Jessie: In New Hampshire, where the magnolias have left me utterly smitten!
Today is the official North American launch day for the first novel in my new WPC Harkness series, Death in a Blackout. I couldn’t be more pleased to see this novel out in the world in all its various forms! I am particularly delighted that the audiobook debuts today. The narrator has a charming and fresh voice and I am delighted that she agreed to participate in the project!
Some of my novels seem to simply appear. My Beryl and Edwina books feel to me as if almost as soon as I think of a basic premise the entirety of the story arrives tumblety-whack like a whirlwind. A title suggests itself, secondary characters and circumstances seem to flesh themselves out and the sounds of all their voices begin to race through my mind almost unbidden.
Then there are the other stories, the ones like my very first, Live Free or Die, or my first historical Whispers Beyond the Veil, that creep up on me slowly, a kernel of an idea humming and growing and quietly gathering other ideas to itself until it tugs at my sleeve and asks to be prioritized. Death in a Blackout was just such a novel. I have been thinking about WPCs for years before I created Constable Doris Gibbs for my Beryl and Edwina books. My protagonist, WPC Billie Harkness grew out of spending odd moments here and there considering the lives of female police officers between their inception during WWI and the modern day.
I met a charming woman at the New England Crime Bake named Avis Crane long before I thought much about WPCs who was kind enough to lend me her name for use when the time seemed right. Avis Crane was simply perfect for the role of my young protagonist’s superior officer. It had been so long since I had first asked for permission to use it that I felt compelled to confirm the real Avis was still willing to share! Fortunately for me, she was gracious enough to do so after so much time
Even the idea of setting the novel in Kingston-Upon-Hull was a long and winding road. I knew I was interested in coastal cities and towns in the UK and had gone on a bit of a research binge quite some time ago. I was particularly interested in port cities with significant immigrant populations as well as shipyards. When Hull came up in the course of that research I discovered that after London it was the city that suffered the most significant bombing devastation in the UK during WWII.
Finally, all of those small, stray bits coalesced and grew into a cohesive story. As I look back I am so grateful that this story came to find me and allowed me to be the one to gather it up and send it along. I hope you will enjoy the new characters, a bit of history, and of course, the mystery! I have three copies to give away to randomly selected commenters.
Readers, do projects and ideas ever whisper at you for years before you take action on them? Writers, do you have books that come to you all at once and others that simmer for ages?