1 – First things first, Juliet. Lots to titillate your taste buds in The Coffee House today, are you a sweet or savoury person? May I take your order please?
JB -I’ll have a latte with two sugars please, Babs, as well as the soup and crusty bread. I like sweet things but, on account of having had Type 1 Diabetes since childhood, I have always tended to choose the savoury option. I can NEVER resist tiramisu though. Oh dear, that must be difficult. Soup coming up, sorry, no tiramisu I’m afraid.
2 – Juliet, I’m sure everyone would like to know a little more about you. Where are you from? Are you a full time writer or do you have to share your time elsewhere? If you have a secret skill or hobby or if you moonlight as something particularly exciting we want to hear about it...we really do!
JB - I wish I could afford to write full time, Babs, but sadly I can’t so I have a mind-numbing evening office cleaning job. I come from Reading in the Thames Valley (between Oxford & London). My fictional city of Ashbeck is located between Oxford and my hometown, Reading, so the action sometimes spills over into either or both locations if needed. Mind numbing jobs are perfect for thinking out plots, though.
3 – How did you initially get into writing? I know you’re a prolific writer, Juliet, so I’m interested in how you discipline yourself. Do you have a daily word quota, or just write when the mood takes you? What does your family think of your writing and all the time you devote to your fictional characters?
JB - When I was a kid I would fill exercise books with stories. I write when the mood takes me, but DI Frank Lyle has free rein so he often runs away with the story. My Mum and my Gran have read all the DI Frank Lyle books to date, apart from the one I’m here to talk about today. But my mum doesn’t like the Lulu.com site so she waits until they get on Amazon, although she DID read the second DI Frank Lyle book Heir to Misfortune on the Kindle app on her ipad.
4 – Can you remember the first thing you had published? Did you run the gauntlet of the query letter? Enter a competition or decide to self publish?
JB - I had a few poems published in anthologies during my teens and twenties. I had a less than pleasant experience with a small publisher a couple of years back, after which I decided to take the self-publishing route.
5 – From your own experience as a writer do you have any tips for those not yet published? Is there anything you would do differently with the benefit of hindsight?
JB - Never give up on your dreams of being in print; it is easier now than when I was in my teens. All the things I might have done differently with hindsight would have involved money I just don’t have. Other advice is NEVER pay anyone for an honest review and you need to grow Rhino hide i.e. be able to take constructive criticism. Someone may offer you a winning plot twist under the guise of criticism after all. That’s a very good point, Juliet. It’s hard for us all to accept criticism, but another person’s constructive insight can be a valuable thing.
6 – I know you write police procedural, crime fiction, does this entail much research and if so, how do you go about it? Is there a particular genre or type of scene that you would avoid and if so why?
JB - A lot of my research comes from crime novels and TV crime drama, I learn loads from that. I sometimes ask our good friend Paul Trembling about scene of crime issues, and I use the Howdunnit writers guide series a lot, especially for autopsy scenes and injuries. In the first book, Second Chances, I had a Hindu character so I asked Malika Gandhi tons of questions about their beliefs etc so that he came across as authentic. There was also a Diabetes related aspect to both the first two books which of course came from 34 years experience of living with the condition. I would avoid any storylines directly involving the death of a young child because I have chosen not to have kids and I don’t think I could be accurate enough about the emotional fall out associated with such a tragedy.
7 – Where does your inspiration come from, Juliet? Do you listen to music while you write? Is there a song or artist that you feel is significant to your writing?
JB - In 2013 DI Frank Lyle would be 70, so long retired. I see myself as a sort of chronicler of his most testing cases, rather like Dr Watson is to Sherlock Holmes, so I let him dictate and his memory is what inspires me as well as reading his old case notes.
I more often have the TV as background rather than music, but DI Frank Lyle is a fan of Joan Baez. So here is a link to her song Diamonds & Rust, which often features in the stories. It’s scary to realise that song is as old as I am. DI Lyle likes to listen to her in the car (tapes because the DI Lyle series is set in the 1980s and early 1990s so prior to in car CD players.)
8 - Were you brought up in a house full of books, or did you sneak off to the library at every opportunity as I did. As a child which was your favourite book? Do you have a favourite book and author now? What are you reading now?
JB - I was encouraged to read as a child. I read far too many books to have a real favourite (I was a young child pre-Harry Potter) I don’t recall having an absolute favourite book as a child, but when I was in my teens I discovered "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4" by Sue Townsend and have bought every Adrian Mole book since. I’ve seen him grow from a gawky teenager into an only slightly less gormless adult. I can’t really say I have favourites now, although I am very fond of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. At the moment I’m reading Good Deed by Indie crime author Steve Christie. (No relation as far as I know lol)
9 – I’d love you to tell me a little about the books you currently have published.
JB - Second Chances was the first DI Lyle book and it was set across 5 years and featured the one case that haunts him to this day because it had a high cost to him both personally and professionally. Heir to Misfortune is about blackmail, murder and corruption among prominent members of Ashbeck society. Modern forensic medicine was really only in its infancy then so they had a lot to learn about DNA swabbing and blood spatter patterns, which is why I chose to set them in this time period.
10 – If it’s not a closely guarded secret, and won’t spoil the plot, can you give a hint at what you have planned next? I won’t tell anyone ... promise.
JB - The next DI Lyle book Murder in the Wings will be centred on a theatre group in Ashbeck and feature professional jealousy, emotional blackmail and murder, but I haven’t written a word yet so there is nothing to give away. I am also putting together an eBook box set which will feature Second Chances, Heir to Misfortune and Unholy Alliance plus a short “Coming soon” excerpt from Murder in the Wings; this should be ready to release in the spring.
11 – Pick one of your characters and sell him/her to us in twenty words or less.
JB - DI Lyle is a man dedicated to truth and justice; committed to his family and compassionate towards victims of crime.
12 –Please introduce the book you’ve brought with you, Juliet, and while I go and pop another log into the stove, would you like to read a short excerpt?
JB - Unholy Alliance is the third DI Frank Lyle novel. It is centred on the murder of a curate, Reverend Martin Hayes, during an ecumenical conference. The victim seems to have had a troubled past, but what DI Lyle and his team discover is rather shocking. Will a little knowledge prove to be a dangerous thing?
This excerpt comes from Chapter 15 of Unholy Alliance and is narrated from the POV of DC Jayseera Lyle, DI Lyle’s Indian wife, who has come back to work part-time six months after having their first baby. Rice, is Canon Thomas Rice, a former police officer, who has been called in to help the police owing to the case’s church connection.
About ten minutes later there was a knock at the door. Frank opened it to admit Jim Cox and two of his SOCO team.
“Jesus Christ,” he exclaimed.
I glanced at Rice, hoping he wasn’t offended, but he did not appear to be. He was a former cop after all, which meant he would have been used to such language.
“I presume you have Hayes’ prints?” Frank looked at Cox who nodded.
“We’ve all got gloves, but I need you to dust in case there are prints here that do not belong to Hayes.” Frank said, “Meanwhile we have to look out for anything that might give us a clue to the man himself.”
“I don’t envy you,” Cox said.
Frank, Rice and I began leafing through the papers.
“This might be of interest,” Rice said after about ten minutes. He was holding a bundle of torn papers, which looked like letters. Frank supplied him with a sealable evidence bag. I admired the fact that Frank was always prepared; he carried evidence bags and gloves almost everywhere with him.
“It would be good if we could find a diary or something,” I said, “But that would be asking too much.”
“In this bombsite anything’s likely, DC Lyle.” Rice said.
He began leafing through some torn photographs, most of which were grainy and badly exposed.
“Whoever took these was no David Bailey.”
He carried on looking.
“Look at this, DI Lyle,” he said suddenly. Frank walked over to him and I peered in.
It was a grainy age-distorted snapshoot taken on a pier of some sort. It had been torn in half but the halves clearly matched. It showed a younger Hayes and his mother with a child, aged about five or six, wearing a pair of trunks and a towel around his shoulders. It was posed, none of them looked especially happy. I realised that, in order to find the key to the mystery, we would need to know who the child was.
“Did Hayes have any younger brothers, kids of his own or a nephew?” I asked, suddenly excited by this discovery.
“No to the first and third, he was an only child,” Rice said, “As to the other, well a definite don’t know.”
Suddenly we heard a piercing scream from upstairs and a muted, “Oh my God.”
Frank dashed into the hallway. DC Fox was halfway down the stairs, his face ashen.
“What is it?” Frank’s tone was urgent.
“Guv, I really think you need to come and see this.”
Frank and I ascended the stairs, Rice close behind. WPC Mahon was stood in an open doorway, tears streaming down her pallid cheeks.
13- And can you let us know where we can find it?
BARNES & NOBLE
14– And some links as to where we can find you.
Facebook - Juliet B Madison Crime Author
Facebook - Unholy Alliance
Facebook - DI Lyle Mystery Series
Facebook - Asbeck CID
15 - And finally before you leave, a test for your imaginative, story weaving skills. We’re playing a little game that I hope all my guests will contribute to. Can you give me 100 words of your choosing to follow on from this last line from John Holt? Your last line will be picked up by the next guest... and so on: You can catch up with the story so far Here.
There on the wall was a painting of a lady, a lady dressed in grey, but the face was that of Rose herself...
Rose was horrified to see this. What on earth did it mean to see her face on an old picture?
A thousand scenarios and explanations ran through her mind but none of them seemed remotely plausible. She felt acrid bile rise into her mouth and throat, which she valiantly attempted to choke back down.
She thought about the famous line from Sherlock Holmes about eliminating the impossible, but the trouble was it all seemed impossible so she was unlikely to find the remaining improbable and with it the truth.
The shock was proving to be too much and with a cry Rose remembered nothing more as darkness overwhelmed her and she sank to the floor in a dead faint.
Thanks for stopping by Juliet. It’s been great to find out more about you and of course about DI Lyle and his team. Good luck with the series.