Newsletter no.90 June 2015

You find me refreshed, revived, etc. In other words, I stole away from my desk for a few days holiday in Bruges. Without a computer. And only switched my mobile phone on once a day. And it was good.

I came back to find the usual things had gone wrong in the house, such as the central heating clock developing a mind of its own – why would it want to do that? Don’t I treat it well? Anyway, I got Tim to fix it.

Work. Well, first off, the audiobook of THE WILFUL HEIRESS came out in May – and I do hope you enjoy it. ‘The Lady Elizabeth Silverwood states that she may be an heiress, but she is not a fool . . .’ so you can guess the rest. Oh, yes, and she wears some lovely clothes and is being pursued by a fortune-hunter . . . or is he? The cover shows a Victorian costume, but the story is actually set in the reign of George II. Go figure! It is a beautiful cover, but perhaps a tad misleading.

More good news: the contracts are through for another Bea Abbot and another for Ellie Quicke. I spent a lot of time when I was in Bruges simply sitting and thinking about the next book. Before I start writing I have to know what the situation is that calls for Ellie to intervene, I have to know what the main characters look like and how they behave, and, most importantly, I have to know their names. So I sit on a bench overlooking the canal, with the tourist boats swishing past now and then, and a cyclist thrumming along on the cobblestones at my back, and I think. It’s a lovely place to sit, looking over at ancient gabled buildings which line the canal on both sides. Where I sit there is a rough triangle of grass with some flower beds in it, and a couple of mill-stones rescued from a long-gone windmill. There are some restored windmills only a few hundred yards away on the banks of a still larger canal, but I like this quiet, grassy spot away from the road.

Names can be very difficult to pin down. You can visualise the character – how they dress and act and speak, and sometimes you can get the name straight off, but usually I have several goes at it. This time I started off with some fairly unusual names which looked all right to start with, but then became something different. Why this should be, I do not know, except that as the characters grow in my mind, the original names didn’t fit. I start writing this next story – which is to be called MURDER AT THE MAGPIE, today, as I have just managed to get off the next Bea Abbot story to my publisher. It’s a weird business, this stepping away from ‘being’ Bea, to ‘becoming’ Ellie. I assure you that I am neither personage, although I do share some traits with both. And, like Ellie, I wish I were a little taller!

What else is happening this month? Well, there will be a hardback of another Ellie Quicke – MURDER BY SUSPICION – out in the last week of June together with the trade paperback and the e-book. This one has the charismatic leader of a cult going after Ellie’s money. Pastor Ambrose works through Claire the Tearful, whom Ellie took on to look after her elderly and very frail housekeeper, Rose – and that did not work out well. Also Ellie’s policewoman friend is raising the question of a missing schoolgirl with whom Claire had had an argument. For details of the ISBNs, see below.

Also at the end of June there will be a large print version of the 7th Bea Abbot story – which is FALSE ALARM.

Meanwhile the Methodist Recorder have asked me for another short story for the summer months, and I have to deliver that by the end of June, so I’d better get started on that, too. I think we’ll be introducing our two old friends, Bruce and Leo, to a new comer, who is going to be quite a problem. I’m rather looking forward to that. His name at the moment is Corin – but, see above – that may well change as he becomes more real in my mind.

And finally, a blessing: may the showers of rain in your life help you to grow as flowers do in a garden.

Veronica Heley

NEW . . . .

MURDER BY SUSPICION, the 16th Ellie Quicke.
Hardback:   ISBN 9780 7278 85241
Trade paperback: ISBN 9781 84751 6244
E-book: 9781 78010 6779

Also, the audiobook of THE WILFUL HEIRESS from Soundings. In CD.

The new pop-up by Francesca Crespi, for Noah’s Ark, has a text written by yours truly. Francesca’s work is stunning. Frances Lincoln, ISBN 978-1-84507-937-6.

UNSUNG HEROES is now available as an e-book. This is a collection of short stories concerning the problems of three retired men and their families, plus some Ellie Quicke short stories. £3.40 UK, and $4.90 USA.