Welcome to #MysteryNovember, 30 authors bringing you books from across the mystery genre to tantalise your reading taste buds.
We start our Mystery Book Tour month with Joanne Phillips and her book Murder at the Maples.
1) Where is your home town?
I live in Whixall, a rural village in North Shropshire, but I’m originally from just up the road in Chester.
2) How long have you been writing?
Forever! Like most writers, I’ve always made up stories, created narratives, but I’ve been writing novels for publication since 2012. I’m close to completing a Masters degree in creative writing, which has been a fantastic experience. I hope to teach creative writing in the future, as well as write.
3) What is your favourite sub-genre of mystery?
My favourite sub-genre is definitely the cozy mystery. I love mysteries, but I can’t cope with upsetting themes or gore! Cozies are the perfect answer, and there are many favourites on my bookshelf, including Edie Clare’s Never … series, which was the series that set me on the way to writing my very first cozy.
4) Where is Murder at the Maples set?
It’s set in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, close to where I live. But loosely – I don’t like to get too bogged down making a setting exactly right down to the last detail. I once had a reader get in touch (about another book, not this one) to point out that such and such a road isn’t exactly the way I described it, that I should have mentioned this landmark or other, but I disagree. It’s fiction, after all. I create my own worlds, based on a setting. So Flora Lively’s Shrewsbury is a special place, and it comes alive for her.
5) Introduce us to Flora Lively.
Flora is a reluctant sleuth at first. Her adopted parents recently died, leaving Flora in charge of the family business – Shakers Removals – a business she never really wanted to get into. Flora forms a friendship with an old lady at the Maples Retirement Village, and through her is drawn into the mystery …
6) Tell us about her friend Joy.
Joy is one of my favourite characters of all time! I love writing about the older generation – I love giving them the qualities I hope I have when I’m old. Joy is nearly eighty, mischievous and sparky, loyal and passionate, but also haunted by a mistake she made in her teens. It’s this guilt that is at the heart of the novel – Flora imagines Joy to be seeing everything through the lens of her guilt, but Flora is actually struggling with her own guilt about her mother, which skews her view of everything. (It sounds heavy, but this is in fact a fun read!)
7) What event causes Flora to become a reluctant sleuth?
An old man, the Captain, falls to his death at the Maples. Flora isn’t convinced by the warden’s description of how the accident occurred, and Joy has been pressuring her to look into some odd goings-on for weeks. When Flora discovers a connection between a strange ‘man in black’ and some oddities in the Captain’s will, the race is on to solve the mystery.
8) What is it that Joy fears will happen to others at the retirement home?
Joy is terrified of being moved up to ‘the third floor’ – she says that everyone who goes up to Special Care dies within three months. Because of this, she keeps her asthma and chronic eczema secret from the Maples’ doctors, with potentially devastating consequences.
9) You’re just about to launch the next Flora Lively mystery, can you give us a hint to the storyline?
I can! This time, Flora finds herself right in the thick of the action, solving a murder while holed up with the suspects in an English country house. When best friend Celeste returns from her travels with a Spanish film crew in tow, Flora is delighted to have the chance to hang out on the set. But when Alberto, the director, is stabbed, Flora finds the direction of the official investigation a little too close to home …
10) Where can readers find out more about you?
My main point of contact for readers is my website: http://www.joannephillips.co.uk Readers can sign up to my newsletter, email me, or contact me via the website.
I also have a lively blog about writing and publishing at http://www.writersjourney.co.uk, and I can be found on Facebook and Twitter, natch.
I reviewed this book here on the blog , here is a link to the review http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-4lV