Quiet. The noise of the workers on Chamberlain Docks faintly resonated in the distance. The ferry from the Island of Hathfield Bay would be arriving in soon. The 11:15. It always left port on time and the crossing was always a precise 56 minutes. What would it be bringing? Who would be returning? It didn’t matter because all of that was behind the tall hedges obscured from view. You see, it wouldn’t do good for the residents of Harbour House to look at what went beyond the safe little world that had been created for them. No that wouldn’t do at all, according to DR WINSLOW. Harbour House was a place of rehabilitation. Maybe seeing what was beyond the hedges, fences and walls would do them some good? Maybe it would give them some hope of returning to normality, but they weren’t there to hope. They were there to get better. They were there to shed all kinds of ailments.
One such resident was music teacher, VINCENT BAINES. 1105 was the number he was given and obsession was his reason for being confined to Harbour House. The air of the place was fresher than he had ever sampled deeper in the city and for that he was grateful. The noise of the birds chirping formed a pleasant little melody to accompany the blossoming rhododendrons. He had circulated the gardens three times when he came to a stop again. The door leading back into the facility slammed as a woman joined him. She looked a little surprised at first to see that she wasn’t alone but she smiled at Vincent and wandered to a bench and sat herself. She was slim of face and body. Her soft eyes were like clear blue pools of water. The way she had hunched nervously gave Vincent reason to deduce that she was new to the ways of HARBOUR HOUSE. She had been crying. She was still in clothes one would have worn outside. An intervention staged perhaps? Her family refusing to return for her until she was ‘normal.’ What was normal? No one was normal. Especially not in the city of Coldford.
“It will take a while to settle in but you’ll get there,” Vincent decided to say to her.
The girl looked up and smiled. “Thanks. I’ll be fine.”
Vincent nodded. She wasn’t a drug addict. She wasn’t a victim of trauma. Something else had brought her to them. He checked himself though. Ever since he was a little boy he had been drawn to the vulnerable, to those who needed help. His obsession meant that he was in no position to help. His obsessions just made things worse. The girl just needed to be left alone. At least Harbour House was helping him with something.
“How long do you have to stay here?” The girl asked just as Vincent was preparing to make another stroll of the gardens.
Her face was soft. She was pleading to him. She wanted his help. He could help. He had to help. She needed him. What was her name? Should he ask? If they shared their names that connected them. That made them a pairing and when you know someone who needs help you should help, shouldn’t you? Her watery blue eyes were begging him. ‘Help me, please!”
Vincent took a deep breath. “As long as it takes I suppose.”
The girl nodded. “I thought so.”
Vincent pushed his spectacles further up his nose. “You’ll get the help you need here.”
That much was true and that was all he would have to say on the matter. He had to leave it at that. If he thought about it more and started to question her as to what brought her there he would set himself back and Harbour House had been doing him good.
The door was thrown open again. TAWNY, an a old show girl and fellow resident leaned out. She had a cigarette dangling from her lips.
“C’mon honey!” She called to Vincent. “We’re going out to the roof.”
She giggled as the artist, DAVID FINN, also a resident, pushed beside her in the doorway.
“I painted my walls with pudding and they think its shit!” He laughed.
Vincent shook his head. “Very mature, David,” he replied but he was laughing too.
He made his way to join his friends. He stopped at the girl on the bench. “You’ll be fine,” he said.
The girl smiled in return. “You think so?”
Vincent didn’t dare allow himself to ponder the question.
A matron of the facility, Beverly, was making her way to the gardens.
“I know that was pudding!” She barked at David, slapping his arm.
David and Tawny fell to laughter. “Had you going though!” David teased.
The three made their way to a quiet spot on the roof. Beverly called to the girl.
“Emily?” She said. “I need you on the floor.”
The girl nodded, took a deep breath and stood. Her family had left her there. They wouldn’t return until she was better but she wasn’t a resident. She was a nurse. Just like the residents she would be there as long as it took.
Vincent thought he had his life together. A loving partner, a thriving career and all the blessings life can offer. When he accepts a wealthy new pupil his obsessions threaten to derail everything.
Celebrating 4 years! Read the hit novella that brought Mr Baines to Harbour House.
Those little mind worms can wriggle deep. But you have an public persona that you need to keep. They wriggle, the squirm and they embed. You can’t get those thoughts out of your head. There’s one place obsession can meet its cure. In Harbour House, that I can assure.
I can’t believe it is March already! It seems like only yesterday I was sending my letter to Santa and getting ready to cry, “Happy New Year!”
2020 has sure provided it’s challenges so far. It’s been a full year. Coming this May I am excited to bring you a new novel that I hope you will love reading as much as I enjoyed writing. So without further adu here are ten things you can expect from HARBOUR HOUSE.
1 – Three times the charm.
MAESTRO (2016), MUSE (2018) and KNOCK KNOCK SEASON 1 (2019) all had one thing in common – they each had a character finding themselves in Harbour House rehabilitation clinic. Music teacher, VINCENT BAINES, was put there after sessions with his pupil GEORGE BECKINGRIDGE … well let’s not say too much we don’t want to spoil. After a struggle with a drug habit, artist, DAVID FINN, checked in too and found a new friend in the maestro. Finally in the Knock Knock series, beloved aunt of the BOSS LADY herself, TAWNY, was taken to Harbour House for treatment of trauma after an attack on the club. So three unlikely friends came together and at that Harbour House opens.
2 – Maestro missing days.
In the conclusion of Maestro there is a ten year time hop. A lot of what happened within that time scale will be explained.
3 – An artist’s struggle.
David is hapless, he can be frustrating to his friends but despite his terrible upbringing he has a good heart. Readers of MUSE will be familiar with his struggle but as enters Harbour House he may find it is the best place for him.
4 – What happened at Kappa So?
In the Knock Knock series, TABITHA arrives at the club as a girl to find it burned out (sorry, spoilers). All that is explained is that it was attacked and caused a mental break down of our now Harbour House resident. As Tawny’s struggle to get well continues the details of what really happened that night will be revealed.
5 – Sex, drugs and some questionable decisions.
Early readers described it as the boldest book yet. It contains scenes that became the subject of discussions at interventions (no exaggeration). Whilst the shocks and the grimaces are there, there is also a lot of heart. Rehabilitation isn’t an easy journey after all and all the love and support in the world is required.
6 – Villains times three.
Speaking of questionable decisions: I had a poll with early readers to pick who of the three villains would be deemed the most despicable by the end. Yes, you read that right. Since there are three heroes there would naturally be three villains pursuing them as they aim to get well. According to the readers it was a close match because each were just as nasty as the last.
Look me in the eye.
7 – Irrational fears.
A fear of breast milk, a fear of stripping in front of your lover, a fear of being rescued by a handsome lunatic or a fear of your corpse being violated. Yes … Erm … So there’s that.
8 – Knock Knock! Who’s there?
Whilst it can be read independently of the Knock Knock series, Harbour House will act as a bridge between Seasons 1 and 2, beginning where S1 ends and leaving where S2 begins.
9 – The promise of a cure.
DR WINSLOW is nothing if not a good doctor. When he promises cure to his residents, brought to him for addiction, trauma and obsessive disorder, it is a promise he intends to keep. How the residents will combat their issues and how it will leave them in the end remains to be seen but the promise of a cure is very real.
In order to bring that cure the characters and reader are taken away from the usual experience of the Shady City. Isolation is key to cure and when the doors close on the residents, the reader is held behind those walls too. Don’t worry, there are pretty gardens to enjoy and all the coffee you can drink.
10 – An escape.
Readers, viewers, audiences. We all look to fiction for an escape. Wether it’s an escape from stress, an escape from the mundane routine or even just an escape to worlds where anything is possible. We lose ourselves in fiction because it pushes the boundaries of reality. Opening it’s doors in May 2020 so that you can join our rehab residents and escape, ladies and gentlemen welcome to Harbour House.
All Shady City thrillers can be read and enjoyed without the others and there is no particular order that is needed but if you are looking for the bigger picture be sure to check out as many as you can. As always I am so thankful to all of you. Readers are what makes an author’s work all worth it. I hope you enjoy Harbour House when it is released. In the meantime let me know your thoughts on Maestro, Muse and Knock Knock. Don’t forget to tip your author with a nice little Amazon review 😉
Coming 05 02
Bring me your sick. Bring me your troubled. Bring me those society can no longer cope with for they will always have a home here Harbour House.
Kieran is the eldest Son of MACK AND SONS brewery. However, his age didn’t make him the natural successor of his father, BRENDAN MACK. Instead the distillery will pass to second born son, PADDY. The reason for this is that of his brothers Kieran is the most erratic. He has shirked responsibility for as long as he can remember and truthfully he too agrees that the lead of the distillery should fall to the more capable son.
The Macks had their reserved table at the Knock Knock waiting for them when a long hard day at the distillery had drawn to an end. Kieran would be especially excited when he heard favourite Knock Knock girl would be on hand. They called her Big Diane (or Double D) and her party trick was being able to serve drinks from underneath her large breasts. For Kieran’s 25th birthday THE BARONESS had treated him to having Diane use her breasts to break water melons on his chest, Kierans favourite part of the party piece.
That’s not to say that Kieran isn’t without his merit. The Mack and Sons form such a tight unit because of their loyalty to each other. Kieran may be the first to cause a headache for them but he is also the first there on hand to help when trouble arrives on Love Street. He will follow Paddy’s lead to the death if need be and should anyone believe he is a weak link in the Mack chain they would be mistaken. Brimming with the Mack spirit of fighting to the end Kieran may let his mouth run away with him most times but he will not go down without a fight.
It is no secret there is a strong bond between the KNOCK KNOCK club and theMACK AND SONS brewery. The Macks have supplied the booze and the club supplied the entertainment. For Kieran the bond was stronger than that. For him it was an extension of an already large family. As his father always told him, “yer an eejit but yer family and family is what is important.”
The Mack and Sons reserved table was filled. An attack on the Knock Knock club would leave the rehab facility HARBOUR HOUSE picking up the pieces.
A husband and father first, Reginald is a gentlemen above all else. He is known as the King of City Main. A gentleman he may be but his control of his kingdom can be a violent one when necessary. His strength comes from the loyalists of City Main, the fan group of the COLDFORD CITY football team.
Father of the triplets – MARCUS, SIMON and REGGIE – Reginald’s boys follow in their father’s footsteps in that they will do whatever it takes to keep their name as the resounding power in the busiest part of the Shady City. Reginald’s wife, Rita, has been his partner since their parents introduced them as children. He is wholly dedicated to his wife.
Reginald’s weapon of choice when entering an altercation is a heavy chain which he has named Belta’ . She has been with him since attending the football games as a young boy. Belta’s slinky body was easy to slip into a sleeve and into stadiums into the city. When violence erupted she was heavy enough to deliver head smashing damage.
Reginald pays no mind to the law when it comes to protecting his friends and family. He’s a noble king but not one to be threatened.
They call her The Baroness and her activist spirit is legendary. To some she is the lovable KNOCK KNOCK show girl. To the LAWMAKERS she is the next target and rehab will not excuse her.
Coming May 02: Welcome Tawny McInney to Harbour House.
Complete season 1 of the Knock Knock graphic novel series is free to read HERE.
Like a military parade the nurses of Harbour House were set in a neat line ready to hear their orders for the day. They were waiting for their super star doctor to begin his rounds. The polished wing tips, sharp, well tailored suits and neatly combed hair he was like a film star within the facility. Although, Beverly wished he hadn’t shaved his moustache. He looked so much better with the moustache. Without it his face seemed longer, more angular.
“Good morning ladies,” said he. Beverly handed him a clip board of notes.
“Good morning doctor,” they all rhymed off like obedient school children.
Winslow read through the notes quietly.
“Beverly?” he turned to the burly, middle aged matron. “We need some vitals and a urine sample from Mr Finn.”
“Yes doctor,” she replied.
“He can be a bit of a challenging rascal so if he gives you any trouble call a porter.”
Beverly set off to her task.
She glanced in the window of the room to see artist, David Finn, lying on his bed sketching on a scrap piece of paper with a blunt charcoal pencil. She knocked on the little window and he looked up. She pointed to the back wall. David grinned and raised his middle finger at her. She frowned and darted her finger more severely. David rolled his eyes but he stood and put his back against the back wall. It was rules in Harbour House that addiction residents had to keep away from the door when nurses were bringing in the carts. A nurse had been attacked recently when one of the addicts tried to steal medication from her trolley. Beverly didn’t feel unsafe around David. Having his back against the wall wasn’t going to make much of a difference anyway. If he really wanted to feed his addiction he would and the cameras watching wouldn’t stop him.
“How are you feeling today?” she asked as a nurse’s general enquiry as she wrapped a blood pressure cuff around his arm.
“Been better,” David replied. “Been worse.”
The cuff began to inflate to the point he felt his arm was going to pop off. It made him self conscious of the track marks the needles had left behind. He found this strange because they never seemed to bother him before. When the blood pressure was taken and pulse checked she handed him a urine cup.
“I need you to fill this,” she instructed.
David made to take it from her and head to the bathrooms.
“Sorry,” she said stopping him. “You have to do it here. They weren’t happy with your last results.”
“That’s abuse,” David protested with some humour.
“When you are sufficiently clean and sober you can take it up with the city Medical Authorities. In the mean time fill the cup please.”
David wrinkled his nose. “I’m a nervous pisser.”
Beverly shook her head. A smile traced her rosy lips. “Hurry up Finn. You haven’t got anything I haven’t handled before.”
David giggled like a school boy. “Okay nurse kinky, you said just fill the cup.”
Beverly checked the watch clipped to her breast pocket. “And if you could hurry along I’d appreciate it.”
With raised eyebrows David filled the sample cup. The nurse wiped it, stored it and finished checking temperature and pulmonary rate.
Down the hall the beautiful cry of the violin sounded. A group of nurses sat along the bed listening.
‘So handsome,’ they cooed. ‘So talented.’
Vincent Baines had first picked up the violin at age six. It called to him in a way no other instrument did. It cried. It laughed. It covered a whole range of emotions and from the first time he struck the bow across the quivering strings there was love between them. His relationships with people were fraught with emotional turmoil but the violin always hit the right note when needed.
He loved to write concertos for the cry of the violin because only its soft strings seemed to understand him. Sure, the piano had a lot to say and they were well acquainted but it didn’t fill Vincent’s heart and mind they way the violin did. Even with everything that lead him to Harbour House the violin still made sense. It never changed. It never judged. Highs, lows, soft and harsh the violin concerto had it all and for as long as he could play it would always love him.
After the last note was drawn the emotion of the piece still lingered.
A nurse wiped a tear that was forming in her eye. Thy all applauded. Vincent, holding the bow in one hand and the instrument in the other bowed graciously.
“That was beautiful,” one of the nurses gushed.
“Thank you,” Vincent responded politely, storing the black violin with red trimming back in its case. “Just a little something I’ve been working on.”
A bell rang.
“Time to get back to work,” announced the self appointed leader of the group. They filtered out chatting merrily. Vincent followed behind them but took a right in the corridor towards the rec room.
In another part building lay a dressing table. It was old, well used. A special addition to make the occupant of the room feel at home. Tawny was a longer term resident so the good doctor gave some special allowances. The mirror was covered in old fliers from the Knock Knock club as well as photos of old friends, Agnes and a young Tabitha.
The lady herself was found on her way to the rec room. She had her arm linked in that of Glenn’s. “You spend way too much time in here,” she was saying. “You’re a big, handsome fella. You should be out there.”
Glenn smiled shyly. “Between two jobs and my wee lass to look after I don’t really have time …”
“You must be going blind old girl. He’s an ugly cunt,” Curtis teased, sauntering along beside them.
Tawny laughed. She patted Glenn’s arm. “Don’t you listen to him.”
“I don’t,” Glenn assured.
They reached the rec room. “Anyway boys, this is where I get off.”
Vincent was seated at the piano preparing to practice some exercises. Tawny wrapped her arms around him and kissed him as she passed.
“Good morning, gorgeous,” she said. Vincent smiled and patted her arm.
David was leaning over the sofa trying to find the remote so he could switch off a Coldford City football game. City were up three nil against Swantin and he couldn’t bear to watch the celebrations of the arch rivals of his beloved Coldford Athletic. Tawny slapped his backside.
“Good morning, handsome,” she winked. She held out a cigarette. “Ciggy?”
When he looked up he could see Beverly waving the remote at him.
The three took seat at their usual table by the fireplace. Winslow watched them from the door way. Like a fine, oiled machine his beloved facility ran. It was his passion project and like all his other pursuits, Harvester Farm for example, things had to run a very particular way.
Time is ticking by for the residents of Harbour House. A unique rehab facility with standards, laws and regulations all of its own.
Starkland Park is the home of the COLDFORD ATHLETIC football team. Unlike its City Main neighbour CITY STADIUM, Starkland Park was developed from humble beginnings. They call the Shanties area a poverty trap because poor education and social deprivation make it difficult for those born in the area to better themselves. A beautifully constructed stadium that grew to rival the richest teams in the league, Starkland stands as a reminder that anything is possible.
A regular visitor to the stadium is artist, David Finn. He’s a life long Athletic supporter and even when his journey brought him to HARBOUR HOUSE he kept his focus on the stadium. It gave him the confidence to battle his addiction. With the cheers of the crowd in his ears and the excitement of match day in his stomach the walls of the rehab facility don’t seem so close.
Like all places in the Shady City though there is always a danger especially when large crowds have gathered. It has seen its share of blood shed when fierce rivalry with COLDFORD CITY boils to violence. Get crowd control ready. The fixtures are in.
When David discovers his friend’s baby has been taken getting through rehab becomes critical. Coming 2020. Welcome Resident 1310 to Harbour House. Now available to pre order HERE
Just like Starkland Park the Knock Knock Club stands as a Shanties symbol. Complete season 1 of the Knock Knock graphic novel series is free to read HERE.
He’s an adorable little psychopath, right? Well perhaps not. He tends to rile the readers but he does give a lot to talk about. So with that in mind here are ten things you (probably) didn’t know about the heir to the BECKINGRIDGE TOWER.
This may contain some MAESTRO spoilers so if you haven’t read and wish to do so click HERE.
1: Crazy on his mother’s side.
KNOCK KNOCK readers will have met ERNEST BECKINGRIDGE, George’s father, in ISSUE 17: HIGH FLIERS but Maestro readers will remember George’s mother, Alice. Tall, demanding and with a reputation of being a bit of a dragon Alice had a reputation that resonated through the town of Filton and with good reason. She was tough, charismatic and was ahead of her husband in leadership of the Beckingridge Manor. What you may have not known was that Alice was treated as girl for rage bouts and psychopathic tendencies. It seems its like mother like son for Alice and George.
Before music teacher, VINCENT BAINES, came into his life George had no friends. The Peterson twins in the neighbouring mansion house avoided him as best they could. The only person he had ever grown close to or would even consider a friend was a little boy named CECIL. Cecil was sick though. George was never told what had happened to him but when he failed to turn up at school one day George was informed by their teacher, Miss Matheson, that the little boy had died in the night. George was inconsolable.
To say that George has strange quirks would be putting it mildly. But among those quirks George has a deathly allergy to bee stings. At age seven George had been stung whilst in the gardens of his manor home. His tongue and throat were swollen but his mother Alice, watched him. He was close to death when finally his father gave him his epipen. George, as you can imagine, hates bees.
4. Highly intelligent; emotionally stunted.
Even as a grown up George still has the tendency to behave like a child and a very spoiled one at that. He has the emotional level of an eight year old but when tested he showed an extremely high IQ. Some doctors reckoned most of his childish outbursts were an act. He seemed to enjoy shocking people.
5. Twin birthdays.
Speaking of spoiled. The Peterson twins, with some hesitation, offered an invitation to the Peterson manor for their joint sixth birthday party. George accepted. However, seeing the attention the twins were being showered with GEORGE created a scene the way only George could. Ernest had been present but unable to stop his son wrecking the gifts that had been brought for the twins and attacking Oliver Peterson with a soiled nappy. Twin, Ollie was a feisty little boy though and George was sent home with a burst nose.
6. A night at the movies.
We all enjoy a good flick, right? George does too. In fact he had been sat in front of the television so often as a tot with little else to stimulate him it became something of a nanny. He especially enjoys the older films when actor, LAURENCE DUBOE was in his prime.
7. On display.
George was sent home from school one afternoon when he was eight after exposing himself to the entire class. Ok maybe that’s not exactly a big surprise but he enjoyed the wave of shock he had brought to the room. Perhaps enjoyed a little too much. It wouldn’t be the first time he exposed himself, nor would it be the last.
After his mother died George became interested in the embalming and preservation process. He learned everything he needed to know from books he had insisted on getting from the library and even had a shed full of dead pigeons he planned on putting his knowledge to the test on.
9. A distraction.
When Vincent first meets George’s Aunt ELIZABETH, she informs him that his latest pupil may be a bit of a handful. It seems Beckingridge Manor has had some trouble keeping its heir in line. Vincent has been enlisted as a music tutor not only to offer the boy some refinement but also to distract him. Vincent fails to ask what exactly they are trying to distract him from. He finds out for himself soon enough.
The reason music is chosen rather than martial arts, drawing or any other pursuit is because George’s favourite place as a boy was the music room. He would spend most of his time in there and when he was in there Alice could lock the door and forget about him for a while.
10. 10 years is too soon.
George was a kidnap victim. After seeing what George was capable of and what the Manor environment was doing to him his teacher offered him a way out. Naively, perhaps but at least it did keep him out of trouble for a while.
Now George is back. He’s all grown up and he’s ready to take the reins of his father’s empire. Part of that empire leads him to Harbour House and the place where his favourite teacher is now resident.
Broken and disgraced. A music teacher, an artist and an old show girl form an unlikely friendship. Inside Harbour House all they have is each other.
Little George Beckingridge has become too much for his family to handle. Perhaps music lessons from the talented Mr Baines will give him something more positive to focus on.