll conclude this blog post with a photo from one of the wonderful clear-up and repair outings undertaken by C.A.S.P.N, the Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network, a group of dedicated volunteers with whom it’s been my pleasure to work since we came down here to live. Here we are at Men-an-Tol, definitely a “yin” in that yin-yang spectrum of sacred sexuality as expressed by our wild Cornish stones! Despite that feminine vibe, I can definitely see a new story taking place here.…….
Me and my CASPN mates at the Men-An-Tol
Title: Don’t Let Go
Author: Harper Fox
Publisher: Foxtales Publication
Published: 11th February 2014
Genre: M/M (Mystery)
Rating: 5 Stars
What’s haunting Lee Tyack? He’s moved in with Gideon Frayne, and they’re both loving their new lives. But the shadow is still there – a voice from hell that torments clairvoyant Lee, and which even the pragmatic copper Gideon can hear.
Gideon’s determined to protect his lover. But after a serious injury on duty, Gideon finds out the hard way that he needs protection too. His job’s on the line and he’s scared. Worst of all, he thinks he knows who that voice belongs to – and he can’t stop Lee from heading off to confront this most terrifying ghost from his past.
When the full spring moon rises over Cornwall’s rugged coast, and the veil between the worlds grows thin, Tyack and Frayne must join forces to solve a decades-old mystery that still has the power to tear their world apart.
I just couldn’t put this book down! Absolutely awe inspiring. In this third book in the Tyack and Frayne series we really get to see Lee coming to terms with the ghosts of his past.
Lee and Gideon have now moved in together and are setting up home. Gideon’s mother and his Methodist minister for a brother, Ezekiel are making every attempt to accept his lifestyle. I just loved the way you could feel the turmoil in Ezekiel coping with what his values teach him on one hand, but trying to accept his brother on the other, his mother now just so happy to have him back in her life. Lee with his sensitivity also goes a long way in helping the healing process of a family that has been so estranged for so many years. Lee has a vision and gives Gideon a warning, but during dinner one day he is called out to an incident in Bodmin and due to him not taking heed of Lee’s warning and acting impulsively ends up in hospital. When he awakes he finds out that he was very near death and has been unconscious for the best part of a week. However, in this state he has a dream of Lee as a child and the ghosts that have been haunting him all this time. This was a beautiful scene and seeing how the love and devotion Lee has for Gideon brings him back from the brink and into the land of the living.
Gideon is now healing and due to his actions which are not in keeping with his new position of responsibility, being recently promoted to sergeant, has now put his career on the line. During his convalescence in hospital Lee never left his side during the week of unconsciousness as neither did his brother. I really got to feel how Ezekiel gained more and more respect for Lee and he could see the love and devotion in him and could start to look past his religious doctrines a little. After all such love and devotion deserves respect. Lee also forms a bond with Ezekiel which was so nice to see.
However, when Lee doesn’t show up for his regular hospital visits and starts to act strangely on the phone Gideon becomes worried, discharging himself from hospital against the better orders of his doctor. Once again the bull headed and stubborn Gideon shows itself, but only out of concern for Lee. When he gets back he finds out why Lee was absent for the few days and is now comforted that he had nothing to worry about, or did he?
The mysterious paranormal voice and the banging are back that we encountered in the second book and that was also part of why Lee had been so shaken in the last few days. Anyway, Gideon gets Lee to tell him about his past and we learn about what happened to him as a child and where his gift has come through. This was really harrowing to read and relates to the dream that Gideon had while he was lying in hospital.
Lee has to go down to the Land’s End peninsula as he is doing a series on ancient Cornish sites and is investigating a Fogou near his home. He takes Gideon with him and meets Anna and Simon on location. They want to film mysterious happenings attributed to these ancient sites that take place and Imbolc, a Celtic festival.
OK, for those of you are asking what a Fogou is then it’s an old passage underground, normally leading to a chamber made during the Iron Age. No one today knows really what they were used for 100%, there are a number of theories, but this also gives rise to the paranormal stories that surround them as well. When I was a child these also provided great places to play with my brother, but they also have a sense of spooky foreboding too and as a child these places felt magical to us and to some extent still do today.
The fogou they are investigating happens to be very near Lee’s family home and next to an old Cornish church. When, Lee gives him the key to go and rest in his childhood home while he is working, he comes face to face with Lee’s Uncle Jago. At first the impression is of a very intolerant, threatening man, when he walks in on Gideon. But when Lee shows up there is an unbelievable transformation and you see his face light up with the love he has for his nephew. I loved the character of Jago. You could feel the love that this family shared and Lee’s father, now deceased, can be felt through the love that his Uncle has for him. A tight knit, devoted and loving Cornish family. Harper’s characterisations are so vivid the characters take on a real tangible quality. In this far flung part of the UK, we are reminded through Jago about the strong sense of tradition and Jago talks to his nephew in Cornish. It was a great touch from Harper to introduce this here to give the reader the feeling that this area is really isolated and clings to its history, heredity and traditions with a real tenacity of not wanting to let go. We also find out that Lee is a name he adopted later n life, his real Cornish name being Locryn. After the Uncle is introduced I was really left me wandering what the deal here is.
Gideon is a policeman through and through and starts to do some snooping around and stumbles on a folder that contains a lot of newspaper clippings associated with the time Lee was a child. It is from the point that the mystery starts to unravel itself. Imbolc approaches and the night comes where they have to spend it underground in the Fogou. No, I’m not going to tell you what happens here as it is so beautiful, breath-taking and a real revelation too, if I say more here the whole story would be spoilt. Enough to say that Lee’s dad in spirit and his Uncle, in actual fact the whole community has been protecting Lee in some way all their lives. Again I loved the way we learn about how such small Cornish communities will pull together and help each other out for the common good. Harper’s writing can bring these situations so vividly to life; I was tearing up while reading with the powerful emotion behind the words.
All in all this series for me just goes from strength to strength and I just hope this not the end of the road for these two, but I guess only Harper can answer that question.
1) Once Upon a Haunted Moor ~ (Mark’s Review)
2) Tinsel Fish ~ (Mark’s Review)
3) Don’t Let Go
About The Author
Bestselling British author Harper Fox has established herself as a firm favourite with readers of M/M romance. Over the past three years, she’s delivered thirteen critically acclaimed novels, novellas and short stories, including Scrap Metal (Rainbow Awards Honourable Mention),The Salisbury Key (CAPA nominated) and Life After Joe (Band of Thebes Best LGBT Book, 2011).
Harper takes her inspiration from a wide range of British settings – wild countryside, edgy urban and most things in between – and loves to use these backdrops for stories about sexy gay men sharing passion, adventure and happy endings. She also runs her own publishing imprint, FoxTales.
Harper is enjoying life in Cornwall after her move from Northumberland, and soaking up ideas and inspiration from the wildly lovely Cornish coasts.
Contact The Author
Also by Harper Fox…….
Harper will be giving away an ebook copy of either ………
Once Upon A Haunted Moor ~ the first book in the Tyack and Frayne mystery
Driftwood ~ Her other novel set in Cornwall
The winner may choose which book they would like.
Enter the draw below and good luck!!!!