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!

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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…)

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Murder in the House!

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The Resident Engineer accuses me of watching programmes like Escape to the Country and Location, Location, Location solely so I can scream abuse at the wannabe house hunters. I admit that there’s some truth in this: you’ll get some picky woman sniffing at a fabulous house and saying, ‘it’s not to my taste’. The proper answer to this is to yell, ‘We’ve seen your house, you have no taste!’ I love the way Kirstie Allsopp tries, and so often fails, to disguise her feelings!

 However, I am genuinely interested in houses and like most women, can’t resist a chance to poke round in someone else’s, a trait shared by my female friends and family, particularly the daughters who, like Kirstie, are liable (as I am), to suggest knocking down walls at the drop of a hat. Mind you, we can do this confidently because the Resident Engineer is a whizz at d-i-y and particularly likes bashing down walls.

One of the joys of being a writer is that you can provide your characters with houses of all shapes and sizes and price range to fit any pocket. This is great for someone who was brought up in a red-brick semi; lived as a newly-wed in a terrace house near Uxbridge that had walls so thin we used to watch television with the sound down just so that we could laugh at the elderly brothers next-door as they screamed abuse at Jeux Sans Frontieres; a 60s house in Surrey, and now a relatively new house – it means I can let my imagination soar. It also means I can have ideas above my station, see my post Class and the Cozy Mystery (which you could see if I knew how to do the link!) So there are no peasant hovels in my books, just yer everyday castle or manor house – so much more spacious when it comes to murdering the unwanted guest.

My most recent mystery, A Crowded Coffin, has a house at the centre of the story and the lovely book blogger, Geranium Cat, had this to say about it: ‘Not listed in the Dramatis Personae is the Attlin family’s farmhouse, although you feel it should be there; once known as the Angel House, Locksley Farm Place dates back centuries, perhaps to a Roman villa on the same site. The author conveys the sense of the house’s age and antiquity seamlessly, as Rory learns its history and explores its nooks and crannies, and the reader is left with an impression of great solidity and warmth which permeates the whole book, transforming it from just another murder-mystery into an intimate experience.’

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe house in my book was inspired by Stokeshay Castle, near Ludlow, but along the way I vandalised it so comprehensively that there isn’t the slightest resemblance, apart perhaps from the great hall, though my version also has echoes of the Brethren’s Hall at St Cross Hospital, Winchester. This was the inspiration for Trollope’s ‘The Warden’ and a great place to visit – where else are you given free bread and ale?

 My first contemporary mystery, Murder Fortissimo, has a large Edwardian house inspired partly by a small hotel in Wales – sadly I can’t remember where it was, while Harriet’s cottage in a pretty Hampshire village could be any one of thousands round here. It’s a good job I made her comfortably off though, as house prices in this neck of the woods are terrifying.

My historical mysteries, featuring Charlotte Richmond, are set in a village just outside Winchester and the manor house she stays in when she arrives is a patchwork of real and imaginary buildings, but in the forthcoming third Charlotte book, The Dead Queen’s Garden, a neighbouring house is a late C18 mock Norman castle, definitely inspired by Penrhyn Castle in North Wales,but on a much smaller scale. (Here’s the cosy Great Hall at Penrhyn)penrhyncastlegreathall I based the garden in the title on Queen Eleanor’s Garden at Winchester Great Hall but again, I’ve altered it to suit my requirements.

I also plead guilty to strewing corpses round these stately homes, just for my own amusement… because I’m worth it! (To quote an advert that also makes me scream abuse at the television!) (I’m very intemperate, perhaps you can tell?)