|The new book...|
Then Lakeham Abbey came along.
So over to you Sally...
Characters that go Bump in the Night
When I wrote the first novel in the Percy Sullivan series, The Secret of Lakeham Abbey, I had an idea that I would follow Percy through adolescence and into young adulthood, as he solved crimes, fell in love and generally learned to be a nicer human being (because let’s face it, he can be a bit cranky). That was the idea.
So, it was a bit disconcerting when, the next time he visited me – in the middle of the night as most characters are wont to do – he said ‘Actually, I’m old and cranky now and living back at Lakeham Abbey in 2017 and I have a very interesting story to tell you…’ I immediately saw him as Sir Ian McKellan, in a wheelchair, wearing a Panama hat and a light coloured suit, listening intently, with a mischievous look in his eyes, as relationships ruptured around him, murders took place and secrets were unearthed in the house where his career as a sleuth began. Other authors will recognise this tendency for characters to turn up at awkward times to tell you their life story.
Writing a sequel is not easy, as any writer with a long-running series will tell you. You have to make each novel standalone, whilst still giving a nod towards earlier events for those who are following the series. It’s even harder when your sleuth decides to age 70 years! I wanted to suggest Percy’s long career as an amateur sleuth, without actually giving any details away, because quite frankly, I don’t know what he plans to tell me next.
The last time we met, he had been a truculent teenager. I needed to keep some of that truculence, whilst still letting him mature. In a sense, it was exactly the same as catching up with an old friend and finding that whilst they had changed, they still had the traits that attracted you to them in the first place. I hope that I’ve somehow managed to convey that in the story.
Equally difficult was writing a follow up novel that, whilst still crime, was a change of sub-genre. The Secret of Lakeham Abbey was set in the golden age of detective fiction, with upper class people enjoying country house living, whilst murders took place around them. The Curse of Lakeham Abbey, by dint of being set in our era, could not be the same. So I took my inspiration from the current rake of domestic noir novels, where miserable couples hide behind a veneer of civility.
I don’t know where Percy will take me next; I just hope he lets me get a good night’s sleep next time!
Thank you Sally. It sounds like Percy will be keeping you busy with further tales in future, and look forward to those too. :-)
I'm sure the Curse of Lakeham Abbey will be another success so if you want to get your copy asap here's a couple of direct links for you.
The Curse of Lakeham Abbey is released on 15th August 2017 and is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk in paperback, and on Kindle.
On Amazon.com: paperback, and on Kindle.
Sally is holding a launch party over on Facebook on Tuesday 15th from 10.00 am (British Summer Time) so pop along to celebrate with her.