There was a moment in time when I thought I would never reach this point. That this book would never make it beyond the draft stage. There were times, in fact, when I wanted to throw the towel in and admit the whole thing wasn’t working. However, us writer’s are made of sterner stuff and despite a good portion of 2022 being taken up with hospital tests followed by many weeks waiting for the results, I soldiered on. It wasn’t always easy. There were stops and starts but eventually I could see the end of the tunnel. And now, here we are, the book is out tomorrow in both e-book and paperback.
This is the final book of my Cornish coastal trilogy. It was never planned that way. Originally Shadows on the Water was supposed to be a one off. But as I wrote, I could see the potential for two more novels. A Kingswater Summer was published in 2021 and I began working on book 3 in late ’21/early ’22. The idea was to have this, the final book ready by early summer for publication in August. That, of course didn’t happen. It’s a spring publication in 2023 instead.
I’m happy that I’m leaving my three girls in a good place – Ava with her vineyard heir Alex, Kiera with TV hero Jake and finally Hayley with photographer Nick. They’ve all had to work hard for their happiness – yes I’m a hard mistress and certainly put them through a lot of difficult situations before they finally found their happy ever afters.
So what’s next? Not sure at the moment. I began writing commercially in 2009. My first book was too big to publish as one story, so I expanded it and it became a series of books instead. I have withdrawn all four of them from Amazon and intend to update each one, including new cover designs. The other option is to move on with a new project. So far I’ve located my books in West Somerset, South Devon, and both north and south Cornwall. Growing up in the West Country, I have always based my writing there, but strangely never in Wiltshire, where I spent most of my childhood. So there is another county, which I might consider. Before I make my decision, however, I’m concentrating on this final Cornish story. If you plan to download and read, or purchase a paperback, then I hope you enjoy it. And if you have time, please leave a review – a few lines will do.
After her father’s tragic death, abandoning thoughts of university, Hayley supported her mother with the day to day running of the Estuary House Hotel in Kingswater. Now, she is ready to return to her studies, but before that there’s a summer to enjoy.
When the luxury yacht, Odyssey, drops anchor in the Kingswater estuary, with Adam Davenport and his friends on board, Hayley has no idea about the impact they will have on her life. Spending time with Adam, she realises that despite having money and privilege he is very unhappy. Instinctively wanting to help him, she finds herself up against two huge barriers: his sinister friend Damian and Adam’s own capricious nature.
Nick Pallister is a young photographer staying at Estuary House while working on an assignment for the Cornish Tourist Board. On occasions Hayley ferries him upriver to find locations for wildlife shots. Kind, funny and easy on the eye, she is unaware of the danger as she gradually begins to fall under his spell.
When Nick unexpectedly checks out, taking steps to make sure he cannot be traced, Hayley comes to the painful conclusion she has merely been a summer fling. Days later, Adam takes a taxi into Truro and disappears. Despite an extensive police search, he is never found.
Six years have passed, and Hayley is settled and happy with a small daughter, Amelie. Thoughts of that summer long gone. Nick Pallister’s unexpected arrival at the hotel both surprises and angers her. Determined to get some answers, she is unaware that he may have questions of his own; ones that could easily jeopardise the new life she has built for herself and her daughter.
Set on the south coast of Cornwall, The Secrets We Keep is a story of lost love, secrets and second chances.
Available in e-book at £1.99 (UK) and paperback on Amazon
Today, I’m pleased to welcome author Rachel Brimble onto my blog to talk about her writing journey – and what an incredible one it has been…
Almost Fifteen Years And I’m Still Going Strong…
When my first novel, a contemporary romantic suspense called Searching For Sophie was published by The Wild Rose Press in 2007, I had not thought much further than writing this first book. It had been my dream to become a published novelist since I read Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series when I was about eight or nine, so I was ecstatic when my very first attempt at writing a novel was accepted by a publisher.
Within a month or two of the book’s release, I became aware that the writing bug (or curse!) had got me. I was desperate to get back to the keyboard and start writing my next book! Of course, I didn’t know anything about the publishing industry, how it worked or just how much more an author needs to do than actually write! The next book was published in 2008 (Reluctant Witness) and I knew then that writing was now a big part of me, and it wasn’t going away anytime soon.
Being the newbie I was, I did not promote these two books AT ALL, wrongly assuming that my publisher would take care of the marketing/selling side of things, leaving me free to get on and write the next book. Of course, that is not the case at all and so with book three (The Arrival of Lily Curtis) came the additional job of learning about promotion/social media/bloggers etc, but all too soon I was on my way and striving to become a bona fide author who actually sold a few books!
Which I can happily call myself today having had 28 novels published to date as well as magazine articles and founding my First Chapter Critique service for aspiring romance and women’s fiction authors (https://rachelbrimble.com/first-chapter-critique-service/ ). Which, I have to say, is one of my proudest achievements to date. Helping writers achieve a dream that I understand only too well is just an amazing blessing and hearing of their successes makes me so, so happy!
The publication of Victoria & Violet is a huge triumph for me as it is the realisation of a long-held ambition of writing a novel that included real people and events. Even though the idea for this book (and series) had been in my mind for a while, I was just too scared to start writing it. Why? I was unsure how much I could or was allowed to fictionalise and couldn’t help but worry than I would be criticized by the many readers who love the Victorian age and British royalty.
But it was hopeless to keep fighting this huge wish inside of me to write a book set in a young Queen Victoria’s court and I am so glad I took the leap! I adored writing this book and especially the scenes with Queen Victoria. She became a huge part of my life and consciousness for six months and this book will always be very special to me. The reviews so far have been fabulous so – fingers crossed – I’ve got the storytelling just right…happy reading!
VICTORIA AND VIOLET
It should be a dream come true to serve the Queen of England…
When Violet Parker is told she will be Queen Victoria’s personal housemaid, she cannot believe her good fortune. She finally has the chance to escape her overbearing mother, a servant to the Duchess of Kent.
Violet hopes to explore who she is and what the world has to offer without her mother’s schemes overshadowing her every thought and action.
Then she meets James Greene, assistant to the queen’s chief political adviser, Lord Melbourne. From entirely different backgrounds and social class, Violet and James should have neither need nor desire to speak to one another, yet through their service, their paths cross and their lives merge—as do their feelings.
Only Victoria’s court is not always the place for romance, but rather secrets, scandals, and conspiracies…
Available in ebook, audiobook, paperback and on Kindle Unlimited.
As snow falls on the small town of Lost Creek, Colorado, a three-year-old boy is found playing quietly in his car seat, his mother, cold as ice, slumped against the steering wheel in front. Tearing herself away from reconnecting with her special agent father who abandoned her for his career, Detective Madison Harper is haunted by the fear in the boy’s sky-blue eyes, and vows to find justice for this innocent child, left motherless just days before Christmas.
Madison works around the clock on her only clue: a perfect circle of clean glass found on the car’s rear window. But she’s stopped in her tracks the moment another mother is found dead outside a church during Midnight Mass, her young boy left sucking his thumb on the frozen ground beside her. It can’t be a coincidence.
The need to spare the children might hint to the suspect being a woman, but the deeper Madison digs, the closer she gets to a serial killer her own father spent a lifetime chasing. Has the killer followed her father here? Could Madison, single mother to a son herself, be next?
As a blizzard closes in, wreaking havoc on the investigation, Madison hits the same dead ends her father did all those years ago. But when her closest friend goes missing, Madison must dive into the mind of this twisted soul and risk it all to stop another heart-shattering tragedy. But will she make it in time?
Wendy is the bestselling author of the Detective Madison Harper crime series.
She is a former coroner’s assistant turned crime writer who writes a mixture of standalone thrillers, crime series and short stories. Some of her books have been shortlisted and longlisted for various writing competitions and awards, including the Mslexia novel competition and the International Thriller Writer Awards.
You can find more information on her website: wendydranfield.co.uk
This is the fifth book in the Detective Madison Harper series and is every bit as gripping as the previous four. It begins with a killer who murders a woman in a parking lot but leaves her small son alive. Straight away the story plunges you into the investigation, with Madison determined to find the perpetrator. When a second woman is murdered under similar circumstances, she begins to wonder whether a serial killer is operating in Shadow Falls.
All the familiar faces are there: Madison and her team, her son Owen, father Bill who has recently returned from Alaska, as well as Nate Monroe and his dog Brody.
It’s a complex plot. Nothing is as it seems. It’s well written, with the usual twists and turns and red herrings which predictably take you in the wrong direction. One thing I love about Wendy’s writing is the detail. It gives an authenticity that leaves the reader feeling they are actually there with Madison. Bill and Nate’s sub plots dovetail in well to the main story, which as usual, ends with a situation that tells us Madison will be back. It’s Wendy Dranfield at her best – another great five star read!
My thanks to Wendy, Bookouture and Netgalley for an ARC of Catch Her Death in exchange for an honest review.
Rain rattles through the trees as she leans into the car, careful not to touch anything. Two pretty blue eyes stare back through the dark, wide with relief, or maybe fear. A baby girl, wrapped up in a pink snowsuit, reaches out a tiny hand. Her mother is nowhere to be found…
An abandoned baby is the last thing Detective Madison Harper expects to find as she drives to her first day back at work since the case that ripped her life apart. But as she cradles the shivering child close, all her instincts tell her there’s something more sinister at play. Then she finds a lone sneaker down a muddy trail nearby, the laces spattered with blood…
In a town as small as Lost Creek, Colorado, the baby and the shoe are quickly identified as belonging to Kacie Larson, a waitress at the local diner who quietly stashed away her tips to make a better life for her daughter. A mother herself, Madison can’t believe that Kacie would just abandon her child, but she also can’t convince her new team. Not for the first time, Madison feels she must go it alone to get the job done.
But when a body is pulled from a nearby lake, and it’s not Kacie, the case takes an agonizing turn. Is this missing mother really who she says she is? Is there a chance she’s still alive? Madison barely has time to think before the sweet little girl she rescued is snatched on a crowded street. Gone, in the blink of an eye.
To break this case and earn her place back on the force, Madison must learn to trust her team, and herself again—and fast. If she doesn’t find this twisted individual in time, a little girl could die…
A pulse-pounding, absolutely gripping and totally addictive page-turner that will have you racing through the pages and reeling at the twists. Perfect for fans of Melinda Leigh, Lisa Regan and Kendra Elliot, you’ll be sleeping with the lights on!
Wendy is a former coroner’s assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK with her husband and 3 cats.
Her first novel (The Girl Who Died) was longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition. Since then she has written two crime series – one follows Officer Dean Matheson on his quest to make detective, and the other is her current series which follows Detective Madison Harper as she tries to reclaim her life after spending six years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.
As well as crime novels Wendy also has short stories published in various anthologies in the UK and the US, and she has been shortlisted and longlisted for various writing competitions.
This is the third book in the Detective Madison Harper series. On her way to her first day back at Lost Creek Police Department, she discovers a baby girl in the back of a crashed car. Who is she? Why has she been abandoned? And where is her mother? The blood in the front of the vehicle is concerning.
I love Wendy Dranfield’s novels. She provides the reader with great characters and a plot with twists and turns aplenty. Nothing is straightforward and the shocks and surprises are many as the suspense mounts during the search for the abandoned baby’s mother. Of course, a Maddison Harper novel would not be complete without her friend Nate and dog Brody. In Little Girl Taken, Nate plays a more central role, and confronts a nemesis who has taunted him since his release from jail.
This is a well written, edge of the seat thriller with surprises aplenty. Since joining Bookouture, Wendy’s writing has gone from strength to strength. Looking forward to what’s next in store for Madison and Nate.
From the international bestselling author of If you love me, I’m yours, Ninja School Mum and Babe Driven.
Genie’s family is in crisis. Their seafront business is failing with the loss of Genie’s grandmother and her legendary ice cream flavours. Genie is determined to be the one to save her family’s heritage, but suddenly her mother wants to sell to developers and leave their shared history behind.
Buying the business and taking on a sixty-eight year old business partner, Ada, with a mysterious past and a gorgeous but distracting grandson, Genie sets out to prove her parents wrong.
Ada’s grandson, Cal, wants to protect his gran from ‘pensioner persuader’, Genie, but soon realises that living in a little seaside town and away from the paparazzi in Hollywood can actually give him time to heal. Hiding in a seafront business with its fiery owner and working as kitchen staff, is the only way he can think of to keep his ex-Hollywood glamour-puss, gran from harm. But his meddling might also ruin Ada’s second chance at love.
Hiring a private detective and learning about Genie’s parent’s past makes Cal regret his own impulsiveness. The information he has unearthed could destroy their blossoming romance and turn Genie’s world upside down.
Genie soon discovers that friends can become enemies and your closest family can have lied to you for your whole life.
An English romance, full of humour, family life and second chances at love.
International bestselling author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex. Visit her website at http://www.lizziechantree.com or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree.
You thought your little girl was safe at summer camp. You were wrong…
When Detective Madison Harper arrives at a remote summer camp in Shadow Falls, northern California, her heart breaks for Jenny, the sweet little girl last seen splashing in the lake with her friends before she vanished. Peering into the silent cabins filled with rows of neatly made beds, Madison knows this idyllic place is hiding a terrible secret.
The girl’s parents are distraught, and the local police have no leads—they desperately need Madison’s help. She’ll do whatever it takes to crack this case, because it’s the only way back to the son she lost to the care system years ago when she was framed for a crime she didn’t commit.
But with the camp staff keeping tight-lipped and her new partner on the edge of a breakdown, Madison can’t find any truth to her instinct that there is more to Jenny’s perfect parents than meets the eye. Until she discovers a disturbing family portrait Jenny drew at the local library. Was this angelic girl more troubled than anybody knew? Was she in danger from those she trusted most?
One thing is certain, if Madison doesn’t find the answers soon, the lives of more innocent children will be at risk…
An absolutely unputdownable crime thriller that will keep you up all night! Perfect for fans of Lisa Regan, Robert Dugoni and Melinda Leigh.
Wendy is a former coroner’s assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK with her husband and 3 cats.
As well as her two crime series and the YA crime novel – The Girl Who Died – Wendy has several short stories published in UK and US anthologies. She has also been shortlisted and longlisted for various competitions, including the Mslexia Novel Competition.
I’ve read quite a few psychological thrillers this year. Many promise the reader an ‘unputdownable read’ or an ‘edge of your seat experience’. Some live up to those promises, some don’t. Shadow Falls, Wendy Dranfield’s debut for Bookouture delivers all of that and more. It is indeed an unputdownable read with a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat from page one until ‘The End’. I’ve read her other three thrillers and really enjoyed them, but this book seems to have elevated her writing to another level.
Central characters Nate and Madison come with baggage. They’ve been in prison, both wrongly convicted. So, as well as their first case, to find a missing twelve-year-old, the need to prove their innocence is an issue for both of them. Madison also needs to find her son who was taken into care when she was imprisoned. It’s an easy read and the characters are well developed. Nate was studying to be a priest when he was arrested and imprisoned for murder and Madison was a serving policewoman when she was incarcerated. New evidence has seen Nate released with massive financial compensation while Madison served her term and is all but broke. Wanting someone to help her clear her name and also find her son Owen, she approaches Nate. She also needs a job, and figures that with his similar background he might employ her to work for him. He already has his first case – to find a missing child – and she convinces him with her police background she could be useful. Nate eventually agrees.
In the beginning they tend to rub each other up the wrong way but each brings their own individual talents to the partnership and as the book progresses, they begin to settle down together. In their search for missing twelve-year-old Jennifer Lucas, there are false trails, shocks and surprises, all of which keep you on track, wanting to know what exactly did happen to her. It’s a brilliantly written story and I’m really looking forward to the second book which comes out in February. Oh, and as a postscript if you loved Rocky in her Dean Matheson series I’m sure you will love Brody too.
Detective Dean Matheson has returned to his hometown to begin his new job and put the traumatic events of his past behind him – but his fresh start won’t last long when the local area is hit by a series of strange disappearances and twisted killings … A nameless girl badly beaten and dumped in front of the mysterious new church. A shocking murder scene discovered in the apartment over the diner. A child missing without a trace. These are the crimes Dean Matheson is confronted with in his first week as detective. Are they isolated events, or is something altogether more disturbing happening in Maple Valley now that Dean’s back in town?
Wendy is a former coroner’s assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK with her husband. As well as the Dean Matheson crime series and the YA crime novel – The Girl Who Died – Wendy has several short stories published in UK and US anthologies. She has also been shortlisted and longlisted for various competitions, including the Mslexia Novel Competition.
You can catch up with Wendy on FACEBOOK and TWITTER
OTHER BOOKS IN THE DEAN MATHESON SERIES…
A series of suspicious suicides may be the work of a crafty serial killer in this debut thriller novel featuring Officer Dean Matheson. When the body of an unidentified woman is found hanging from a tree in the woods of Maple Valley, it looks like a clear case of suicide. But Officer Dean Matheson is unconvinced. Maybe he’s just looking for that big case that will help him make detective. Maybe he’s just trying to avoid his rocky marriage. Or maybe he’s really on to something. Because the closer Matheson looks at the facts of the case, the less they add up.
Then more apparent suicides start cropping up. The victims are all women living on the fringes of society—addicts and criminals nobody would miss. Does anyone really care if they die? Matheson is making it his business to care, and that’s about to make him a target . . .
A gripping thriller you won’t want to miss this Autumn “You want to know what I’ve learnt after living in Lone Creek all my life? I know the snow bleeds here …” Former police officer Dean Matheson has been playing it safe since the case that cost him almost everything. But working as a PI doesn’t quite cut it, that is until a British woman walks into his office with a job that Dean can’t resist. The woman’s daughter, Hannah Walker, and her friend Jodie have gone missing whilst working at a ski resort in Colorado. It’s clear there’s something sinister about the girls’ disappearance, but then why are the local police department being so unhelpful? So begins Dean’s journey to Lone Creek on the trail of the missing girls – and he’ll soon find out that in Lone Creek, everyone has something to hide …
Today I’m hosting fellow author Jane Risdon who has dropped in to chat about her work. I pitched a series of questions to her and these are Jane’s responses…
Hi Jo, thanks for asking me back on to your fab blog. I really enjoy visiting and discovering what you will ask me next. A challenge is always such fun. I do hope your readers enjoy my latest offering.
What attracts me to writing crime?
Well, for starters it is not the blood and guts or the horror of crime, whether it is a murder, fraud, or some other law breaking. I’ve had to think hard about this question but I think it is the puzzle at the heart of most crimes: who did it, how, why, and sometimes even when and where? They’re all questions I like to be asked as a reader, and which I endeavour to ask and eventually answer in my own writing.
I don’t write police procedures and I don’t get into the psychological why and wherefores with my characters. I lay a series of clues and red-herrings often, as the crime unfolds, and I try to keep the reader guessing, engaged and trying to solve it themselves right until the end.
I also read a lot of espionage thrillers for the very same reasons I love reading crime stories.
When I read crime stories or I watch crime series on television I like to be entertained and challenged. I want to ask myself the same questions I want my readers to ask of my writing. I want to be led through a series of questions and situations which make me think, make me try to get inside the head of the criminal and the crime-fighter, but I do not want is spelled out for me and I don’t want to be lectured to or have a just ending where everyone lives happily ever after, the criminal behind bars and all is well with the world – unless it suits the story.
I cannot abide the PC content of some books and TV series. Life is horrid at times and I don’t want it wrapped up nicely with everyone being placated and for it all to end tidily and with explanations as to what drove the Fred Wests or Myra Hindleys of this world to do what they did. There is evil in people. At the end of the day knowing why isn’t really going to change a thing – in my humble opinion.
Prevention is another matter, but sadly we cannot monitor every psychopath in case they commit a murder or another type of crime, just in case they offend. We cannot know in advance who will become a murderer or criminal from the time of their birth. There may be clues, but as I said we can hardly go around locking people up in-case they offend at some point in the future because they might or might not have a wonky gene, or their parents beat them, or were divorced or whatever. This begs the question nature or nurture, and we cannot categorically answer that one as far as I am aware.
I write about the crime, the commission of it and the detection (sometimes), and the final consequences. But, I don’t feel the need for the criminal to be caught and punished for the crime, or for the reader to have things tied things up nicely at the end of a story. When I read I like to think, do my own investigation as I read and come to my own conclusions. This is what attracts me to crime. I also love General Knowledge quizzes and wonder if that is another manifestation of this quirk of mine!
I love a challenge and to pit my wits. I’d like my readers to enjoy this too. I absolutely love trying to devise the crime, the clues, and the twists and turns in my stories, leading my readers one way and then another. It gives me brain-ache when plotting, but so much fun and satisfaction too.
Have I attended any professional courses to help with my writing?
My answer in short is yes. But you know I can’t leave it there.
Anyone writing about crime cannot fail to realise at some point that their knowledge of crime detection and investigation is somewhat limited and unless you’ve had a career in Criminal Justice or Forensic Science information is possibly based upon what you’ve have already read – other crime writers – or from what you’ve have seen on TV in series such as CSI – which, by the way, is nothing like the reality of Crime Scene Investigation. So much so, that juries have been thought to be suffering from the ‘CSI effect,’ when considering evidence in real life cases and that they believe what they’ve seen in such series to be accurate and truthful and this is thought to be impacting the workings of the Criminal Justice System.
I realised several years ago that my knowledge was possibly inaccurate or outdated and based on fictional series and books I’d read. I also realised from reading authors such as Kathy Reichs – a real life Forensic Anthropologist – I didn’t want to make a complete fool of myself writing about things of which I knew little. Also, with constant strides in technology it was obvious to me that what was fact and the ‘norm,’ many years ago, was now out-dated because of the latest technology and thinking about detection and the latest forensic advances. I don’t write what I call ‘blood and guts’ descriptions or ‘police procedurals,’ but for my own satisfaction I wanted to know, to be as accurate as I can be. Knowing what, why, and how, helps my writing, especially plotting; what is and isn’t possible, believable and so on.
In 2015 I decided I needed to update my knowledge. I didn’t have time to become a full-time student, although I’d have loved to have studied Forensic Science and Criminal Justice in more depth had I been years younger and not had a career in the international music business, but sometimes we discover these interests many years too late. After doing a lot of research I discovered I could study these topics in my own time and with universities who offered courses to people like me. Not only did top universities welcome older students but I also got the benefit of the tutorship of lecturers at the top of their profession and acknowledged experts in their field.
I enrolled with several universities to study Forensic Science, Criminal Justice and Archaeology designed for those who required basic and thorough knowledge without taking exams. Having said that I was tested weekly and graded and these grades could be used towards any full university courses taken in the future. I studied for almost three years at my own pace during which time I had access to the tutors for advice and help at any time, should I require it.
The courses I have taken – chosen for my particular interests – are:
Introduction to Forensic Science (the background to the science and methods/technology available).
Forensic Science and Human Identification (this meant identifying the dead from nothing more than a collection of bones in a shallow grave) taking things through to a conviction for murder having investigated the body, the cause of death, ethnicity, sex, age and so on of a real life victim. It covered so many areas of forensics including cut and saw marks etc., gunshot and ballistic identification, blood splatter, DNA, fingerprints and so on. Not for the squeamish as there were dead bodies and body parts involved as well as a post mortem video and photos.
Forensic Science and Criminal Justice (how forensics is used in crime detection and conviction). We investigated real cases as well as miscarriages of justice, including famous cases such as Jill Dando’s murder.
Forensic Psychology and Witness Investigations (how to interrogate witnesses under PACE regulations, take statements and evidence from witnesses, and how to investigate their statements and evidence: what is allowed during interviews and how time can alter eye-witness testimony).
Forensic Science: Facial Reconstruction – Finding Mr X (real life identification of a victim) building a face from a skull.
Forensic Science and Criminal Justice – From Crime to Punishment (another real life investigation)
Archaeology: From Dig to Lab and Beyond (Vale of Pewsey Dig).
Many hours of study and lots of tests later I received an average of 98% overall in my marks. Considering I haven’t really studied since leaving school in the 1960s I still pinch myself in disbelief. The cases we studied were real and some well-known. I loved it.
I’m so glad I studied all this because when I wrote the stories for Undercover: Crime Shorts (Plaisted Publishing), I was so pleased to be able to use various everyday devices to kill my victims – in believable, quite mundane ways – and to work out how to enable the perpetrators to be far away from the scenes of the sudden deaths without coming under suspicion.
Who is my favourite crime writer and why?
Oh cripes, I wish I could answer this one with just one name. I don’t think I have one in particular, I like so many for such different reasons.
I mentioned Kathy Reichs. I love her books because she is a professional, a Forensic Anthropologist who knows her stuff and she is still working in that field. She can also tell a great tale and often her stories are based on her cases – heavily disguised I am sure – and she is not gory in her detail as some writers are and I don’t like that. I try not to have blood and guts all over my writing, I like to leave it to the reader to fill in the gaps. She does this brilliantly, for me.
I love the English writers such as Peter May, Peter James and Peter Robinson (what is with all these Peters?) and recent favourites and Facebook friends are Roger A Price, R C Bridgestock, and David Videcette.
I love these writers because they have a series of characters who appear in their books and I like getting to know them, they feel like old friends, and so when I read their stories I know their backgrounds, their likes, and idiosyncrasies. It is like getting back into a favourite item of clothing when I open their books.
Of course, I love Agatha Christie and she is the reason I adore crime stories. I began reading her as a youngster aged about 10, I think.
I could list dozens more including Michael Connolly and David Baldacci, and of course don’t get me started on espionage thriller writers, we’d be here all day, but let me mention Stella Rimington, who was the first female director of MI5 and a fab writer.
Who is my favourite crime solver?
Ye Gods! I’m not sure I have one. I love Poirot and Miss Marple. They are amazing characters and I wish I’d written them. But seriously there are so many I just adore.
I am going to be cheeky and say my own (not yet published) Ms Birdsong is my favourite. She is not a detective but a former MI5 Intelligence Officer who is forced into ‘voluntary’ retirement when a joint operation with MI6 goes belly up. Her colleague in MI6 is also her lover which does not help matters when he is sent to Moscow to continue their mission. Bored out of her skull in the village she has moved to in an attempt to put the past behind her, she is over-joyed when she gets the chance to investigate the disappearance of a local mother when the woman’s teenage son asks for her help.
Lavinia Birdsong has the skills of a detective and more. She is a black belt in several Martial arts, can speak six languages and is an expert in surveillance, and is highly intelligent. She is soon hot on the trail of the missing woman and as a result finds herself up to her neck in Russian Mafia people traffickers, Ukrainian drug and gun smugglers, and murder. Just what she needs to ingratiate her way back into the Security Services, she hopes. She is sure they’d quickly realise what they are missing without her back in the fold. Oh! But then her old flame turns up right when she is getting interested in the local DCI, and life gets even more complicated for her and her ambitions.
I love Ms B. because she is feisty yet kind hearted, quirky and modern with a love of men, good wine and hard rock music. She loves nice things, expensive things, and she is a good looking woman who knows it and isn’t scared to use her looks if she needs to. She has a naughty sense humour and fun, and she would give you the Manolo Blahniks off her feet if – with a huge wince of pain – you were in dire need. But never cross her; never cause her inner warrior to come to the surface. She kicks ass with the best of the men, and then some.
So she is by far my favourite detective/investigator – sorry! I have written three novels featuring her and book one is ready to go. I cannot wait to unleash her.
What sort of preparations do I need to make before beginning to write?
I usually make a huge mug of tea and I stare at the computer screen for a while and then off I go. I don’t mind if there is someone with me, if the radio, TV is on, or if there’s music playing in the background – often it is my husband on his guitar which I love to hear. I can shut them all out. I often – more than often, actually – don’t have a clue what I’m going to write, even what the topic is going to be. Something will set me off, such as a name, a recalled experience, or even a News item and after a few minutes I start to write without any idea what is going to come out until it is in front on me on the screen. I’m what is known as a pantser.
If I’m feeling particularly naughty I might indulge in a bag of liquorice to help me in my quest for a story. I am refuelled throughout by giant mugs of tea and endless trips to the smallest room, as you can imagine.
If I decided in a change of writing direction, where would it take me?
I guess I’d already taken a small change in direction when I co-wrote Only One Woman (Headline Accent) with Christina Jones. She is a romance author so it came easily for her, yet I had not even read a romance when I started writing the novel. I thought it would be a crime story with a love interest which I could gloss over quickly but it soon became clear there wasn’t room for a crime and it was becoming a love story. I was shocked to be writing about love, I admit it, but it seemed to come quite naturally. Whether I’d want to carry on writing romance (Women’s Fiction) I’m not sure. I’m writing the sequel to Only One Woman (untitled as yet) taking the story from 1969 to the present day, but that may well be the extent of Women’s Fiction for me.
I’ve turned my hand to ghost stories for several Ghostly Writes anthologies (Plaisted Publishing), and adventure/crime – featuring 17th century pirates and 21st century smugglers – I think the genre is called Time-shift, because the story goes back and forth in time. You can find it in an anthology I’m included in called Shiver (Headline Accent) and there’s another ghost/crime story in Wishing on a Star (Headline Accent). Also, I’ve written a couple of novels which are in the genre of what I call, observational humour. They are still lurking on my computer hard-drive – waiting. But a complete change from crime and thrillers – I don’t think so. I love writing it so much – pitting my wits against myself and hoping my readers will rise to the challenge and pit theirs’ against mine! But who knows? I never thought I’d write anything but crime and I have.
Undercover: Crime Shorts is published by Plaisted Publishing House and is available in paperback from Waterstones branches (order it) and in paperback and eBook on Amazon and various digital platforms.
“You want to know what I’ve learnt after living in Lone Creek all my life? I know the snow bleeds here …”
Former police officer Dean Matheson has been playing it safe since the case that cost him almost everything. But working as a PI doesn’t quite cut it, that is until a British woman walks into his office with a job that Dean can’t resist.
The woman’s daughter, Hannah Walker, and her friend Jodie have gone missing whilst working at a ski resort in Colorado. It’s clear there’s something sinister about the girls’ disappearance, but then why are the local police department being so unhelpful?
So begins Dean’s journey to Lone Creek on the trail of the missing girls – and he’ll soon find out that in Lone Creek, everyone has something to hide …
Wendy is a former Coroner’s Assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK with her husband.
Who Cares If They Die and Where the Snow Bleeds are the first two books in the Dean Matheson series, with more on the way. As well as her crime thriller series, Wendy has written a YA crime novel – The Girl Who Died – and she has several short stories published in UK and US anthologies. She has also been shortlisted and longlisted for various competitions, including the Mslexia Novel Competition.
For behind the scenes gossip and updates on her books (or photos of her cats), follow her on social media!
Day three and it’s Great Aunt Em’s turn under the spotlight.
If ever there was a character I loved creating it was Emelia Trevelyan – ‘call me Em’. On the surface she is a strong willed, cantankerous elderly woman. Rules simply do not apply to her. As the story begins she is a member of a group of elderly women ‘The Gossip Girls’ from the village who create mayhem wherever they go. But scratch the surface and you will find a completely different character. She is incredibly lonely after losing her brother Gerren and his wife Jenna. A year ago they handed the hotel over to their son, Em’s nephew Ruan, and left for retirement in France. Em has never married. She spent her early years living at the Tarwin House Hotel and then when her parents died she inherited Caer Gwyn a circular white house set on a small promontory a quarter of a mile away. When Gerren told her about their plans to move to France, she hoped she might be a part of it. Unfortunately she wasn’t. Realising how much she missed their company, Ruan invited her back to live at the hotel; to be part of his family. Unfortunately Em couldn’t help interfering in the day to day running of Tarwin House and Ruan was constantly having to speak to her. Feeling more and more isolated, when Rosalind Myers, self styled leader of the Gossip Girls, offered her the opportunity to join their group, Em was delighted. Her action in bringing them into the hotel and letting them snoop around the family’s private apartments saw Ruan sending her straight to back Caer Gwyn.
Gradually Em began to recognise how damaging Rosalind and her cronies’ actions were, but breaking away from them was difficult. Being a part of the group appeared to be the lesser of the two evils. The alternative was a lonely life with her housekeeper and Hamish her West Highland terrier. Things eventually came to a head one morning outside the town’s small supermarket where she was rescued by Nathan and Cat. And it was Cat who came up with an idea which would channel Em’s energies in a different direction and give her a new purpose in life.
Em is, of course, pivotal to one of the most important parts of the book, as witness to a murder, but you will have to read A Cornish Affair to discover how she becomes involved…
Even in your hometown, you can feel like an outsider …
In the close-knit community of Carrenporth in Cornwall everyone knows everyone else’s business. Luke Carrack is only too aware of this. He’s been away for two years but nothing has changed – from the town gossips who can’t see past the scandal of his childhood, to the cold way he is treated by some of his so-called family.
The only person who seems to understand is local hotelier’s daughter Cat Trevelyan, although even Luke’s new friendship with her could set tongues wagging.
But Carrenporth is about to experience far bigger scandals than the return of Luke Carrack – and the secrets unearthed in the process will shake the sleepy seaside town to its core …