The Shepheard Hotel Cairo

By the middle of the Victorian era, foreign travel was much easier and tourism was flourishing. One of the most popular destinations was the land of the pharaohs – Egypt. The ‘leisure’ classes took advantage in their droves and some could even afford a Thomas Cook Tour up the Nile. A forty-day round trip from Cairo to Luxor in the 1850s cost about £110, the equivalent of £12,856 today. 

Touristen_in_Egypte_-_Tourists_in_Egypt
Credit: Nationaal Archief

Two distinct groups of visitors tended to undertake the trip. The first were the military and government officials either stationed in Egypt or en route to India, via the Suez Canal. For many, a stop over in Cairo was an attractive proposition. Secondly, you had tourists drawn to Egypt by its romantic associations, unique antiquities and of course, the wonderfully mild winters. Both groups wanted ‘home from home’ comforts in their accommodation while staying over in Cairo.

Sam_Shep
Samuel Shepheard

A canny Englishman, by the name of Samuel Shepheard, found himself in Cairo in 1842, having been thrown off a P&O ship for taking part in an unsuccessful mutiny. He found work at the British Hotel in Cairo and within a couple of years, had bought the hotel and renamed it after himself.

During a hunting trip he met and became friends with Khedive Abbas and two years later Shepheard, with the khedive’s help and influence, managed to buy a former palace on Esbekier Square, an area of park land with tropical greenery and rare trees, that was once occupied by Napoleon’s army and used as headquarters during his invasion of Egypt.

 

Shepheard's Hotel

Shepheard’s new hotel became known as a ‘safe haven’ for weary travellers who were guaranteed the best whiskey and the company of fellow Westerners. As the hotel grew in popularity, its guests included British military officers, bureaucrats, and wealthy American travellers. One of its most celebrated guests at the time was the novelist Anthony Trollope. Samuel was renowned as a superb host which contributed in no small part to the success of the hotel.

Shepheard made a small fortune from the hotel, benefitting from the dawn of adventure tourism along the Nile.  Shepheard sold the hotel in 1861 for £10,000 and retired to Eathorpe Hall,  Warwickshire, England. 

DiningDespite his departure, Shepheard’s Hotel remained the centre of the Anglo-American community in Cairo and in 1869, it hosted the celebration of the Grand Opening of the Suez Canal.

The hotel became the playground for international aristocracy where any person of social standing made a point of being seen taking afternoon tea on its famous terrace. 

In my novel, Footprints in the Sand, I base the Hotel Excelsior on Shepheard’s Hotel. It was the perfect setting for Lucy to mingle with the odd assortment of fascinating guests, who would eventually feature in the murder mystery. The famous dining room is the setting for one of the pivotal scenes in the book.

Footprints-EBOOK-Cvr

Cairo, Autumn 1887: A melting pot of jealousy, lust and revenge. Who will pay the ultimate price?

Lucy Lawrence throws caution to the wind and embarks on a journey of self-discovery in the land of the pharaohs.

Travelling to Cairo as the patron of the charming French Egyptologist, Armand Moreau, Lucy discovers a city teeming with professional rivalries, and a thriving black market in antiquities which threatens Egypt’s precious heritage.

When the Egyptian Museum is burgled, Lucy is determined to solve the case, much to the annoyance of the local inspector of police, and the alarm of Mary, her maid. But when an archaeologist is found murdered in the Great Pyramid, Lucy is catapulted into the resulting maelstrom. Can she keep her wits about her to avoid meeting a similar fate?

Buy Link

New Release – Cover Reveal – Jenny O’Brien: Silent Cry

I am delighted to be taking part in today’s cover reveal for one of my favourite authors, Jenny O’Brien. I was lucky enough to read Silent Cry and can tell you, you are in for a treat.

unnamedAlys is fine. Don’t try to find us.

Five years ago, Izzy Grant’s boyfriend Charlie took their newborn daughter Alys out for a drive.

They never came back.

After years of waiting, Izzy has almost given up hoping that they’re still alive – until a note is pushed through her door telling her they’re fine, not to look for them. Suddenly the case is top priority again, and Izzy is swarmed with faces from the past: the detective who was first on the scene to help; an old friend who vanished not long after Alys and Charlie.

Izzy doesn’t know who she can trust, who is sending her notes, where Charlie and Alys might be. Her only ally is DC Gabriella Darin, recently transferred from Cardiff and fleeing a painful past of her own.

Gaby knows something doesn’t fit with the case, and she knows Izzy won’t rest until she finds out what really happened to her daughter. Could someone she knew and trusted really have taken Alys from her?

Wherever Alys and Charlie are, Gaby is determined to find them, no matter what it takes. Somewhere in Izzy’s past is a clue, if Gaby can only find it …

Footprints in the Sand: New Release from Pam Lecky

The excitement of releasing a new book never dims. Amazon stole a march on me by setting the book live for pre-order in the middle of the night, however, it was a nice surprise to wake up this morning and see the link was there.

46203408._SY475_I think of all my books, this one will resonate with me the longest. It combines two great loves: Victorian adventure with a feisty heroine and ancient Egypt. How could I resist putting them together.

It was important to me for Lucy to grow more independent and to emerge from the shadow of Phineas Stone from the first book, No Stone Unturned. I know many readers will wonder why Phineas doesn’t feature much in this book (don’t worry – book 3 is all about him!), but I wanted Lucy to come into her own and shine.

And how could she fail with her devoted maid, Mary, by her side, always ready to bring her down to earth when Lucy’s enthusiasm takes her down the wrong path?

I don’t want to give too much away, other than this is another murder mystery which will keep you guessing until the end. Above all, I hope it entertains and leaves you wanting more! It might even tempt you to go on a journey up the Nile!

Series Ad 1

What’s it all about?

Cairo 1887: A melting pot of jealousy, lust and revenge. Who will pay the ultimate price?

Lucy Lawrence throws caution to the wind and embarks on a journey of self-discovery to the land of the pharaohs.

Travelling to Cairo as the patron of the charming French Egyptologist, Armand Moreau, Lucy discovers an archaeological community plagued by professional rivalries and intrigue. It is soon apparent that the thriving black market in antiquities threatens Egypt’s precious heritage.

When the Egyptian Museum is burgled, Lucy is determined to solve the case, much to the annoyance of the local inspector of police, and the alarm of Mary, her maid. But when an archaeologist is found murdered in the Great Pyramid, Lucy is catapulted into the resulting maelstrom. Can she keep her wits about her to avoid meeting a similar fate?

Footprints in the Sand will be published on the 14th March. Buy Link HERE.

If you enjoy Lucy’s antics in Egypt, do, please, leave a review to let me know.

Thank you!

 

 

New Release from John Anthony Miller! Sinner, Saint or Serpent

It’s great to have you back in the Library, John, can you tell us a little about yourself for anyone not familiar with your books?

JAM Photo

Hi Pam, thanks for having me. I live in southern New Jersey in the U.S., very close to the city of Philadelphia. I’ve been writing professionally for about six years, and Sinner, Saint, or Serpent is my seventh novel.

What motivates you to write?

I think the motivation for me is learning about the imaginary world I’m creating, which takes quite a bit of research. I love to learn.

Do you ever have writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?

For me, rather than writer’s block, it’s getting stuck on a scene or character that isn’t turning out the way I want. I usually move on to something else, maybe research another aspect of the book or a completely different book, or go for a walk. The distraction normally brings the solution.

How do you go about researching the history behind your books?

Once I determine a period to write about, I choose the location. I think the location, if described well enough, is really a character, often as important as the protagonist. Then I devise the plot. I have dozens swirling around in my head, and need only to find the one that interests me – and potential readers – the most. I often round out the characters last, honour the deadand I usually find that they turn out far different in the end than I had envisioned in the beginning.

I research everything from clothing to hairstyles to food to military maneuvers. I read books about the time period, books written during the time period, and I research websites. The BBC website for WWI and WWII, for example, is a wealth of information, including personal stories.

I continue to research until the book is completed. The first draft is just that – a bit of a mess with notes to myself for future enhancements. But each revision shapes the story, the research bringing both the scenes and characters to life.

With so many different ideas, how many will make it into future books?

I have about twenty different ideas at any one time, many of which will become books. I don’t discard any of them, but if I start on a topic and lose interest in the research, I usually pick something else and move the abandoned idea lower on the list. I have a file for different topics, plots, titles, false starts and various interests that I go through when starting a book. Sometimes I choose one, combine it with another or change the time period, and that gives me a fresh perspective and the motivation to finish it.

Once you have a solid idea, how long does it take you do get to the final product?

It usually takes me 9 months to complete the draft that I send to my agent (which is after 5 or 6 revisions). The draft is then sent to fact-checkers and advanced readers, after which I reconcile any comments – either make changes or explain why changes are not required. That typically takes a month or two. The book is then sent to the publisher, who takes anywhere from 6- 15 months to issue it. There are different editing processes during that publishing timeline, as well as cover design.

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

Yes – I have two suggestions. First, try to write every day once you start a book– even if it’s fifteen or twenty minutes, or just scribbling ideas about a character in a notebook. I think the routine and consistency are important. Second, don’t let family and friends discourage you with negative comments. I’m sure they mean well, but some people will not take you seriously until you show them a publishing contract. Write for yourself first, the public second.

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I like to cross genres, using thrillers, historical fiction, and mysteries, primarily. I think having a multi-genre plot is much more interesting, with unlimited possibilities for subplots and secondary characters that are often as exciting as the protagonist.

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

I would definitely choose late-Victorian through the early part of the twentieth century. I’m drawn to the British Empire, upon which the sun never set, the twilight of Victorian England, the dawn of a new century, the utter destruction of WWI, and the roaring ‘20’s.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

When I’m doing the initial research for the book, and I’ve determined in what time period it’ll take place, I search on the internet for the most popular baby names in the country and year that the book takes place. For example, Sinner, Saint or Serpent takes place in New Orleans in 1926. I researched the most popular male names, female names and surnames in the U.S at that time. I fill the left-hand side of a notebook with female names I like, the centre with male names, the right with surnames. Then, I match them up.

Please tell us about your latest published work.

Sinner, Saint or SerpentMy seventh novel, Sinner, Saint or Serpent, has just been issued. It’s a historical murder mystery set in New Orleans in 1926. Justice Harper and Remy Morel are two reporters investigating the murder of August Chevalier, a ruthless businessman with dozens of enemies. Police identify three suspects, prominent women in New Orleans society: a sinner – Blaze Barbeau, accused of having an affair with the deceased, a saint – the charitable Lucinda Boyd, whose family business was stolen by Chevalier, and a serpent – Belladonna Dede, the local voodoo queen.

Harper has an impeccable reputation, while his assistant Remy Morel is a sassy newcomer with more mouth than she can control. They unravel the mystery, battling anonymous threats and increasing danger the closer they come to cornering the culprit. The clues lead them to more suspects: Mimi Menard – Chevalier’s housekeeper, Nicky the Knife – a lunatic gangster, Serenity Dupree – a sultry jazz singer and Harper’s lover, and even Remy Morel – her family wronged by a ruthless Chevalier.

My goal was to keep the reader constantly confused by the killer’s identity, and totally fooled when the identity is revealed. Hopefully I accomplished that.

LINKS TO PURCHASE:

UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sinner-Saint-Serpent-Anthony-Miller-ebook/dp/B0851NSSWF/

US:  https://www.amazon.com/Sinner-Saint-Serpent-Anthony-Miller-ebook/dp/B0851NSSWF/

 

AUTHOR LINKS:

https://www.amazon.com/JOHN-ANTHONY-MILLER/e/B00Q1U0OKO/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9787380.John_Anthony_Miller

https://twitter.com/authorjamiller

http://johnanthonymiller.net/

Thanks so much, Pam, for the opportunity to chat.

 

A Conversation with Colin J Galtrey

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Colin J Galtrey, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author.

You are very welcome, Colin, please introduce yourself:

Picture2I was born in a small village in the Peak District of Derbyshire. I love travel and meeting people of different nationalities. For many years, I had this book in my head until one day five years ago, I sat down and wrote it. This was my very first book based on a fictitious character by the name of Detective Inspector John Gammon.

The detective books, of which there are four series now with five books to a series, take on John Gammon’s professional and personal life in the villages of the Peak District. It is a very popular collection of books and I have people contact me who actually take holidays in the Peak District on a quest to find the villages and people who are part of the stories, with some success I might add.

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I enjoy writing in many different genres. I have written thrillers, afterlife mysteries, historic time travel, a love story with a twist, and a book on the IRA.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?

I am a self-published author with books on Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub and iBooks.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

A very good friend who encouraged me to write my first book.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

The Peak District, without doubt, influences many of my books.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

For some reason I never get writer’s block. I tend to have between seven to nine books being written at the same time.

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

An established author told me to just write and never worry about grammar or spelling but just let your ideas flow. Then let somebody else take care of the rest.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I enjoy writing at any time.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I can’t imagine my life without writing

If a movie was made of one of your books, who would you like to play the lead roles?

For the detective books and the character of John Gammon, I see somebody in the Cary Grant mould. For the Looking for Shona Trilogy, the first book would be Brad Pitt. For the afterlife thrillers, I see David Nielson ( Roy Cropper from Coronation street).

If you could live the life of an historical figure for one day, who would you choose and what would you get up to?

Possibly John F Kennedy. I would quite like lunch with Marilyn Monroe as I am quite sure their conversation would be interesting.

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

Sixteenth century and the life of a pirate. All the swashbuckling sounds exciting and seeing the world how it was.

You have been chosen as a member of the crew on the first one-way flight to Mars – you are allowed to bring 5 books with you. What would they be?

  • Mein Kampf (Adolf Hitler)
  • The Bible
  • Let’s Dance in the Kitchen (Colin J Galtrey)
  • Freedom and Reality (Enoch Powell)
  • Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

Please tell us about your latest published work.

My latest book, The Stanton Incident, was released on Amazon on the 4th February, 2020. It is a time travel book based on a stone circle on the moor at Stanton in Derbyshire.

Jake Ingis made a mistake the day he entered the Stone Circle known locally as The Nine Ladies. From that day forward everybody he loves will be affected. How can a normal fun-loving young man be pulled into this life? Who is Cynbel and what was a warrior from the past doing on Stanton Moor? Nothing made sense.

Buy Link

If you would like to know more about Colin and his work, please check out the links below:

Facebook: Colin J Galtrey Author

Instagram: thepeakdistrictauthor

Web-site: https://colinjgaltrey.wixsite.com/colingaltrey

 

A Conversation with Olivier Bosman

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Olivier Bosman, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author.

You are very welcome, Olivier, please introduce yourself:

My name is Olivier Bosman and I write the D.S. Billings Victorian Mysteries. Born to Dutch parents and raised in Colombia and England, I am a rootless wanderer with itchy feet. I’ve spent the last few years living and working in The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sudan and Bulgaria, but I have every confidence that I will now finally be able to settle down among the olive groves of Andalucia.

I am an avid reader and film fan (in fact, my study is overflowing with my various dvd collections!)

​I did an MA in creative writing for film and television at the University of Sheffield.  After a failed attempt at making a career as a screenwriter, I turned to the theatre and wrote and produced a play called ´Death Takes a Lover´ (which has since been turned into the first D.S.Billings Victorian Mystery). The play was performed on the London Fringe to great critical acclaim.

I am currently living in Spain where I make ends meet by teaching English .

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I write Victorian mysteries. I love a good mystery. I like creating intrigue and suspense and keeping the readers hooked till the end, and I just love the past. If only I had a time machine, I’d be travelling throughout the ages, never to return to my own time again. My books are set in the late Victorian period, because I was inspired to write Gothic Victorian mysteries after reading Wilkie Collins. There is something irrepressibly appealing about dark gas-lit alleys, and sinister men in top hats, and shifty looking maids lurking in corridors, and enigmatic damsels with long dresses and hidden pasts.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I read all kinds books. Mysteries and literary fiction are my favourite. Combine the two and you get something like Alias Grace or The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood; or The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. I’m currently going through all the Booker Prize nominees.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?

I’m self-published. I like the control it gives, and I get to set my own deadlines, which suits me well, because I’m a slow writer.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

I’ve had an unusual upbringing. My parents are Dutch, but I was born in Colombia, where I lived until I was eleven. Then we moved to England, where I spent my teenage years. I haven’t stayed put since. I don’t feel like I belong in any particular country. I’m a foreigner everywhere I go, and this is reflected in my main character, John Billings, who was brought up in Madagascar by his missionary parents, and got stranded in England aged fourteen when both his parents died. He’s an alien in his own country which helps him see things from a different perspective. But it also means that, along with the fact that he is a homosexual and a Quaker, he is forever an outsider, which makes life hard for him.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

The hardest part is writing the first draft. Getting the words down. If writing were like sculpting, then writing the first draft is akin to sitting on a muddy river bank scraping together the sticky clay and hauling the heavy load back to the workshop. Once the first draft is completed, the fun part starts, which is sculpting and shaping the mass of words into a thrilling little story.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I’m a morning person. If I don’t do any writing before lunch, it won’t get done. My mind ceases to work after lunch time.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I’d be doing something that involved making up stories. Film making, or comic books, or composing songs. I can’t imaging not being able to tell stories.

Please tell us about your latest published work.

D.S. Billings Victorian Mysteries Boxset

Dimly lit cobblestone streets. Sinister looking men in top hats lurking in the fog.

The first three books in the DS Billings Victorian Mysteries Series have been bundled together to chill you to the bone. Detective Sergeant John Billings is an honest and hard working man who has risen swiftly through the ranks to become one of Scotland Yard’s youngest detectives. But in his private life he struggles with the demons of loneliness, morphine addiction and homosexuality. In these mysteries he will lead you on a thrilling journey into the darkest recesses of Victorian society.

viewbook.at/dsbillingsmysteries

https://www.olivierbosman.com/

https://www.facebook.com/olivier.bosman.author

 

A Conversation with Author John Bainbridge

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­one of my favourite authors, John Bainbridge, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author.


You are very welcome, John, please introduce yourself.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Pam. I’m John Bainbridge. I’ve written books in three historical periods, and autobiographical works about my passion for walking in the British countryside

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I write historical mystery thrillers about a Victorian crime fighter called William Quest, who is really a vigilante outside the law who fights against social injustices. I’ve written three Quest novels so far and have just begun the fourth. I’ve also written two novels about a character called Sean Miller, who fights the Nazis in the 1930s. My third series, now complete, is a tetralogy of novels about Robin Hood, The Chronicles of Robin Hood, which tries to root the famous outlaw in medieval reality.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I read books in all sorts of genres, non-fiction as well as fiction. My favourite authors are George Borrow, Daniel Defoe and John Buchan, but I also love pulp fiction authors. I usually read several books at the same time.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?

In the past I wrote a number of books for a conventional publisher, all non-fiction, but with the novels I chose to go Indie. I like the self-control and the better royalties. Though I’d be happy to consider any decent publishing deal in the future, I’d never want editorial interference with the way I write

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Probably John Buchan, who I can re-read over and over again. But there are so many writers who have influenced me in different ways. I like picaresque writers, and Daniel Defoe and George Borrow were also early influences, as was Shakespeare and Dickens. I still re-read writers I discovered in childhood, such as Arthur Ransome and Alan Garner.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

I’ve worked in the past in journalism, where if you don’t do the work, you don’t make any money, so I just sit down and write. Having to pay the bills is a great source of inspiration. I hate doing all the administration that goes with the writing life.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I write first thing in the morning, usually up to 1000 words. Then I run out of steam. In my freelance journalism days, I used to work much longer hours, but not anymore. By the time I fnish my morning shift I’ve done enough.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I’d be spending more time reading books and walking in the countryside. When I was young I wanted to be an actor or a film director. I think if I started again I’d be a lecturer in English Literature or social history, or an archaeologist. I never really had great ambitions to be a writer, I just always did it.

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

It would be nice to go back to Victorian times, as I could understand the mechanics of living there and then. Much of what I like about the Victorian era is that we can still walk through places they would recognise. Look above awful modern shop fronts and you can still see buildings Victorians would recognise. And British social conditions and injustices seem to be heading back to the Victorian worst of worlds.

You have been chosen as a member of the crew on the first one-way flight to Mars – you are allowed to bring 5 books with you. What would they be?

Lavengro by George Borrow; John Macnab by John Buchan; Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe; A Complete Shakespeare; and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Please tell us about your latest published work. 

My latest book is Dangerous Game, a Sean Miller thriller set on Dartmoor in 1937. Here’s the description:

“Sean Miller – a rogue of the first water; a former Army sniper, he seems unable to stay out of a fight. Sean Miller’s on his way back to fight in Spain when he’s diverted to Devon to undertake a mission for renegade members of the German Secret Service, trying to stop the Nazis plunging the world into war. A secret agent lies dead in a moorland river and the one man who can keep the peace is an assassin’s target. As the hunter becomes the hunted in an epic chase, Miller encounters his greatest enemy in a dangerous game of death across the lonely hills of Dartmoor.

A fast-paced action thriller by the author of Balmoral Kill and the William Quest adventures.”

My Amazon author page, which lists all my books, is at https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-Bainbridge/e/B001K8BTHO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

I have a writing and books blog at www.johnbainbridgewriter.wordpress.com

And write about walking and the countryside at www.walkingtheoldways.wordpress.com

 

New Release from Renny deGroot

I am delighted that Renny has dropped by to tell us about her new release, Torn Asunder. Renny, what inspired your story?

As an author of Historical Fiction, I’m fascinated by the human perception of historical events. For example, each of us have family stories of events that took place before our birth and handed down to us. These spoken stories become a part of us, and the details may or may not fit exactly with other stories of the same events and yet we absorb and take for truth those that have been given to us by people we love and trust. While all cultures and families have these stories, in my opinion, no culture does this better than the Irish (and I don’t have a drop of Irish blood coursing through my veins). Dating back to ancient times an Irish story-teller (or a Seanchaí ) was the keeper of the community history, and the tradition of story-telling falls naturally in an Irish family.

My new novel, Torn Asunder draws on this tradition when the main character chooses to fight for the Cause with his pen (ie as a journalist) rather than a rifle. His challenge is his lack of awareness of the power of his words.

Fiercely loyal, Emmet Ryan plays his part in the war against the British to see a free and united Ireland. As a 16-year-old boy, Emmet is thrilled to join his father and brothers in the Finglas Volunteers during the 1916 Easter rebellion. The effects of that week mark Emmet for the rest of his life as he wrestles between his allegiance to his country and loyalty to his family. At times he isn’t sure he’s given enough to the fight until the day he realizes he may have given too much.

The story of Ireland’s birth as a modern nation and her turbulent formative years is woven into the very fabric of this multi-generational family drama.

http://mybook.to/TornAsunder

A Conversation with Historical Fiction Author, Carol Hedges

Today in the library I have a very special guest. I happen to be a huge fan of Carol’s Victorian crime series, so I am really pleased to share this interview with you.
Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?
 
I write Victorian crime fiction. I used to write teenage fiction, until the market got flooded by celebs, and I decided to switch genre. As I read Victorian authors, like Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, etc., and specialized in this era at university, it seemed a natural choice. My series ‘The Victorian Detectives’ is set in 1860s London … mainly because the 1880s is a rather crowded field. I have two main detectives, DI Leo Stride and DS Jack Cully, and a host of other members of Scotland Yard’s Detective Division, plus the populace of London who wander in and out of the books, causing havoc.
 

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others? 

I don’t think you CAN be a writer unless you are a reader. I always have a couple of books on the go. One is usually a research book on some aspect of the Victorian era (currently a book on Lunatic Asylums). Then, true to my genre, I have a couple of crime novels to read. I enjoy Philip Kerr, Kate Atkinson (the Jackson Brodie books), Robert Harris, Donna Leon, Tobias Hill. I’ll sometimes dip into a writer I’ve never come across, if recommended. I like series best ~ you know if you’ve enjoyed one, there are more to follow.

 
Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?
I used to be published by Usborne, when I wrote YA. Now, I am entirely self-published, using Amazon as a platform. My publishing name is Little G Books (named after my granddaughter). I publish in ebook and paperback formats, and I use a professional cover artist to do my wonderful covers. It is definitely worth paying out for good covers. The advantages of self-publishing, for me, is that I have control over pricing, platforms and publicity. The disadvantages are that few mainstream bookshops will take Amazon-generated fiction. But then, as most of my sales come via ebooks, that isn’t a big problem. I don’t ‘owe’ an agent 12% of my earnings, nor a publisher 25%! All good as far as I am concerned.
 
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
My English teacher has probably been my greatest influence, which shows how important schooldays are. Mrs Myles, who taught me in Years 7 & 8, loved the writing process. She used to set us ‘compositions’ every week, giving us a title and then seeing what we produced. It stopped me being terrified of the blank page, and made me think in all sorts of directions. I am so upset that the modern curriculum no longer gives space for free creative writing! I wonder how many writers of the future are being stifled.
 
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
I am a TERRIBLE procrastinator. Given the choice, I’d rather dust behind the fridge than actually write. I have learned, though, to be disciplined, as I know that as soon as I sit down at my computer to write, I will just get on with it … and time will flash by as I do. I gather, from ‘fessing up’ to this on social media, that I am definitely not alone.
 
What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?
I remember reading somewhere that there is no such thing as ‘writer’s block’ ~ it is just a fancy excuse for not writing. Yes. Ouch!
 
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
I like writing in the late morning … and then again late afternoon. If I am editing, I can do it at any time, but I seem to be drawn towards those particular times of day. I do NOT set myself any word limits; if I manage a page or five pages, that is enough. Distractions include: cat taking over writing chair, fish cavorting in the pond below my window and the local goldfinch thug-pack visiting the bird feeders.
 
If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?
I would love to go back to my fictional period: the 1860s. Not sure who I’d be ~ possibly not one of the starving poor, but I’d like to stand in Oxford Street and just watch the passing traffic and people. However much research you do, there is so much more you miss. What did it SMELL like? How did the people SOUND? What were their faces like? We know that any TV/film adaptation of a Victorian novel cannot ever be accurate ~ I find I shout at Ripper Street and The Woman in White, etc., as I know they are presenting a false image. Where are the rotten teeth? The smallpox marks? The clothes are always far too clean, as are the streets. I’d so love to go back, for 24 hours, and see what it was really like. And then come back and write about it!
 
Please tell us about your latest published work. 
Intrigue & Infamy is the 7th book in The Victorian Detectives series. I am currently working on the 8th, Fame & Fortune, to be published later this year.
 
It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers. Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

 

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.  Buy Link

Social Media Links:
Twitter: @carolJhedges

A Conversation with Author Regina Clarke

Today in the Library we have Regina Clarke, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome, Regina, please introduce yourself:

Hi Pam—Thanks so much for having me in the Library! I’ve switched careers three times, but now spend my days writing—just a joy. First, I taught English Lit at a university and then worked as a corporate writer, which often meant moving house, which I’ve done to date (gads) eighteen times to three coasts and overseas. But it wasn’t until I left the corporate workplace behind (happily!), that time and space came into sync and I began to send my fiction out into this real world. That was in 2012, and since then my short stories have appeared in Thrice Fiction, Kzine, Bewildering Stories, Subtle Fiction, Mad Scientist Journal, Over My Dead Body!, T. Gene Davis’s Speculative Blog, and NewMyths, among others. At one point I wanted to be a screenwriter and was a finalist in the Hollywood SCRIPTOID Screenwriter’s Feature Challenge for my script about a mother seeking the disabled child she had abandoned, in “Second Chances.” I began Indie publishing my standalone novels in 2014.

Life includes creative friends and a brilliant, talkative, and very green eclectus parrot named Harry. Home (at last) is in the evocative and hauntingly beautiful Hudson River Valley. It pleases me no end to live not very far from where Rod Serling grew up and Jane Roberts encountered Seth.

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I write in several genres, but have been most recently drawn as a writer to the cozy mystery. I’ve read them all my life but didn’t plan to write one—my usual realms are sci-fi, fantasy, and standard mystery. But I entered a cozy mystery short story contest at Reedsy last December, just for fun. And won their prize—which astonished me! They posted my story on Medium.com and I pinned the story to my Twitter page after that, but when people said I should make it into a book—I just didn’t see how. For months it wasn’t even on my radar.

Then in mid-April, thinking about what to write next, I got this sudden—it felt like a download of a cozy mystery book series, based on that short story—and the plot for Book 1, the cast of characters, including making the main character an amateur archaeologist, the expanded setting of the town and valley, even the red herrings—all of it was clear to me. And within a week I’d set up a reader’s group, created a closed group FB page, and begun writing—it was such a sudden thing. One of my readers asked if she could create a map for the town I’d invented, so I said absolutely and sent her my PowerPoint version with streets and shops and landscape (I am no artist…J ) and so Book 1 has a great map because of her. Now I’m working on the next book in the series, called Messenger Out of Time. It’s set near where I live in a real place, an abandoned state hospital/insane asylum that Ria learns might have been built over a Neolithic village.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I read many genres but for a good while I’ve been focused on reading cozy mysteries. I especially like the Maisie Dobbs mysteries by Jacqueline Winspear that were recently recommended to me, and I have found them enthralling. I also like biography a lot, and alternate history.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?

A long time ago I had some nonfiction traditionally published, but since 2014 I have Indie-published all my books. It is SO incredible and wonderful that writers have this option, this new world to create in, thanks to the platforms out there.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Oh, so hard to narrow it down. So many grand influences teaching me and reminding me of this creative force. I guess I’d best name the ones I look at as bringing happiness over and over again—Ray Bradbury, Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, Shakespeare, Jane Roberts (her Seth books), Stephen Donaldson’s first trilogy, the Venerable Bede, Edgar Cayce, and no question, the Star Trek universe.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

It has, a lot. I was born in England, though I grew up in the U.S. I had an ancestral background in England—I even found my name in a 12th-century charter (of course, it was the male Reginald Clarke, not Regina Clarke, who got mentioned in those days). I’ve visited England often and find there such evocative sense of my roots and of course, the mysterious landscapes of ancient monoliths, especially in Wiltshire and Northumberland and West Riding, Yorkshire. In the U.S. which I’ve travelled through a lot, I have this sense of expansion and open spaces and a different kind of heritage, one shifted out of what Longfellow called “the forest primeval” in a poem, speaking of a New England at the time still mostly unexplored. I feel a deep affinity for all the cultures here, for the music, and the sense of a creativity that seems to exist in the land itself. Both England and the U.S. show up in my writing, one way or the other.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

That would be the element of logic—giving it a proper veneration in the plot! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to track turning points in Agatha Christie’s books to see how she worked it. And not just her—I do that with books by Carolyn Hart, Lynn Cahoon, and Kate Carlisle, among others, not to mention analyzing the plots of Murder, She Wrote, the television series. It helps me remember I really have to have it all make sense!

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

It wasn’t “write what you know,” it was “write what matters to you.” My intent is for the stories and books I write to bring others a good read, a respite from the frenetic pace we sometimes live, and most of all, a path into other ways of seeing.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I do—and discovered it is apparently embedded in me now. I write from 9:30 to 1 p.m., usually seven days a week. Afternoons for a couple of hours or in the late evening I’ll write my essays on Medium.com or edit my stories.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I suspect I’d be a scribe in a monastery somewhere in a past life! In this life? I’d be an archaeologist, hands down. I’ve spent a lot of my life exploring quarries as a teenager and digs and monoliths in England and here.

If a movie was made of one of your books, who would you like to play the lead roles?

That’s a wonderful question—now I have stars in my eyes … I’d have Emily Blunt as Ria, Tom Welling as Gareth.

If you could live the life of an historical figure for one day, who would you choose and what would you get up to?

Merlin. Give almost anything for that. (Always better to say an “almost” when dealing with a real wizard…)

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

The Neolithic period, 6,000 years ago. I spend a lot of time studying and imagining that world. I feel as if I know it, somehow. It played a big part in my novel The Magic Hour, and when I wrote that book I was so immersed I lost track of time completely. I’d give my eyeteeth to get back to the year 4000 B.C. and wander through the Avebury stones, among others.

You have been chosen as a member of the crew on the first one-way flight to Mars – you are allowed to bring 5 books with you. What would they be?

What would I choose? Wow. I’d have to say The New Testament. The Complete Plays of Shakespeare in one volume. Ray Bradbury’s October Country and Dandelion Wine in one volume. Melville’s Moby Dick, and Jane Roberts’ Seth books—these three in one volume: Seth Speaks, The Nature of Personal Reality, and The Unknown Reality.

Please tell us about your latest published work. 

HIDDEN IN STONE: On a cold March day, Ria Quinn, amateur archaeologist, arrives in Shokan Falls in upstate New York to claim an inheritance—but who was Aunt Harriet, her benefactor? No one she has ever heard of! Ria discovers there is a mysterious, prehistoric stone circle in the nearby woods that has an impossible connection to the girl’s boarding school her aunt attended thirty years before. Along with this, on her first day she finds a dead body in the snow, gets an anonymous call in the night, and encounters a set of quirky townspeople with too many secrets. How is she supposed to make sense of any of it? When a second victim is found, Ria wonders if she should just return to London, where until recently she had a lowly job as a film researcher with no dead bodies lying around, no real ones, anyway.

Yet against the sheriff’s orders that she stay clear of his work, Ria intends to find out who the killer is and what link the ancient stone circle has to her aunt’s past.

Hailey, the golden retriever who befriends her, is a joy to have near, reading Beowulf in Old English keeps her calm, and Ria finds the local sheriff more than easy on the eyes, even if he does find her irritating. Those things, together with the gorgeous and ancient Shawangunk and Catskill mountain ranges of the Hudson River Valley, already have a hold on her.

But Ria’s desire to get at the truth threatens someone in Shokan Falls, someone who is willing to put her life at risk.

Buy Link Amazon

LINKS:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/RiaQuinnMysteries/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/ReginaClarke1

Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.com/ReginaJoyceClarke/

Medium:

https://medium.com/@regina.clarke7

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/reginaclarkeauthor/