For the love of baking!

The Baker’s Apprentice is now available to download in eBook format for all eBook readers at a special price of $1.50 from Smashwords!

I love baking because it sparks memories of time spent in a warm kitchen with my mother and aunty, chatting and laughing as we enjoyed eating some of the results of our labour. From a young age I would bake the basics for the house: cakes, scones, puddings and pies. The smell of freshly made bread or scones return me to part of my childhood that will forever bring a burst of nostalgic warmth on a cold winter’s day.

A friend commented that among my titles, which focus on my North Yorkshire villages in the early nineteenth century, I had not based one around a bakery. Not everyone had their own oven, so the village bakery traditionally played an important part of village life. One comment sparked an idea and Molly Mason sprang to mind; an impetuous heroine who does not lack the courage to leave the home she dislikes, but has not the foresight to realise the hard work behind the ‘cosy’ surroundings she imagines sharing when helping her friend who runs the village bakery.

Often in life we see our own problems and look at the greener grass growing elsewhere without considering the effort that is needed to sustain the lawn.

TBA KECThe Baker’s Apprentice is set in a fictitious North Yorkshire market town that pops up in many of my titles called Gorebeck. In this story it is in a state of transition as newer Georgian terrace houses line a road replacing the older timber and cottage buildings. Some people will always welcome change seeing it as an opportunity, or others as a threat – they crave the familiar and as the old saying goes ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. It is at a crossroads for routes north to Newcastle, south to York, east to Whitby and west to Harrogate.

I will talk more about Gorebeck in future as I look at asylums, churches, market towns, inns, new and old money, mills and coaching routes in future posts.

In this story, Molly Mason carries hatred in her heart, convinced her father was murdered or driven to an early grave and seeks to escape from his wife and discover the truth. Sometimes though the truth is not what we want to hear.

Sharing Places – Part 2

Whilst researching social history for my stories I visit some fascinating places. Here are some of the places that have triggered plots, created characters or inspired a mood or a desire to return to the keyboard and write.

2. Saltburn Gill, North Yorkshire, England.

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A ten mile, fine sandy bay sweeps between Huntcliffe and the mouth of the River Tees on the once remote northeast coast of England. The town of Saltburn nestles in the shadow of the headland and has a fascinating historical connection with smuggling in the region.

I borrowed the location for some of my nineteenth century titles. Saltburn became ’Ebton’ and the headland ‘Stangcliffe’. The location of the actual Ship Inn was used as the heart of the old fishing village. The Saltburn Gill, which runs through an ancient natural oak and ash woodland behind Cat Nab, has a rich undergrowth of Holly and Hazel and a myriad of flowers and wild birds that vary throughout the seasons making it a vibrant and beautiful place to visit at any time of the year.

It was a route used in times past by smugglers and my version of it appears in such stories as Phoebe’s Challenge and many other titles of my back list, many are yet to be converted to their eBook format.

 

Roses Are Dead

Roses Are Dead KECBuy and read now!

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Jen, a teacher, has broken away from a stifling relationship with Harris, who runs a gym. Naively, she tried to help him sort out his life, but did not realise that the man was a liar and a control freak until it was too late. Jen walked out on him determined to enjoy her independence once more when strange gifts begin to arrive. With Valentine’s Day approaching, the mystery of who is sending them disturbs her deeply. She fears it could be Harris. When they turn sinister Jen is frightened and does not know who should she trust: her ex, his friend, her neighbour, Sergeant Aidan Lee or just herself? When Jen needs help who will come?

An Interview with Peter Lovesey

DSC_2534Thank you for taking the time to discuss your fascinating career and share some of your experiences with us.

Your love of the English language shines through the quality of your work and the complexity of the plots you weave through your books. When did your love of storytelling begin?

I was a dreadful fibber as a child, so it must have been there from the start. I led a Walter Mitty existence, top of the class, popular, brilliant at games and with a girlfriend called Dahlia, the prettiest in school. None of it was true and Dahlia didn’t even exist. From there it was a smooth progression to making up stories for what was then called composition.

You also had a keen interest in sport which led to your first breakthrough as an author. Can you describe how this came about and if it is still one of your proudest moments?

At twelve I was taken to the post-war Olympic Games in London. There’s a lot of talk about legacy from the recent Olympics and for me the 1948 Games were a rich legacy indeed. I was hopeless at sport but desperately wanted to be a part of it, so I wrote about it, doing unpaid articles for small magazines. Out of it eventually came a book on distance running and then two years later, using distance running as a background, I entered a competition for a first crime novel. Wobble to Death won me £1000 and publication in England and America. A dream start to my career.

Stone Wife (2)From your initial breakthrough, how did you then go on to develop the successful series of Sergeant Cribb and Peter Diamond?

Cribb was the Victorian detective I created to clear up the mystery in that first novel and he went on to seven more, using Victorian entertainments such as boxing, the music hall, boating, spiritualism and Madame Tussaud’s as the backgrounds to whodunits. The eighth, called Waxwork, won the CWA Silver Dagger and was turned into a pilot for a TV series, made by Granada, starring Alan Dobie as Cribb.  Two series followed, based on the books and original scripts written together with my wife Jax.

The more recent series features a contemporary police detective called Peter Diamond, who is with Bath CID. The first book was going to be a one-off, called The Last Detective, and he resigned from the police. But it won the Anthony for best novel at the Toronto Bouchercon and I was asked to follow it up. So I contrived a story called The Summons in which the police needed him back and were forced to ask him to return and reinvestigate an old case. He’s been going ever since. The fourteenth, called The Stone Wife, is published this spring.

In which era do you prefer setting your novels – historical or contemporary, and why?

I wouldn’t say I have a preference. I enjoy the challenges of each. The Victorian period had a rich, rather daunting tradition to work in, thinking of Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Conan Doyle, and the task was to avoid a pale pastiche of those great writers. The research was enjoyable, mainly using the British Library newspaper library. Today, with the internet, it would be quicker and easier. Turning to the contemporary police novel was scary, too. I wasn’t sure how I would cope with modern policing and the huge advances in forensic science, so I made Diamond a bit of a dinosaur. I get a lot of pleasure from using little known historical anecdotes in these modern books. Examples are Jane Austen’s shoplifting Aunt Jane and Mary Shelley’s writing of Frankenstein in lodgings right next to Bath Abbey.

You have had work both televised and filmed. When this happens, do you become involved in the process and maintain control of what the producers can change?

I doubt if any producer allows the author control. They do take liberties and will tell you it’s necessary in visual terms. But I was lucky enough to attend read-throughs of the Cribb series and of Rosemary & Thyme, as the consultant. I was fortunate, too, that the adaptations of my books kept pretty faithfully to the plots – and that includes the movie Goldengirl and the TV drama Dead Gorgeous.

Do you write stand alone novels to have a break from the series, as a kind of refresher?

Yes, it’s fun to break out from time to time. I’ve written several from the point of view of the killer – and that’s very liberating. The False Inspector Dew won the Gold Dagger  and has been translated into more than twenty-five languages, but the one I’m proudest of is The Reaper, a black comedy about a rector called Otis Joy, who murders the bishop in chapter one.

Every writer has their own way of working. Do you plot in detail first and then set wordage targets, or do you let the story grow as it builds on the page?

When I started I would plan meticulously and write the synopsis before beginning Chapter One. I don’t write in drafts. The pages I write each day aren’t altered, except in minor ways, so it’s a slow process. If I tell you how few words I manage in a day you won’t believe me. It has to be right before I can move on. These days I carry much more of the plot in my head, but it’s basically all there. It’s not a method I would recommend to anyone.

I first met you when you did a local library talk, which was both interesting and inspiring. Do you intend to tour again in 2014?

If I’m asked, yes. I’ve done several recent US tours, visiting cities I wouldn’t ever have known otherwise. And it’s lovely to meet readers who enjoy the books. Plus, of course, the occasional writer such as you – and that’s a bonus.

Thanks, Peter! Of all the accolades and achievements you have received in your career to date, which one(s) stand out as something very special to you?

Difficult. The CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger in 2000 was a great honour, but couldn’t quite match the thrill of that first competition win with Wobble to Death. Another unforgettable moment came when I was Chair of the CWA and presented the Diamond Dagger to one of my early inspirations, Leslie Charteris, the creator of The Saint.

The Tooth TattooThe Tooth Tattoo also shows that you have a love and understanding of classical music. The humour within the book works on many levels, which balances the much darker twists of the plot. What inspired this book?

I can answer this with more certainty than any of your questions. A 2004 article in the arts section of the Guardian by David Waterman had this intriguing headline: HOW DO THE MEMBERS OF A STRING QUARTET PLAY TOGETHER AND TOUR TOGETHER YEAR IN, YEAR OUT, WITHOUT KILLING EACH OTHER? The piece stayed in my mind for eight years until I was ready for Peter Diamond to investigate. I’m glad to say The Tooth Tattoo was well received, not least by the writer of the article, who still plays with the Endellion quartet. And it’s just out as a February paperback.

What is next for Peter?

The fourteenth Diamond novel, The Stone Wife, will be in the shops in April and I’m halfway through the one I’m currently calling Diamond Fifteen. Thanks, Valerie, for this stimulating interview.

My sincerest thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. 

Discovering Ellie

Discovering Ellie KECBuy and read now!

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Early nineteenth century North Yorkshire, England.

Ellie has recurring nightmares, always waking to a life devoid of love, but still she dreams. Living in the old hall with her Aunt Gertrude and cousins Cybil and Jane, the scandal of her mother’s elopement with a Frenchman cast a long shadow over her life. Until Mr William Cookson arrives to shine new light onto her past opening the way to an exciting future…

Phoebe’s Challenge

Phoebe's Challenge KEC (1)

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Early nineteenth century North Yorkshire, England.

Phoebe and her brother, Thomas, have to flee the evil regime of overseer Benjamin Bladderwell because an accident results in them being labelled machine breakers. Hunted with nowhere to run, the mysterious wagon driver, Matthew, his them and saves their lives. They soon discover that he is a man of many guises who Phoebe instinctively trusts, but Thomas does not. Their future depends upon this stranger, on their own they will be captured or starve. Phoebe must trust or challenge Matthew unaware that he is also tied to their past.

Betrayal of Innocence

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Early nineteenth century North Yorkshire, England.

Lydia works hard as a servant at Bagby Hall to keep her father, an ailing tenant, from the poorhouse. She is horrified and wracked with guilt as she discovers her friend, the gentle fallen Georgette, being used by Lord and Lady Bagby. Lydia longs to aid Georgette as she fears her life may be in danger – but how? The arrival of the mysterious, Dr Samuel Speer, adds to her dilemma, as Lydia’s concern grows. Does she risk her father’s wellbeing and reveal the truth or remain forever silent and therefore, guilty…

Dead to Sin (A Penn Mystery Book 1)

Dead to Sin KEC_1Buy and read now!

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The first Penn Mystery: When duty alone is not enough…

1812 North Yorkshire, England.

Nicholas Penn is summoned to Gorebeck Gaol to visit a man accused of the rape and murder of five wenches. Having been found holding the body of the last victim in his arms his plight seems sealed.
Nicholas is torn between a sense of duty and his feelings of hurt and disgust when being in the presence of the accused. The tables turn abruptly, and Nicholas becomes the incarcerated, duped and incensed he is sworn to find the man, Wilson, before another victim dies and honour can be restored.

Bethany’s Justice

Bethany's Justice KECBuy and read now!

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Early nineteenth century North Yorkshire, England.

If you cannot trust your closest friend, then who can you? One young woman is about to find out. When Bethany and Kezzie excitedly walk to a neighbouring village fair, Bethany discovers how fickle her friend is once they meet up with womaniser, local shepherd, Bill Judd. Deserted on the open moor road, Bethany’s feelings are hurt, but she is determined to continue her journey. In her anger she makes a life threatening decision, cutting through a wooded estate, she is shot at, wounded but her rescuer changes her life forever.

 

Truth, Love and Lies

Truth, Love & Lies KEC

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Florence Swan escapes before she is forced to work in a cotton mill. Naïve and ambitious, she ventures out into the world alone believing she can work her way up the hierarchy of servants within a manor house or hall.

Major Luke Stainbridge returns to his beloved estate in England after being a prisoner of Napoleon only to discover he has been replaced by an imposter.  Two lives are in chaos. Two destinies combine. Will the love of truth be enough to destroy a sinister network of lies?