Thursday, May 30, 2013

Featured Author: Lesley Cookman

Cozy Mystery Book Tours brings Lesley Cookman to A Blue Million Books today to talk about her latest book, Murder In The Monastery, from the Libby Sarjeant mystery series published by Accent Press.

About the book:

The eleventh book in the Libby Sarjeant series of British murder mysteries which features a retired actress as the female sleuth and are based in the picturesque village of Steeple Martin.

Libby Sarjeant is invited to look into the provenance of a jeweled Anglo-Saxon reliquary which has appeared on a website. The nuns at St Eldreda’s Abbey are curious, as it apparently contains a relic of St Eldreda herself. Libby’s friend Peter obtains permission to mount a play based on St Eldreda’s story in the ruins of the original monastery called, naturally, Murder In The Monastery. And then, inevitably, a real body is discovered, and Libby and her friend Fran find out that this is not the first.

Interview with Lesley Cookman:

How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I’ve been writing for a living for over thirty years, beginning with features in Which Computer at the beginning of the Desktop revolution.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

As all the books start with the word “murder,” it’s frequently a committee decision between me, the publisher, my editor, and the sales director!

Do you have another job outside of writing?

No, thank goodness! It’s keeping me solvent for at least the next two years until the current contract runs out!

How did you create the plot for this book?

By picking ideas out of the air and trying to piece them together.

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

I never outline until I’m about three chapters in and I know vaguely what it’s about. Then I’ll try and do a bit of forward - or possibly backward - planning. But as things leap up in the text, I have to follow them to see if they fit.

Did you have any say in your cover art? 

Yes, the cover is always discussed, and I not infrequently get my own way! However there is an overall look to the covers since the redesign last year, so I merely suggest images. I don’t know anything about the designer, I’m afraid.

What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

Honestly, too many to list here.  I have shelves and shelves of books of my own, those inherited from my parents and my childhood books. I have read them all more than once, and in most cases, several times.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” I don’t need to tell you where that comes from, do I? ;-)

Ah! From I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. That is a good one. How do you get to know your characters?

They tend to appear fully formed, so I know what they feel and how they speak. If I don’t have an immediate picture of them in my head, it’s probably not a good idea to include them.

When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

No! Only my main protagonist and the regular cast members (who are now listed in the front of every book).

Are you like any of your characters?

My family and friends say Libby Sarjeant is my alter ego, and in a way, I suppose she is. She doesn’t look like me, and she’s younger than I am, but a lot of my opinions come spouting out of her mouth! I’m not as brave - or as foolhardy - as she is, but we have an acting background in common, and we are both involved in local theatre.

Who are your favorite authors?

Ngaio Marsh, Carter Dickson/John Dickson Carr, P G Wodehouse, Jerome K Jerome, Dodie Smith, Katie Fforde, Christina Jones...shall I stop there?

What are your favorite books...

a) as a child The Swish of The Curtain by Pamela Brown, and all Malcolm Saville’s and
b) as a teenager I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, all  Georgette Heyer’s and P G Wodehouse’s books, 
c) as an adult) all the foregoing and all the books by the authors I previously mentioned. Once read, always re-read.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton in paperback

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I ignore it as far as possible. We can’t please all the people all the time, and my books won’t appeal to everybody.

Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?

In the afternoon - but when the deadline’s looming (like now - three weeks away!) I’ll be working as much as possible.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

In my office in the afternoon.

Where’s home for you? 

A seaside town in Kent, England.

Would you like a visitor? Just kidding. Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?

Keep writing. When you’re paid to write, you can’t have writer’s block!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read! What else? And thank you for asking me to be a guest on your blog.

You're welcome! Thanks for being here.

About the author:

Lesley Cookman started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many Woolworth’s exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she’s been grown up, following a varied career as a model, air stewardess and disc jockey, she’s written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories from Accent Press in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign. The Libby Sarjeant series is published by Accent Press, who also publish her book, How to Write a Pantomime, with a foreword by Roy Hudd. Lesley is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association. Links to their sites are listed below.

Lesley’s pantomimes are published by Jasper Publishing.

Connect with Lesley Cookman:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon 

Cozy Mystery Book Tours is giving away a prize of a $25 gift card or Paypal cash. To enter the giveaway fill out the online form here.