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Hiding Behind The Couch


First up, FREE BOOKS! :) They're a bit further down the page - hop straight there by clicking this link: Catch-up Opportunity.

All stories are available in ebook format; most are also available in paperback format.

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Perfect Tenor

When his music fills your heart,
note by note, beat by beat,
and your harmonies entwine,
effortless, complete.

That's how you'll know you've found
the perfect tenor.

Gray Fisher Trilogy

Three years after his partner’s death, Detective Chief Inspector Gray Fisher finally made the break from the police. He wasn’t looking for love and had no intention of becoming involved in police work again…until former colleague Rob Simpson-Stone tracked him down to ask for his help with a case. So began Gray and Rob’s business partnership, culminating in the hunt for Anders Folden—a psychopathic hitman Rob put away while working undercover, who won’t stop until he’s completed his mission—to fulfil a contract or end a personal vendetta? Either way, Gray and Rob need to find him before he finds them.

A Timelime of the stories in the series...

Timeline Click on the image (right) to view the full-size timeline of the series - this will hopefully make navigating your way through the novels and novellas a little easier.
I'll add details of which characters are the focus of each episode at some point.

Where it all began...

I began writing the series back in 2007, with the first novel, Hiding Behind The Couch, from which the series title derived.

At that point I must confess that it was not my intention to write a series. Indeed, I only set out to demonstrate for my own benefit that I had more than one novel in me. However, the following year, I decided to write No Time Like The Present - book two. Then I left it alone again.

In 2012, a reviewer's remark (addendum: how terse that sounds, although back then she was a 'mere' reviewer - she's now my editor and best bud, but anyway, I digress, which goes some way towards explaining why the series is, as of May 2017, at 1,736,390 words) that they hoped I would turn this into a trilogy led me to reconsider, and thus The Harder They Fall was born. At 140,000 words, it was quite a bit longer than the previous two books, for in writing it, I had realised I had a set of characters that were richly developed with distinct personalities.

Much more than a trilogy...

I reached the end of the first edit/rewrite of The Harder They Fall in December 2012, and I was thoroughly miserable. It took me a while to realise why, but it was due to one reason only. The word 'trilogy' meant I was done, finished with the characters whose lives I had created, narrated, given form and voice to.

Or I should have been done; but I wasn't.

See, my readers (who could be far greater in number, but, you know, quality matters) have often remarked that these characters are like friends - people they know and love - which means that reading books two and three became less to do with following a series and more about catching up with friends they hadn't seen in a while.

And the problem (or, in fact, benefit) is that I was experiencing them that way, too.

In psychological terms, it's something like the concept of source monitoring error - where we recall information in a different form to that which it was originally presented.

For instance, you hear a radio report of a motorway pile-up as it's happening and the memory is embellished by images so that when asked later, you'd swear you saw it on TV. Likewise, I wrote the first two books and had a four-year break. When I came back to them, I recalled 'The Circle' not as characters, but as people I had been in contact with a while ago.

Weird, huh?

And probably a little bit bonkers!

A series is born

In a staggered process over Christmas of 2012, all of my family came down with the norovirus. I wrote through it. Yeeeeaahh! I'm a literary soldier, spurning vomit and stomach cramps for festive festoons of metaphorical magic! The outcome was First Christmas - a short story which narratively follows on from The Harder They Fall (book three). I thought maybe, just maybe, I could leave it at that. Closure.

Yeah. Right.

January 2013: I thought perhaps the way forwards was backwards, so I wrote another short story, but this time telling of 'The Circle' as little people, back in their primary school days. The result is Beginnings.

Done now? Erm...perhaps not.

In The Stars marks the point at which I gave up fighting this thing. I love writing about these characters and the fictional reality they inhabit. It's fun. It makes me happy and a few other people seem to like it, too, so I gave up giving up. Thus, in 2014 there were two books (In The Stars Part I and Part II), separated by a short story interlude entitled Breaking Waves.

A Midnight Clear and Red Hot Christmas were two further festive short stories (one young adult, one very adult!) released for Christmas 2014...

July 2014: A Midnight Clear and Red Hot Christmas inspired two separate, interwoven storylines. I think, probably, that the Christmas stories, and the resultant Season Six (observe the shift from book to season - I wrote long again), which is called Two by Two (and is in six manageable episodes), is probably the perfect starting point for new readers.

2014 marched on... And so did Hiding Behind The Couch!

Crying in the Rain - Kris and Ade's story - followed by Ruminations - a second prequel telling of how Josh and Sean met at university.

A bit of a dip

2015 turned out to be a much quieter year in HBTC land. After writing Hiding Out - a crossover with Checking Him Out - and Breakfast at Cordelia's Aquarium (proof positive I am quite, quite mad), I began writing Reunions (season seven) but I was mostly busy with collaborating on Seeds of Tyrone...followed by the birth of grandson #1 (12 weeks early)...into 2016 and another major health scare for Nige. I must confess, Chain of Secrets was a bit of escapism for me, and for a few months after, writing was too hard. My dad also passed away, then my father-in-law. It was a rough old year.

2016 wasn't entirely unproductive on the writing front, though. I finally finished Those Jeffries Boys - a story for my fab mate Andrea (see previous mention of reviewer-editor-best bud). Then there was The WAG and The Scoundrel - the first in a wee spin-off series starring Gray Fisher. I also restarted work on Reunions during NaNoWriMo (November). Grandson #2 arrived late December, rounding off the year on a happy note!

Back in the groove?

2017 brought the release - finally - of Reunions as well as To Be Sure, which kind of wrote itself. I love it when that happens, when I'm tuned in to the world of HBTC and the words just flow. I also started work on Alumni (Season Eight) and Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2), and wrote what turned out to be well over half of Goth of Christmas Past (Krissi and Jay's story).

2018... Goth of Christmas Past is somewhere between editing and proofreading and will definitely be out in the last quarter of the year. I'm also managing to get bits and pieces done on Alumni, and Tabula Rasa is -this close- to finished, but the ending is proving rather tricky! It's April now, and I'm optimistic I'll nail it before June. May Addendum: Tabula Rasa is done and pre-publication! Phew!

Or not

2019... I took a bit of a break from Hiding Behind The Couch to work on Meredith's Dagger - a novel I wrote waaaay back in 2011 and disliked one of the characters so much I couldn't stand looking at his face long enough to do the necessary and get the book up to scratch. Well, I redeemed him...mostly, and released the novel on my fiftieth birthday, which was awesome because it was kind of...ish...my fiftieth publication.

I originally set the story in the real Ormskirk, but in the reworking shifted it (for various reasons) to the fictional realm where HBTC resides, and I even managed to round off the year with a wee Christmas special - Not My Christmas - featuring Charlie Davenport. Woot!

2020 - a year we'd all rather forget

Distractions - the final instalment in the Gray Fisher trilogy - was released 24th April to coincide with the date at the start of the story, which is an interesting point, actually (pushes up geek glasses - you should prepare to zone out briefly).

See, this here Hiding Behind The Couch series is Massive (yup, with a capital M), and somewhere around...Season Three, I think, I realised I needed a calendar to keep track of what happened when, characters's births, deaths and anniversaries and so on. However, the stories come when they come - like English storms. There can be loads in the space of a few weeks or none for months. Soooo....I adapted a PHP calendar that calculates dates and days of the week based on Annus Josh, i.e. Josh was 35 at the start of Season One and all else is worked out backwards/forwards from that point. You can view the calendar online, but beware that it may contain spoilers (i.e. life events may not have happened yet for where you're up to in your reading).

As a general rule, the days associated with specific dates don't match up to our current year. Except...for the first time ever, in Distractions, they do!

Here and Now

So, burnout sucks. It sneaks up on you quickly and leaves you in exhausted disarray for the longest time. That's why it's now been three years since I released Season 7 - Reunions - and whilst staying contemporaneous with the real world doesn't matter in fictional terms, I've struggled to fit what I'd written two-three years ago with where the characters would be now. Thus I'm reworking Alumni (what would have been Season 8) into a follow-on from Ruminations - 'follow-on' in the sense that it brings Josh and Sean's alumni back together, but it happens 22.5 years later. I'm cautiously optimistic I can finish both Alumni and Scene But Not Heard (Front of House - ooh! I forgot to say - that's the name for the 'next gen' sub-series that began with Goth of Christmas Past) for release in 2021. Cautiously.

I have to write. I'd love for you to have a read of what I write, but whether you do or your don't I have to write. And let's face it, it's cheaper (and currently more doable) than a holiday!

Catch-Up Opportunity

If you'd like to start reading from the middle of the series, then below you will find links to brief outlines of the plots and key events in the first three seasons. These will spoil the story, although they are only the key events, and there will be other stuff not mentioned here, so all is not lost if you later went back and read the real thing.

NOTE: Hiding Behind The Couch (season one) is available for free here and virtually everywhere. No Time Like The Present (season two) and The Harder They Fall (season three) are available for 99c/99p. I don't write for money, but it would be nice to make some along the way.

Synopses (RTF Text Documents) *Spoilers!*

S01    S02    S03

Hiding Behind The Couch - Season One

ePub    Mobi    PDF

Beginnings - Short Story Prequel

ePub    Mobi    PDF

Breakfast at Cordelia's Aquarium

ePub    Mobi    PDF

What A Scorcher!
(Flash Fiction)

ePub    Mobi    PDF


Goth of Christmas Past Video Trailer

Released October 2018.

Goth of Christmas Past Playlist

Via YouTube.

Tabula Rasa Video Trailer

Released June 2018.

Reunions Video Trailer 2016

Teaser trailer for Reunions (Season Seven), released 2017.

Video Trailer #1

This is the first video trailer for Hiding Behind The Couch.
The intention here is to introduce 'The Circle' - the nine main characters, plus Krissi - Shaunna's daughter.

Video Trailer #2

Video Trailer for 'In The Stars Part I' - book four.

Video Trailer #3

This is the latest video trailer for Hiding Behind The Couch.
It's for 'Breaking Waves' - a romantic novella (interlude to In The Stars).

Video Trailer #4

Video Trailer for 'In The Stars Part II' - book five.

In The Stars Quizzes



So, the guys go to the pub for a couple of quiz nights. I thought you might like to join them! There's 8 rounds in each quiz, one of which is a music round.

Quiz One

  1. Cryptic (UK football teams)
  2. A Man's World
  3. Connections
  4. Dogs
  5. Music
  6. Science Fiction
  7. Science Fact
  8. General Knowledge

Link to all rounds

Quiz Two

  1. Law and Order
  2. Jack of all Trades
  3. Beauty and the Beast
  4. K9 (picture round)
  5. Music
  6. Medicine Men
  7. Grease Lightning
  8. Extreme Sports

Questions coming soon!


This playlist contains songs that inspired the writing of 'In The Stars' - the two part instalment of the HIDING BEHIND THE COUCH series.

In some cases I tried to capture the feeling of the song within the chapter of the same (or similar) title. In others it was the feeling of the song or the way in which the song related to events occurring with the plot of the novels.

Meet The Circle

About Us

(or how we came to be known as 'The Circle')

(As told by Josh Sandison)

I need to warn you that some of the stuff mentioned below has happened pretty recently (over the past couple of years), so you might prefer to discover it elsewhere first!

So, as I say, there're nine of us, and we've somehow ended up with the nickname of 'The Circle' – a quite recent invention, actually. Adele's ex-husband first coined the term at their wedding, during his speech, when he introduced us as such to the rest of the guests, and if I'm brutally honest, he really hit the nail on the head. It's a shame his apparent ability to read people didn't extend to realising Adele was still in love with Dan before they got married, but I digress. The analogy of the circle describes our friendship group very accurately indeed and is best illustrated by the diagram below. My apologies in advance for this; I ask George to sketch something, but he told me to do it myself, so you'll have to put up with my woeful, computer-generated effort instead.

The Circle

Now, I should point out that our relationships do shift about from time to time, and it's our positions in relation to each other that are important, rather than how high up the circle we are (although someone was always going to be at the top, so I thought I may as well stick Dan up there, to keep him happy).

And, I suppose, that's as good a place to start as any…

Who are we? A Brief Introduction…

Dan – your stereotypical alpha male, for the most part. He works out, likes sport – he was quite fanatical about football when he was younger and still tries to get to FA Cup finals and other such grand occasions. He's not just a spectator, either, playing on the rugby and football teams at school and university, as well as taking part in a few charity games over the past few years, not to mention the occasional extreme sporting adventure with his brother. He's a decent guy, so long as you don't cross him.

Adele - she's petite and still as pretty as she was when she was eighteen. In fact, she doesn't look anywhere near her age, which I'm not allowed to mention, obviously. She studied fashion design at college and really knows her stuff, or so I'm told. I don't really know much about fashion myself, but by all accounts Adele is an expert in these matters. She's also a qualified beauty therapist, which is what she does for a job these days, alongside sharing the parenting of little Shaunna with Dan (I think he might do marginally more of this than she does). She can come across as quite dippy and shallow; I'll just say that sometimes things are not as they first appear.

Character images created with Daz3D

Dan and Adele
Dan and Adele

Shaunna – she's an incredible woman. She had Krissi when she was fifteen – a real shock to her, and to all of the grandparents, who are quite middle class and didn't expect things like that to happen to them. She did a great job of bringing Krissi up, though, but isn't one of those stereotypical motherly types. True, she is house-proud and an exceptional housewife and mother, but she's also independent, attractive and funny. Now her daughter's all grown up and left home, she works in a hairdressing salon. She says she might go back to college one day, to get a few more qualifications, but we'll see.

Kris – when we were at high school, he was camp and outrageous, then he and Shaunna got together and he 'decamped'. Now he's back to being outrageous again, which is quite fun to watch, especially when we go out as a group. It does go with the job, though; he's an actor, mostly radio, but he's done some TV as well and occasionally gets recognised. His parents are from Sweden, and he has Scandinavian colouring. He's quite vain, with the looks to carry it off, which is not to undermine what a kind and generous person he is. He will always make great sacrifices for his friends, none more so than Shaunna.

Shaunna and Kris
Shaunna and Kris

George – he is, in fact, an onion. Or an ogre, if you ask Oliver (James's son), who happened to be there at the time we were having the conversation, which is to say that he has layers. The top layer is kind of affected – it's the arty, sensitive, listening layer. On this level, he can talk about aesthetics, laugh at terrible jokes, gush about new outfits and so on. Below this veneer is the tough man who takes no nonsense – the authentic George, if you will, but at his core is the vulnerable, loving, truly creative soul that no-one gets to see. No-one, apart from his mother, perhaps, and me.


Josh – that's me. I'm a bit of a brainiac, which is why I'm a year younger than everyone else – two years younger than Andy – as they decided to move me up a year in primary school. I did OK, but university was where I found my niche, studying psychology. These days, I'm big enough to admit that 'The Circle' is mostly my doing. I'm the one who kept us all together over the years, interfering when relationships went awry, listening when people needed to talk, keeping confidences. I'm not bragging, because I did it for selfish reasons, but I wouldn't change it for anything. My mum and dad both died when I was very young, and my grandma's getting on a bit, which makes me truly grateful that I have the best friends in the world.

Ellie – or 'El-e-a-nor', as James calls her. She's a complete and utter control freak, unbelievably bossy, constantly in need of attention, demanding… my best friend, whom I love dearly. She's way cleverer than me (I get told I'm a genius, which sounds awesome, until you realise how useless it is to know a lot about a little) and she's a doctor, of the medical variety, although not really a career person, content instead to be content in her job, which leaves plenty of time for bossing the rest of us around. These days, she's with James, although she very nearly wasn't – you can read all about that elsewhere!

Josh and Eleanor
Josh and Eleanor

Jess – she's supermodel material – not the skinny, modern day variety, but the tall, well-rounded sort. She's a lawyer and formidable in a courtroom. I've seen her in action a couple of times – they don't stand a chance! Away from work, though, she's much more down to earth. She does daft things sometimes, without thinking through the consequences, which usually ends up hurting her more than it does other people, but in many respects, Jess is a lot like me – enjoys reading and nights at home, relaxing on the sofa and spending time with the people we love.


Andy – he's Dan's older brother and maybe a little less alpha male, but he still works out, likes sport, and so on. He's travelled a lot, loves adventure sports and adventures in general. He's got the same temperament as his 'little' brother, certainly the same temper, although he's much more laid back, whilst also being a little more impulsive. Where Dan would save up for a couple of years to buy a fast car, Andy would be out getting it on finance and trashing it before the first payment. I think he must wake up each morning and think What crazy thing can I do today? although he's not quite as bad as he used to be.


Sean – what can I tell you? He's got the ole Irish charm – the accent, the cheeky grin, the sense of humour - and he knows how to use it. He loves women, none more so than his mum, and, more bizarrely, they love him in return. I should probably also mention he's a clinical psychologist with a string of publications under his belt, and his arrogance, at times, seems to know no bounds. It's all an act, I'm almost sure. Almost. When he's not showing off his academic prowess or flirting, he can be found at home with a cup of tea and Sphinx, his curious cat. They were made for each other.


Ade – he is one of those people who have such great depth, it take years to get to know them, and I must admit, my first impression of him was somewhat inaccurate, although it was a while before he came out of his shell, unsurprisingly, given what his ex put him through. The 'real' Ade is flamboyant, flirtatious – an eye-roller, to dramatically hilarious effect. Yet for a performer, he's modest, reflective, and highly intelligent - not that I'm suggesting performers can't be those things, of course, but I daresay his intellect is a match for mine.


So, that's us – The Circle – in brief. Obviously our lives are filled with far greater complexity than that which I have portrayed above (especially George's…), but hopefully these short pen portraits will prove useful as you get to know us better.

Josh Sandison