A LEOMINSTER town councillor has used personal experiences to write his first crime novel about a transgender private detective.

Peter Ellis’s first crime thriller Painted Ladies follows Jasmine Frame – a pre-op transsexual on the trail for a knife-killer.

Her own sense of identity is tested in the search to find the murderer, and Peter’s attempt to tackle transgenderism in the novel stems from his own experiences.

He said: “I’m actually transgendered myself so I’m not transsexual but I do spend some time in my feminine mode – as Penny Ellis – although not generally in Leominster.

“I suppose I have been conscious of it for quite a long time but it’s now 30 years since my wife has known and she has been very supportive and helped me come to terms with it.”

Born in Cardiff in 1953, Peter spent 35 years as a science teacher in Norwich, the Isle of Wight and near Newbury before retiring to Herefordshire to write fiction.

He has written a number of educational books and short stories for a range of different genres but this is his first stab at crime fiction.

“I thought it might be useful to make the central character someone who is transsexual and use the novel to present the transition to a place where she wants to be,” Peter said.

It took 10 years for Painted Ladies to come together but this isn’t the last of Jasmine Frame and Peter is already half way through the next book with plans for another three or more.

“As I was planning it I thought, actually this is a series. Painted Ladies is the first one, introducing the character of Jasmine Frame and looking at her point of view.

“I hope it’s a fun book to read and reports so far have suggested it does do that.

“It’s an exciting story and I hope that in the process it explains a bit about what transgenderism means and the difficulties we face.

“I hope that Painted Ladies will be successful so that I can publish the rest of the series, and I would be delighted to give readings of the novel and talks about Jasmine Frame, writing, publishing and transgenderism to any group who wishes it,” he added.

Painted Ladies is available online at amazon.com and in Leominster Tourist Information Centre. To contact Peter email paintedladiesnovel@btinternet.com.

Read Lydia Johnson's Blog: Sometimes it takes a great deal of bravery to be yourself, plus an an account of living with Gender Dysphoria.