Welcome Hannah Dennison

By Liz, happy to welcome Hannah Dennison to the blog today! I met Hannah at a recent virtual Cozy Con and she was so much fun I had to invite her here to chat with all of you. Welcome, Hannah!

I’m thrilled to be a guest on Wicked Authors today. I suspect this would never have happened had it not been for meeting Liz in cyberspace at Cozy Con at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale. Thank you, Liz! 

One of the plus sides of the pandemic (and somehow, we must find them,) is the “new-normal” of virtual author events. After twenty-five years living in California and Oregon, I moved back home to the UK and was concerned that I would vanish into the ether. Au contraire! Now I can stay active in the mystery community from the comfort of my own armchair and, of course, because English time is always hours ahead of the USA, usually with a glass of wine!

Speaking of being an armchair traveler, my initial research for my new series—the Island Sisters Mysteries that are set in the Isles of Scilly—was done just like that. The Isles of Scilly—the locals call themselves “Scillonians” and the islands, “Scilly” but never the Scilly Isles (semantics, I know, oh and it’s pronounced silly), are an archipelago just twenty-eight miles off the Cornish coast of England—Poldark country for Aidan Turner fans. 

I had never been to Scilly, nor had I ever planned to visit until my sister introduced me to her friend Gill Knight who had worked as the HR director on Tresco, a luxury resort on one of the five inhabited islands. Gill told me that Tresco—an island that measures a mere two miles long by one mile wide—has no streetlights, no cars, no police presence and that the nearest hospital was a twenty-minute boat ride to the main island of St. Mary’s. As an aside, when Gill went into labor with her first child, she was whisked to the hospital by the coastguard. Gill added that many of the seasonal workers who came to work on the islands were either hiding from something or running away from someone. I couldn’t think of a better setting for a mystery series and naturally, I had to include my sister. 

I wrote a few drafts relying heavily on Google Earth, YouTube and a gazillion documentaries. I was happy with my fictional island that I christened Tregarrick Rock and pleased (always a bad sign) with all the cultural and historical nuances, that is, until I got an invitation to go to Scilly. 

It’s a bit of a trek that entails either a five-hour train ride from London to Penzance, followed by a two-and-three-quarter hour ferry crossing (the ferry is nicknamed the Great White Stomach Pump for obvious reasons) and then a water taxi from the main island. There are options to fly by plane or helicopter, but the weather can be unpredictable especially off-season when there is a lot of fog. It was only when my feet touched the ground on Tresco that I realized just how much I hadn’t captured from my armchair research.  

I had described everything as I had imagined it to be but when I got there, the visceral experience of breathing the fresh air, walking the wild northern part of the island (which is like the Scottish Highlands) or sitting in the Abbey Gardens (which is like the South of France), affected me deeply. And of course, who wouldn’t be affected by the history of the place with the dozens of shipwrecks that litter the surrounding ocean floor along with the seventeenth century castle ruins—a stark reminder that the brutal English Civil War even reached Scilly.

There was also a sense of isolation and remoteness; mystery and magic that I could never experience from my sitting room to say nothing of seeing a variety of rare birds with exotic names like Lesser Yellowlegs and Woodchat Shrikes! The flora and fauna were breath-taking—Scilly’s well known for exporting scented narcissi around the world. I had to incorporate all these elements into the series!

The Island Sisters are about two sisters in their thirties, amateur photographer Evie Mead, and Margot Chandler, a former Hollywood producer. Evie is newly widowed, and Margot recently divorced so the pair are forced to start over. In Death at High Tide (book 1), Evie discovers she has inherited a crumbling Art Deco hotel that was inspired by the real Burgh Island hotel in Bigbury-on-Sea—which I have visited many times! The hotel sits at the end of a sandy causeway and is only accessible on foot at low tide or by a bizarre contraption called a Sea Tractor. In Danger at the Cove, the latest adventure, the sisters are frantically preparing for the grand re-opening of Tregarrick Rock. Things were looking good until a surprise visitor from Margot’s past makes an appearance and murder and mayhem ensue.

Happily, the Islands are part of the British Isles and currently not hampered by Covid-19 quarantine rules for Brits which means that I am heading there next month for a week and happily, my sister—who is nothing like Margot— is joining me. Let’s hope we don’t discover any dead bodies.

Readers, do you have any memorable trips, work or pleasure? Leave a comment below!

Hannah’s Bio

British born, Hannah originally moved to Los Angeles to pursue screenwriting. She has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant and Hollywood story analyst. Hannah has served on numerous judging committees for Mystery Writers of America and teaches mystery writing workshops for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program now on Zoom. After twenty-five years living on the West Coast, Hannah returned to the UK where she shares her life with two high-spirited Hungarian Vizslas. 

Hannah writes the Island Sisters Mysteries (Minotaur), the Honeychurch Hall Mysteries (Constable) and the Vicky Hill Mysteries (Constable)

Social Media Links

https://www.hannahdennison.com

https://twitter.com/HannahLDennison

http://instagram.com/hannahdennisonbooks

https://www.facebook.com/HannahDennisonBooks/

Cozy Con at the Poisoned Pen Podcast

Cozy Con at the Poisoned Pen Video

33 Thoughts

  1. I read the first book, Hannah, and look forward to reading the new installment! I had an epic solo driving trip from Massachusetts to do research in southern Indiana a few years ago and am overdue for another. I love the off-season cottage I rent on Cape Cod where I write but also soak up the sounds, smells, and seasons for my series set there.

    But neither is a remote English island! So glad you got a chance to go – and with your sister.

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    1. Hi Edith – I hope you enjoy the second one! It makes a difference writing in the place you are actually writing about (if you know what I mean). I have yet to visit Cape Cod but it’s somewhere I really want to see. Thanks for having me on WA today.

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    2. Hi Edith – I am not sure if I commented twice to you – so forgive me if I did (I am technically challenged at the best of times). I wanted to say that writing in a cottage in Cape Cod is definitely my idea of heaven. Just writing in the place we write about, makes such a difference.

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  2. Just looked up the Isles of Scilly and Tresco’s Abbey Garden looks so lush and tropical – not what I expected at all! I can see why you’d find these islands magical. Oh, I’ve had lots of wonderful trips, San Antonio, Savannah, and San Diego being some of my favorites but I’d have to say Tijuana was probably the most memorable because leaving there turned into a scary event – the border officials didn’t seem to want to believe I was American and kept me back from the rest of the group (work mates) that were loading the bus. I made it back but boy the next time I visited there, I was really nervous.

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  3. I have been to Cornwall a number of times, but didn’t even know about the Isles of Scilly! I immediately googled them. I will have to try to get there while on a trip to Cornwall. Thanks for introducing me to a new place. I look forward to reading your books!

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    1. Gosh Kathy – that sounds like a terrifying experience!! Thank heavens they let you back into the country!! I know San Diego but I have yet to visit San Antonio and Savannah. Yes – Scilly is far more exotic than I realized and to be honest, for the time it took to get there I could have flown to San Antonio …

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  4. After retirement, we started marking of trips from our bucket list. Two that stand out are the trip to the New England states in the fall going up the entire coastline of Maine and then into the interior states ending up at Niagara Falls. The other was our trip that entailed the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands. We have many more to take once we are able to travel again. Age, health and covid have put plans on the back burner for a spell.

    “Danger At The Cove” sounds amazing and one I most definitely would enjoy reading. Added it to my TBR list.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  5. There’s nothing like being “on site” for capturing the essence of a place, is there?

    I have a couple memorable trips in my past, either for the place (Puerto Rico) or the people I was with, or both (Bouchercon in New Orleans in 2016).

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  6. Having read about your visit to “the island” I am moving Danger at the Cove to the top of my TBR pile. Thank you for the background and vivid description you wrote here! My favorite past trip was to Bermuda where we found the population to be so hospitable and the beaches heavenly. It was a destination that we selected based on family history…a many, many great grandfather was the first governor of Bermuda and built the altar in St. Peter’s Anglican Church. Sadly, he was not a popular governor and returned home to Great Britain. 😉

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  7. I wouldn’t have cared if your book was in greek – you had me at the cover! What a wonderful setting and great storyline. Looking forward to starting with book 1 and working my way through.

    Memorable trips – sometimes I think it is better if no one asks. My most memorable and one that set the tone for the rest of my life – In 1970 I had a kitten in the dorm room – yes, I got caught and had to send him to a friend via air. No worries, the kitten made it fine and lived for nearly 20 more years. I, on the other hand, heard a final boarding call for Jamaica when I dropped the kitten off – I ran down the concourse, slapped down cash and got on the flight. No luggage, no passport, just me, a Bank Americard as we called them in those days, and the clothes on my back. When I arrived in Jamaica, I hitch-hiked to Negril where I lived on the beach for a month – in a palm frond hut. It was magical. Getting back into the USA without a passport was the hardest part 🙂

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  8. I love virtual author events. I get to attend so many events I’d have to miss otherwise due to location. Or working. But I can pay attention to them while working.

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  9. I am delighted to hear from you on the Wickeds, Hannah! I recently became acquainted with your books and have read Death At High Tide (Island Sisters Mystery #1) and loved it! Your second book in the series has just been published and I will read it when it becomes available to me. In the meantime, I will soon read Murder at Honeychurch Hall because I already know that I love your work. I am happy that there are a gaggle of other Honeychurch Hall books to look forward to. Thank you for giving me hours of reading pleasure!

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    1. Oh Patricia – what a lovely comment! You have made my day. And a big thank you to the Wickeds again who have introduced me to so many new readers. I really appreciate that. I hope you enjoy Honeychurch too – there are 7 in print with an 8th coming out at the end of this year.

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  10. Margo Chandler and Evie–sounds a lot like Margo Channing and Eve Harrington in “All About Eve,” but there is a Hollywood Connection in both the author and the characters. I will definitely get into this series as it sounds wonderful. Every trip we take is memorable in some way, even when we go several times tot he same place–San Francisco (in the late 1990s), Savannah, New Orleans to name just a few of our favorites. I do still love the fact that when I went by myself to the Amazon in Peru, I got to swing from a vine just like Tarzan.

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    1. Hi Madeleine – wow – I didn’t know that! I have not seen All About Eve but now I will have to watch it. Savannah and New Orleans have been mentioned twice so far on Wickeds … they are definitely going onto my travel list. The Amazon … that takes a LOT of courage – good for you!!

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  11. Hi, your book sounds like a great read. I agree, there is alot we can imagine and involve ourselves in virtual tours , but it isn’t the same as being there. I do see in my mind and visualize what the author has written in their book what the scenes , the scenes are actually playing in my mind , especially when the authors do such a great job in their writing describing the scene, and I thank all authors for this. My 5 siblings and along with my parents went to Mexico about 17 yrs ago , we went to where my dad was born and raised. We had a really good time. It was just us siblings our parents and 1 of our nieces, it was quite an adventure. I have 2 younger sisters and we like going on road trips. I always love reading books about sisters and siblings. I love your book cover. Thank you for taking me virtually on your awesome sounding trip. Have a great rest of the week and stay safe.

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    1. Hi Alicia – your family trip to Mexico sounds amazing. About ten years ago my sister, my daughter and me forced my mother (seriously, she did not want to go) for a girls-on-tour to New York. Mum was 85 at the time (she’s a feisty 91 now). We stayed on Wall Street in a fabulous apartment — it’s a trip to remember forever. Memories! They are the best. p.s. I have never been to Mexico!!

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  12. Welcome! Love the book cover! Its been hard to travel with covid. Plus I haven’t wanted to right now. Hopefully one day hubby and I will travel somewhere exciting!

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  13. Your cover is fabulous!! Thank you for sharing. I love the premise of your book. When I was a teenager, we went to Cheyboygan, Michigan to a friends cottage. Our friends son had told me that there was property down from them that was haunted. I did not believe him, but he continued to make comments every time we rode our bikes in that direction. I never saw anything to give me that impression.

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