Hi Rachel, and welcome to Writing in the Sand and the February edition of Accent On ….
Thanks so much for having me as a guest, April. I’m delighted to be one of the first up in your new ‘Accent On’ series.
Your 6th Polvellan Cornish mystery, Moving On is about to be released and I was wondering, when you wrote the first book, Family Matters, did you plan to write a series of 6? And what was the inspiration behind the book/series?
I was offered the chance to contribute a short story to Accent’s Christmas Anthology, ‘Wishing On A Star.’ As a novelist I’m not really good at ‘short’, but the idea appealed and ‘Family Matters’ was the result. It was the longest short story in the anthology! My editor was keen on the idea of a series – we hadn’t decided how many at that point – and I wanted to write something contemporary set in a location I know and love, featuring regular characters that readers would get to know in greater depth over the series with the added intrigue of a mystery for Jess to solve in each book.
I’ll have to get my hands on a copy of the anthology – sounds great! Now, you’ve mentioned Jess – the series features Jess Trevanion who, in book 1 returns, newly widowed, to the village where she grew up. She buys a small neglected cottage and sets up her own dual business, accountancy and researching people’s family trees.Are either/both of these, careers you’ve followed yourself before becoming an author? Or is genealogy something you are interested in as a hobby? Have you researched your own family tree?
My husband was self-employed before he retired. I did his accounts and have always done my own so this was something I knew a little about. I knew nothing at all about genealogy though I have a copy of my father’s family tree compiled by my uncle that goes back to 1759. Family legend says we have links to Robert the Bruce, but I haven’t had time to look. I am fascinated by the discoveries Jess makes when she’s asked to look into someone’s family background. I’d give examples, but they’d be ‘spoilers’ for anyone who hasn’t read the stories.
Intriguing! I’ve started book one, which I’m thoroughly enjoying, and I’m looking forward to finding out more. So, where do you write?
My office is a room in our double-garage with a large window that overlooks fields and woods. At the moment the fields are full of daffodils. But because the bulbs have been in for three years they’ll be dug up in autumn.
Sounds an ideal view for musing over story-lines. And do you prefer to work in silence or are you happy to work with background noise?
Definitely silence. But the weird thing is that my husband can have machinery running or be hammering something in his workshop on the other side of the garage, yet because in my head I’m away in Polvellan, I don’t hear a thing.
And when you’re not writing, what do you like to read, and where is your favourite place for reading?
I enjoy crime, thrillers, political biographies, and the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett who was an absolute genius. I can read anywhere except the bath. A comfy chair, good light, the occasional cuppa, and I’m happy. And I always read before I go to sleep. So many books, so little time!
How true! Those “to be read” bookshelves just seem to keep on growing! I actually love to read in the bath, which is one reason I prefer paperbacks – much less of a problem if I drop it! Do you prefer physical books or an e-reader? And why?
I alternate between the two. An e-reader is wonderfully convenient as it holds so many books, the font size is adjustable, and it fits into a handbag. Yet I still enjoy a physical book, the smell and texture of it. Our monthly mobile library van only carries physical books and I usually borrow 6-8 at a time.
Cornwall makes such a wonderful setting – you can see why its popularity with authors just grows and grows. Are the places mentioned in the series a mixture of real and fictional?
I thought so – I do that myself, dotting fictional villages all over the New Forest, but never far from some real ones. I’d love to know how you came to be published by Accent Press?
About four years ago Lesley Cookman, author of the hugely popular Libby Sarjeant series set in Steeple Martin, mentioned on Facebook that Hazel Cushion, MD of Accent Press was looking for authors of historical fiction. I emailed Lesley, mentioned my publishing history, sent her two titles and asked if she thought Hazel might be interested. Lesley passed them on, and Hazel was. ‘The Consul’s Daughter’ was shortlisted for the 2016 RoNA Historical Prize, and ‘Crosscurrents” was shortlisted for the 2016 Winston Graham Historical Prize.
Sounds like 2016 was a jolly good year! And what can we look forward to next?
I have almost finished writing the seventh in the series, called ‘Silver Linings’ and will start Book 8 immediately as I’m dying to know what happens next.
That’s great news! Congratulations! Below is the Amazon blurb for Moving On. Now I’m determined to read them in order so it’ll take me a while to get to this one, but I’m looking forward to it already …
“When investigator of historical mysteries Jess Trevanion is presented with a painting of a beautiful woman, and asked to identify who it depicts, she jumps at the chance to take her mind off things. Her relationship with Tom Peters isn’t all smooth sailing at the moment – and the painting’s handsome owner, Captain Harry Carveth, is a welcome distraction himself. The painting has been hidden in the Carveth family home for over a hundred years – but why? Jess’s research takes her back to the tumult of nineteenth-century Europe…
Meanwhile, Jess’s friend Mor is gearing up for her wedding to partner Ben – a happy occasion for the village of Polvellan. But just when things might be on the up, one of Jess’s loved ones is rushed into hospital…
The sixth in the warm-hearted Polvellan Mysteries set in beautiful Cornwall.”
Lastly, Rachel, is there anything you’d like to tell readers about yourself which might surprise them?
Well, I was once driven down the motorway at 100 miles an hour in the boot of a Mk 10 Jag driven by two Motor Patrol Officers. (I was a police cadet and it wasn’t my idea)
Also, our village newsagent is teaching me Berber.
Gosh! Well, good luck with the Berber, and with Moving On and the rest of the series. And thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
And next month’s post will put the Accent On … Nope! You’ll just have to wait and see!