Published by Crooked Cat Books
ebook & paperback : 14 November 2017
The House at Ladywell is described on Amazon as a ‘mystery romance’ and I’m delighted to welcome to the blog, author Nicola Slade with a guest post.
Digging deep and finding treasure!
I’m a bit of a squirrel, a hoarder, and our house groans under the weight of blue-and-white china, bits of Victorian glass – and books – of course there are books, wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling. Luckily I also hoard almost everything I’ve ever written because the first version of The House at Ladywell was actually written in 1996!
Aga Sagas were the thing at the time and I thought I’d have a go at one, though I remember thinking it was more of a ceramic hob saga, not so much set in a Georgian rectory as in a very old, run-down house in a small market town. My then agent sent it off – and back it came, again and again. The comments were of the ‘good but no cigar’ variety and eventually the agent and I parted company and the book was consigned to the dungeons until, nearly three years ago, a friend remarked that she’d always liked the book about a house, and why didn’t I take another look at it?
I was writing another book at the time, but I did take a look, and I liked the story, so I set about cutting it down from 115,000 words (!) to 80k. I got rid of huge chunks of it and delved into the history of the house, finding – to my astonishment – that I needed to go as far back as Roman Britain. I was hooked; I’ve always been a history nerd, so I wrote seven ‘episodes’ from the house’s history.
How to mingle a present-day romantic affair with centuries of family life was the next challenge. I tried a linear style: begin at the beginning, ie around 4th Century AD and carry on until now. It didn’t work out because it wasn’t engaging, so I wrote the contemporary romantic story which has the protagonist, quite out of the blue, inheriting the house from an unknown relative.
It’s a familiar scenario but I filtered the historic ‘echoes’ into the narrative so that the reader always knows more than Freya, the heroine – a device I’ve always liked myself. So satisfying to know the truth behind the puzzle and to be one step ahead of the characters in the book. My lovely Beta readers thought it worked just fine so that’s where I went and although Freya does find out some of the house’s story, the reader always knows that little bit more.
The House at Ladywell is set in a small Hampshire market town half-way between Winchester and Southampton. My town is called Ramalley but it bears a very close resemblance to the real town of Romsey, though I’ve given it a priory rather than an abbey and a river where the A27 really runs!
Having written six cosy murder mysteries in succession, I did wonder how readers would take to a romantic/historical novel but luckily they seem to like it. And there are a couple of murders anyway, albeit in the historical interludes. I don’t think I could write a novel without killing someone!
| About the Book |
A hare carved in stone and the scent of flowers in a house full of echoes – can Freya’s inheritance help her to leave the past behind?
Had I gone completely crazy that first day? To open the door, take one astonished look round, and decide on the spot that I would live there?
To fall in love with a house?’
When Freya Gibson inherits an old, run-down property she has no idea she is the last in a long line of redoubtable women, including the Tudor nun who built the house. Unknown to Freya these women, over centuries, fought with whatever weapons came to hand – deception, endurance, even murder – to preserve their home and family.
Freya falls in love with the house but her inheritance includes an enigmatic letter telling her to ‘restore the balance’ of the Lady’s Well. Besides this, the house seems to be haunted by the scent of flowers.
In the past the Lady’s Well was a place of healing and Freya soon feels safe and at home, but she has demons of her own to conquer before she can accept the happiness that beckons.
| About the Author |
All my novels are set in or near Winchester. My first novel was a romantic comedy, ‘Scuba Dancing’, published by Transita Ltd in 2005. After that I branched out into the first of a series of Victorian mysteries: ‘Murder Most Welcome’,published by Robert Hale Ltd, featuring Charlotte Richmond, a young widow in the 1850s. The second of the series is ‘Death is the Cure’, and Charlotte’s third adventure is ‘The Dead Queen’s Garden’.
My contemporary cosy mystery series features Harriet Quigley, a former headmistress, and her sidekick and cousin, Rev Sam Hathaway. They first appeared in ‘Murder Fortissimo’, published by Hale, and secondly in ‘A Crowded Coffin’. Harriet’s third outing is ‘The Art of Murder’ published September 2016 by Endeavour Press. Ebook and paperback. My eighth novel, ‘The House at Ladywell’, a contemporary romantic novel with historical interludes, was published by Crooked Cat Books in November 2017, in ebook and paperback.
My novels have received praise for their humour and the eccentricity of some of the characters, as well as depth and sensitivity in the writing.
I live in Hampshire with my husband and with family nearby and visiting often. I’m also an artist and have had paintings exhibited in various places, including the Southampton Art Gallery and at Mottisfont Abbey.