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 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

Next Stop – King’s Cross Underground!

Early History of King’s Cross

The area now known as King’s Cross is reputedly an ancient crossing point of the River Fleet, and it is believed to be the site of the legendary battle between the Romans and Queen Boudicca. The queen’s resting place is said to be under Platform Nine of the present station. The locality remained predominantly rural during the 18th century and was a popular retreat for Londoners availing of its health spas and country inns. Next Stop – King’s Cross Underground!

The Blue Velvet Sapphires of Kashmir

My latest novel, 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 …

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Kashmir Landscape: Photo Credit Nick Kent-Basham

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.

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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!).

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Padar Mine 1890

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.

 

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Victorian 4.3 Carat Diamond and Kashmir Sapphire Ring
 

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?

Amazon Buy Link

The Unfortunate Career of Henry Edgar, Cat Burglar (1811-?)

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Set of Victorian Skeleton Keys

London born Henry Edgar, had the dubious honour of earning the nickname, in police circles, of ‘Edgar the Escaper’. Unfortunately, no photograph exists, but he was described by the police as five feet seven, of fair complexion with large features, brown hair and a gentlemanly appearance. Not being a particularly successful thief, he did become famous for being difficult to hold; he was often caught but somehow always managed to escape. The Unfortunate Career of Henry Edgar, Cat Burglar (1811-?)