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Marian Newell became a technical author in 1986 and started her own writing business with her partner in 1998, through which she covers a wide range of subjects from horticulture to software. Having grown up in the Weald of Kent, she has many childhood memories of the Cinque Ports and their lurid smuggling folklore. She first encountered the Aldington Gang, known as the Blues, while researching her family history. Her great-great-grandfather was a Ransley who emigrated to Canada and disappeared mysteriously, into the stomach of a bear or the arms of another woman according to rumour.
Finding the story of the Blues more thrilling than her ancestry, Marian set out to imagine the drama around events in Aldington in the 1820s. There was plenty of source material, from local historian John Douche’s books of the 1980s to official records, witness statements, newspaper reports and personal journals of the day. Her novel tells the story of the central thirteen men, the Devil’s Dozen of the title, not as it was — something we can never know — but as it might have been.