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 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

 

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

New Release from Historical Fiction Author John Anthony Miller

Today, I am delighted to share the news that one of my favourite authors has a new release. John Anthony Miller hails from southern New Jersey and his writing is motivated by a life-long love of travel and history. This really does come across in his writing. I loved Honour the Dead and can’t wait to read For Those Who Dare.

For Those Who Dare by John Anthony Miller

East Berlin, August 13, 1961:

Kirstin Beck watches from her townhouse second-floor window as the border with West Berlin is closed, a barbed wire fence strung through the cemetery behind her house. With a grandmother in West Berlin that needs her care, and a daughter given up for adoption sixteen years before that she’s recently found, she must get to West Berlin. Married to a college professor who is also an informant for Stasi – the East German intelligence service – she’s trapped in a cage, caught in a web of world events.

Tony Marino is an American writer living in West Berlin. His apartment abuts the cemetery that the border fence divides. As he watches the construction progress, he sees Kirstin looking from her townhouse window. Casual acquaintances before the border was closed, Kirstin holds up a sign for Tony to see. It states: HELP ME.

This basic communication spawns an evolution of events focused on an escape from East Berlin. Failed attempts, fake passports, a growing list of refugees, and ultimately a tunnel, lead Kirstin and Tony through a kaleidoscope of deceit and danger as she’s determined to attain freedom at any cost.

The two men in Kirstin’s life symbolize the governments they represent: her cold, dogmatic husband from East Berlin, rooted to a rigid philosophy that needs walls to contain its people, and Tony, the brash, optimistic American from West Berlin who rescues her from a world she can’t endure.
Buy Link

 

Penny Dreadfuls – Only a Bit of Fun?

If you enjoyed a good old execution in the 18th or early 19th century, it was possible to buy a crime broadside at the hanging which was produced by specialist printers. These would feature a crude picture of the crime and the culprit, a written account of the crime and trial proceedings and a doggerel, thrown in for good measure. Most of the poor could not read but they enjoyed the lurid pictures, and there was always someone on hand to read out the cautionary poem.

Varney_the_Vampire_or_the_Feast_of_Blood 1845During the Victorian era, however, literacy rates increased. Combined with technological advances in printing and the advent of the railways making wide-spread distribution viable, the demand for cheap, entertaining reading matter increased rapidly. This led to the first penny serials (originally called penny bloods) being published in the 1830s, and by 1850, there were over 100 publishers of penny-fiction. The penny dreadfuls were printed on cheap wood pulp paper and were predominantly aimed at young working class men and boys. They usually had eight pages with black and white illustrations on the top half of the front page. Working-class readers could afford these and they did a roaring trade. In contrast, serialised novels at the time, such as Dickens’ work, cost a shilling (12 pennies) per part and were out of the reach, therefore, of most working class readers.

The subject matter of the penny horrible, penny awful or penny blood was always sensational, usually featuring detectives, criminals or supernatural entitles. Popular characters included Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber, first printed in 1846, who murdered his clients so his neighbour, Mrs Lovett, could cook them in her meat pies. Then there was the endless retelling of Dick Turpin’s exploits and his supposed 200 Pennydreadfulmile ride from London to York in one night! Supernatural characters, such as Varney the Vampire were extremely popular. But the most successful of all time was the Mysteries of London, first published in 1844. It ran for 12 years, 624 numbers (or issues) and nearly 4.5 million words.

Many famous authors began their writing careers writing penny dreadfuls including, GA Sala and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. She reputedly said “the amount of crime, treachery, murder and slow poisoning, and general infamy required by my readers is something terrible.” Many authors took the melodrama of the dreadful and infused it into their later very successful novels.

When highwaymen and evil aristocrats fell out of fashion, true crime, especially murder, was the most popular. These were then overtaken in the popularity stakes by detective stories with the focus on the police rather than the criminal. By the 1860s, the focus changed again and children became the main target audience.

It was easy for the middle and upper classes to look down on the penny dreadfuls as cheap, sensational nonsense. Some even went to far as to blame them for infamous crimes and suicide. But I suspect many read them surreptitiously – for who doesn’t enjoy a good yarn now and then?

In No Stone Unturned, Lucy’s maid, Mary, is huge fan of the penny dreadfuls and cheap sensational novels. Lucy, feeling obliged to look out for her maid’s moral welfare (so she claims!), often reads these books and thoroughly enjoys them, too. When the women’s lives are in danger, Mary comes to the fore with her penchant for intrigue and spying. Lucy suspects Mary’s favourite reading material may be at the root of it.

No Stone Unturned is the first book in the Lucy Lawrence Mystery Series.

NoStone-EBOOK

A suspicious death, stolen gems and an unclaimed reward: who will be the victor in a deadly game of cat and mouse?

London October 1886: Trapped in a troubled marriage, Lucy Lawrence is ripe for an adventure. But when she meets the enigmatic Phineas Stone, over the body of her husband in the mortuary, her world begins to fall apart.

When her late husband’s secrets spill from the grave and her life is threatened by the leader of London’s most notorious gang, Lucy must find the strength to rise to the challenge. But who can she trust and how is she to stay out of the murderous clutches of London’s most dangerous criminal?

Amazon Buy Link

Death by Coffin!

For any lover of the Victorian era, London’s most famous cemeteries hold endless fascination. My favourites are Highgate and Kensal Green with their eerie Gothic and Neo-classical architecture. The Victorian obsession with death, the after-life and spiritualism, sparked the trend for highly decorated tombs and crypts. Heartbreaking inscriptions, lichen-encrusted headstones and mournful statuary lend a melancholy air to these places. It’s no wonder they feature so much in Gothic fiction. As I researched my latest novel, No Stone Unturned, I delved a little deeper into the history.

Both cemeteries were built in response to London’s population explosion in the early part of the 19th century which had resulted in graveyards being crammed in between shops and houses with little control over the number of corpses being interred. The smell these sites generated was described as terrible.

With public health at risk, Parliament passed a statute for seven new private cemeteries to be opened in the countryside around the city boundary. These included Highgate and Kensal Green.

Highgate Cemetery

shutterstock_663498790
Photo Credit: Dan Bridge

Highgate is probably the most famous of all the Gothic cemeteries. In May 1839, it was dedicated to St James by the Lord Bishop of London. Of the seventeen acres, fifteen were consecrated for members of the Church of England and the remaining two acres were set aside for ‘Dissenters’ (everyone else). Elizabeth Jackson, aged thirty-six, was the first ever burial in Highgate in May 1839.

London’s wealthy invested heavily in the cemetery due to its amazing views over London (highest point 375 feet above sea level) and its unique architecture and landscaping.

Kensal Green Cemetery

“For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen; Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.” G.K. Chesterton’s poem The Rolling English Road.

Kensal Green was opened by the Bishop of London on 24th January 1833 and was the first commercial cemetery in London. The first burial was the same month.

A competition for the design of the cemetery was held and the winning entry was for a Gothic style, however, the Chairman of the General Cemetery Company had other ideas. The final design was Neo-classical. As in Highgate, the burial grounds were divided up between the Church of England and the Dissenters. 

Killed by a coffin
Illustrated Police News, 2nd November 1872

An Unfortunate Death!

A pallbearer by the name of Henry Taylor met a tragic end in Kensal Green. While carrying a coffin, he missed his footing and stumbled. His fellow pallbearers let go of the coffin which fell on poor Henry, killing him instantly.

Here is the description from The Illustrated Police News, November 1872:

“KILLED BY COFFIN. Dr. Lancaster held an inquest Saturday evening at the University College Hospital, London, on the body Henry Taylor, aged 60. The evidence of E. J. Heading, undertaker’s foreman, and others showed that on the 19th inst. deceased, with others, was engaged at a funeral at Kensal-Green Cemetery. The Church service having been finished, the coffin and mourners proceeded in coaches towards the place of burial. The day being damp, the foreman directed the coaches with the mourners to proceed to the grave by the foot-way, and the hearse across the grass towards a grave-digger, who was motioning the nearest way. The coffin was moved from the hearse and being carried down a path only three feet six wide, by six bearers, when orders were given to turn, so that the coffin, which was what is known in the trade as a four pound leaden one, should head first. While the men were changing, it is supposed that deceased caught his foot against a side stone and stumbled; the other bearers, to save themselves, let the coffin go, and it fell with great force on to deceased, fracturing his jaws and ribs. The greatest confusion was created among the mourners who witnessed the accident, and the widow of the person about to be buried nearly went into hysterics. Further assistance having been procured the burial service was proceeded with, while deceased was conveyed to a surgery, and ultimately to the above mentioned hospital, where he expired on the 24th inst. The jury recommended that straps should be placed round coffins, which would tend to prevent such accidents. Verdict—accidental death. “

Sadly, although Henry lost his life in Kensal Green, it appears he was not buried there.

♦♦♦

In No Stone Unturned, my heroine Lucy Lawrence buries her husband Charlie in Kensal Green. A mysterious mourner at the graveside soon turns her life upside-down as Charlie’s dirty secrets spill from the grave …

No Stone Unturned is the first book in the Lucy Lawrence Mystery Series.

NoStone-EBOOKA suspicious death, stolen gems and an unclaimed reward; who will be the victor in a deadly game of cat and mouse?

London October 1886: Trapped in a troubled marriage, Lucy Lawrence is ripe for an adventure. But when she meets the enigmatic Phineas Stone, over the body of her husband in the mortuary, her world begins to fall apart.

When her late husband’s secrets spill from the grave and her life is threatened by the leader of London’s most notorious gang, Lucy must find the strength to rise to the challenge. But who can she trust and how is she to stay out of the murderous clutches of London’s most dangerous criminal?

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The Blue Velvet Sapphires of Kashmir

No Stone Unturned, is the first in my Victorian mystery series featuring Lucy Lawrence. As I started to research, I stumbled across the story of the famous Kashmiri sapphires. I could not believe my luck. It is a fascinating story and got me thinking: what would a scurrilous Victorian rascal do if he got his hands on some …

karakash_river_in_the_western_kunlun_shan_seen_from_the_tibet-xinjiang_highway-1
Kashmir Landscape: Photo Credit Nick Kent-Basham[/caption]

Treasure in the Hills: A mountainous region of Kashmir, known as Padar, held a fabulous secret. It is a remote region high in the Himalayas, well off the beaten track. Various stories abound as to how it finally revealed its treasure-trove; some say a landslide, others that hunters or travellers came across the first stones lying on the ground. Not knowing what they were, the gems were traded for salt and other supplies in Delhi. Eventually, they were sold on to someone who recognised they were rough sapphires. Many transactions followed until they eventually turned up in Calcutta.

2263ff92-48af-11e4-85c0-e01c50cfcd63-2The news of this transaction got back to the maharajah in Kashmir, who discovered the sapphires had originated in his area. Extremely annoyed, he went to Calcutta and demanded them back. Every single transaction in the long train had to be undone. Each man who had sold the sapphires gave back what he paid, and so it went through many towns, until at Delhi, a merchant received back a few bags of salt (not his lucky day!).

Still miffed, the Maharajah of Kashmir sent a regiment of sepoys to take control of the mines to ensure no more precious stones went astray. During the life of the mines, the yield was disappointingly low and commercial mining ceased early in the 20th century. Their rarity and the fact they are exceptionally beautiful, with a texture like velvet, has led them to be the most prized and expensive sapphires in the world.

Buy Link: No Stone Unturned

A Conversation with Author John Anthony Miller

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­John Anthony Miller, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author. You are very welcome, John. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hello, Pam – and thanks for having me.

photoI live in the U.S., in southern New Jersey, and my writing is motivated by a life-long love of travel and history. My fifth book, Honour the Dead, a historical murder mystery set in Italy in the 1920’s, has just been published. A Conversation with Author John Anthony Miller