A sister of gore
The Second Detective Lavender Mystery is called 'The Sans Pareil Mystery' after the Regency theatre in London. Stephen Lavender and Constable Woods have a new case to solve when the body of a beautiful, young actress from The Sans Pareil is found in mysterious circumstances.
I love the theatre and always intended to set this second whodunnit in the heart of Regency London's theatre district, the lively but seedy streets of Covent Garden. Originally, I wanted to feature the world-famous Drury Lane Theatre. However, I soon discovered that in 1810, Drury Lane was shut for rebuilding after yet another devastating fire.
Swallowing my disappointment, I quickly switched the action to The new theatre on the Strand, The Sans Pareil - and what a fortunate decision that turned out to be. My research has revealed that in 1810, the Sans Pareil (now known as the Adelphi) was run and operated by a woman: Jane Scott.
Miss Scott not only wrote most the burlettas and Gothic melodramas they performed, but she also starred in them too. For a historical fiction author who likes strong, independent women characters, I have just landed on my feet. I've got a real-life historical trail-blazer in my book.
If you would like to read more about this amazing woman, whom history has obviously forgotten, then please follow this link:
'The Strand' in Fiction
Feeling good today because that's another 1,000 words written of 'The Sans Pareil Mystery.' The trouble is though, that we Historical Fiction authors seem to spend three hours researching to every one hour writing. I've been battling away trying to work out the shape, architecture and business landscape of the famous London street, The Strand, in 1810. I'm determined to recreate the noise, sights, sounds and smells of this location in the Regency era to make the experience as authentic as I can for my readers. And what do I end up with after two hours research? Only enough information to embellish three short paragraphs of prose....(sigh)
Thoughts from an absent-minded author
I love it when I'm so immersed in my story that I'm still developing the plot as I carry out the more mundane aspects of my life, like strolling around the supermarket. After a two year break (necessary because my late-husband's illness) I now feel like I've returned to my favourite place after a long absence. My head is swimming with ideas, characters are talking to me and settings burst alive in vivid detail. However, the supermarket cashiers aren't usually too keen when I try to pay for the groceries with a dry-cleaning card...(sigh)
Covent Garden Capers
I've spent a wonderful afternoon writing and researching my latest Regency mystery. Set in Covent Garden in 1810, I found myself exploring more and more websites which detailed the long - and notorious - history of London's modern-day theatrical district. Back in the Regency era, Covent Garden had already established itself as the biggest market for 'fruit, flowers, roots and herbs' in Britain. It also had more prostitutes per square foot than any other part of the capital. The Grand Piazza, originally designed by Inigo Jones back in the 17th century to mimic the great neo-classical piazza's of Europe, was nicknamed: 'The great square of Venus.'
One contemporary observer declared: 'One would imagine that all the prostitutes in the Kingdom had pitched upon this blessed neighbourhood for a place of general rendezvous. For here are lewd women in sufficient numbers to people a mighty colony. And that a fuel for the natural flame may not be wanting, here is a great variety of open houses whose principal employment is to minister incitements to lust.'
I just hope that Detective Stephen Lavender can keep his mind on the case in this novel!
The Mystery of the Skelton Diamonds
A Detective Lavender Short Story
For anyone who can't wait until Christmas for the second Detective Lavender Mystery, Famelton Publishing have now published a short story on amazon which features my intrepid crime-fighting duo. Available shortly on Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc. Enjoy and please remember to leave a review.
Thoroughly recommended to Historical Fiction lovers and people of all faiths or no faith
‘The Testament of Mariam’ is a fascinating and very clever novel which would appeal both those who follow Christianity and those who don’t. This is a superb historical novel which successfully transports us to life in First Century Galilee and Gaul. Dusty, sun-baked and oppressed to different degrees by the Romans, the landscape of the Swinfen’s novel is a character in its own right. Told from the point of view of Mariam, the elderly - and now dying - sister of Jesus, this imaginative and quiet novel almost underplays the most retold story of the Western world as we follow Mariam from her home village in Galilee to the vine-clad slopes of Gaul. Thoroughly researched, the novel explains some of the most glaring exaggerations of the Christ-story and provides an excellent twist to the role played by Judas in the betrayal of Jesus. Thoroughly recommended to Historical Fiction lovers, Christians and atheists alike.
THE HEIRESS OF LINN HAGH