Wednesday, 11 September 2013


     I have spent much of this glorious summer researching the eleventh novel in the Simon Fonthill series.  It has been a rather desultory business, interrupted by the need to see how England were doing against the Aussies in this most fascinating of Ashes series and also agonising about whether I should try parting what's left of my hair on the other side.  The book will be set against the invasion of Tibet by the British - oh yes, it actually happened - in 1904.  No title yet but I am toying with 'THE HIGH ROAD TO LHASA.'

     My thoughts have also been straying, however, towards considering what to do with Fonthill after he, Alice and Jenkins, have brought the warmth back into their fingers after fighting the Tibetans (and, in the case of Simon and Alice, each other) on the high passes of the Himalayas.  In chronological terms, it ought to be the end of the trio's adventures.  After all, by the time of the beginning of the World War I, Fonthill will be 59.  A bit old for an adventure hero and, anyway, I didn't want to return to the Western Front so soon after 'STARSHINE.'

     Then, however, a reader wrote to suggest that the contemporaneous conflict in German East Africa, which in fact lasted longer than the war in Europe, would be ideal territory for Simon, whatever his age.  For more than four years the German, isolated from their homeland some four thousand miles away, conducted a remarkable campaign.  It was thrillingly related in William Boyd's novel, 'An Ice Cream War.'

     Fonthill, with his experience of campaigning in many different parts of Africa - Zululand,  the Mozambique border, and the homeland of the Boers - could, it was suggested, be of invaluable help to the British High Command in this conflict.  It's an idea.  What do you think?  Post me your views.



  1. This sounds like a great idea. I know nothing about this period in history. One of the reasons I enjoy this type of fiction is it broadens my knowledge of history. I often put aside a book to google events and places mentioned in historical fiction. What makes your novels stand out, apart from the great stories, is the choice of less well used historical periods. Rome and Napoleonic have been done to death but Fonthill and co. occupy a rich period in British history which seems untouched by other authors. Can't wait for the next book and I truly hope Simon adventures well into his 70's and beyond, after all why should a heroic action hero be young?

  2. A strange adhoc collection of over the hill adventurers and passed over soldiers, the Legion Of Frontiersmen fought in East Africa during the campaign you're mulling over. They were the 25th (Frontiersmen) Bn Royal Fusiliers. A search will find more on these men. Simon would have fitted right in and it wouldn't be laughable or stretching the imagination because there were older men than Simon fighting in the unit. including Selous. A nice little excuse for Simons last adventures as a fighting man.

  3. I agree that German East Africa would make an excellent setting and would allow Fonthill to work with General Jan Smuts and Captain Frederick Selous (and the 25th Royal Fusiliers). Lord Kitchener thought that Selous was too old for the job but relented eventually. I am sure that Fonthill's relationship with Kitchener was the deciding factor on giving Selous his rank.
    A transition with General Smuts could be the South-West Africa campaign before heading to East Africa.
    Looking forward to Fonthill's next adventure...

  4. Thanks to all three of you. Damnit, just when I thought I could take a few months off, it looks as though I will have to make Fonthill ride again, probably with the the 25th Royal Fusiliers. Let me think about it and thanks again.

  5. My name is Patrick Leeson and I live in Belgium and discovered last year Simon Fonthill and fell in love with your books. I got from Waterstone’s in Brussels’s the whole serie and can’t stop reading them. Very good writing. I can’t wait for the next one. My mother who reads them after me and is 90 years young loves them also.

  6. why is there no audio version of Dust Clouds of War? the others all have
    please consider this as many people want to listen to books while surfing