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Why Mysteries? Why Winchester? And why, for that matter, a blog at all?

I love mystery stories.  I also love history and historical novels, so it’s no surprise I now write Victorian mysteries.  Why Winchester? It’s a lovely place, the ancient capital of King Alfred’s Wessex – it’s a perfect setting for my books.

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Life in 1918 – Recipes Part 1

Publication day is almost here. The Convalescent Corpse sets out on its journey on Tuesday, 20th November.  Actually, that’s the ebook, the paperback is already out there. I’m so pleased the powers-that-be at Crooked Cat Books, aka Steph and Laurence Patterson, liked my book and decided to publish it. It’s a story that’s been entertaining me for almost four years now, since the idea dropped into my head and wouldn’t leave me alone.

Publication Day – 20th November

Like other middle-class girls, the two elder Fyttleton sisters ‘put their hair up’ at eighteen, or in other words they stopped letting it hang loose or in pigtails, and pinned it up into a bun or a pompadour hairstyle. This signalled that they were now grown up. Working-class girls, of course, had to grow up a lot earlier and upper-class young ladies were presented as debutantes and thrust on to the marriage market. Not being wealthy, Alix, aged nineteen and Christabel who is eighteen, both have jobs and Adelaide, the youngest, is fifteen and still at school. The story begins a few months after the death of Alix’s twin brother Bertie who, as a young officer in the army, was killed on his and Alix’s nineteenth birthday.

I’d been thinking of doing some kind of photo shoot with the aid of my granddaughter Fliss, a keen photographer, when the arrival of a cousin, accompanied by her nineteen-year old daughter, inspired us to go back in time to Spring 1918. The girls in the book have a hairy brown dog called Bobs and, (not by coincidence) so does my daughter, so here he is – fresh from being immortalised in print – with Rosalie (who is in period, wearing a smart straw boater).

Straight out of 1918, ‘Christabel’ the narrator of The Convalescent Corpse, with Bobs the Labradoodle.

At the same time I decided to cook some of the dishes I’d found in an ancient pull-out supplement from Home Chat magazine dated March 1918 – in essence they’re hints on how to make cakes and puddings with mud, sawdust and tears – or in other words whatever you could find now that shortages and rationing were really biting.

This recipe for Syrup & Potato Pudding is one I didn’t use in the book, but it sounded too unappetizing to miss it out. Here it is, exactly as offered to hard-pressed cooks a hundred years ago – I made it so you don’t have to!

Syrup & Potato Pudding (If you are very short of fat you can, in any of the recipes for boiled or steamed puddings, use less fat and add just a little baking powder.)

Required:

Half a pound of mashed potatoes,

Four ounces of flour or substitute

Two ounces of chopped fat (any sort)

Two ounces of stale breadcrumbs

Half teaspoonful carbonate of soda

Three tablespoonfuls of treacle, or syrup, or jam

A little water or fruit juice

Mix the flour, fat, crumbs and soda. Lightly crumble in the potato.

Mix the syrup with three tablespoonfuls of water or fruit juice, and stir it in, adding as much more fluid as needed to make it drop heavily from the spoon.

Press into a greased basin, and cover with a greased paper. Steam for three hours.

Or make the mixture rather slacker, turn into a greased deep baking tin and back for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half.

I opted for the latter method, not having a pudding basin these days and anyway, I’m far too impatient to hang around for three hours. Here’s a photo of the finished masterpiece, served with a watery custard that’s also in the recipe pull-out.

As always, The Resident Engineer came to my rescue when nobody wanted to taste it – though Fliss kindly photographed it.

Syrup & Potato Pudding (I made it so you don’t have to)

Verdict? ‘Edible and filling, but heavy-going.’ Which is probably what the magazine readers thought at the time, but also what was needed then too.

 More authentic recipes to come in my next post. Fried porridge, anyone?

It’s available at only £1.99 (ebook) and £6.99 (paperback) An ideal Christmas present, if I do say so, for the relative or friend who loves gently funny histories and mysteries! Here’s the Amazon UK link https://amzn.to/2OskEpV

 

Lunch with one’s publisher – in the South of France!

There’s something rather elegant and 1930ish about being able to say, ‘I’m away next week, I’ll be lunching in Carcassonne with my publisher.’ Something you might read in an Evelyn Waugh novel, perhaps, but no – this really did happen to me last week! Picture: Carcassonne by night.

Laurence and Stephanie Patterson, of Crooked Cat Books, decided to set up a one-day brainstorming and discussion session ranging from marketing, to editing to submission. And they chose the elegant 5* Hotel de la Cite in Carcassonne (their home city) for the event. (Pic shows the hotel, not our conference room which was a tad smaller) Ten writers, five Other Halves, two publishers all started with a wine tasting session on the Monday evening, and on Tuesday the other halves did their own thing while we talked, listened, watched presentations, played games, ate cake and biscuits, drank coffee and then had lunch in the hotel: 

It was a brilliant couple of days and great to meet so many fellow writers and to put faces to names. The Resident Engineer and I also had time to explore the old city and one of the many things that fascinated me was the number of drainpipes that ended like this:Naturally we had looked up historic railways so we enjoyed a couple of trips meandering through the French countryside. On the way south we stayed in Sarlat, in the Dordogne for a couple of nights and on the return journey we stopped off at the Chateau de Monbazillac for a look round the castle and to check out their dessert wines. Took me three tasters before deciding on their 2015 vintage!

On our return I discovered that The House at Ladywell has been shortlisted for the Chanticleer Chatelaine award book award for Romance Novels The Chatelaine Awards– this is a US competition for historical and romantic novels. No idea when there’ll be any announcement but I’m delighted to have got so far.

 

Diamonds and churches

I’ve been busy lately and keep forgetting to post on this blog. However, I’m rather chuffed to post this banner – and boast a bit! – because The House at Ladywell has been chosen as Book of the Month (August) in the Discovering Diamonds award, which is for historical novels. And, even more exciting, that means it’s on the shortlist for Book of the Year! I’m delighted that so many people have fallen in love with my book and there are now lots of 5* reviews on Amazon and Goodreadsd too. (Reviews are always welcome, potential readers usually check them out before buying!)

In other news, the Resident Engineer and I have been exploring old churches. The Church of St. Mary Magdalene at West Tisted, near Ropley in Hampshire, is tiny, peaceful and fascinating. There are ancient yew trees in the churchyard and

 

in the porch hangs the memorial for the 1914-18 war. There is also a letter, unlike anything I’ve ever come across: it’s a signed plea from the Vicar and the Parish Council at the end of WW1, addressed to their counterparts in 2014. For some reason they were not allowed to hang the war memorial plaque inside the church and they hit on this idea of asking the future generation to put this right. (Unfortunately the plaque and the walls are too fragile to comply with their request.)

A week or two later we had a couple of days in Hereford and between visiting relatives and having coffee, lunch and tea in various National Trust and English Heritage castles, etc, we drove the Black & White Villages Trail in pursuit of the setting for Phil Rickman’s series of mysteries featuring the Reverend Merrily Watkins. (Heartily recommended, by the way!) We also visited the tiny, ancient church at Kilpeck, south of Hereford. It’s featured in one of Phil’s books and it was magical – and not in the least sinister as it is in the book! Once a thriving mediaeval village beside a Norman castle, Kilpeck was incredibly peaceful when we saw it on a sunny September day. There wasn’t a sound, even from the neighbouring farm, only the birds twittering and small rustlings in the grass.
The church is renowned for its carved corbels all round the outside, particularly a rather cheerful, but explicit, Sheela Na Gig. I’m not posting her picture on here but just say that she looks a very happy and generous lady!

This is a Wikipaedia photo of the church as mine was a bit pathetic:

KilpeckChurch(PhilipHalling)Feb2006.jpg

Tuesday, 20th November is now the official launch date of my cosy and domestic mystery, The Convalescent Corpse. Set in 1918 it’s A story of life, rationing, and inconvenient corpses.’

Last weekend the local rec played host to a display of vehicles from both WW1 and WW2 with re-enactors on hand to explain what was happening. My particular interest at the moment is WW1 and with a convalescent hospital featured in the new book, I was delighted to snap this nurse: I asked her to look stern, and she tried, bless her, but was far too jolly to keep it up for long.https://amzn.to/2v0gQnX This is the Amazon UK link to buy The House at Ladywell (tell your friends!) and in the meantime, this is the blurb for The Convalescent Corpse:
It’s 1918 and the War has brought loss, grief and hardship to the three Fyttleton sisters. Helped by their grandmother (a failed society belle and expert poacher) and hindered by a difficult mother (an author and armchair suffragette) – plus an unruly chicken-stealing dog and a house full of paying-guests – they now have to deal with the worrying news that their late and unlamented father may not be dead after all. There’s also a death that might be suspicious, and on top of that there’s the body in the ha-ha…

 

A New Book – About Life, Rationing, and Inconvenient Corpses!

This year is proving to be all about books! No surprise there – my Granny used to say, ‘That child always has her nose in a book,’ and so I did, and still do. However, 2018 is different in that six of my books are being republished and – drum roll, please – Crooked Cat Books have just taken on my NINTH BOOK! the very cosy mystery, The Convalescent Corpse. The ebook should come out around the end of the year, followed shortly afterwards by the paperback.

This is the publisher’s announcement, not the actual  cover for The Convalescent Corpse, it’s too soon for that. Set in 1918, in Ramalley, the same fictional version of Romsey as The House at Ladywell, this book charts the efforts of three young sisters to cope with WW1 wartime shortages, difficult parents, lack of money, a houseful of lodgers – and inconvenient corpses practically on their own doorstep!

I’ve always loved Romsey, ever since I spent all my summer holidays visiting my aunt who lived quite near. My cousins and I used to cycle to Romsey and I’d drag them into King John’s House and the Abbey, to make sure they were still there, so it was a particular delight to find myself living only about five miles from the town. It’s still one of my favourite haunts and I drop in to say Hello to the poignant relic of a young Saxon girl buried in the Abbey. How strange that the only acknowledgement of a life should be her hair in a glass case – who was she? Nobody knows, but I loved her at first sight when I was about seven (I was a weird child, I admit) These days I wander round town, conscious of Freya, from The House at Ladywell, talking in one ear, and now Christabel, whose diary forms The Convalescent Corpse, in the other ear. They’re good company though.

As if that isn’t enough excitement, I’ve also signed with Endeavour Media to republish my first-ever novel, Scuba Dancing, as an ebook, probably early in the New Year. The first book I set in ‘Ramalley’ – this was first published in 2005, followed in 2013 when I self-published  it as an ebook, slightly tweaking a few inconsistencies. I’m delighted now, to have a chance to introduce this very quirky novel to a new audience and was very touched recently, to receive a message from a reader, that Scuba Dancing had ‘helped her through a bout of serious illness.’ 

Earlier in the year I posted that Williams & Whiting were to reissue my first five mysteries – previously published by Robert Hale Ltd – and they’re now all available as ebooks and paperbacks: all three Charlotte Richmond Victorian mysteries, and the firstt two Harriet Quigley contemporary tales. (The third Harriet book was published by Endeavour Press in 2016) Amazon link – https://amzn.to/2uI7UEi

And finally, something non-book related. In January this year The Resident Engineer and I celebrated our Golden Wedding. Fifty years in which we’ve achieved three children, eight grandchildren, lots of travelling, and a great deal of (mostly) cheerful bickering! This is a typical photo, him beaming at the world and me watching to make sure there’s no catastrophe looming. It’s not hard to- guess who is the cautious Capricorn and who the optimistic Leo! (I must have been standing oddly, I’m not really that weird shape!)

I know I make jokes about him, and he winds me up all the time, but my heart still lifts when I hear his key in the door! He drives me mad, but he keeps me sane – which is a pretty good testimonial.

 

Q&A with Author C.J. Sutton – and from me – a Norwegian glacier!

I usually read the cosiest of cosy mysteries but here’s something very different – the forthcoming debut novel by my fellow Crooked Cat author, C. J. Sutton. (Due out 18th July, pre-order now!)

I recently sent him my 8 Quick Questions and here are his interesting responses – thank you, C.J!

Eight Quick Questions

  1. When you finish a new writing project, who is the first person you share it with?

I am very secretive when I finish a new book and generally keep most details away from family and friends, even during the submission process. Usually I will send my brother a text message with a brief outline as we share similar tastes in books and movies, and he will ask me questions about key characters and plot points. Once the cover art is available I’m very quick to post pictures on all facets of social media, but sharing my written work is something I’m still coming to terms with. I think my wife will probably want to start reading my novels before anyone else, so if you ask me this question in a year I will likely have a new answer.

  1. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?

A university teacher once told me that my work was always read first because it put her in the mood to read. That always stayed with me. At the time I thought that if I could put someone with years of education in the mood to read, perhaps this would help in selling books to new readers. Compliments do fight against those darker days of writing, but if you take them too seriously you will end up doing the same with criticism. We all have our own voice and stories to share, so eventually you end up relying on instinct.

  1. Everyone has bad writing days (or weeks, or months). What do you do when you start to hate everything that you’ve written?

I tend to just stick at it. Sometimes the rhythm of words can get the plot points down on the page, and I can polish everything when I feel more creative. Pumping out those words is the most important part of the writing process for me, as editing is an aspect that comes quite naturally. A decent word count for the day can make a bad writing day seem productive. A coffee is also beneficial. I liken it to a re-assuring arm across the shoulder. If all else fails, I just go for a walk and think about football.

  1. We all cast our characters for that hypothetical film or tv deal. Which actor/s would you choose to play your main character/s?

Leonardo DiCaprio would have been perfect ten years ago, but as he’s nearing his mid-40s and the lead character is 30 I need to re-think the answer. As much as his Twilight days will follow him everywhere, Robert Pattinson has really impressed me with his recent body of work and he is capable of portraying such a complex and deep-thinking character. I would pitch him for a left-field shot at playing Dr Magnus Paul, the psychologist at the Asylum. For the main antagonist, inmate Jasper James, I would pitch Christian Bale or Tom Hardy. They can both play confronting characters and have demonstrated this over a number of years. For the unreliable guard Carter, hopefully Al Pacino feels capable of straining that voice once more.

  1. What do you enjoy most in the writing process? What parts of it do you really dislike?

I love writing dialogue. Speech is so important in reading, even if we don’t say the words out loud. I write in a way that tells the reader how words are being said by the character. This is achieved through grammar and this differs with each character. Writing criminally insane characters for Dortmund Hibernate required pauses in speech, capital letters to emphasise screaming and mumbled words. I do hope that readers enjoy the extra dimension this style adds to the novel.

I’m still finding ways to enjoy when the story becomes a product, which requires reading through the manuscript again and again to discover the smallest typo or grammar issue. The first edits are enjoyable, but the latter stages are like wading through a swamp. The only reason I dislike this is because the writing no longer feels fresh to me. I would compare it to listening to the same song over and over; no matter how good it is, you’ll eventually bang your head against the wall.

  1. Research is a vital part of writing. What is the most memorable or interesting thing you’ve learned along the way?

Researching criminally insane patients provided insight into some of the darkest minds the world has seen. The heavy reliance on drugs and electrotherapy throughout the 90s (and prior) was an aspect that I wanted to avoid in Dortmund Hibernate, preferring to focus on the minds and their crimes. I read through books on the likes of Charles Manson to understand how an unstable individual can lead a cult, and also continued my research into psychology. My notes are probably longer than the book.

  1. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received? 

Write what you enjoy reading. If you’re interested and having fun, it doesn’t really matter if nobody else reads the book because you’ll have learned more about yourself. Obviously we all want to be successful and sell millions of copies, but what’s the point if the story doesn’t entertain you in some capacity? When you’re in a good space, your writing improves. I’m not sure where I first saw this piece of advice, but it has remained with me.

  1. Finally, in one sentence, tell us about your current project.

Dortmund Hibernate is the most mentally challenging, insane, soul destroying project I have ever worked on, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Insights into the way authors create their books is always intriguing. Find out more about C. J. Sutton and his work – and to pre-order Dortmund Hibernate at a bargain price:

Link to Amazon – https://amzn.to/2M76hGH

www.cjsutton-author.com

https://www.facebook.com/cjsutton.author/

http://www.twitter.com/c_j_sutton

~~~~~~~~~

Just to prove I haven’t been idle lately, here’s a photo of a Norwegian glacier I saw lately!

To find my books, here’s my Amazon.co.uk page: https://amzn.to/2ovRSKQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steam Engines, Romans and Four-Poster Beds

About time I did another blog post! My only excuse is that I’m still hibernating as the weather’s been so awful, but a trip to Wales did cheer me up. And it only rained once! As I may have mentioned, the Resident Engineer is keen on steam engines so it was no surprise when he suggested a long weekend in North Wales to take in a special trip on the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway.mapFfestiniogRwy

It was a fundraising event and we were given a tour of the engine sheds, and dinner in Porthmadog at the station restaurant on the Friday, then it was up and about on Saturday morning to catch the train at 8.30. We went up hill and down dale, mountains, rivers, sea, lakes, trees, sheep –  you name it, we saw them, and in spectacular sunshine too. I love trains so I was happy, especially as I had my trusty Kindle with me and could disappear into a book now and then, and the Resident Engineer gave me helpful information at regular intervals eg about the engines (The Ladies: Linda & Blanche) and the bigger one (a Garrett) that we changed to when we returned to Porthmadog and set off for Caernarfon.

Garrett engine

We had a stop-off for lunch, followed by a cream tea served en route.

4poster

I don’t usually do plugs for hotels! but the upmarket B&B we stayed in was fabulous. Just outside Porthmadog, with amazing views of the town and the harbour, Plas Tan Yr Allt proved to be the perfect place for a relaxing break. Shelley thought so too when he stayed there in 1812/13.  If you’re looking for friendly and helpful hosts, excellent breakfasts and a massive room complete with an equally large four-poster bed, this is the place for you: http://www.plastanyrallt.co.uk/

After all the railway delights my special treat was a visit to the Roman town of Caerleon: this is a Roman-style garden. Roman garden Caerleon

In other news, my three historical Charlotte Richmond mysteries are now republished and looking wonderful in their smart new covers. If you’ve enjoyed them (or any of my books, actually!) it would be lovely to have a review on Amazon! drop off your old textbooks atthe OFFICE of the student counciluntil may 31, 2019

The first two Harriet Quigley contemporary mysteries are also being republished and will be out soon, so it’s all go round here!

As for my most recent book, The House at Ladywell, I’m so pleased that readers are enjoying my story of history, mystery, magic and hares! More great reviews including this lovely recent one: ‘I thoroughly enjoyed The House at Ladywell. It takes a lot of talent to write as Nicola Slade does, intertwining timelines; bringing historical characters and periods to life… not to mention the vast amount of research that must have gone into this novel! All of this while creating a story of beauty, emotion, folklore and mystery. I look forward to reading more from this author and her unique voice.’

An intriguing French detective – and some shiny new covers!

The snow’s gone, and even if it comes back – not that likely down here in the Deep South aka Hampshire – there are daffodils and primroses in the garden, the random pheasant sits outside and shouts for his dinner, and the roe deer family peer over the garden fence almost daily. Spring is on its way so it’s time I stopped hibernating so I’m happy to welcome fellow Crooked Cat author, Angela Wren, to answer my 8 Quick Questions and tell us about her fascinating mysteries set in rural France.

  1. When you finish a new writing project, who is the first person you share it with?

My editor. I run a Writing Group and the various drafts of my stories are shared with the group and I get plenty of comment throughout the writing process.

  1. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?

My stories are set in France and the absolutely best comments are those from people who have said they felt as though they were in France itself whilst reading my work.

  1. Everyone has bad writing days (or weeks, or months). What do you do when you start to hate everything that you’ve written?

I chuck whatever I’m writing in a drawer and leave it there for a week or two, or possibly longer.  I have one manuscript that has been in the drawer for two years!  Perhaps it will never come out.

  1. We all cast our characters for that hypothetical film or tv deal. Which actor/s would you choose to play your main character/s?

Actually, I haven’t even thought of that.  My central character, Jacques, would have to be French and whoever plays him would have to fit his physical description.  So, Gerard Depardieu is completely out of the running.  There was a gorgeous French tenor I saw in a production of the Pearl Fishers – now he would be perfect, except I can’t remember his name!

  1. What do you enjoy most in the writing process? What parts of it do you really dislike?

I absolutely love stringing the words together once I know what my story is. I can just disappear into my fictional world and stay there for days on end. I find editing particularly difficult and very tiring. I don’t exactly dislike it, because I know how essential a task it is. But if there was any part of the writing process that I could ditch, it would definitely be editing.

  1. Research is a vital part of writing. What is the most memorable or interesting thing you’ve learned along the way?

Discovering the Cévennes in south central France for the very first time. It’s the part of France where my stories are set and there’s a silence and loneliness there that I can’t seem to find anywhere else. It’s also an upland area, the scenery is spectacular, the villages are small and sparse and the weather can change in a moment.  A perfect place for murder, I think!

  1. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Never give up – if the story wants to be written it will be.

  1. Finally, in one sentence, tell us about your current project.

I’m in the final stages of completing book 3 (Montbel) in my Jacques Forêt series of stories which will be out later this year.

Thank you for visiting, Angela, I’m looking forward to meeting Jacques again!

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : Angela Wren

Goodreads : Angela Wren

Contact an author : Angela Wren

~~~~~~

And here are the shiny new covers of my Charlotte Richmond Mysteries, re-issued now by Williams & Whiting!

It’s Cold Outside…

And while we have no snow, and the sun’s shining,  the Beast from the East cold weather front is making it pretty chilly even down here on the South Coast. In fact I ought to finish painting this polar bear while I’m feeling cold, just to get the right atmosphere. 

 

Bookish news: Cover reveals very soon for my three Charlotte Richmond mysteries which are being republished by Williams & Whiting, beginning the end of this month.

And The House at Ladywell now has 30 great reviews so far on Amazon.co.uk – here’s the Amazon link http://amzn.to/2o4PJ8C

As the weather’s been so horrible lately I think it’s time for some random frivololity: 1)This is one of those pictures that turn up on Facebook so I can’t attribute it, which is a pity because it’s a) amusing and b) true.

2) Some of my literary and historical heroes – I mean, of course, John Thornton, Col Brandon, and Richard Sharpe, not in any way the actors who played them. Oh dear no…  (all promotional images)

Always…

any excuse

 

Needs no introduction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Quick Questions – Author Val Penny

I don’t often have guests on this blog but today I’m delighted to welcome fellow Crooked Cat author, Val Penny, whose gripping crime novel,‘Hunter’s Chase’, has just been published. Find out about Val here:

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballet dancer or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her first crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ set in Edinburgh, Scotland was published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. She is now writing the sequel, ‘Hunter’s Revenge’.Hunter's Chase banner

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe. DI Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city and he needs to find the source but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller.

~~~

I’m planning occasional interviews with writing friends, Eight Quick Questions and Val has kindly agreed to be my first visitor (aka guinea pig as it’s an experiment!)

Eight Quick Questions

  1. When you finish a new writing project, who is the first person you share it with?The first person I share a new writing project with when I finish it is the person I share everything with first, my husband Dave. He is so supportive, but he does that first read-through forensically before anybody else reads my work
  2. What is the nicest compliment you’ve ever received about your writing? I really respect Erin Kelly as an author and tutor. I found her psychological thriller ‘The Poison Tree‘ one of the most gripping novels I have ever read. I read it in one sitting, which is very unusual for me, so I tease her that she owes me a night’s sleep. Therefore, I was thrilled when she was kind enough to endorse my debut novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase‘ with these words: “A gripping debut novel about power, politics and the importance – and danger – of family ties. Hunter Wilson is a compelling new detective and Val Penny is an author to watch.”
  3. Everyone has bad writing days (or weeks, or months). What do you do when you start to hate everything that you’ve written?When I cannot enjoy writing, I read or review something I have read to allow me to share it with others on my blog www.bookreviews.info . When I was first mentored by Peter Robinson (the Canadian author who writes the DCI Alan Banks novels), I asked him about writer’s block. He claims that it is an indulgence and doesn’t exist. If you are a writer that you write: whether it be your primary project or another piece of work, you write. I have taken this to heart.
  4. We all cast our characters for that hypothetical film or tv deal. Which actor/s would you choose to play your main character/s?I would choose Ewan MacGregor to play my main protagonist, DI Hunter Wilson but with DC Tim Myerscough, he is specifically described as very tall, 6’4”, so I think I would look to cast the Australian actor, Chris Hemsworth, but he may need a voice coach to learn to speak with Tim’s Scottish Accent.
  5. What do you enjoy most in the writing process? What parts of it do you really dislike?I enjoy the creation of a story. I like to tell a tale. However, the work of editing and revising is a real chore. It would be lovely to be able to skip that.
  6. Research is a vital part of writing. What is the most memorable or interesting thing you’ve learned along the way?I quite enjoy the research I have to do for my novels. The author of ‘The Real CSI‘, Kate Bendelow, is my ‘go to’ person for forensic details. The most interesting thing I have learned is the vast number of items where fingerprints cannot be lifted and are of no assistance to the police in catching criminals.
  7. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?I have been lucky enough to receive some excellent writing advice. The best piece of advice I have received is from Chris Brookmyre. He advises that if authors write what they enjoy their work will be better written. Brookmyre insists that authors should write what they are happy writing: not what they think the market expects. I enjoy reading crime thrillers and I hope that is reflected in my novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase‘.
  8. Finally, in one sentence, tell us about your current project. My current project is the sequel to ‘Hunter’s Chase‘, it is called ‘Hunter’s Revenge‘ and is due to be published by Crooked Cat Books in late summer 2018.

Author contact details 

http://www.authorvalpenny.com

http://www.facebook.com/valerie.penny.739

Friends of Hunter’s Chase – http://www.facebook.com/groups/296295777444303

Thank you to lovely Val for dropping in – here’s the link to her stunning debut novel:myBook.to/Hunter’sChase

And now for something completely different! My talented brother-in-law, Geoffrey Pimm, has just had his debut non-fiction book published by Pen & Sword, ‘The Dark Side of Samuel Pepys’ : Society’s First Sex Offender. Here’s the Amazon.co.uk link: http://amzn.to/2BLyamB
At a recent family party we posed together with details of our books! 

And just in case you don’t remember, here’s the Amazon link to The House at Ladywell, by me! Tell your friends! Some more sales and reviews would be lovely! 

http://amzn.to/2BLyamB

 

Interesting Times & Handsome Heroes!

I’m delighted that two of my heroines are in the news this week – not only Freya, heiress to the ancient House at Ladywell, but also my Victorian sleuth, Charlotte Richmond. Find out more below and see some almost entirely gratuitous photos of actors who would look pretty good as my heroes and/or villains!

Williams and Whiting, an independent publishing house, announced yesterday: ‘We are delighted to announce we have signed Nicola Slade in a five book deal.   Three of the books will be in the Victorian widow Charlotte Richmond series and two in the retired headmistress Harriet Quigley contemporary mystery series.   The first Charlotte Richmond book Murder Most Welcome will be published in February, to be followed by the other Charlotte books and the first two Harriet books.’  http://williamsandwhiting.com

I’m so pleased that Charlotte will have a new lease of life, in ebook and paperback, and hopefully will find new admirers as she goes about her daily life in Hampshire, stumbling across far too many corpses!

Left: Nathaniel Parker would be perfect as Charlotte’s husband – is he dead? Or is she about to get a nasty surprise?

 

 

And Noah Huntley would do very nicely as Mr Knightley!

~

The House at Ladywell (published by Crooked Cat Books in November) now has around thirty Five Star reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites, which is fabulous. This a terrific one from Nancy Jardine, author of historical and mystery novels. Ladywellfinalcover

‘This was a thoroughly enjoyable book that I wished I could read in one sitting since I was engrossed. As it happened I read it over one day and one night! The tale of the house at Ladywell slowly unfolds with historical glimpses of the surroundings and the inhabitants over the centuries from the earliest Roman times to the present day. Those snatches of previous residents are skilfully interwoven for the reader as the new owner delves back to uncover details about the previous occupants of the house bequeathed to her. The perpetuity of descendants of one family being in situ over 1500 years and more has, I think, got to be a rare occurrence anywhere but it rings true for The House at Ladywell.
The characters are beautifully drawn and the writing and editing superb. The background of Freya Gibson is eventually revealed but the revelations, I think, further enhance her strong character. I’d love to meet Patrick- that successful author and the man in Freya’s life! The supporting characters are also well rounded, especially Nathan the man who can get Freya anything decoratively speaking and the tiny Mary Draper who is like a little whirlwind.
The supernatural aspects of the house work immediately: the ‘house’ now winding a positive spell of its own! (hopefully all previous negatives having been set in ‘balance’).
To be recommended for those who love a good mystery; a satisfying romance; and those who enjoy a little dash of the supernatural added in for good measure.’

And here’s another great review, this one from best-selling mystery novelist, Lesley Cookman: A really beautiful book, not at all the usual romance or mystery. Shades of Elizabeth Goudge, maybe?

In an ideal world (the one with the deal for the film rights) Patrick would be played by Richard Armitage!

And finally, just to make it easy for you to read Ladywell (and maybe do a review, which would be lovely) here’s the link to Amazon! http://amzn.to/2zdcrii
(Photos taken from promotional sites…)