In the Line of Duty

Heather’s grandparents

This First World War novel was published in May 2014 by New Generation Publishing.
The title reflects the romance of railway journeys as well as the conflicts between duty and desire ever prevalent in war-time. It is partly based on my mother’s memories of the family’s Welsh holiday home built by my great-grandfather who was a railway police detective with offices in Euston and Llandudno Junction. His son, my grandfather, was a locomotive engineer until he enlisted as a seaplane pilot with the Royal Naval Air Service.
It was only after she died I discovered my mother had only told me part of the story and there were questions I should have asked.

* Who was her older half-brother, indulged by their grandmother, but side-lined by the rest of the family? My mother once whispered that he was ‘a product of the First World War’ but the words meant nothing to me then.

* What was the reason behind the sudden termination of my grandfather’s service as a seaplane pilot in 1917?

As I learned more about using seaplanes for aerial reconnaissance, I glimpsed the nightmare world my grandfather inhabited and the grimness of everyday life for those left struggling at home. My novel is no longer my family’s story. It is woven around characters of my own creation and is a tale of love, duty, betrayal and, ultimately, redemption.

In the Line of Duty was short listed for the Joan Hessayon award for debut novelists who have been through the RNA New Writers Scheme.

St Giles by Valerie Petts

Through the Cutteslowe Wall, in The Radcliffe Legacy, is my time-slip story set in the Second World War and the present. It is based on the infamous Cutteslowe Walls which divided private houses from an estate of council houses between 1933 and 1959.
Published in 2017

Plaque where the wall used to be.
Narnia Arch Bury Knowle Park

Through the Mist of Time, in The Midnight Press, features Mrs Balachey who owned Bury Knowle Park in Victorian times. It is now a public park with statues of Aslan and the beavers in tribute to CS Lewis. I use the Narnia Arch as a portal for my protagonist to step back in time.
1st published 2013  ISBN 978-1-78018-542-2

Broad Street by Valerie Petts
The Radcliffe Camera by Valerie Petts

In Time for the Wake, in The Bodleian Murders,  begins in the Pitt Rivers Museum and brings together my love of both Africa and Oxford. The story is loosely based on a strange incident concerning a bronze mask I brought back from Nigeria. The mask has since been returned to Nigeria.   
1st Published in 2010.

A bronze mask

Other titles by OxPens include
The Lost College and other Oxford Stories 
The Sixpenny Debt and other Oxford Stories