Saturday, 31 January 2015

Victorian Crime - Carol Hedges style!

For my Saturday surprise I'm welcoming Carol Hedges, an author I'm getting to know via the ever-expanding cattery at Crooked Cat Publishing. Carol's the guru who has lost me at the initial hurdles when it comes to the wonderful world of Twitter.
Today, Carol's sharing her Crooked Cat news with us, though she's an experienced multi-published author across different genres.  Diamonds and Dust (Crooked Cat Publishing), the first in her Victorian Crime series, was a delightfully entertaining read and not to be missed. When I was reading it, I was transported back to the Victorian Dramas and Victorian Farces that were regular fodder in my School and College Drama Clubs' repertoires. The simple but very stylish covers for her Victorian Crime Series are perfect images for the Victorian drama (and maybe even melodrama) that unfolds between the pages.

Like Carol mentions in her post, I found it a huge honour that
the second book of my Celtic Fervour Series - After Whorl: Bran Reborn - was enterered for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2014. Though I knew the competition would be fierce, I was stunned least a week  (* smiley face here *)  ... knowing that my book was being read at the early stages.I'm guessing she felt a great buzz as well.

Over to Carol now...

As you probably all know, I'm currently working on the third book in the Victorian Crime novels that began in 2013 with the publication of Diamonds&Dust. This novel was rejected out of hand by my ex-agent as ''not remotely publishable'' but found a home with the lovely folk at Crooked Cat and subsequently went on not only to be published, but to be up for the CWA Historical Dagger, the Walter Scott Prize and the Folio Society Prize.

At the time, I envisaged the book as a one off. Its quirky style and pastiche nature wouldn't, I thought, have much mass appeal. I was wrong. Readers took my two detectives Stride and Cully to their hearts, and loved the rogues gallery of minor characters that surrounded them as they went about their work in Victorian London.

Thus the sequel, Honour&Obey, whose title alone will be a cause of much distress to the US market, was launched in November and is already racking up a fistful of five star reviews.

I like writing series. I know there are those who say: cop-out ..because you've got a ready made set of characters already established, but I disagree. The joy of writing a series is to see your characters developing over a longer period of time than in a stand alone text.

Each of my three novels takes place a year later I'm now in 1863. A lot can happen to a character in that time: when we met Jack Cully, the second detective, he was merely a wingman for Detective Inspector Stride. In Honour&Obey, he met the love of his life, Emily Benet. In Death&Dominion, something very dramatic and life-changing is going to happen to him. Sorry, no spoilers!

A series also allows you to revisit minor characters who appeared briefly in previous books and who you rather regret leaving on the sidelines. Sometimes a character strolls in and captures your heart unawares. Constable 'Taffy' Evans is one of those. We met him briefly in Diamonds&Dust doing night duty in a WatchBox. I loved him - he is one of life's ''innocents'' and has a good heart, so he reappears in Honour&Obey having moved up the ranks and joined the detective division.

In Death&Dominion, life takes an unexpected turn for the affable young Welshman .... and his long suffering sweetheart Megan. That's the joy of a series - with a longer timeframe comes more realistic storylines.

Publishers LOVE series. They are easy to market, and each book sells on the back of the previous ones. Thus some writers (well known ones) succumb to the temptation to go on churning them out year after year, when by rights the whole thing should have been allowed to quietly slink off and hide in a dark corner after the fifth one.

I have been told, though, that the ''real money'' comes from a 5 book series, which means most other writers will have been told this too. This is probably why some of them are keeping doggedly going 10 + books later. I can't see myself getting as far as a fifth book right now. Mind, I never thought I'd get as far as a third. In the meantime, I plot on with Death&Dominion, crossing my fingers, hoping that it will avoid the ubiquitous potholes and that I can pull it off successfully yet again.

Thanks for a great post, Carol. I'm currently working on the 4th book in my Celtic Fervour Series and have a 5th in mind. Yet, like other authors, and probably yourself, I'm lured by other ideas and ongoing WIPs that also demand my writing time. "Oh, to be one of those people who are totally focused on one thing at a time." Can you see a 'Victorian me' swooning in my tight laced corset???

Carol Hedges is a British author of books for children, young adults and adults. Her novel Jigsaw, about a teenager's suicide, was shortlisted for the Angus Book Award and nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 2001. Her most recent works are the Spy Girl series for teenagers and the Diamonds & Dust series, published by Crooked Cat and featuring the Victorian detectives Leo Stride and Jack Cully. These books are written for adults.
She lives in Hertfordshire and is married with a grown-up daughter.

Twitter: @carolJhedges
Amazon page:

ps You'll find that I'm over at my 'every-second-Saturday' slot at Writing Wranglers and Warriors BLOG later today.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one. I was sure Neither Here Nor There was a one off. Yet now I'm planning a sequel sparked by a comment in a review.


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