#SIMTalksWithMiriam

Last year Alice Castle brought her character, Belinda MacKenzie to Letters from Elsewhere. Today, she’s back to talk about… let’s see…

AliceCastle1It’s such a pleasure to be here on Miriam’s blog today. I was really pleased when she asked me to contribute a post. I was offered the choice of Israel, Misunderstandings or Social Anxiety. As I’ve never been to Israel and I always try to avoid misunderstandings, I’m going to talk about the main character in my London Murder Mystery series, Beth Haldane.

Beth is a single mother in her mid-thirties, with a bad habit of stumbling across corpses. She also suffers from a crippling variety of social anxieties. Indeed, she barely gets through a scene in any of the five books I’ve written so far without hiding behind her fringe, blushing, stuttering or prevaricating in some way. She has the sort of nerves that all of us get, from time to time – except that she seems to suffer from them constantly.

As you’ll have gathered, Beth is a bit of a fish out of water. This is particularly true in Dulwich, the posh suburb of south London where I’ve set most of the action in my books. The other mums she meets at the school gates are mainly of the ‘yummy’ variety – they have tiny jobs, big handbags, cars the size of tanks and spend their days ferrying their children to afterschool activities like ballet and extra maths classes, meeting up with friends to moan about their au pairs. It’s a highly competitive, highly polished world, where appearances mean everything.

Death in Dulwich by Alice CastleBeth, on the other hand, has bills to pay, deadlines to meet and, until sudden death throws her together with a certain tall, handsome policeman, in the shape of Detective Inspector Harry York, she is struggling with it all alone, following the death of her husband. She, unlike many of her contemporaries, has real worries. Her anxieties are not just social, she has trouble making ends meet.

Beth also feels insecure. Over the course of the series of books, we find out more about why this might be so. But, from the start, we are aware that in a world of sleek, Amazonian women who spend plenty of time in the local beauty parlours, Beth stands out, for all the wrong reasons. She is short, scruffy, poor and earnest. And she cares, very much, about abstract concepts like justice, right and wrong, that seem to pass many of the other residents of Dulwich by.

When I was thinking of what type of heroine I’d like at the heart of my mysteries, I considered many different foibles – amateur sleuths always seem to have them. Miss Marple disguises her forensic intelligence behind that harmless-old-lady facade, Hercule Poirot has his little grey cells. I wanted my character to be an underdog, so that we would root for her against the well-heeled, smug types she comes across, but at the same time I didn’t want her to be a spineless jelly, jumping at her own shadow.

Well, I needn’t have worried. Beth popped into my mind whole, and has been wreaking havoc in Dulwich and the surrounding area ever since. She is a mass of contradictions, cripplingly shy yet daring when she has to be, kind to a fault but also able to give as good as she gets against those bullying playground mums. She prevaricates endlessly, yet has a passion for sorting things out. And she worries, constantly. But at heart she always knows what must be done, in the interests of justice, to ensure that Dulwich remains a safe place for her boy – and for us all.

Alice Castle's London Murder Mystery Series

Beth sounds like the kind of woman I’d like to meet. But I’d keep away from those corpses! Thank you so much for telling us about her, Alice.

Death in Dulwich has just been released as an audiobook and is available here.

Death in Dulwich, The Girl in the Gallery, Calamity in Camberwell, Homicide in Herne Hill and Revenge on the Rye are available from Amazon here, if you’re in the UK. Otherwise, search for ‘Alice Castle’ on your Amazon.

Read Alice Castle’s blog here or here.

Say hello to Alice on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Letters from ElsewhereToday I’m happy to welcome Nairn Malcolm to my blog. Nairn is an escapee. He’s had a hard time getting away from that evil author, Nancy Jardine. But I’ll let him tell his own story.

Hello Miriam. I’m glad to come and visit you because I’m quite intrigued about these CATS that my creator, Nancy Jardine, often speaks about. There are loads of you CATS who write for Crooked Cat Publishing out there in the real world, but it’s just as well for me that this is a virtual visit since Nancy Jardine has made sure that I’m not at my mobile best. Actually, she’s not my favourite person right now, because of the way she’s treated me, so it’s great to escape from her clutches for a little while—otherwise who knows what she’d do to me next.

And please don’t dare ask if you can take a photo of me for your blog because that answer is a definite NO. I’m not usually a vain guy but she’s really done a number on me…at least at the beginning of my story. I mean, come on! What guy wants to meet the most gorgeous woman he’s ever seen when he’s looking like a splodged advert for a hospital emergency department?

I generally like to make a good impression when I meet new clients, or potential business contacts, but Nancy Jardine made that darned near impossible. In fact, I’ve more than one bone to pick with her…and said bones are presently about as sensitive as my ego.

I thought that the guys in contemporary romantic novels were all about making the lassies swoon with their dashing good looks and impeccable stylish dress but that’s not what Nancy had in store for me. Oh, no, I had to be the untypical highland hero in her novel Take Me Now. Granted, she gave me a restored castle and all of those lovely methods of travel for the debonair contemporary hero —like my floatplane, jet and catamaran— but she also made sure I couldn’t manoeuvre any of them. Though, I guess it could have been worse if she’d popped me into my kilt. That would have made me into a real spectacle if it had fallen off. Ahh! Forget I said that in case she writes a new scene into my story, thinking it would amuse Aela Cameron.

 I just bet she had great fun writing those first chapters where she made me seem like a comatose idiot in front of Aela when she came for an interview. Making Aela the only person I could employ as my general factotum—office help and general driver of all my vehicles— was cruel when I wasn’t in any shape to complain about it. And you know, I don’t even think Nancy Jardine realised just how embarrassing it is for a guy to meet a woman who is so dazzling when he’s not at his best.

Though I guess towards the end of my story Nancy at least made the situation a bit better for me, because by then I’m a lot more like myself. It’s just as well that Aela Cameron has a great sense of humour, isn’t it? Did I mention that Aela’s also the best DIY detective ever who helped solve the mystery of my unknown saboteur?

Mmm. I think it’s time to say goodbye to you in case I divulge all of my secrets in Take Me Now. It’s been nice to meet you, Miriam.

Lovely to meet you, too, Nairn. So glad you were able to get away for a bit!

About Take Me Now

TakeMeNow - Nancy JardinePatience isn’t Nairn Malcolm’s strong point when he finds himself and his business mysteriously under attack. He needs a general factotum immediately— someone with exceptionally varied skills who can ferry him around, help him keep his business running smoothly and be available to him 24/7. He doesn’t expect the only candidate who arrives at his Scottish island castle for an interview to be so competent… or so incredibly attractive.

Aela Cameron’s range of talents is perfect for Nairn’s current predicament. She loves transporting him all over the globe, adores his restored castle, and is thrilled with his hectic lifestyle. Dangerous situations don’t faze her, in fact they make her more determined to solve the mystery of Nairn’s saboteur. She’s not into passing flings—yet how can she resist her new boss as time runs out on her temporary contract?

Can Nairn persuade Aela she’s the woman for the long haul as the mystery is solved?

About Nancy

(who really isn’t evil at all. I know – I’ve met her.)

NancyJardineNancy Jardine writes historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series); contemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014); & time-travel historical adventures for Teen/ YA readers (Rubidium Time Travel Series). All historical eras are enticing and ancestry research a lovely time-suck. She regularly blogs and loves to have guests visit her blog. Facebook is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds. Grandchild-minding takes up a few (very long) days every week and any time left is for reading, writing and watching news on TV (if lucky).

Find Nancy at the following places

BlogWebsiteFacebookLinkedInAbout MeGoodreadsYouTube book trailer videosAmazon UK author pageRubidium Time Travel Series on Facebook

Twitter: @nansjar — Google+ (Nancy Jardine)

[Scroll down for my A-Z Challenge theme reveal.]

I’m so pleased to be awarded with another visit from Nancy Jardine, whom I interviewed last month.

She’s back to tell us about not one but two novels of hers that are about to be published.

Take it away, Nancy!

Hello Miriam. It’s lovely to come back so soon to update on my next book launches. First of all, I’d love to say that I’m absolutely delighted with both of my cover designs – each is perfect for their intended market.

Final Nancy Jardine x 488I mentioned during my last visit that I was waiting for my cover design from graphic designer, Neil Saddler, for The Taexali Game, my time travel adventure for middle grade/ early teens. That was revealed recently so I’ve rescheduled its launch to April 2015. I’m so pleased to now be virtually ready to self-publish this adventure novel since it’s been waiting on my writing shelf, in various draft guises, for a long time. Soon my readers will be introduced to the intrepid trio you see on the cover – Aran and the twins, Brian and Fianna. In this first book of the Rubidium Time Travel Series, the adventure takes place in their own Aberdeenshire back yard – except that they are time travelled back to the year AD 210. I hope you can see the Ancient Roman legionaries in the cover design because AD 210 was an era when Roman Emperor Severus and his vile son, Caracalla, invaded northern Britain with multiple legions in a show of Roman strength. My teen protagonists have a set of tasks to fulfil, but how do they work out how to help both the ‘baddies’ and the ‘goodies’ when some of the Celtic chiefs they meet are as foul as Severus and Caracalla? Dicing with death becomes the norm in this Roman/Celtic Britain adventure but my trio need to stay alive! The main reason I’m not self publishing The Taexali Game sooner is… because I’ve another launch to attend first!

MonogamyTwistNancyJardine x360My Crooked Cat edition of Monogamy Twist, my contemporary romantic mystery, is launching on March 27th 2015 and I’m absolutely delighted with the quirky cover design for this, too – created by Laurence Patterson of Crooked Cat. Monogamy Twist is a mystery with historical aspects but very different from my Celtic Roman Britain historical novels. The plot for it is based on a recognisable Dickensian theme – that of the bequest of a decaying stately home. Luke Salieri finds himself the recipient of this strange inheritance – except the house can only be his if he fulfils certain weird and quirky conditions. To eventually become the owner Luke needs a woman to help him but not just anyone will do. Rhia Ashton seems perfect for the job since she’s a family history researcher but Luke finds she has a few conditions of her own before she’ll take him on and find out why Luke has been chosen by Amelia Greywood to receive the house. Compromise is the name of the game in Monogamy Twist. It’s a read that will appeal to those who like a bit of history with a few twists in their mystery, or those who like a good solid story in their romantic reading. I extend a warm welcome to the Facebook Launch Party on the 27th March. Goodies can be won and lots of information on my protagonists will be divulged.

Thank you for the update, Nancy. I was in awe of you before; I’m even more in awe of you now.

Nancy Jardine

Nancy Jardine

Nancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She currently shares a home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, 3 year old granddaughter and 1 year old grandson. It’ll continue to be a busy household till late summer of 2015 when the new build home will be completed for the young ’uns on what was Nancy’s former back garden. The loss of that part of the garden won’t be missed since there should now be more writing time available this spring and summer! Childminding is intermittent over the day and any writing time is precious. (If interested in how a new house is built these days, follow my blog posts named ‘Gonna build a house’ )

 All matters historical are a passion; Ancestry research a lovely time-suck. Nancy regularly blogs and loves to have guests visit her blog. Facebooking is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds! Any time left in a day is for leisure reading and the occasional historical series on TV.

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Author links:

Nancy’s blog

Nancy’s website

Twitter: @nansjar

Nancy on Facebook

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Monogamy Twist can be PRE-ORDERED here.

Novels also available from Barnes and Noble; W.H. Smith; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other places.