Friday, 5 August 2016

Cover Reveal

My latest novel is being released in October but is now 
available for pre-order here
Murder on the Minneapolis is the first of a series of five featuring my amateur sleuth Flora Maguire. 
The second one is Murder at Cleeve Abbey which is due for release in December. 

 

Books 3, 4 and 5 are scheduled for release in 2017

 I'm thrilled with the cover art, and give all credit to Caroline Ridding and Sarah Ritherdon 
at Head of Zeus Aria for all their hard work

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Killing Off Your Darlings


I have been quoted the phrase, 'You must kill off your darlings' over and over since I began writing, that and ‘Put your heroine into a hole and throw rocks at her’ to create as much conflict as possible to keep your readers turning pages. Apparently almost every major 20th century English author has been cited at one time or another as using this phrase or a variation of it. Stephen King put it well: “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

I appear to have interpreted the 'kill' one literally, but as I am writing cosy mysteries surely that’s forgivable? Someone has to be murdered in a mystery and making it two victims or in extreme cases more, gives the pace an often well needed boost.

A ‘darling’ isn’t necessarily your hero or heroine and you don’t need to actually have them die in a gurgling pool of blood on your page. In cosies that isn’t supposed to happen anyway as the actual murder happens off stage and to a relatively unimportant character in whom the reader has invested no emotion at all. It’s the ‘whodunnit’ part which keeps them reading.

The phrase also means you have to get rid of your most precious and self-indulgent passages for the greater good of your literary work. So not a knife in the back then or a dose of arsenic in the tea – it’s a wordy thing!

The more I write, the more I learn not to fall in love with my witty turn of phrase such as it is. If what I have written doesn’t contribute to the story, clarify or progress the plot and solve the crime – it goes. Words serve a purpose like everything else. Use them sparingly.

As for the advice – my ‘darlings’ do need killing off, literally - and in order to do so my internet search history is full of knives, switchblades, arsenic, oleander flowers, how to electrocute someone without leaving marks…etc etc. Now I’m expecting a call from the serious crimes squad – maybe they have some new ideas…

Oooh look, in 1905 switchblades and stilettoes weren’t illegal - yay

Monday, 6 June 2016

New Publishing Contract


I have recently signed a new contract with Head of Zeus [Aria] for my Flora Maguire Cosy Mysteries

The first book is scheduled for 
release in October 2016 under a new title.
The second in December 2016
Three more books will be released in 2017 - 
all featuring the adventures of Flora and Bunny in Edwardian England
Do stop by for updates, covert art news etc. Or maybe if you simply want to know more about Flora and Bunny

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Fire by C C Humphreys


PUBLISHER’S BLURB
First came Plague, now comes Fire. The epic tale of the hunt for a serial killer threatening London's rich and poor during the Great Fire of London. Perfect for fans of S J Parris and C J Sansom. 1666. The Great Plague has passed. Londoners celebrate survival in different ways. They drink. They gamble. They indulge in carnal delights. But 666 is the number of the Beast, the year foretold when Christ will return. 

A gang of fanatics - the Saints - choose to hasten that prophesied day. They will kidnap, rape, murder. Above all, they will kill a king. Two men - the highwayman William Coke and the thief-taker Pitman - are recruited to stop them. Then in the early hours of September 2nd, 1666, something starts that will overtake them all...London's a tinder box. Politically, sexually, religiously. Literally. It is about to burn.

REVIEW 
 
This novel is the second which features the adventures of former highwayman Captain Coke, who is haunted by his experiences during the English Civil War, and a thief-taker named Pitman, both once on opposing sides, but who become partners, joined by Sarah Chalker, an actress and the Captain’s betrothed.

Coke and Pitman thwart an attempt on King Charles II takes place at the theatre, orchestrated by a fanatical group of Fifth Monarchists who interpret various signs, omens and compilation of numbers as God’s instructions to rid the country of its sovereign.

The Fifth Monarchist, Blood and his cohorts have a scheme to not only bring their fanatical views to fruition, but make life unbearable for Coke and his new wife, which they manage with heart wrenching lack of pity.
 
The language and banter between Coke and Pitman is delightfully authentic, without being difficult to read, and the character of King Charles is exactly as one would imagine him. He consults his timepiece during a meeting saying he must go because, ‘I am late for. . . something.’

Mr Humphreys takes the author’s rule to ‘put your character in a hole and throw rocks at them’ very seriously in this book as he takes the reader into the gritty, merciless side of 17th Century London life played out with its corrupt 
infrastructure, disease, anti-Catholicism and dirt ridden streets where despair is never far away, then complicates everything when the great fire begins on September 3rd.
A thrilling roller coaster of a story with some engaging characters. I hope to read more about them.


Friday, 18 March 2016

How Accurate Do You Want Your Historical Fiction?

Most literary agents and publishers will tell any aspiring author that novel writing requires an unusual amount of focus, dedication, uninterrupted time and a very thick skin. Historical Fiction writing adds mountains of research to that list which makes the task even harder. So why bother?

The agents and publishers were right – it is harder. You cannot simply rattle off a story out of your head, imagining the scene, the people, how they dress, the mannerisms and most importantly – the speech. People didn’t think, speak, converse, dress or even eat in the same way we do today. You have to take all these things into account when delving into a past time. Your characters need to be of their time as well as part of it.

The question, therefore, is how accurate should historical fiction be, or is the story the most important aspect? In which case it’s acceptable for your Tudor characters speak in modern vernacular. Some readers relish the flowery speech patterns, the ‘thee’ and ‘thine’, the ‘prithee’ and the ‘forsooth’ which they feel is necessary to give a real essence of the era, but it's also possible to convey authentic ancient language without making it impossible to read.

Is it acceptable to change history? An historical novel might be a reader’s introduction to that particular era of history. Thus if your story says Richard III won at Bosworth Field, is this doing your readers a disservice by giving an "incorrect" version of what actually happened? If I describe an item of clothing which did not become popular until twenty five years later – am I insulting my readership?

Novelists are not history teachers – but personally, I want my stories to reflect history as accurately as I can. If I’m not sure of something, and sources do vary, I leave it out, even if I really wanted to include that snippet in my story. Mainly because there is bound to be a history buff on social media who will cheerfully expose me to the world as a distorter of ‘the truth’.

I find researching a novel is the most fascinating part of the writing process, although I always gather a lot more information than I will never use. None of it is wasted though as everything I discover gives me a feel for the era. My readers won’t necessarily be fascinated as I am with how the Tower Subway was built for instance, but if I stick to the story arc and sprinkle, don’t dump, I won’t bore my readers.

But then is accuracy in history subjective and history is written by the winners. Personally, I liked Phillipa Gregory’s adaptation in The White Queen where Elizabeth Woodville sends her younger son away and lets an imposter die in his place.

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