‘How dare you’ kill off a dog in your novel!

A good friend and former Cumbria Police colleague Peter Reece has given me a hard time and a laugh (with a bit of dialect, too), this morning, on Facebook.

“…How dare you kill off an old dog [in your novel]?  You had me in tears theer, marra. I would have preferred the drunk driver to have ‘bit the dust’.   I know , I know, I know why you didn’t:  bloody coroner’s file, four copies of everything, and a folder thicker than yan o’ them girt big family bibles!”

Obviously not the Border Collie in the novel but a lovely, venerable old lass, none-the-less.

Well, you have a good point, Peter, but while I have deliberately avoided writing about the true facts of any crimes and real criminals in my novel, I have leaned on some true experiences I had during my police career which cannot possibly be seen as defamatory to anybody.  So — albeit sad — this incident of a Border Collie being killed by a drunk driver on a pedestrian crossing the first time the dog ever failed to wait on the kerb for its owner before starting to cross the road, really did happen.  The only things I changed were the name of the owner, the breed of dog, the town where it happened and all circumstances pertaining to the car and driver involved.

The sad bits, the trip to the vets and all that: All true.  The old man having previously lost all the members of his family: True, but not quite as described.  My subsequent efforts to ‘con’ him into taking a young boxer that we then had in the police kennels at that time: Yes, successfully true, and even though the dog was a bit too boisterous for a man of his age and did tend to pull him along when they were out for a walk, the old chap always did have a smile on his face.  In the nicest sense, I have always hoped that the dog outlived him; the man whom I renamed ‘Max’ in the book had been through far more than his life’s share of sadness.

Steve Shearwater



Anybody wanting translations of the dialect words used by Peter Reece, above, please use the dialect glossary.

When my first novel — My Cup Runneth Over — was published, in November 2016, my biggest fear was what the opinions of my former police colleagues might be.  I certainly knew they had the capacity to be my fiercest critics if my writing was not to their liking.  To my delight and relief, that has not proved to be the case.  You may read their thoughts here.

Great fun, signing and selling books at a Christmas Fair in Aspatria

Just after I arrived at the Community Centre, yesterday, I was delighted to have a long chat with Mary Bragg of Cockermouth, who had just finished reading my new novel – ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ – on Kindle, the evening before, and who was wonderfully complimentary about it. Thank you, Mary

I confess that I also sold more books than I had dared anticipate, so that was very pleasing, too.

Eddie Wren (alias Steve Shearwater), L, and Peter Reece

Then Peter Reece – one of my former colleagues in crime (fighting!) – appeared, following his own grin into the room, and when I wasn’t busy with people at my little sales’ table, we naturally had great fun swapping old ‘war stories’. (I’m the one on the left, in the photo, and Peter would tell you he’s the better-looking one, on the right!)

Incidentally, the little town is pronounced “Sp’yatri,” in Cumberland dialect but gets its proper name from ‘Ash Patrick’, after the famous saint preached there in the Fifth Century.  Another Cumbrian place name that comes from the saint is Patterdale – Patrick’s dale – at Ullswater.

Interestingly, despite its small size, both Peter and I worked at Aspatria years ago, during our respective police careers.

All told, the Fair provided a wonderful afternoon. My sincere thanks to the organisers.