Jasmine takes a break

And still it goes on – the news I mean. I’m writing this a little early this week but already we’ve had Farage resigning, again, He’d done his job, so he says. No thought about the aftermath or what responsibility he might have. And Chris Evans resigning from Top Gear. I haven’t watched the new series and neither, for a long time, did I watch the old version.  I like James May and Richard Hammond but Clarkson increasingly got on my nerves with his views. But a TV programme is unimportant compared to what is happening to the government of our country. I’ve read and heard Europeans comment that they thought us Brits were calm and thoughtful and wouldn’t, couldn’t, make such a mess of things as leaving the EU. Well, all I can say is that they haven’t met the ones that voted Leave because if they holiday abroad at all, it’s likely that they stay in hotels and camps that are shut off from the country they are in and the only “foreigners” they meet are the waiters, chambermaids, etc. Doesn’t apply to all of them of course.  We shall see what the next week brings.

Having finished Aberration last week I have decided to take a break from writing Jasmine Frame stories for a few weeks.  Writing the stories is fun but each episode takes up a considerable time each week. I also feel I need to give Jasmine a rest so I can get the imagination and creativity going again. I am writing another fantasy novel which I need to devote more time to. I also want to get the third Jasmine novel ready for publication, and perhaps prepare another of the prequels for e-book publication,  so that will keep me busy. It is almost three years since I started writing the prequels and I have finished nine of them (I thought it was just eight!). For those of you that are interested, the table below lists all the Jasmine Frame stories, written, published or planned. There are still a few gaps in Jasmine’s life story, particularly her first years in the police force. However, I don’t really like writing police procedurals and her opportunities for investigations as a uniformed PC may be limited – but we will see.

This blog will continue nevertheless, with comments on the world outside fiction, especially my experience of transgenderism and news about the Jasmine publications (perhaps some free or reduced price offers soon) so I hope you will continue to pop in for a read.

To show how things change in three years here are a couple of photos of me during that time.

2013, shortly after the publication of Painted Ladies

2013, shortly after the publication of Painted Ladies

2016, at Hay Festival.

2016, at Hay Festival.

Provisional title date situation crime Publication & length Publication date
Discovering Jasmine 2000 James experimenting with his gender identity Transwoman intimidated by youths Ebook, Discovering Jasmine

20,000w

2015
Soft Focus 2001 James meets Angela at Uni. Transman dies; suicide or murder? Ebook, Murder in Doubt

21,000w

2016
Aberration 2004 James & Angela living together post- graduation Transman killed 16,000w  
Flashlight 2009 James seconded to V&SCU, meets DCI Sloane for the first time. Woman killed by drug overdose supplied by transwoman 24,000w  
Resolution 2009 James appointed to V&SCU. Meets DC Tom Shepherd Colleague (from Flashlight) murdered 23,000w  
Blueprint 2009 James reveals he is trans Crossdresser suicide 38,000w  
Self=portrait 2010 Start of transition Young transman accused of murder 27,000w  
Close-up 2010 Jasmine back at work. Conflict with DS Baby alleged to be snatched in high street 23,000w  
Split Mirror 2011 Separating from Angela, move into flat. Conflict with DS Transwoman disappeared 22,000w  
Painted Ladies 2012 Jasmine working as private detective. Divorce from Angela. Serial killer targeting trans women Ebook & paperback, Painted Ladies 80,000w 2013
Bodies By Design 2012 Biorchidectomy, start of relationship with Viv Transwoman murdered Ebook & paperback, Bodies By Design 72,000w 2015
The Brides’ Club Murder 2012 Electrolysis. Planning to move in with Viv Leader of Bridal wear group murdered t.b.d

76,000w

2016/17
Molly’s Boudoir 2013 Breast augmentation. Living with Viv Arson at trans shop t.b.d. ?
Impersonator 2014 GRS. Female impersonator killed t.b.d. ?

 

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Jasmine starts a case

Is increasing pessimism a sign of ageing? Perhaps it’s just me or perhaps the world is getting more depressing. When I was young I was optimistic about lots of things – developments in  science, colonies on the Moon and Mars, improving standard of living – all that despite the threat of nuclear war which I don’t recall ever losing sleep over. Now though, well the list of depressing news just goes on getting longer: the state of the environment (global warming, pollution, extinctions, new diseases, etc.), threats from terrorists, declining economy (not helped by economists who still can’t accept a finite Earth), authoritarian, self-aggrandising government figures (how did we end up with this Conservative government and what are we going to get in the US?).  I’m not going to ramble on about all my fears and the reasons for them as it would fill up too much space.

On a personal level I am probably as happy as I have ever been. I have a wonderful, loving, supportive partner; a great relationship with children and grandchildren; I’m doing what I want to do i.e. writing, and being who I want to be; and, we cope on what we earn. Nevertheless the worries of the world trouble me. The point is I don’t want to join the crowd writing dystopic science fiction or gloomy, gory crime thrillers. I want to bring some optimism into my writing – but it’s hard.

20160122_144602(2)Anyway, it’s not all doom. We had a lovely day out last week and here’s a photo to prove it.

{Go to Jasmine Frame Publications to find out how to purchase Jasmine Frame stories}

 

 

 

And finally, on with the eighth Jasmine Frame prequel, Resolution.  Just one point to follow on from last week’s comment – the Dr Gupta who appears in this episode is the same character who was Dr Patel in previous stories (viz. Blueprint).

Resolution: Part 2

DS Trewin stopped the car in a narrow road clogged with police cars and vans and cars parked outside the row of terraced houses. On the other side of the road was a fence and then the railway cutting. James got out of the back of the car and looked up and down the street.  Some of the houses looked almost derelict but others had been spruced up. The police activity apparently centred on one of the renovated properties. James thought it was the type of house he and Angela would have looked at until she heard that she had passed her exams. Now they could afford something a little more upmarket.
Trewin joined James. ‘Come and get kitted out before we go in, lads.’ He led James and Tom to the open rear of a van. He reached into a cardboard box and pulled out a clear plastic packet. James took it and Trewin handed another to Tom before taking one himself. James tore open the bag and shook out the one-size-fits-all, white, disposable overall. He struggled to fit himself into it, glancing at Tom to see how we has managing to get his extra length and bulk fitted in. Trewin was ready well before James had done up the Velcro fastening.
‘Follow me,’ Trewin said, ‘I know you’ve been to crime scenes before, but as detectives you will get closer to the victim and other evidence. Don’t touch anything and watch where you are putting your feet. You’ve seen a dead body before?’ Tom and James nodded, and Trewin added, ‘Good, I thought so.’
Trewin entered the house with Tom and James close behind. They stepped straight into the living room. James noted that it was actually two small rooms, divided by a modern open staircase. They walked to the rear where other overalled figures were crouched down almost obscuring the body.
‘Doctor?’ Trewin said. One of the figures twisted around and stood up.
‘Ah, DS Trewin, a pleasure to see you.’  The overall was baggy around the pathologist’s ankles but stretched tight across his stomach. ‘I see you have brought some support.’
‘Frame and Shepherd,’ Trewin pointed to each of them, ‘New DCs, just joined us this morning. I’m guiding them until DCI Sloane decides to release them into the wild. Lads, this is Dr Gupta, pathologist.’
‘Welcome gentlemen. Excuse me for not shaking hands,’ the doctor smiled and displayed his latex covered hands. James was amused that his white moustache seemed to blend with the hood of his overall. ‘Frame you say? Didn’t you work on that drug overdose case with DS Sparrow.’
James nodded, surprised that he had been remembered. ‘Yes, I was seconded for a few days to help out. Now I’m permanent,’ he paused, realising that he sounded a bit brash, ‘at least I hope so.’
‘Well, good luck to you, both of you.’
‘What have you got for us, Doctor?’ Trewin asked.
Dr Gupta stepped aside to give James and the others a view. The body of a woman, fully dressed, lay on the floor, arms and legs twisted into contorted positions that they wouldn’t have been in if she was merely asleep. There was no sign of blood but her eyelids were wide apart and her mouth open in a silent scream.
‘Not a great deal, as yet,’ The pathologist said. ‘A woman of about fifty years, strangled.’
‘Any other signs of a struggle?’ Trewin asked.’
Dr Gupta shook his head. ‘No other bruising. A couple of her fingernails are torn as if she tried to loosen the ligature that her killer had around her neck.’
‘DNA?’ Trewin said.
‘She may have scratched his hands. We’ve taken samples from under her nails. We’ll have to see what we get.’
Trewin knelt and looked closely at the woman’s neck. ‘What did the killer use?’
‘Hmm,’ Gupta mused, ‘There are a number of possibilities but I favour a length of flex. As you can see, the bruising on the neck is narrow which rules out a pair tights or stockings and is uniform which suggests it wasn’t coiled cord or twine.’
‘You mean a length of electrical cable?’ Trewin said.
Gupta nodded, ‘That’s right, but before you ask DS Trewin, we haven’t found a piece of cable lying around.’
Trewin stood up and turned to Tom and James. ‘Any ideas, you two?’
James scanned the room not really expecting to see a convenient length of wire overlooked by the SOCO team.
‘Could he have used the cable from the TV or a kettle?’ Tom asked.
Dr Gupta nodded his head slowly as if considering Tom’s idea, ‘It would be difficult to persuade your victim into a convenient position to twist the television cable around her neck and I think if the kettle had been used there might be signs of it.’
‘He could have unplugged the lead from the kettle, used it to strangle the woman and then replaced it.’ Tom said, eagerly pursuing his suggestion.
‘It would have picked up grease, skin and hair. The cable of the kettle in the kitchen and indeed other electrical items do not show that, and neither have they be wiped clean. Everything has a thin coating of dust as we would expect.’
Tom looked disappointed that his theory had been dismissed.
Jasmine decided to speak up. ‘You mean the killer has taken the cable away and may have brought it with him.’
Dr Gupta nodded, ‘It has certainly been removed and I think it is a reasonable assumption that a suitable length of cable was brought by the killer.’
‘Which suggests premeditation,’ Trewin added. ‘Any signs of a break-in?’
Gupta shook his head. ‘No. It would appear that the deceased let the killer into her home.’
Trewin nodded and looked at James and Tom. ‘I suppose you both know that the majority of killings are carried out by people known to the victim. We need to find out all we can about this woman and her acquaintances.’
Tom and James nodded in agreement. Trewin turned back to Dr Gupta.
‘Who is she, Doctor?’
‘A Mrs Hargreaves, so I’m told,’ the pathologist said, ‘Elizabeth. Not lived here long, I understand, but that’s all I have for now.’
‘Who discovered the body?’ Trewin asked.
‘Ah, I think one of your uniformed officers can help you there,’ Dr Gupta said as he turned and knelt beside the dead woman again. ‘I need to get on here so we can move the body.’
‘Thank you, Doctor. Frame go and see if the officer is outside. He should be hanging around.’
James retraced his steps to the doorway. A female community support officer was standing on the pavement near the door.
‘Hello,’ James said. ‘Can you tell me who found the body of Mrs Hargreaves?’
‘That was the neighbour, Mrs Wilson. She lives here.’ The young woman pointed to the house they were standing next to. ‘She called the emergency services and I was the first on the scene. This is my area.’  James examined the young officer. She was very young; he wondered if she was even out of her teens. She had a smooth, slightly pink-cheeked face and short blonde hair.
‘Thank you. You are?’
‘PCSO Oakham, Sir.’
‘Your first body?’
‘Yes, Sir. I’ve only been on duty for a couple of months.’  She became even pinker and a tear trickled down her cheek. She brushed it away. ‘Sorry, Sir.’
‘Don’t worry, I remember what it was like for me. I imagine that I’ll be seeing a few more in this job. What’s your first name?’
The girl hesitated. ‘Peaches, Sir.’ James felt his eyebrows rise. ‘My mother heard the name just before I was born and decided she liked it.’ James smiled, people who had strange names inflicted on them always felt that they had to offer an explanation.
‘Well, Peaches, tell me what happened.’
The young woman took a deep breath. ‘Mrs Wilson said that she had got annoyed because the radio in the house had been playing all night. This morning she came to complain to Mrs Hargreaves but there wasn’t a reply. Mrs Wilson thought that perhaps Mrs Hargreaves had gone away forgetting the radio so she decided to go in and turn it off. She had a spare key, you see. She let herself in and, well, found the body. She rang 999 and was in quite a state when I arrived.’
‘I’m not surprised. What happened next?’
‘The paramedic got here a few moments after me but of course there was nothing he could do. Then the PCs arrived and they called in everyone else.’
James could imagine the small house filling up with the various professionals. ‘But for a few moments it was just you and the neighbour.’
‘Yes,’ Peaches sniffed.
‘Did you notice anything?’
The girl looked mystified, ‘Like what?’
James shrugged, ‘I don’t know. Anything unusual?’
‘You mean apart from the body?’
‘Yes. Furniture knocked over, things not where they might be expected to be.’
Oakham shook her head, ‘I didn’t see anything like that. Just the radio playing.’
‘Who turned that off?’
‘I don’t know, Sir. It wasn’t me.’
James felt a hard object hit the back of his legs. He turned to find Dr Gupta exiting the front door carrying his large bag.
‘Oh, sorry, Doctor. I didn’t mean to be in your way,’ he said.
‘It’s no bother, DC Frame. I’ve done what I can here for now.’ The portly pathologist started to walk towards the cars parked in the street.
James had a thought. He called out. ‘Oh, Doctor.’
Gupta stopped and turned to face James. ‘Yes, Constable?’
‘You remembered that I’d worked with DS Sparrow.’
‘I did. Three deaths caused by misjudged doses of heroin. I gather you foiled a new group of pedlars of the disgusting material. Well done.’
‘Thank you Doctor. Did you know that DS Sparrow was dead?’
The doctor’s creased face drooped. ‘Yes, I had heard. A very sad business. Strange too.’
‘Strange?’
‘Yes. I understand she was hit twice by the car and the driver has not been traced. Look I must get these samples back to the lab and prepare for the post mortem on Mrs Hargreaves. Good luck Frame.’
Gupta hurried off leaving James with Peaches Oakham by his side. He knew it was the death of Mrs Hargreaves that he should devote his attention to but the thought of Milla Sparrow being repeatedly run over car filled his mind.
…………………..

Jasmine Frame in “Flashlight”

IMGP4720Juggling lots of different activities this week.  Sending off packages containing Bodies By Design – yes, there have been sales (get your copy now by emailing  paintedladiesnovel@btinternet.com  and look at the Jasmine Frame Publications page for prices); sorting out business for various committees, getting ready for the Applefair in Leominster (books for sale); writing some science stuff; and writing the first episode of the new Jasmine Frame prequel, Flashlight.  This one fits in just before Blueprint which was the very first prequel I wrote.  What I have not been doing is writing the next Jasmine Frame novel. I will get round to it, I promise.

So, here is the first episode of Flashlight.  Hope you like it.

Flashlight – part 1

The beat of “Day ‘n’ Nite” crashed through Jasmine’s head. In the brief flashes of light she watched Angela’s face change to blue, red, yellow, purple, green.  Angela’s eyes were closed as she danced to the pulse of the music. Jasmine ignored the hot press of steaming bodies with their mix of odours of sweat, perfume and other substances not so legal. She was simply enjoying being with Angela and being herself. The nylon fringe of her dress brushed against her bare thigh, rising and falling like the long tresses of her wig. She didn’t mind that her foundation was bubbling and her eye shadow slipping. She was enjoying being female and out with her wife.

There had been no thoughts of a night on the dancefloor when James got back to their rented flat. It had been a long shift and it was already eight p.m. He dropped his bag and shrugged off the blouson he’d worn to and from the police station.
‘Hi, James,’ came Angela’s call from the living room. James pushed the door open and stepped into the cramped space. Angela was sitting at the dining table working on her laptop as she had been most of the time  she was home in recent months.
James sank into the saggy sofa, let out a sigh of relief and closed his eyes. ‘How are you getting on, Ange?’
Ange closed the laptop. ‘I’ve had enough of corporate takeovers.’
James’ eyes opened and stared at her. ‘Don’t you have an exam soon?’
‘Yes, next week. But I’ve done enough for now. I seem to spend all my time in front of a screen. I want a change. How about you?’
‘I’m knackered.’
‘Long day.’
‘Yeah, and a lot of tramping around the countryside.’
‘Doing what?’
‘Looking for a bunch who’d been fooling around at a lock on the canal and killed a swan.’
‘Killed a swan? Don’t they belong to the Queen?’
‘Something like that. This one got eaten. They’re probably travellers.’
‘So you’ve been walking the towpath?’
‘Yes. All the way from the edge of town to Theale and back.’
‘Did you find them?’
James sighed. ‘Nope.’
Angela stood up, and took a step towards James and knelt in front of him.
‘I’m sorry you’re tired but I was hoping we might go out this evening?’
‘Out? It’s Wednesday. There’s work tomorrow.’
‘Yes, but you’re on a late and I’m on a study day. We could lie in a bit.’
Angela had obviously been waiting for his return to present her plan.
‘Where do you want to go?’
‘I found it on the internet today.’
James grinned. ‘When you were supposed to be revising?’
‘Yes. It was boring.’
‘What did you find?’
‘There’s a new club and tonight they’re having a transgender night. Well, it’s every Wednesday actually.’
‘A trans dance night?’
‘Yes.’
‘Where is it?’
‘The Marquis.’
James frowned. ‘I thought that place closed.’
‘It’s reopened. Had a makeover. Website looks pretty cool. They specialise in dance music.’
‘Oh,’ James was tempted although his legs protested that they didn’t need any more exercise.’
‘Come on James. You know you love to dance. I do too. And there’s that new dress you bought.’
‘Ah yes,’ James thought of his latest impulse buy. An up to the minute flapper dress in silver satin, with a long fringe and little else to cover the legs. ‘It’s in town. What if I’m seen?’
‘Can you see any of those blokes at the station going to a trans session at a club.’
‘Uh, No.’
‘Well then, even if we did see someone we know they’d hardly recognise you dressed. You know you can pass.’
James really did like Angela’s idea but he felt drained at the moment. ‘I need something to eat before we go though. I’m starving.’
Angela stood and headed towards their tiny kitchen. ‘I’ll fix you a toastie. Now go and start sorting yourself out.’
James hauled himself out of the settee and began undoing the buttons of his short sleeve uniform shirt.
‘Do you think that dress will be okay for an evening out?’
‘It’s perfect and it’s been a lovely day so you won’t be cold getting to the club. You won’t feel cold at all once we start dancing.’
It had taken less than an hour for James to shower, shave, eat the toasted sandwich, dress in bra, knickers and “the dress”, put on her make-up and wig and fasten the high heeled sandals to her feet. Angela had taken even less time to transform her appearance.  Once they were out of the block of flats Jasmine felt able to relax. Now they were just two young women heading off for a night’s entertainment but she still worried in case any of their neighbours saw this tall, rather boyish, figure and matched it with PC James Frame of the Reading Constabulary.

“Show me love” started to fade out as the DJ announced a change of mood – a bit of nostalgia. The familiar intro to Abba’s Supertrooper began. There were cheers from some of the older dancers.  Rather deep-voiced cheers. Jasmine leaned, just a little, and bellowed in Angela’s ear.
‘I need a break, and a drink.’
Angela nodded, grabbed Jasmine’s hand and guided her between the packed bodies beyond the edge of the small dancefloor to the bar. Angela quickly attracted the attention of a barman. He was wearing a yellow strapless dress and blonde wig but his dark beard gave him away.
‘What can I get you girls?’ he asked.
‘Two large glasses of water, please,’ Angela replied.

Having gulped down half her glass, Jasmine put her head close to Angela’s. ‘The dancefloor is smaller than it used to be, isn’t it?’
Angela looked around. ‘Yes. They’ve put in all these extra rooms.’ She pointed to the closed doors to the left and right.
‘What are they for?’ Jasmine asked.
‘Do you really need to ask?’ Angela giggled. ‘You can be naïve at times, Jas.’
‘You mean, drinks and music aren’t enough these days.’
‘You’ve got it Jasmine, The website made a lot of their cosy “quiet rooms” for intimate liaisons.’
‘But they’re not private. I’ve seen people coming and going from them.’
‘No. People can watch as well as take part.’
‘Cheap entertainment,’ Jasmine said.
‘That’s it. Low costs, high income. Look at all the people here tonight. They’re not all trans.’
‘The Marquis never used to be this full.’
‘No Jas, which is why it closed. The new owners have a revised business plan.’
‘You’re not studying now, Ange.’
‘I’m like you, Jas, never off-duty. Not completely.’
Jasmine breathed deeply. Angela was right. She often brought work home. She shouldn’t, she knew, but some of the incidents she was called to just had to be talked through to make them understandable.
‘I need the loo,’ she said.
Angela nodded. ‘OK. Take care. The ladies will be busy.’
‘Yes, it’ll be full of women and men playing at being women – like me.’
‘Playing?’
‘Well, no, practicing maybe.’
Angela grinned as Jasmine moved away looking for the signs to the toilets. She found the ladies quickly enough and when she opened the door she saw that Angela’s prediction was correct. Although the light was dim it was, unlike the dancefloor, constant so she could instantly make out the figures at the wash basins and the mirrors. Some were obviously men in dresses repairing their heavy make-up, but for most it was difficult to tell their genetic gender. It wasn’t the ladies attending to their cosmetics that took up the space however. There was a couple pressed against the wall snogging; a person in a dress not unlike Jasmine’s, on her knees with her head moving back and for against the groin of another “girl” who had her skirt hitched up to her waist and her knickers pulled down to her knees.
Jasmine pushed open the door of the nearest cubicle and dimly saw a pair of bare buttocks, tensed as their owner thrust against a figure bent over the loo. She pulled the door closed and moved to the second cubicle. It too was occupied. A slim, girl with short spiky black hair was sitting on the seat, but from the state of her dress was not engaged in any toilet activity.  There was a wad of banknotes in her lap and a handful of small clear plastic bags in her hand.
‘Hi, love,’ the girl said, ‘Are you buying?’
Jasmine drew back and hurriedly shut the door. She was off duty. She didn’t want to get involved with a drug dealer, not tonight. Two people emerged from the third cubicle and Jasmine gratefully pushed passed them to get into it. She locked the door, pulled up her dress and tugged her knickers down. She sat.

‘I’ve been offered drugs,’ Jasmine shouted into Angela’s ear.
‘I wondered what took you so long. What was it? Skunk?’
‘No, Heroin or cocaine I think. I didn’t hang round for long enough to take a close look.’
‘Are you surprised, Jas?’
Jasmine thought about what she’d seen and wondered what her position as a police officer was. Should she report that she had witnessed drug dealing to say nothing of public displays of sexual activity? But it probably counted as normal for 2009. If she reported it she would have to explain why she was attending a dance-night for trannies. She hoped her next visit to the Marquis would not be in uniform on a raid.

………………………

Jasmine timeline

This week life has been a little more normal, whatever that means. It’s been sunny and warm – nice enough to be out in sumer skirts and dresses.

summer - last year!

summer – last year!

I’ve been able to get on with the next (the third) Jasmine Frame novel as well as getting some other jobs done.  I am thinking about the next prequel novella but have decided to give you, dear readers, a rest for a week.  However, there are now eight novel or novella length Jasmine Frame stories counting the current novel in preparation so I thought you might like to see a timeline of Jasmine’s life and how the stories fit in. I’m not going to give away too many details about Jasmine though. You’ll have to read the stories to find out about her, her gender identity and the cases she tackles as a transsexual detective.

Jasmine Frame Timeline
  • 1983 January 23rd: James Frame born (Hastings, sister Holly is 4)
  • 2000 August: Discovering Jasmine  (novella)
  • 2001 November: Bristol University. Soft Focus (novella)
  • 2004 James/Jasmine graduates & joins the police.
  • 2005 July:  marries Angela Madison
  • 2009 June:  Joins ‘Violent and Serious Crime Unit’ in Kintbridge
  • 2009 November: Blueprint (novella)
  • 2010 July: Commences transition; Self-portraits (novella, previously called The Switch)
  • 2010 November:  Close-Up (novella)
  • 2012 January: Jasmine resigns from the police
  • 2012 May: Painted Ladies (novel – published)
  • 2012 August: Bodies by Design (novel)
  • 2012 November: Brides (novel, provisional title, in preparation)

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg

 

Jasmine in a fix

Watched the programme of Michael Portillo’s railway journey through Israel the other day. It wasn’t just a light historical travelogue. He laboured the point that the three religions that have squabbled over the region, Judaism, Christianity and Islam share a considerable amount of theology, scripture and sacred places and so should get on. What he didn’t reflect on is that it’s the minute diffrences that cause the conflicts and that it isn’t really just three religions as each is riven by factions squabbling over the “true vision”. What would it take for all peoples to live peacably together – I don’t know. Perhaps it is an impossible vision.

keeping up to date

keeping up to date

Anyway to my writing.

With this post I reach the final episode of Discovering Jasmine, the earliest prequel to Painted Ladies. There have now been four prequels all together, the others being Blueprint, Self-portraits (previosuly The Switch) and Close-up focussing on various periods in Jasmine’s evolution and transition from James to the transsexual detective she is in the novels. My main aim is to keep writing the sequel novels and Bodies By Design will be available in some form in the not too distant future. The third novel is also in preparation. So there is plenty of life in Jasmine Frame. I’ll be starting another prequel novella sometime soon, but here it is – the last part of Discovering Jasmine.

Discovering Jasmine – Part 12

Flames bloomed on the end of the stick like a fiery candyfloss. Jasmine was already launching herself across the foyer as Stash thrust the burning cloth through the broken letterbox of Cleo’s flat. She thudded into Stash’s legs as flames roared out of the hole accompanied by a whump!
They sprawled across the floor of the foyer towards the entrance. Jasmine’s skirt was around her waist and one of the bags spilled out of her bra, burst and shed grains of rice. She held on tightly to Stash’s legs trying desperately to prevent him from moving. Stash wriggled, flexed his knees, thrust against her. He was bigger, stronger than she was. One foot slipped out of her grasp. He kicked and his trainer slammed in to Jasmine’s shoulder. Her grip on his other leg weakened. He was free and on top of her, sitting astride her, one hand on her throat, the other holding something. What? It glinted in the yellow light of the flames flickering out of the door. The knife!
Heavy leather shoes pounded on the vinyl floor. In the corner of her eye Jasmine saw the bottom of two pairs of dark-trousered legs approach but her focus was on the silver blade hovering a few centimetres from her face.
‘Come closer and she gets it,’ Stash growled. The legs stopped moving.
A deep voice spoke. ‘Let her go lad. You know you’re not going anywhere.’
‘Get back I said. I mean it.’ The blade approached her cheek. The legs receded.
Stash’s head lowered and Jasmine saw him examining her.
‘You’re the cunt who got in the way last night. Another fucking tranny.’
Jasmine didn’t reply and held still although her heart was thumping and all the muscles in her body were trembling with fear. The point of the knife moved down to the side of her neck and pressed against her skin. She dare not move in case the blade penetrated. As if in a distance she heard the crackling of fire and cries. The acrid smell of smoke oozed out of gaps around the door.
Stash leaned closer. ‘We’re going to get out of here, you and me,’ he whispered in her ear. ‘You’re going to do as I say. Now stand up!’ Stash shifted his weight off her. His fingers pressed into her throat so that her breath came in strangled gasps. Cold steel touched her neck. The point wobbled. There was a sharp pain as the tip penetrated. Jasmine felt blood trickle down around her neck.
The knife moved away a little as Stash rose onto his feet. Jasmine pushed her hands against the floor to help her keep her balance and take the pressure off her throat which he maintained a grip on. They were both on their feet and Stash shifted to stand behind her his left arm locked around her neck and the stubby knife in his right hand pressed against a spot below her right ear.
Two policeman stood three metres away just inside the main entrance. They were poised ready to leap forward but there was fear in their eyes. Fear for her. Stash shuffled backwards, dragging Jasmine with him. One small step, two.
A crunch of something hard hitting bone. A groan, Stash’s not hers, and they were falling sideways, Jasmine dragged down by Stash’s arm. The point of the blade scratched her neck. They hit the floor; the knife slipped from Stash’s hand; the arm around her loosened. She rolled free, lay still, gasping for breath, pain in her neck, blood dripping. There were arms on her turning her over. She couldn’t see. Everything was confused.
‘That was risky, Ma’am. He had a knife to her throat,’ the male voice.
‘I had to do something. She’s not hurt is she?’ Bartrum’s.
‘There’s blood. It could be serious. We’d better get them out before this whole place goes up.’ The bass voice again.
Jasmine felt arms pushing under her body, lifting her. She realised her eyes were closed. It took an effort to open them. A burly, bearded police officer was holding her in his arms, lurching towards the entrance. They were out in the cool air; air that had been fresh but was now tainted by smoke. Her rescuer staggered up the path to the road. There was shouting, sirens, people, lots of people, milling around. At the edge of her vision there was flickering orange, yellow, red.
The policeman laid her on the road, knelt down beside her.
‘Are you okay, Miss.’
Jasmine considered. Her shoulder ached but she could breathe normally again. Her limbs felt weak but they were under her control. Her heart beat was slowing.
‘Yes,’ she croaked, her mouth dry.
A torch shone in her face. ‘Let’s check your neck. I think it looks worse than it is. There’s blood but I don’t think he caught your artery.’
There were other people around her, looking down, faces anxious. DC Bartrum was there. She leaned closer.
‘Jasmine. Are you alight?’
Jasmine pushed her hands against the tarmac, trying to sit up.
‘No, don’t move,’ Bartrum said, ‘The cut might tear. The paramedics will be here in a moment. They’ll wash the blood away, see how deep the cut is.’
‘Cleo?’ Jasmine said.
‘She’s okay. We got her out of the window. The fire’s taken hold.’
‘Stash?’
‘We’ve got him.’
‘You hit him.’
‘She clobbered him with a length of two by four,’ the deep-voiced police officer said. ‘Knocked him out cold. Took a risk though. The knife could have slit your throat.’
‘I had to do something,’ Bartrum said, ‘it looked like he was going to kill you if he couldn’t get away.’
‘Thanks,’ Jasmine said. There was movement near her. A bag was placed beside her and a different coloured uniform knelt to peer at her.
‘Hello, Miss. How do you feel?’ the paramedic said. His face came close to hers, a light shining from his forehead.
‘Okay,’ she replied and decided it was true. Her breathing was back to normal and while her shoulder and neck felt a bit sore she couldn’t identify any major pains.
‘I’ll just clean you up a bit.’ He dabbed gently at her neck with something cool and damp. ‘Ah, there’s some bruising and a couple of superficial cuts, but the bleeding has almost stopped. A plaster will fix you up, Miss.’ He rummaged in his bag for a few moments then placed a sticking plaster on her neck. She felt it more than the cuts. ‘You had a lucky escape,’ the paramedic went on, ‘a little bit deeper and lower and your carotid artery would have been severed. Take care of yourself.’ He moved away from her. ‘Where’s the next casualty?’
‘Over here. He’s unconscious,’ another voice said.
She had no reason for lying still anymore and the surface of the road was rather hard. Jasmine sat up. DC Bartrum was crouching beside her.
‘Can I help you up?’ she said offering her arms.
Jasmine grasped Bartrum’s hand and levered herself on to her feet. ‘Thanks.’ A wave of nausea passed through her and then she was standing straight and feeling almost normal. She brushed her skirt down her thighs, noticed that she had only one boob again and looked around. Flames were shooting out of the windows of Cleo’s flat making a bright contrast with the darkening sky. People had moved back to the far side of the road, the gang corralled behind a circle of police officers. A fire engine arrived, siren blaring and fire officers leapt out. The paramedic was at work on the prone form of Stash who also lay in the road. Approaching her from the other side of the road was Cleo accompanied by a female police officer. Cleo was wearing a lacy white minidress covered in dark smudges.
‘Jasmine?’ the question was tentative.
‘Yes, it’s me, Cleo. Jasmine/James.’
‘They told me it was you that told the police that they were going to petrol bomb me.’
‘Yes. I didn’t want you hurt. Are you okay?’
Cleo waved her hands. ‘Yeah, I was out of the window as soon the fire started and the cops appeared.’
‘I’m sorry about your flat.’
‘It wasn’t up to much. The housing association will have to find me a decent place now.’
‘But your clothes and other stuff?’
‘Charity shop gear. I can soon pick up some more.’
‘I thought the police would have stopped it happening.’
‘We had to catch Wright and his gang in the act,’ Bartrum said, ‘but we didn’t mean for him to actually torch the place.’
‘He should have been apprehended with the petrol can and lighter.’ Jasmine recognised the angry Scottish tones of DI MacNeil as he joined the trio. He wore an anti-stab jacket over his casual shirt and trousers. ‘And you were supposed to remain well away from the action with DC Bartrum,’ he continued.
‘I worked out how he planned to get inside the building,’ Jasmine said.
‘You should have told Bartrum who would have called through to warn us.’ It was obvious to Jasmine that she wasn’t being congratulated. Not that she felt like a hero.
‘Uh, Yes…’ She put a hand to her neck, feeling the sticking plaster. She trembled. Stash could have just slit her throat rather than attempt to use her as a hostage. Cleo could have been trapped in the smoke filled flat. Perhaps if she had spoken to Bartrum and she had alerted the police team they could have stopped Stash before he ignited the petrol. She had endangered herself, Cleo and possibly the police officers. What an idiot. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, her voice quavering.
The scowl slid from MacNeil’s face and he spoke more soothingly.
‘Well, we can lay a few more charges in front of Wright, when he’s recovered from the headache Bartrum gave him, and the whole gang will face a conspiracy charge. So, thanks for your help.’ He held out his hand to shake Jasmine’s.
‘Yeah, thanks, Jasmine,’ Cleo added, flinging her beefy arms around her and hugging her.
‘I’d better get you back home, Jasmine,’ DC Bartrum said, ‘while we clear up here. Come on.’ She hooked an arm around Jasmine’s and gently dragged her away from the scene.

Back in the small Rover, driving across town, Bartrum glanced across at Jasmine.
‘You okay?’
Jasmine had been sitting quietly. ‘Yes,’ she said, but a vision of the knife sliding into her throat kept on replaying in her head. She didn’t think she’d ever forget it.
‘Still thinking about a career in the Police Force?’
‘Perhaps.’
‘You reacted fast back there,’ Bartrum said. ‘Perhaps not the right action but with training you could be a good officer. Think about it.’
…………………..

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg

Jasmine Frame, the one and only…

I’ve been told a number of times that Jasmine Frame is a unique character, so as a break between posting episodes of Jasmine Frame stories I thought I would examine that assertion and what it means in terms of being transgender.

It is around fourteen years since I created Jasmine Frame as a transsexual detective. I first used her in an unfinished novel which I gave up on. I then used her and a couple of the other characters I had created, Tom Shepherd and DCI Sloane, in a couple of short stories which were published in the Beaumont Magazine.  Then I began writing Painted Ladies and completed the first draft in 2009. Since embarking on the publication of Painted Ladies in 2013 I have written the second novel in the series, Bodies by Design, and the two episodic novella-length prequels, Blueprint and The Switch which were published here.

Painted Ladies cover

I feel pretty close to Jasmine now having lived with her in my head for those fourteen years. I think she has developed as a person while I have filled in her back-story. Although I have the bare outlines of a total of five novels taking her through her full transition I haven’t done what J.K.Rowling says she did with the Potter books i.e. I haven’t plotted out all the stories in detail. This has meant I am stuck with some timings that I put in Painted Ladies which has made the prequels a bit awkward in places.

The surprising thing is that in my fourteen years of writing about a leading character who is trans I have come across few if any similar characters. There have been novels, TV shows and films that have focussed on a trans character (Transamerica and Jimmy McGovern’s “Accused” with Sean Bean as a transvestite, spring to mind) but in all these cases the plot has centred on the trans nature of lead character. I have always seen Jasmine as a detective who happens to be trans. OK, her struggles and dilemmas as she transitions are an important part of her story and to date the crimes she has investigated have been trans related but I still think there is a separation between her life and her work not found in other novels and dramas that feature transgenderism.  I am hoping that if a publisher or a TV company picks up Jasmine Frame then the stories can broaden out into other areas.

While proud of Jasmine’s “unique” status I have been worried about other similar characters emerging. Ideas can’t be copyrighted so anyone could decide to have a trans detective. So far it hasn’t happened but I worry that it might before Jasmine has achieved a place in popular fiction. Perhaps my worry is unnecessary because the trans scene is broad enough to encompass any number of characters – and that is the most important point.

Jasmine Frame is unique not because she is a transsexual detective but because she is an individual. She is not based on any one person that I have met or come across, and she’s not me. She does however have facets of her character that I have gleaned from my experience of the trans scene and she holds some of my views. The more I learn about transgenderism the more I see it fragmenting as everyone’s experience is different. There are common features but everyone who professes themselves to transgender or gender variant or whatever term they want to use, has a degree of uniqueness. As time progresses and society changes in the UK and elsewhere the personal stories change. I am sure that there are more young people (teenagers and pre-teens) who now feel able to express their trans feelings than there were ten or twenty years ago. I would guess that the average age of transition (and gender reassignment surgery) is falling as more opt for it in their early twenties. That is good as it means that people are having to suffer the agonies of being trapped in the wrong externally perceived gender for less time but whether the number opting for gender reassignment in their fifties or sixties will drop, who knows..

What is also changing is the break up of the old division between transsexuals and transvestites. Transsexuals can be pre- or post-op but still qualify for their gender reassignment certificate; some will stop before the completing the medical/surgical process (both MtF and FtM).  For those who claim not to be transsexual there are a huge number of options from the closet dresser and secret lingerie wearers, to those that swap between male and female roles frequently and openly (like me), to those who declare that they have no gender or are third gender or between gender, and others that I have no space to list.

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Any of these could (and should) be characters in a story. Jasmine is just one individual who feels and believes that she is a woman but has (at least initially) a male body. She is keen on clothes and looking after her appearance; she has had a loving and sexual relationship with Angela, her (ex-)wife; she is uncertain of her sexuality as she transitions to female but finds herself aroused by male attention; she wants to be feminine (whatever that means – a subject for another blog) but won’t be sidelined by the men in her profession. Her personality has been built by her experiences as a child, teenager, student and trainee police officer and detective, and by the places she has lived in (Southern England). She has likes – running, classic films, spicy food, disco music, short skirts – and dislikes – prejudice, drab clothes, housework, forms, knives. She dives into situations where perhaps a bit of forethought would be a good idea but she has a need to prove herself and be the one to solve a case. She is Jasmine Frame – the one and only.

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as a paperback and e-book from all booksellers.

NB The featured image is a mock-up of a cover design for Bodies By Design

Jasmine looks ahead

Well, here it is – the final episode of The Switch. A bit of resolution, life goes on, that sort of thing. Eighteen episodes, 26,000 words. It was fun actually, and at least I had some idea this time where the story was going. But does it work as a novella? What do I do with it now?  One possibility is to publish it and Blueprint as e-books, or wait and see what happens to Bodies by Design for which I am still hoping for a publisher.  Ideas and comments would be very welcome.

I will be starting a third Jasmine Frame prequel in a couple of weeks. I’m just getting ideas together. Away from this blog things are pretty busy – life does indeed go on. I’m working on the third volume of Evil Above the Stars and soon I expect to be working with Elsewhen Press on the proofs of the first two volumes, Seventh Child and Power of Seven.  As I mentioned I am still  actively looking for a publisher for Jasmine, and sometime soon will start putting together the third novel which is still untitled.

Isn’t it great being a writer.

The Switch: Part 18

There was a glow in the eastern sky as Jasmine stooped the Fiesta in the driveway. She hauled herself from the driver’s seat and fumbled her key in the front door lock. She stumbled up the stairs willing her eyes to stay open. Which bedroom should she go to? Was Daniel asleep in her bed?
‘James?’ A sleepy call from their bedroom. No, it was Angela’s bedroom now. Jasmine pushed the door open and peered round it. Angela was heaving herself up on to her elbow.
‘You’re awake?’ Jasmine said unnecessarily.
‘Of course. I always hear you when you fall up the stairs in the middle of the night.’ Angela put the bedside light on. Her mussed up, long, brown hair and reminded Jasmine why she had been so attracted to Angela.
‘Sorry.’
‘Where have you been?’
‘At the station.’
‘All this time?’
‘Yes. Sloane made Tom put me through it.’ Jasmine entered the bedroom and sat on the bed.
‘You’ve still got a job?’ Angela’s face showed her concern as much as her voice.
‘Yes, just. Where’s Daniel?’ Jasmine remembered that Angela had called the police. ‘Did they take him in?’
‘He’s at home with his mother. Where he should be.’
‘Oh, Good. Why did you hand him over?’ She felt betrayed and couldn’t help it coming through in her voice.
‘I didn’t,’ Angela took hold of Jasmine’s hand and squeezed. ‘I thought you were being stupid but I didn’t dump Sloane on you.’
‘It seems like it. You rang in,’ Jasmine said.
‘I know but it was Daniel’s own decision. After you dashed off to see his father we talked. He was very grateful for what you had done but realised that you might be in a difficult position with your colleagues. OK, I explained that you may have put your job on the line by not informing Sloane of Daniel’s whereabouts. He thought about it.’
‘He was scared.’
‘I know, but he’s a sensible boy. He asked me to phone the police and make excuses for you. Say that Daniel had come to you to hand himself in.’
Jasmine felt a lump in her throat thinking of Daniel overcoming his fears of being treated as a girl.
‘What happened?’
‘I made the call, spoke to someone. They said a car would come to pick Daniel up. No one came. Then a few hours ago, it must have been midnight, I got a call from someone. One of your colleagues I suppose.’
‘What did they say?’
‘That Daniel wasn’t a suspect anymore and wasn’t needed, but he should go to the station tomorrow to give a statement.’
‘How did Daniel react?’
‘Well, at first he was delighted. We both were. Then he got this idea that it was his father that had killed the other boy. That made him upset of course. I suggested that he should speak to his mother. He rang her and then I walked him home.’
‘You walked over to the estate at midnight.’
‘Yes. It was quiet.’
‘You were lucky.’
Angela shrugged. ‘Perhaps. Anyway. What happened to you? Was it Daniel’s father?’
‘No, although he became an accidental accessory.’
‘What?’
Jasmine told the story of her evening. It was well rehearsed having gone through it a number of times with Tom. When she got to the confrontation with Kyle’s thugs in the security hut her voice trembled. Angela eyes went to the tear in her T-shirt.
‘You weren’t hurt, Jas, were you?’
‘No. He got my false boob. I’ll have to dig out my spare ones.’
‘But knives, Jas. I know what you’re like.’ Jasmine had nightmares of knife attacks.
‘It was over in a moment. I was OK. There was too much happening to think about what a knife can do.’
‘So, that was it. Tamsin’s guilty of what – manslaughter?’
‘Yes. She didn’t intend killing Kyle.’
‘And Daniel’s father is accused of concealing evidence, tampering with a crime scene.’
‘Something like that.’ Jasmine knew she should know the precise wording for her sergeant’s exams.
‘And Daniel’s in the clear.’
‘Yes. He’ll have to give evidence because of setting his father off after Kyle and because he was part of the reason for the argument between Kyle and Tamsin.’
‘And you?’
‘I’ll have to give evidence too, especially as Tamsin confessed to me.’
‘I meant your job; your relationship with Sloane.’
Jasmine sighed.
‘Well, it hasn’t done it much good. He was suspicious of my transition; he doesn’t seem to know whether to treat me as one of the guys or as one of these strange females that he’s increasingly have to deal with.’
‘But he’s keeping you in the team.’
‘Yes. I’m on probation. It’ll probably be like what it was right at the start with him watching everything I do and issuing his orders every two minutes.’
‘You can cope, Jas. You’re a good detective and he knows it.’
‘Yes, well. I’ll be good for nothing if I don’t get some sleep.’
‘What’s the time?’
Jasmine glanced at her watch. ‘About half five. I think I’ll sleep to midday.’
‘You can’t,’ Angela said.
‘Why not?’
‘Have you forgotten? You’ve got that appointment with that new doctor at eight thirty.’
Jasmine groaned.

Chapter 7
 
                ‘Mr James Frame to Doctor Gould.’
Jasmine froze. Around her in the waiting room were elderly men and women, women with babies and young children, other people with various ailments. They were all listening for their appointment to be called and watching to see who got up next. She couldn’t move. If she stood up they’d see a smart, young woman in a summer dress but they’d know she was Mister James Frame, male. They’d wonder, perhaps some would snigger. But she couldn’t wait. The name may be called again or Dr Gould might assume that she wasn’t there and call her next appointment. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. At least she didn’t know any of these people. She thought of Daniel, at school surrounded by people who knew him when he was Emma.
Jasmine stood up. She opened her eyes and looked around. Most people weren’t looking in her direction. Nobody was looking at her with any kind of interest. She hooked her bag over her shoulder and walked determinedly towards the corridor and her appointment.
The door had a handwritten label on it saying Dr.J.Gould. How long would it take for Jilly Gould to get a permanent name plate, Jasmine wondered, she’d already been in the practice for a couple of months. Jasmine tapped on the door, heard a voice from inside and entered.
‘Hi, uh, Jasmine. Come and sit down.’ Jilly Gould was young, ginger-haired and her red-cheeked face full of smiles.
‘They called for Mr James Frame,’ Jasmine said sitting down on the plastic chair beside Dr. Gould’s desk. Jilly frowned.
‘Oh, did they? I’m sorry, Jasmine. But you’re here today to make your transition formal aren’t you? It won’t happen again, I promise.’
Jasmine handed over a sheaf of forms.
‘I’m on leave to sort out all the legal changes. As far as the law is concerned I’m now female.’
‘Good,’ Jilly glanced at the forms and placed them on her desk. ‘You’re happy about it.’
‘Yes. It’s a start. No more complications. I’m female, my documents say I’m female, or will once they’re processed, and I hope I look female.’
‘You do, Jasmine. You’re looking lovely.’
Jasmine didn’t feel lovely. She’d had just over an hour’s sleep before she had got up and started making preparations for this appointment. She had showered, shaved closely all over her body but particularly her face, moisturised, dressed with thought and finally made-up with great care; but her eyelids were heavy and she felt tired.
‘Thanks. Now I want to move on. I want the full gender reassignment.’
‘Yes, I understand, Jasmine. We’ve discussed this. You’ve helped me learn a lot about gender identity that I didn’t know before. You still want to follow the NHS route?’
‘I haven’t got any choice, Jilly,’ Jasmine said, ‘I haven’t got the cash to go private. All my savings, our savings I should say, Angela’s and mine, went into buying the house. I can’t deprive her of that even though we will separate. And I’ll need my share to get my own place to live.’
‘I understand Jasmine. You’ve explained it to me, but you know that the NHS process can take a long time.’
‘Yes.’
‘The good news is that I’ve got an appointment for your assessment at the GR centre. It’s a couple of weeks’ time. If that goes well, we’ll be able to get you on the drugs, the oestrogens and the ant-androgens. Then you’ll start to see some changes even before you have the surgery.’
‘Thanks, Jilly.’ Jasmine felt excitement fill her. She was on the path to womanhood. Sometime in the future, perhaps not too distant, she would be able to stand naked in front of a mirror and see an image that matched her inner vision of herself – Jasmine Frame, detective.

The End

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as paperback and e-book from all booksellers.