A Prison in the Sun by Isobel Blackthorn #Extract #BlogTour

After millennial ghostwriter Trevor Moore rents an old farmhouse in Fuerteventura, he moves in to find his muse.
Instead, he discovers a rucksack filled with cash. Who does it belong to - and should he hand it in...or keep it?
Struggling to make up his mind, Trevor unravels the harrowing true story of a little-known concentration camp that incarcerated gay men in the 1950s and 60s.

I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for A Prison in the Sun today. Many thanks to Isobel Blackthorn and Emma Welton from damppebbles blog tours for inviting me and for supplying an extract from the book for me to share with you.

The Windmill

I was a man on a mission. My first real exploration of what the island had to offer and despite the short distance, the walk to the windmill felt like an expedition. I needed to be prepared. Above all, I need sustenance.
After diving into a tub of strawberry yoghurt, I scoffed a bowl of cold pasta bake, leftovers from the night before. Then I washed up the spoons and the bowl and left them to drain, took a cool shower and donned joggers, shorts and a t-shirt. Tourist attire. I couldn’t help but be aware of how white my skin looked. I gazed in horror in the bedroom mirror at two spindly legs and a pair of flaccid arms poking out the limb holes of my apparel. I was carrying much too much flesh around my middle. Flesh that was covered by my t-shirt but not obscured. 
I sucked in my paunch with self-disgust. I had let myself go. Middle-age spread had arrived far too early. I was a heart attack in the making, gurney material, destined for an early grave. Too many nights watching Netflix while downing red wine. Wake up to yourself, Trevor Moore! 
Worse, I hadn’t got laid in how long? A year? More like two, and little wonder. I was a porker. 
After making the bed, which I was unable to leave in disarray, I shoved my feet into a pair of plimsolls and headed off armed with only a water bottle, determined to make the most of the vast, empty outdoors.
The pavement was narrow, but at least there was one. The wind came up behind me, cool on my skin, nudging me along. The sun, still low to the east, had as yet no sting. It was pleasant going, the trajectory a touch downhill, and as I went along, I admired the rugged terrain and the mountains to the south, indistinct in the dust haze. 
The pavement ran out at the intersection, where remnants of another windmill had been restored and decorated the landscape, serving as a sort of monument. After standing on the corner, noting how the main road disappeared as it neared the mountains on the southern horizon, I took the road west, which was sealed for a stretch before turning to grit. 
Some of that grit found its way into my plimsolls, which made for unpleasant going. In an effort to distract myself from the discomfort, I shifted my focus back onto the surroundings, telling myself that somewhere amid the scree and the scrub might be a source of inspiration for a novel, if only my imagination would find it.
I focused hard on the details. The fields to either side of the track were strewn with small rocks, and the soil had a pinkish tinge to it. I wasn’t sure if that was a trick of the light because, in the heat of the day, taken as a whole, the soil had a creamy look. In all, there were too few trees.
The walk took about fifteen minutes. I passed a farmhouse in ruins and paused to take it in, but the crumbling abode failed to provoke even a spark of enthusiasm from my parsimonious muse. Just past the ruin, the track took a sharp turn to the left and, up ahead, set in a swathe of gravel in this most desolate of landscapes, was my destination. 
The windmill, a stout affair constructed from large brown stones and pointed with thick, pale-cream mortar, stood proud on its gritty concourse. The six sails, comprising dark-wood shutters, were motionless. The domed roof of the windmill, made of the same dark wood, formed an austere cap. At the rear, the tail pole was anchored to the ground minus the capstan wheel. A simple arrangement of rocks along with a dry-stone wall surrounded the windmill’s base and completed the restoration.
Looking around, I supposed the landscaping was one way of clearing the ground of unwanted rock. Even so, without any foliage to speak of – at all – the place felt as though the workmen had packed up and left after hammering in the last nail, and the local government had signed off on the project as a good-enough job done. Perhaps the authorities thought no one passing through TefĂ­a would bother coming out here, I thought, not even to see the windmill, the island no doubt having bigger and better windmills elsewhere. 
I walked around the base then climbed the steps that led up to a locked door. There was nothing to see other than a glimpse of ocean to the west. I paused and soaked in the small portion of blue, enjoying the sense it gave of being on an island. Inland, amid all the dry, it was easy to forget the ocean was there. 
Before I left, I sat on the stone steps of the windmill and emptied my plimsolls. Not that there was much point. Three steps were enough to shuffle in some more. I took a slug from my water bottle and had one last look around. 
In the distance to the south was a farmhouse, and immediately to the north, leading off from the swathe of gravel surrounding the windmill, a drive led to some sort of compound. The owners had made an effort at beautification; flanking the drive were rows of infant palm trees set in garden beds of deep black gravel and edged with large stones. Those beds were a mark of significance, as though an indication of a place of eminence, one incongruous with everything else around. At the end of one of the rows of palms was a sign.
I went over and found an explanation of the ins and outs of the windmill. Turned out in bygone years, this dry-as-dust land produced enough grain to warrant a mill. Incredible. Then again, of course, there would have been enough grain, ample grain, or the windmill would not have been built. It was self-evident.
The sun began to heat the skin on my face and head and neck, and I decided I better return to the farmhouse. Until that moment when I started making my way back, I hadn’t realised the entire walk to the windmill had been downhill. The return, I found to my chagrin, was, therefore, uphill, and now I faced into the blustery wind as well and the going was much harder. 
My stride soon became a trudge, and the wind seemed to delight in my struggle and strengthened and blew in my face, pushing up hard against me in intermittent bursts. My pleasant morning stroll took on the proportions of a marathon. By the time I arrived back at the farmhouse, I was sweating and panting, and my legs ached. 
I went and stood in the internal patio where I pulled off my plimsolls, depositing the grit at the base of a potted plant. I was ashamed of myself. Two years of divorce litigation misery and I hadn’t so much as walked to the local shops not a hundred yards from my tired little London flat. I was a man broken, and my body was a shambles. I had always taken for granted my fitness, my muscle tone, my relative youth. To find myself gasping for air like an old man was abhorrent in the extreme. 
After downing two glasses of water in quick succession, I took a long cool shower, returning to the patio with my laptop, determined to find the nearest gym. 
I was distracted by my inbox. Scanning the messages, I wished I hadn’t bothered when I saw the email.
I am not the sort of man others may imagine when they think of a downtrodden wretch, but just then, that was how I felt. I have always considered myself even in temperament, not quick to anger, observant and detached, unlike the more involved and emotional types that seem to gravitate towards me like iron filings in need of a magnet to cling to. Life, in the form of a wife, can destabilise a man’s composure on the inside where others cannot see, rendering a smoothly functioning machine a decrepit mess of contorted metal. She had turned me into a heap of junk. 
She, being my ex-wife Jackie. Jackie pushed me, pushed us, pushed all of our little nuclear family off a cliff, and we landed on a rocky beach facing a thrashing ocean, gazing up at the halcyon days of our former domestic life. She couldn’t help it, and I do not blame her, these things happen after all, but the fallout as we clambered back up that cliff to safety, was more than any of us had anticipated. As if that were not bad enough, she had me scaling a different cliff.

If that intriguing extract has tempted you to read more, A Prison in the Sun is published by Next Chapter Publishing can be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Award-winning author, Isobel Blackthorn, is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes across a range of genres, including gripping mysteries and dark psychological thrillers. Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019.

Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism from the University of Western Sydney for her ground-breaking study of the texts of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Her engagement with Alice Bailey's life and works has culminated in the biographical novel The Unlikely Occultist and the full biography Alice A. Bailey: Life and Legacy.

Isobel carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain, her former home. Four of her novels are set on the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. These standalone novels are setting rich and fall into the broad genre of travel fiction.

Isobel has led a rich and interesting life and her stories are as diverse as her experiences, the highs and lows, and the dramas. A life-long campaigner for social justice, Isobel has written, protested and leant her weight to a range of issues including asylum seekers and family violence. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives in Queensland, Australia.


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