About

A WELCOME FROM JANET

Thanks for visiting! If you love books, history, travel or 20th century nostalgia I hope you’ll find something of interest here.

My historical novels cover many political events and social upheavals of the past century. Currently I have thirteen titles in print, including the Jarrow Trilogy, the Durham Trilogy, and the Tyneside Sagas. To make these books authentic, I’ve researched the North East extensively. I’ll be using this blog to publish my original research notes, along with extracts from archive materials, photographs, drawings and maps of the North East of England.

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it was like to travel the hippy trail in the 1970s, then read The Vanishing of Ruth. This is a mystery novel, based in part on the material from the diary I kept on my overland trip to India and Kathmandu in 1976.  I’ve already published extracts from the diary, but I’ll be refreshing  that here, along with other previously un-published materials on the route that took through Europe, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India & Kashmir , finally arriving in Kathmandu just before Christmas 1976.

My next mystery is set on the remote Outer Hebrides of Scotland – the idea came after a wild camping holiday on Barra and the Uists! I’ve more or less finished writing this, and it’s in the stages of final editing & proofing, prior to publication in Spring 2012.

If like me, you grew up in the 1960s, then you’ll love my childhood memoirs – an unashamedly nostalgic depiction of both Scotland and the North East of England in the 1960s – the heyday of the Beatles!

I also run a micro publishing business, MacLeod Trotter Books, specialising in paperbacks and ebooks. The novels regularly appear in ebook bestseller charts: The Jarrow Trilogy are in the Kindle top 100, and seven in the top ten of the Family Saga category. Vanishing of Ruth has been a bestseller for Waterstones e-charts. My blog sometimes throws a spotlight on the exciting world of digital publishing and book events in general. So please feel free to join in.

If you want to get in touch or leave comments, I’d be pleased to hear from you.

All the best, Janet.

44 comments on “About

  1. I was interested to see (from our History Workshop Journal article website) that you had ancestors who also evaded the 1911 census – dressing in fancy dress.
    Was this in the North-East? the coast of Durham? or Tyneside?
    And I wonder if you’ve discovered their census schedule?
    I’m intrigued,
    best wishes,
    Jill Liddington

  2. Hello Jill
    I’m a great fan of your work!
    My great aunts were from Edinburgh and this is where they spent Census night – in a cafe having a fancy dress party! There are photos of the occasion in the National Library for Scotland (George IV Bridge, Edinburgh) as my last surviving great aunt Beth (whom I knew) donated them. They are part of the Gorrie Collection. I managed to track down the census schedule to confirm that they had been absent from home in Edinburgh and recorded as ‘on holiday’. There is a post about this on the blog. (entry for Jan 16th under researching the stories).
    All the best
    Janet

  3. Rita Quinn says:

    The Jarrow Lass – The book was a Christmas gift from my daughter in law, Jane Calder who lives in Austrailia.
    Jane was born in South Shields and her mother was a local GP.
    The book was interesting and kept me reading and waiting, a reminder of my young life in Ireland, South Armagh. Second eldest of 11 children, went to Belfast at 18 and saw the dock poverty, now where the big interest in the Titanic is.
    The ending was great, I always had an interest writing and did a few short stories in the past. You have had a great impact on my interest and look forward to reading more. Thank you, Rita Quinn.

    • Thank you very much Rita for you kind comment. As you say, there’s a lot about the Belfast docks and the Titanic in the news at the moment with the 100 years anniversary. The Jarrow Lass was originally just going to be one novel, inspired by the early life of Catherine Cookson and her mother, but I soon realised that Rose the grandmother was important too. So they ended up getting a novel each! I hope you go on to enjoy A Child of Jarrow and then Return to Jarrow which completes the story.
      All the best
      Janet

  4. I have read both the Durham Trilogy and the Jarrow trilogy and I loved both of those series. I just stumbled upon them on Amazon. But now I know that somehow you are connected to Catherine Cookson and I am very curious as to the connection.

    In doing a family tree I found that my grandmother was young and left pregnant out of wedlock in the French Pyrenes in 1908. I cannot begin to imagine the hell she must have endured because of the prejudices in that time period. When my grandfather left her there he came to the United States and then impregnated another woman and married her. This woman and the baby died because of the childbirth. Oddly enough, my grandmother went to a psychic and was told to contact my grandfather because it was OK now and it would work out. She did and he sent her the money to come to the States.
    Her daughter was left in France and never came to the States which now makes me curious if her story was very like that of “Kitty”.

    I will be reading the rest of your books as time goes by now but I had to let you know how much I enjoyed the first 2 trilogies (I cried at least 4 times). I learned so much about true poverty in that time period and how these people endured.
    Thank you for enlightening me.

    • Hi Jeanette
      How lovely of you to let me know how much you enjoyed the trilogies – thank you!
      What an amazing family history you have – your poor grandmother must have gone through hell – but she must have been a strong person to have started a new life in America. Did you know her? Do your family live in the US now?

      I used to live in the same street as Catherine Cookson once did in Newcastle – but that’s the nearest I got to meeting her in the flesh! She did though, pass on encouragement when I first began to write novels. ‘Write, write, every day!’ she said.

      I hope you go on to enjoy the other novels – let me know how you get on.
      Thanks for contacting me.
      Best wishes
      Janet

      • I am amazed that you replied to my email. That was the first time I have every written a “fan letter” to anyone. I felt the emotions of each character of your books and I will definitely read all of your books as time goes by.

        That grandmother died at age 49 before I was even born. She had six children. My grandfather was quite a devil his entire life. He was jailed 3 times that I have been able to verify for violations of prohibition and once for taking a shotgun after the Deputy State Treasurer of Nevada. Most difficult for my grandmother was the fact that he was a womanizer the entire time they were together. He even had a long term affair with the wife of the only doctor in town (population was probably about 3000 at that time). He was a very cold person emotionally. The other side of my family was just as dysfunctional but really interesting in its own right. I would
        love to have your talent to write their stories.

        Thank you so much for your response.
        Jeanette Supera

  5. Janet, I thought it too much of a coincidence that my name is Trotter; I grew up in the North East of England in the 60’s; visited Persepolis in 1972 while living in Saudi Arabia and have published a novel, ‘The Orphan Sniper’ on Amazon – Kindle and paperback. What do you think?

    Happy New Year,

    Mel

  6. Hello Mel
    thanks for getting in touch. We do seem to have things in common – including the same initials! Your spy book sounds very interesting – I’ll add it to my Kindle list. Having visited Iran in the 70s, you might enjoy my mystery novel, The Vanishing of Ruth, which follows the old Overland route.
    All the best from the North East,
    Janet

  7. I JUST FINISHED the Jarrow Trilogy . I have been a fan of Catihrine Cookson for many years have all her books which I read over and over. Thank you for writing her story. You have become my favorite author next to Catherine Cookson. Looking forward to reading all your books.

  8. Hello Willmetta
    How kind of you! I’m really pleased that you enjoyed the Jarrow books. There are plenty more set on Tyneside so hope you find something of interest for your Kindle! Please keep in touch and let me know how you get on. In the meantime I send greetings from the North East of England, which is looking beautiful in the snow today.
    All the best
    Janet

  9. sally says:

    Having Read The Beltane Fires, Chasing the Dream, A child of Jarrow,A crimson Dawn, The Darkening Skies,The Hungry Hills,The Jarrow lass,Never stand Alone,Return to Jarrow, The Suffragette and The Vanishing Of Ruth. You have become one of my favourite Authors and have reduced me to tears on quite a few occaisons. I have to say the vanishing of Ruth is not a book iI would normally have read but I really enjoyed it. As some one who has done some family research , but my family come from south of england, your books make me imagine life for working class people at those times, the struggles of everyday life. Oh how lucky was I to be born in the 50’s.

  10. Hello Sally
    That’s lovely of you to let me know you’ve enjoyed all those novels – and that you have one or two still to go! Vanishing of Ruth was a bit of departure from the historical sagas, as you say. Having done the Overland trip myself in the 70s, I knew I had to write about it at some point, though I wasn’t sure in what form – fiction or non fiction. In the end, it just seemed to lend itself to being a mystery and I enjoyed writing in a different style. You might like to have a go at my other mystery, The Haunting of Kulah, which has a historical strand in it too.
    Good luck with the family research – that’s what brings social history alive, isn’t it?
    Best wishes from a fellow 50s baby!
    Janet

  11. sandra nicholls (nee pearson) says:

    Hi Janet

    I fell over one of your books in a book shop in durham city, i have read the JARROW LASS and i am fancinated as to how you got hold of the information, it is really really my most favourite book ever, well done.

    I am living in the midlands of england but i originally come from Easington village in county durham. I was born in 1952, so yet another 50’s baby. My mam’s family came from High Pittington which is a pit village near to durham city, or was a pit village, i still think of the north east with the pits as we left the area in 1988 before the collieries had closed. My mams sister used to live at Byker, Jesmond and then on City Road, Newcastle city itself. My dads family have an uncertain past and i have tried really hard to find out more about them but they moved to easington village from the birmingham area around1910 and moved back to that area after 1945, not quite sure why, but my dad remained at easington, met my mam and married and setting in easington village. Dad died around1971 from cancer.

    My mam sadly died in 2009 at the age of nearly 100! and she used to have lots of tales to tell about the past and now i wished i had wrote them all down. Fancinating stuff.

    I wonder if you could let me know which books are in the durham trilogy, jarrow trilogy etc and what is your latest book out.

    many thanks for a great read and for the future.

    Sandra

    • Hi Sandra
      great to get your message – thanks very much! The Jarrow Lass began as one book, but ended up turning into a trilogy! The next instalment is A Child of Jarrow, and then Return to Jarrow. When I was researching the books, the local history society of Jarrow and Hebburn were really helpful with background detail of the times. Hebburn now also have a website and message board, if you want to take a look: http://members3.boardhost.com/hebburn/

      That’s really interesting to hear about your family’s association with Easington – that is where I did a lot of my research for Never Stand Alone, the mining novel set in the times of the ’84 Strike. That is the third novel in the Durham Trilogy, so you have to start with, A Hungry Hills and then The Darkening Skies. These first two novels are set in a mining village in West Durham, so maybe there will be similarities to your mother’s family experience in High Pittington?! If you read them, please let me know what you think.

      My latest book out is No Greater Love, which is a new version of The Suffragette novel with a new ending, brought out to mark the centenary of famous Northumberland suffragette, Emily Wilding Davison. http://www.amazon.co.uk/No-greater-love-Tyneside-Sagas/dp/1908359242/ref=la_B0034Q5LPQ_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1365089782&sr=1-3

      All these books are also available as ebooks if you have a Kindle or e-reader.
      Please keep in touch.
      All the best
      Janet
      All these books are also available as ebooks if you have a Kindle or e-reader.
      Please keep in touch.
      All the best
      Janet

      • sandra says:

        Thank you janet for getting back in touch with me.

        I have just started reading “return to jarrow” and i just can’t put the book down, it is great.

        My mam and gran used to tell me stories of when they grew up and i do wish i had taken more notice of them at the time and maybe wrote notes but i was only 8 years old when gran died at the age of 87. Mam did used to say about a family called Baker Baker who lived near High Pittington and her and her brother and sisters used to go on their land and pick the bluebells in the woods on the estate. Mam would recall the stories of a grand house. We did go back to Pittington on a few occasions and walked around St Lawrence’s church and there is a plaque in the church to the Baker Baker family Because i used to think that my mam had made a mistake and they were only called Baker, but she was right. Also my mam’s sister, aunt mary used to live at both byker and jesmond for a time. But mam would tell me of the hardship her sister faced when her sister had to take stuff to the pawnshop on a friday to get it out on monday, so sad, yet aunt mary went on to be a nurse at the RVI hospital at newcastle and later her and her husband became caretaker at the clinic on city road, newcastle. Mam was also a nurse and she worked at a place caled Whinney House then Sheriff Hill and then Dryburn hospital at Durham city. She had a younger brother who sadly was killed in the second world war by the japanese when he was only 19.

        I will go onto read the durham trilogy and one day i hope to get the family history more linked up when i do the family tree. This i have promised myself to do once i retire which will be in the next couple of year.

        Sorry Janet i hope i havent bored you too much, but i get carried away and i am so fascinated by anything to do with the great north east of england.

        Many thanks for you wonderful books

        Kind regards
        love

        sandra nicholls (nee pearson)

  12. Hello Sandra
    You have a really interesting family background – you must find out more when you have the time! Pittington is a lovely spot.
    There is some information in the archives at Durham University about the Baker Bakers (for several generations just called Baker!) Here is the link:

    http://www.dur.ac.uk/library/asc/collection_information/cldload/?collno=9

    Interesting that your mother was a nurse and ended up at Dryburn, which all of us who grew up in Durham knew well. Hope you enjoy the Durham mining trilogy. Where are your family living now?
    All the best
    Janet

    • sandra says:

      Hello Janet

      Thank you so much for getting back in touch with me. I love pittington area, especialy St Lawrence’s church were a few members of my mothers family are buried Thank you for the link i will have a look at that.

      I have just started reading THE HUNGRY HILLS and already i just dont want to put it down. I have passed my Jarrow trilogy books onto my friend to read. They were great but i just couldnt believe the terrible time that Catherine Cookson had had. She was my mam’s favourite writer because she could picture the area that catherine wrote about because my aunt mary lived around there for years.

      I moved to the midlands, back in 1988 due to a job relocation on the part of the husband at the time, but after two years down her i finally got away from him, a long story and one which i have started to put pen to paper about. I stayed in the midlands. I brought my mam down to the area and she sadly died at the age of 99 (ten months from her telegram) back in 2009. I have a few relative living in the north east, but we sadly are not in touch with each other, something else i intend to change in the future. My dad grew up with his gran from the age of 8 at easington village in some small houses, now long gone that used to stand opposite THE KINGS HEAD inn, which is now a block of flats.

      I think the northeast has a fantastic and fascinating history and i will always be proud to be from that area.

      Once again, thank you so much for getting in touch.

      take care

      sandra

      • Pleasure Sandra! Please keep in touch.
        Greetings from the North East,
        Janet

      • sandra nicholls says:

        Hi Janet

        Just a quickie to say that I have just finished reading THE HUNGRY HILLS and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. Oh how I wanted Reginald to come a cropper!!!!! Which village in County Durham was it based on? I wondered if Whitton Grange was actually Witton Gilbert or was it Langley Park? Also were there pits called the Beatrice and the Eleanor because it seems to ring a bell in my memory somewhere.

        I have just started the second book in the trilogy and I just wished I didn’t have to go to work because I just want to read this from start to finish in one hit. Great.

        Many thanks for excellent books and I will get mine sorted one of these days when I retire, which will be next year.

        sandra x

      • Hi Sandra
        thanks for your lovely feedback! Whitton Grange was based on an amalgam of villages in West Durham – but I suppose the one that was most in my mind was Esh Winning. As far as I know, the Beatrice and Eleanor were fictional, but as coal owners sometimes named pits after their offspring then it’s very possible that there could be historical ones out there!
        Really glad that you are now enjoying The Darkening Skies – even if it is tempting you away from work! Just think of all that reading time you will have once you retire. Please keep in touch.
        All the best from the North East,
        Janet

  13. Margaret Taylor says:

    Hi Janet.
    I have read quite a number of your books.and thoroughly enjoyed everyone of them.I recently purchased A child of jarrow.which I am about to read. I was Born and Bred in the Northeast of England .and now Live in Dorking in the Southeast.after meeting and marrying my Late Husband.I feel by reading your books I can relate to my childhood my Late father Having been a Coalminer.Please keep them coming
    BEST WISHES

    MARGARET TAYLOR

    • Hello Margaret
      thanks very much for getting in contact – I’m really pleased you are enjoying the novels! Whereabouts in the North East were you born? Interesting to hear that your father was a miner. Just the other day I attended the Durham Miners’ Gala which is still a huge day out, despite all the mines in the area having closed. Many of the colliery bands are still active and there were great processions of banners marching behind. As a miner’s daughter, you would have been very proud!
      I hope you enjoy A child of Jarrow and then go on to read Return to Jarrow. Thanks again for your lovely message of support.
      All the best
      Janet

      • Margaret Taylor says:

        Hello Janet
        Thank you for replying to my comment.
        Just a little background of myself, I was Born in Sunderland and lived in Grangetown.I attended Commercial Road Girls secondary school.until 1956 I worked as a clerk at Brian Mills moved on to Jackson the tailors until I joined the Women’s Royal Army Corp’ s in 1961 where I then meet my future Husband, we married in 1964 My father worked in Seaham Colliery also known as the Nak for over 40 years I remember how he came home black in those DAY’s ( no showers) had to use the tin bath in front of the fire .We used to go to all the Durham Gala’ s such a Great Day out for all the family

        Best wishes

        Margaret

  14. Hi Margaret
    That’s all really interesting. When I was researching my novel, Never Stand Alone, (which is based on the deep mines of the Durham coast) a friend from Easington took me and my kids for a day on the beach at Seaham. By then, the pit was closed. All that stretch of coast is good for walking and cycling now.
    I send greetings from the sunny North East!
    Best wishes
    Janet

  15. Margaret Taylor says:

    Hi Janet

    Thank you.I look forward to reading Never Stand Alone.so pleased you all enjoyed your time at the Beach at Seaham..my sister often goes there .mostly to the shops she still lives in Houghton-le- Spring .I hope to visit the Northeast in the very near future to visit my siblings

    Best Wishes
    Margaret

  16. Ali says:

    Hello Janet, your article about Iran brought me back so many memories. Could you please contact me. I need to ask you about the pictures. Thank you.

  17. sandra nicholls says:

    Hi Janet

    How are you? Well we have just come back from a holiday at USA and it was fantastic. I went with my husband Paul and we stayed for most of the time with my aunt and uncle. The uncle I had never met before and it turned out to be really great. My aunt I saw 10 years ago and we stayed at their house at Fairfield, Connecticut. We also met up with three of my cousins, one of which I saw 10 years ago, and the other two around 50 years ago! It was fantastic. We stayed at one of the cousins for four days on Manhattan in his apartment which overlooked the water. We had a day trip to Boston and I am so glad that we hired a car, everything is miles apart. The beach near to my aunt’s house at Fairfield was just lovely, looking over Long Island Sound. The reason that I am telling you is the fact that my aunt, is one of my dad’s sisters and she was born at Easington Colliery, County Durham, 86 years ago. She met and married an American GI and the she moved to USA back in 1947 were she became a model and then went on to have three boys. Another reason I am writing, I took the Teaplanters daughter to read on the flight and it is such a fantastic story. It kept me gripped when we flew during the night and all the rest of the plane seemed to be asleep except for me. What a fantastic read. I have read the Durham trilogies and the Jarrow ones and now I am working my way through the Tyneside one, fabulous.

    Best wishes
    Sandra

    • Hello Sandra – what a fantastic trip, sounds like your relations did you proud! Thanks very much for your kind comments about The Tea Planter’s Daughter – sorry it kept you awake the whole flight, but glad you enjoyed it! You might be interested to know that I’m writing a sequel at the moment called The Planters’ Brides, set in the 1920s, so I’ll let you know when that becomes available. All the best and thanks for keeping in touch,
      Janet

  18. Joan Archer says:

    I have just finished reading the Jarrow Trilogy on my Kindle Fire and loved it. I have been reading Catherine Cookson for years and have all her books and can keep going back to read them again. When I got the Kindle last month I saw your book in the list and bought it and I’ve not been disappointed. I’ve also bought the Durham Trilogy and feel sure I’ll enjoy that as much. I’ll certainly check out other novels by you because you write my sort of novel. Being a 70 year old disabled person gives me plenty of time for reading and I’m really pleased to have found another author that I enjoy reading.
    Thank you Janet for extending my reading pleasure.
    Joan

    • Hello Joan – what a lovely message, thank you! I’m really pleased that you enjoyed the Jarrow books and hope the Durham Trilogy brings you pleasure too. Do you have connections with the North East of England? I’ve just completed The Planter’s Bride (the sequel to The Tea Planter’s Daughter) which will be out soon. Please keep in touch and let me know how you get on with the other novels.
      Best wishes
      Janet

  19. Pauline Wolf says:

    Hello Janet
    I have just discovered your books through my daughter buying me an ebook for Xmas and telling me I would probably enjoy reading Return to Jarrow, I started reading it and realised it was the last in the trilogy so downloaded the other two! I have just finished all three and thoroughly enjoyed every minute! I stopped reading a few years ago always said I didn’t have time! well I now read every evening before bed and sleep better for it, so thank you! I am totally hooked on your books and have downloaded your Vanishing Ruth and Tea planters daughter, is their a sequence with the tea planters books as I have noticed a couple with similar titles? Many thanks for inspiring me to read again, I only now know how much I missed it.
    Regards
    Pauline

    • Hello Pauline – how wonderful to get your lovely comments! Thanks so much. I’m really glad that the novels have kick-started your appetite for reading once more.
      You’re right about the India Tea novels – they do come in sequence. The first one is The Tea Planter’s Daughter (originally called The Tea Planter’s Lass) and the sequel is The Planter’s Bride.
      Hope you enjoy them too!
      Very best wishes
      Janet

      • I could not agree more with Pauline. Since I got my Kindle a couple of years ago I am reading even more than I ever did before. I always have it with me so even when I have just a few minutes I can read. I think at this point I have read all of your books and have loved every one of them. I am a really big fan of your writing. You have a great talent and I always just transport myself to where ever your location is for the story. I am always waiting for the next one to come out.
        Jeanette

  20. Oh Jeanette, thank you! Really kind of you to say so. The Planter’s Bride is the most recent. Have you read it?
    Best wishes
    Janet

  21. Mary Ann Patterson-Vallee says:

    I’ve just finished the Jarrow Trilogy and wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your portrayal of Catherine cooks on brought the author to life for me. It is a pity that my Mum was no longer with us as I know how much she would of learning about Mrs. Cooks on, as she was one oy Mother’s favourite authors. Due in part to some of the stories made her gain a insight into the lives of the people of Northern England, and her own mother’s reluctance to talk about the past. My own Mum came to Canada in 1925 after my grandfather died from consumption that he caught as a result of being a POW during the first world war and remembered very little of living there and remembered nothing of her father. After coming to Canada my Nan didn’t want to talk about my grandfather or their past life in England.

    Thank you so much for making the area that is so distant in miles but close in heart because it produced one of the finest woman I know, my mother.

    • Dear Mary Ann
      You’re very kind to share your comments on the Trilogy and your family story. How very traumatic it must have been for your Nan – and very brave of her to start a new life in Canada. I’m pleased that the books have been able to give you a flavour of where your mother came from and sorry that she didn’t get to read them. Perhaps you’ll get to visit NE England some day?

      I really appreciate you getting in touch – a wonderful start to my writing day! I hope you might try some of the other North East sagas. Let me know if you do.
      Best wishes and “gan canny” as they say over here.
      Janet

  22. Dear Janet, I’m attending a conference in August on World War One.The conference is hosted by London University and one of the guest speakers is Jay Winter. The subject of my paper is pacifism in fiction. My primary source is ‘A Crimson Dawn’. I wonder if you would like to comment on how fiction in general, and your novel in particular, helps us to understand pacifism at the beginning of the twentieth century? I also wonder if you would share with me your thoughts on how literature has a special ability to explore the complexity of historical issues such as pacifism. What in particular does your novel help us to understand about the situation for pacifists in World War One.
    If you are kind enough to respond to my questions, may I quote your answer(s)?
    I really look forward to hearing from you, Janet.
    With all good wishes and many thanks,

    Jane

    • Hello Jane
      thanks for getting in touch – the conference sounds really interesting. I’ll give it some thought and reply to you by email though I have a lot on in the next few weeks so bear with me!
      Kind regards
      Janet

      • Dear Janet,
        Thank you so much. This is very kind of you. I do appreciate that you have a great deal to do but hope that you can give me a few ideas before July 31, when I leave for London. I live in Sweden now.
        With very many thanks, Janet.
        And wishing you all the very best,

        Jane

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