Wednesday 26 June 2019

Dipping into the archives again

 A bit of fun that I found among the old posts 

I wouldn't do that, if I were you.

Recently reading a synopsis of an upcoming book, I recognised a familiar thriller theme. It didn't deter me from looking forward to the story when I could get my hands on it. But it did get me
No time to go walking in the woods!
thinking about the things that characters in books, particularly thrillers, should NEVER do - like

Opening that tin trunk in the attic.

Taking a short cut through the woods at twilight. And  certainly not in high heels. (This tends to be largely, but possibly not exclusively, a female characteristic.)

Reading that old bundle of letters you found in the tin trunk in the attic.

Going back to the small home town and digging into that 20 year old unsolved murder.

Re-opening any cold case involving an unsolved murder, a disappearance, an unexplained/suspicious death, crime in general. Come on, you know someone out there is not going to take it kindly!

Entering any room in a house where the lights have inexplicably failed - especially the cellar.

Entering the cellar at all - particularly at night, when alone in the house.

Believing that just because the serial killer has been caught that the mayhem is over.

Not checking the petrol level in the car (that's gas, for my US readers) before setting off on that journey to that creepy remote cabin in the woods. You can add checking the weather forecast to that.

Going to the remote creepy cabin in the woods at all. Ever.

Drinking/eating anything in the company of a chief suspect.

And for the villain - telling the hero/heroine all about how clever you are and how the crime was done - don't you know that's the end of the book and your downfall is nigh?

Of course, if the characters listened to any of that, stories would be a lot thinner on the ground.
So, it's a good job they never do.

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Celebrating a Birthday

Not mine - my publishers, Choc-Lit, who have been producing fabulous books for ten whole years. I haven't been with them since the beginning, but it's been a while, and I will always be grateful to them for giving me my break, turning me into a published author and an award winner. And also for the cupcakes. Well, how else do you celebrate but with a surprise, and cake? That's how Choc-lit and sister company Ruby celebrated last Friday. A surprise parcel, with something delicious inside, so - I give you the story of a cup cake.

The parcel!
This was a clue who it was from.
The contents. They looked wonderful, but the picture can't give you the lovely scent of buttercream when I opened it. Took me back to the butterfly cakes my Mum used to bake, The top was sliced off the cup cake and wedged into buttercream to make wings. I think they were my absolute favourite cake, so this was a box of nostalgia.
They were chocolate (of course) with vanilla buttercream, I think, and salted caramel sprinkles. Are you drooling yet?
Me, doing my version of the famous headless heroine - you know the book covers I mean.
I'm terrible at selfies. 
The inevitable result. Here's to the next ten years!

Wednesday 12 June 2019

If you're not writing books, what are you doing?

Well, today I'm unpicking a chapter on Air Raid Shelters in Cardiff.

Hey - whatever floats your boat, right?

In three months all this academic stuff will be over and I will be back to writing fiction. I promise.

I did actually do something writerly this week. I spent a lovely evening talking books with Vanessa Savage as part of the Cardiff Library Crime and Coffee Festival. It was fun, with a super audience. Reminded me why I enjoy being a writer. The Festival was fab. I hope they do it again next year and I can be part of it. Maybe even with a new book on the horizon!

Wednesday 5 June 2019

Out of the past

It's another from the archives today, as I am buried so deep in the PhD I may never get out again. Except I have to, as there are books out there, or in here, waiting to be written. This post was about a bit of research I did for a few, a couple of years ago. They are still waiting patiently in the wings. I hope they might start seeing daylight next year! Re-reading the post has really made me want to write them.

Welcome to my world?

World building. Something I associate mainly with sci-fi or fantasy. Except that at the moment, I'm having a go at it for some new romantic suspense. I'm creating an island off the Welsh coast, where three new books will hopefully be set. On it I'm also creating a house, which was built in 1793, so it's not just the architecture and the furnishings but how the place has evolved since it was first constructed, and the people who have lived in it ...

The house - Ty Newydd* -  began as a setting for an historical series (smugglers, revenge, gorgeous men, wearing lace and velvet - you know the sort of thing) which is currently trapped in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet, but which I'm sure will escape one day and refuse to go away until I write it/them. When I was thinking of a discreetly out-of the-way site for my new  branch of the security services - more world building - the house popped into my mind. It's been through love, marriages, children, Victorian modernising, two world wars, the hint of a ghost or two - and I get to work all that out. It may not all make it into the final books, but it's enjoyable, if time consuming. And I have to say my ability with drawing plans and maps leaves a bit to be desired, so my attempts at explanatory doodling leave a bit to be desired too. :)

My security service also needs a London HQ. Which is why I was wandering around the side streets near St Paul's on a recent away-day, looking for suitable locations. It was tipping down with rain, so I have no photos and my explorations had to be curtailed as I was in danger of being soaked to the skin, but I now have a sense of the atmosphere of the part of London I want to use. I think I'm going to have to invent the tiny Georgian Square I have in mind, so that's another to add to the list.

At the risk of drowning by torrential rain, I took refuge at the Wallace Collection, one of my favourite London galleries/museums. And one with a large number of exhibits from in and around the time that my Ty Newydd would have been built. I may well be pinching some of their fireplaces, and I'm pretty sure that the original owner of my house is going to have a small collection of paintings by Canaletto, mementos of a youthful Grant Tour ...

World building is complex but so much fun. And all that lovely research - such a wonderful way to procrastinate ...

* New House, in Welsh.