Suffolk’s newest Crime Festival – Stowmarket Library 27 – 30 April 2018
Fiction genres are malleable. Books move in and out of popularity and often straddle several genres. Genealogy fiction is a sub-genre, usually combining murder mystery and crime with genealogical research. But what defines genealogy fiction? Must the protagonist be a genealogist to qualify?
My first foray into genealogy fiction was The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell. I liked it so much I immediately bought Blood Atonement and finished it within days. As a seasoned genealogist, I was hooked. Before long, I had graduated to Steve Robinson and his Jefferson Tayte mysteries and Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s forensic genealogist Morton Farrier. I am currently reading Goodwin’s The Suffragette’s Secret and very good it is too. Top of my genealogy fiction ‘to read’ list is Stephen Molyneau’s The Marriage Certificate and M J Lee’s The Irish Inheritance when time allows.
When I wrote Vote for Murder, it was inevitably going to have a genealogical theme being based on two of my ancestors, one a suffragette and one a convicted poisoner. The Fressingfield Witch is also based on my ancestry and was inspired by a public accusation of witchcraft made against a distant relative. The protagonist in Vote for Murder is an independent young suffragette who unravels a murder using a diary and family records. Private Investigator Lawrence Harpham uses parish and probate records to unmask the murderer in The Fressingfield Witch, but neither Lawrence nor suffragette, Louisa are genealogists. Are the books then worthy of the sub-genre classification of genealogy fiction? And does it matter that they are both set in Victorian times where the opportunity to use family history records was more limited? One never wants to disappoint an audience so getting the genre right is important. But I believe that both books nestle well into the genealogy fiction genre, even if they are not quite the same as their better-known counterparts.
The below is a list of well-known genealogy fiction writers. Some I have yet to read, but I heartily recommend the top three. Enjoy.
Dan Waddell – The Blood Detective & Blood Atonement
Steve Robinson – Any of his Jefferson Tayte offerings
Nathan Dylan Goodwin – Any Morton Farrier, forensic genealogist
M K Jones – The Genealogy Detectives
Geraldine Wall – File under Fear/Family/Fidelity
Stephen Molyneaux – The Marriage Certificate
M J Lee – The Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mysteries
John Nixon – Madeleine Porter Mysteries
Beryl Taylor – Therese
It’s the first day of a week away from work. The weather is disgusting. My dog is sullenly pacing round the house eyeing me with disapproval. It’s so foul outside, that today we are going nowhere.
I like a walk. It keeps the dog happy and my Fitbit from nagging. Today my Fitbit sits redundantly on my arm while I contemplate the pile of books I have been looking forward to reading, but have lain gathering dust on my bedside table while other things take priority.
The Fressingfield Witch, is one of those other things. My latest novel is a Victorian murder mystery set in Suffolk and based on a real news item that hit the local headlines in 1890. It was an allegation of witchcraft. The news item was only short, but had an immediate impact on me. For starters, it involved one of my very distant relatives. That’s always a good lure to a genealogist. And it involved death and witchcraft, so my inner writer pricked up her ears. Before I knew it, we had conjured up a novel from this tiny eleven-lined piece of inspiration.
I’ve taken a risk with this book. The real village of Fressingfield has been populated with actual people from the 1891 census. This will be like marmite to some. They will either appreciate the idea of real people living on in print, or they will disapprove of the merging together of fact and fiction. I hope it is the former.
The final cover and finished drafts are with Publishnation and should be ready for purchase very soon. All of which gives me the rest of the week to catch up with a little light reading of my own. Unless the rain lifts and the dog demands a walk. Doing a little rain dance now…..
My new book has been plotted, written and is now under going a rigorous edit. Set in the 1890’s in an East Anglian village, it combines fact and fiction with a large dose of mystery and a generous sprinkling of genealogy. This illustration gives a teaser of the back theme.
TFW (working title) will be published later on this year. In the meantime, the kindle version of Vote for Murder is on sale in the UK at just 99p. Suffragettes, secrets and sleuthing – what’s not to like…
Download Vote For Murder Amazon Kindle here
This new book, published by Poppyland Publishing with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Overstrand Parish Council, tells the story of all the soldiers, sailors and airmen of Overstrand and Suffield Park who died in the First World War. It also gives accounts of those who returned to the village after the conflict.
With 208 pages & colour throughout, ‘Overstrand in the Great War’ provides a fitting tribute to the young – and sometimes not so young – men and women of Overstrand and Suffield Park from a century ago. General the Lord Dannatt kindly contributes a foreword and puts their sacrifice and service into the context of the continuing commitment required of our armed services.
Author – Tim Bennett
Military Research – Martin Dennis
Autumn has landed with a vengeance in my little corner of Gloucestershire. In true Hygge fashion, I’m snuggled on the couch covered with a wool blanket, sipping a hot drink and letting the smell of cappuccino truffle waft around the room from a burning candle. The research for my next novel is almost finished; just the small matter of writing it now. Set once again in Victorian England, the new book mixes true crime and historical fiction in the blended genre of faction. Or rather it will once I’ve removed myself from the comfort of the sofa and away from cosy distractions.
In the meantime, Vote for Murder is currently free on Amazon Kindle until Wednesday 21st September. Click this link for your copy.
I’m not a full time writer. Like many others, I have a day job; to be completely accurate, I have two. So holiday time is valuable and self, husband, son and aged border terrier were looking forward to a fortnight off in the splendid scenery of Northumberland.
My husband has a thing about castles. Something to do with his love of Bernard Cornwell novels, I think. He was desperate to visit the Holy Island and couldn’t wait to get inside a castle or two. It was going to be a fabulous week with plenty of time to develop the plot for my next novel. Even my son was resigned to the lack of Wi-Fi and happy to be reading and writing instead.
Saturday dawned and we set off for Northumberland via Kendall, arriving in Beautiful Belford late Saturday afternoon. We duly unpacked, scoped out the local area and found a very nice hotel which served mini bottles of prosecco; all seemed right with the world.
Sadly, there was a lot less of the world by Sunday, according to my husband’s left eye. We decided to drive up the coast to the historic town of Berwick on Tweed and spent a pleasant morning meandering around the ruins. As we drove further north to the Scottish town of Eyemouth, hubby began to complain about his vision. It felt like there was a contact lens stuck in his eye, he said, and his vision was a little blurry. He inspected the eye in the mirror, saw nothing to concern himself and decided to sleep on it hoping it would improve by morning. So we went back to our holiday let, cooked a meal & settled down for the evening.
By the next morning, my husband’s left eye was behaving very badly indeed. He could only see a small semi-circle of light and was sufficiently concerned to visit the local chemist and ask for directions to the nearest optician. There were two within a 15-mile radius, so he chose Specsavers in Berwick. It turned out to be a wise choice. They were extremely accommodating, took his problem seriously and rearranged their diary so he could attend that morning. So off we trekked to Berwick again, hubby in attendance at Specsavers while my son and I walked the dog around the ruins for the second time in 24 hours.
Long story short, hubby was diagnosed with a detached retina and macular. He returned to the car, ashen, clutching a referral note to Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary for that afternoon. Despite the diagnosis, he insisted on driving as he doesn’t like me driving his car and I don’t like it much either as it doesn’t have a real handbrake. Two hours later the four of us were at the top of a multi-storey at the hospital. Son and dog remained in the car while hubby and I booked him into the eye clinic where there was a 2 hour wait. I spent the next 2 hours flitting between husband, son and dog and taking son and dog to find a car charger as all the phones were getting low and we had no idea whether husband would be admitted or not.
In the end, it was not. The operation was urgent and could have been carried out at Newcastle but with the follow up care, it was deemed better to return to Cheltenham and have the operation there. This came as something of a relief as all I could think about during the wait was how on earth I was going to get his car down nine car parking ramps when I couldn’t use the brake. It was clearly on his mind too as he point-blank refused to let me try.
Going back to Cheltenham was a no-brainer. The operation was urgent and we decided to drive through the night and take his referral letter to Cheltenham General hospital first thing the next day. And when I say we, I mean me. Husband finally, and reluctantly, agreed I should drive as the eye drops were disturbing his remaining vision and he knew he wouldn’t be able to see when it got dark.
It’s fair to say that Hubby does not make a good passenger. Having driven straight back to Belford, packed and departed, I might have been concerned about staying awake, were it not for the fact that he shouted at me almost the entire way home. The conversations, of which there were many, went along these lines.
Him – “You should get into the left lane here.”
Me – “But the satnav says stay in the middle lane.”
Him – “No, the sign says go left.”
Me – “The satnav definitely wants me to stay in this lane.”
Him – “GO LEFT NOW!”
Me – “We’re on the wrong road.”
Him – “Well don’t listen to me. You know I can’t see properly!
And so on, ad nauseam, all the way home.
Fortunately, we arrived home in one piece, slept for a few hours and reported to the hospital the next day. The staff at Cheltenham General were fantastic, took it all very seriously and he was operated on the following day. Three weeks later and things are going well. He can already see colours and shapes and his vision improves daily.
On the minus side, we only spent two days in Northumberland of which one of those was taken up dealing with medical matters. The closest we got to a castle was driving past glorious Bamburgh Castle & we were compelled to cancel our boat trip to the Holy Island (they would have taken the dog too). But it’s a small price to pay to ensure the restoration of hubby’s sight and we appreciate how lucky he was to be seen by such professional medical staff in Berwick, Newcastle & Cheltenham. We will return to Northumberland again one day and the trip to Holy Island will take place before anything else!