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.

 

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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

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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

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

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.

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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

 

A Blog Tour – Terra Incognita!

bannerLadywellblogtourBlog Tours are a ‘thing’ nowadays, but I’ve never been involved in one before so it’s uncharted territory as far as I’m concerned. In case you didn’t know, this is how it works: a lot of avid readers review books on their blogs and many of these book bloggers will join a Blog Tour organised either by the author or, as in my case, someone who has excellent contacts and knows which reader will like which book. Debbie, of Brook Cottage Books is an expert and she’s arranged for The House at Ladywell to be read and reviewed by bloggers on her list. So here we go, a bit of blowing my own trumpet!
trumpet
The ebook of The House at Ladywell was published on 14th November, by Crooked Cat Books, and even in that short time people have been posting amazing and lovely reviews, but this one, by Nicola of the Short Books & Scribe blog, is my first ever review in a Blog Tour! And it made me cry because she loved it. http://shortbookandscribes.uk
This is her Amazon review:
Books where a house is a major part of the plot seem to have an invisible rope attaching them to me. They pull me in immediately and I’m rarely disappointed. So you can imagine that The House at Ladywell was a great draw for me. And I’m pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint, in fact I loved it.
Freya Gibson is a woman who has been through a lot and had a really difficult time of it. She then finds herself working for bestselling author, Patrick Underwood. All is going well and then one day she hears that she has inherited a house from a relative she didn’t even know she had. And this is no ordinary house. The scent of flowers seems to linger there, despite there being no flowers in the house. There’s a feeling of belonging for Freya and she straightaway feels a connection and a desire to be there. Right at the beginning she is told she must make a wreath from the rowan tree in the garden and then say an incantation to ‘restore the balance’.

The house is a major character in this novel. We hear of its past through the tales of Freya’s long-gone ancestors. These sections are scattered throughout Freya’s narrative and I did wonder if it would have helped to have the relevant dates and a family tree, but in fact I could fairly easily work out an idea of the timeline and at the end there is some information about the characters and the years their stories are from. I think the dates weren’t provided so that the story could flow and the historical elements could intermingle with the present day ones and that certainly did work well.

The parts from the past were fascinating, so interesting, and they provided a background to the house but I did enjoy Freya’s story most of all as she was the one discovering things about the past, the house and her own life.

There is quite a bit of folklore in this story. Hares play a big part and are revered in fact. I love hares so I liked that they were so important. There’s also a well with water that heals and a real sense that the house and the land are important.

I liked Freya and Patrick as the main characters, but I thought the supporting characters were fabulous too. Mary Draper was just brilliant, and all the other people that Freya meets when she moves to Ladywell add something to the story, however large or small.

This really is such an appealing book. It has modern elements mixed with historical, a love story, and mysteries galore. It’s fabulous!

Link to buy – http://amzn.to/2i7o2Z9

Train Trip

The Engineer and I like trains, we’re known for it. ‘Another train journey?’ friends ask. And the answer is usually yes. This year’s epic marathon found us travelling from north to south in Australia, or as the locals say, from the Top End downwards. It’s about 2,000 miles and it took three nights and very nearly four days from departing from Darwin and arriving in Adelaide.

The Ghan Train was named after the cameleers who blazed the trail into the Red Centre of Australia in the 19th century. Many of them came from Pakistan although they were believed to be from Afghanistan and thus became known as (Af)Ghans.

 

The Ghan Expedition is really a cruise on wheels, with stops for excursions by coach, delicious meals, a well-stocked bar, and helpful, friendly staff. You do need to be ok about sleeping in bunks though, and I have no head for heights; luckily the Engineer has no nerves about anything and is fine about mountaineering to bed. (Pic – bedtime story)

20170928_205342

First stop was at Katherine, south of Darwin, where the temperature was 37C and rising so we were glad of a boat trip through the Nitmiluk Gorge, first walking through a grove of trees which had a sign saying: Don’t look up – can you guess why?

After that we stopped in Alice Springs which hadn’t seen a drop of rain since January – until the September evening when we went to an outdoor BBQ at the Telegraph Station there! Luckily it was just a shower. The final outing was to the underground city of Coober Pedy, famous for opal mines. A lot of the houses were a bit Hobbit-like, with chimneys sticking out of the rock and we went underground to check out an opal mine. Had lunch there too! For someone who is mildly claustrophobic I seem to have been down an awful lot of mines: a lead mine in Derbyshire, coal mine in France, silver mine in Austria, copper mine in Sweden and now an opal mine in Australia.nickydownanopalmine

It was a fabulous journey and I do it again only I’d have to mortgage the Engineer, and it wouldn’t be any fun without him! (Pic: Englishwoman abroad, complete with (M&S) pearls!)

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The House at Ladywell is out now and I survived an online book launch on Facebook. There are some 5* reviews already!  – , available in ebook and paperback http://amzn.to/2i7o2Z9

The perfect novel to curl up and read with a glass of mulled wine and a cat on your lap during those dark winter months…

Brilliant – the past and present are entwined and Freya uncovers her own mystery whilst delving into the history of the house.’

A very, very readable story.’

A real feel-good romantic story about a house and its history, Nicola Slade writes characters you instantly warm to. I liked the use of elements in local history to provide background to the story of the house – it feels as though one could go and look for an actual house.

Rowans and Rocks

I’m delighted with the newly-revealed cover for ‘The House at Ladywell’ – a stunning image of a wreath of rowan leaves and berries, very simple and bold and very relevant to the story. 

‘The House at Ladywell’ will be published on 14th November by Crooked Cat Books.

This is what it’s about: ‘A hare carved in stone and the scent of flowers in a house full of echoes – can Freya’s inheritance help her leave the past behind?’

As you can see on the cover I’m lucky enough to have a great quote from Sally Zigmond, well-known historical author (‘Hope Against Hope‘), editor and reviewer. She says: ‘An enchanting blend of mystery, history, romance and folklore’ – which sums the book up pretty neatly!

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In other news, my art exhibition ended today so the Engineer and I have dismantled it and brought the remaining paintings home. The framed books are marching back up the wall of the staircase and I’m finally relaxing. I sold three paintings on the night and another two during the month when two separate visitors to the cinema each spotted a painting the liked and contacted me. I met them in the gallery café and we did the deal! They both liked my landscapes, which is interesting and gratifying, because they’re my latest experiment in style. More of that, I think!

This is the most recent painting that sold – ‘Sea Pinks on the Rocks’ (The frame was white, not slightly pink as the photo suggests!)

The House at Ladywell

Would you fall in love at first sight – with a house?

When my second Harriet Quigley mystery was published, blogger Geranium Cat said, in what is still my favourite review: ‘Not listed in the Dramatis Personae at the start of A Crowded Coffin 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… and the reader is left with an impression of great solidity and warmth which permeates the whole book…’

It’s such a perceptive comment and I hope readers will feel the same about this new book because – in The House at Ladywell – the house is clearly the main character. We first ‘meet’ it when Freya, the protagonist, goes to view her inheritance and falls head-over-heels in love with the house. As she settles in the reader gradually learns the history of both the house and the family down through the ages.

I’m delighted to be able to say that I’ve now signed a contract with Crooked Cat Books and they will publish The House at Ladywell as an ebook in the autumn, to be followed by the paperback.

For a change, this book isn’t set in Winchester but not far away in my fictitious town of Ramalley, the small market town where my first published novel, Scuba Dancing, was set. It’s not a follow-up but the town is recognisably the same. It’s also recognisable to sharp-eyed readers who contacted me when Scuba Dancing came out and said, ‘It’s Romsey, isn’t it?’ Of course it is – but it’s Romsey with added extras!

I usually have a picture of the characters inside my head and for some reason Richard Armitage popped up whenever I wrote about Patrick, the contemporary hero. I can’t imagine why but it’s true: that’s exactly how I see him!  (And because one of the historical ‘echoes’ in this book involves the Battle of Waterloo, here’s a gratuitous photo of Sean Bean as Lt Richard Sharpe. And why not?)

In case you’d like to see some of the other inspirations for this book, here’s my Pinterest board for The House at Ladywell. https://uk.pinterest.com/nicola8703/the-house-at-ladywell/I  (Oops, doesn’t seem to work, but here’s my Pinterest account and you’ll find the Board for The House at Ladywell there: https://uk.pinterest.com/nicola8703)