My latest book is another historical setting, to be released under the title 'Limehouse Boys'. It is set in the 1830s in the east end of London, and revolves round three orphan boys placed in an orphange attached to a Workhouse. Through the action of corrupt officials, criminal gangs and those who profited on the side, the trio are destined to be swept up in prostitution and abuse ...
But they have other plans, and so do a group of watermen who have themselves seen the robbery, the abuse and hardship - and work to help the boys escape, and to frustrate the plans of the criminals behind it. Thanks to the watermen the boys find they have different options, and in the process of growing away from their intended fate, they find escape into the life and work of the watermen. The story revolves round the Thames estuary and the seedier side of London in the 19th Century. In the east end, poverty was epidemic, families lived, worked and died in the cluttered lanes and streets.
The alternative was the Workhouse, and, for many, that was a place to go to die. Those who have read Charles Dickens Oliver Twist will know they were hardly welcoming, comfortable or pleasant. Add a staff abusing the inmates and making a profit from manipulating the food and other provisions for the inmates. The law required that orphans be placed as apprentices in 'suitable trades' - and a corrupt Beadle could earn a nice commission 'placing' boys and girls with those who ran the bordellos - of which, at this time in London, there were many.
I have found the research for the book a fascinating, and sometimes alarming, journey. If nothing else, it has brought hom,e to me just how hard life was in the age before modern medicine, and before 'law and order' became a real priority in civilised society. It has also made me acutely aware of just why we, as a society, have developed the way we have in the last century and a half.
Look for it in May, it will be published by IndieGo Publishing and is currently being edited by Janet Angelo.