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Stroking the Flame

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Dear readers,


This is a story forum for readers of the second book in my series of The Croxburgh Chronicles, which began with Kissing the Dragon and continues now with Stroking the FlameFor those of you who may have found their way to this thread accidentally and not yet seen the story, there is a link directly to each of the books on the titles included here.


Although this story has a very strong romantic theme, the genre is mystery/thriller in the mold of good old whodunits. The protagonist is a history teacher at a reputable boys school, and the setting is largely suburban London. Once again this a story about a person's emotional growth, this time against a backdrop of mystery when a seemingly normal and uneventful existence is turned upside down over one weekend by a tragedy close to home.


On Kissing the Dragon: After getting some excellent feedback and comments from GA readers, and others from a couple of Beta readers, fellow authors who write with my publisher, I decided to send KTD to a professional editor. This person gave me some brutally honest feedback about things that were entirely ridiculous or did not wholly make sense; both in terms of character and plot. If any of you have used a professional editor, you’ll know they don’t pull any punches. Some suggestions I took on board, others I did not. Essentially, however, the KTD that you originally read, has changed significantly in places. Some of these changes are structural, plot related, allowing me to ramp up the suspense in the final two books.

Below are some spoilers. I haven't listed all of the changes because some are cosmetic and do not affect the plot. I have only listed those that impact the second book, Stroking the Flame.


For those who need a quick recap of Kissing the Dragon, I have included an outline of each chapter in a Word document below.






In the previous prologue of Kissing the Dragon, a man employs the services of a young escort on a hotel room, then drugs and kills him with an overdose. In the updated version, the story is told from the POV of Tomas Kominsky (formerly Tomas Hand in the original) who enters a motorway motel to meet someone his boss—Constantine Morgan—has asked him to negotiate hard with, only to find the young man dead from a heroin overdose. A seasoned henchman, something about the scene seems off, but Kominsky calls the situation in and leaves without disturbing anything.



Ben's Break In:

In the scene where Ben breaks into Colin’s house, there are a few changes also. Ben explains his appearance because he has been personally watching over the house. Also, when Colin questions him later in the scene, more information is provided.

He tells Colin about the operation that went wrong which ended with him being paired with Chaudhary. He was a part of a surveillance op on a drugs ring they had been monitoring for months. Colin made a rookie mistake when he spotted a guy in a hoodie leave the back of the building, and gave chase before checking in with his then supervisor, DI Pollard. The constable he called in to assist him, headed down a small lane to cut off the potential suspect but she emerged from the lane at full pelt, and got hit side by an oncoming car causing her serious injury. The potential suspect turned out to be an innocent pizza delivery boy. This all happened right outside the place they were staking out, which, with the subsequent arrival of emergency services, meant they had to shut the operation down. Pollard was understanding, but Callaghan wanted his badge after the mess up.

Later Colin asked Ben if he’d ever had a boyfriend or girlfriend. Colin says he had a girlfriend for six months in college. Then he met an instructor Anna in Hendon, doing his advanced driving course. They married eighteen months ago. But the marriage only lasted six months (for obvious reasons) and they separated the September before the story starts. Ben has never had a boyfriend. Colin files those little bits of information away for future processing.



Kominsky's Description: 

When the man—tall, lean but solid, with honey blond hair—opens his mouth to speak and turns my way, my eyes are snatched from the cold stare of dead grey eyes to the chipped front tooth.

Kominsky’s attire does him no favours. Apart from swamping his frame and clearly being a designer brand, the dark rust leather suit-type jacket sits on him like an ill-fitting hand-me-down. And even though he wears a complementary white shirt, black tie, beige chinos finished off with tan brogues, the overall appearance is unkempt and uncoordinated—the shoes scuffed and worn, the trousers and shirt crinkled in places. If I had not been told his profession, I would peg him for a boxer—middle to light-heavyweight. Angular and expressionless, his face is ruggedly attractive but weathered, perhaps with a past that has violently remodelled his features complete with broken nose, carved cheek bones, permanent frown lines between the eyebrows, and deep grooves either side from nose to mouth—like parentheses around a fixed snarl.



Swimming Pool Scene:

In the scene where Kit takes Colin out to the swimming pool at gunpoint, Kit now wears a black balaclava. When Ben arrives, he believes the man holding Colin to be Kominsky. Even when Colin tells him otherwise, in the hospital, Ben says they have no proof and moreover, Kit and his sister have disappeared. All the police are interested in is putting Morgan behind bars.



New Characters:

Two new characters are introduced briefly at the party Sir Jeremy Winterbourne holds. Both of these characters feature in Stroking the Flame. The first is General Sir Hamilton Shannonworth and his wife, Deborah. The second is Juliette Clanniston, ex-political columnist for the Chronicle. She is known to have been instrumental in driving the celebrity child sexual abuse expurgation across the nation. Colleagues refers to her as a modern day Mathew Hopkins. Now working freelance, she has offered to do a story on the life of Denny Harrison to run in a gay publication.


KTD1 - Outline.docx

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  • 1 year later...

Thanks Tim,

The other stories I write are lighter and quicker to create. These Croxburgh Chronicle stories will take longer because I need to ensure consistency across all the books.

But thanks as always for reading (and editing).


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  • 4 months later...

Hey Brian, It would mean the world to me if you decided to continue this story😟. It seems the  only two things I enjoyed during this confinement are music and books, and I really enjoy your writing style, so please pick it up.

Is this child going to be the end of them? Is Anna evil intended? Have we seen the last of Kit or is he coming for Collin? What about that suspicious Santa?

Come on man, have a heart!!

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