Several exciting things have happened since I last posted. We were in London at the weekend to watch DH romp home in the marathon. We were incredibly lucky to get passes to the grandstands so we had an amazing view. I felt really emotional watching the winners, Paula Radcliffe and of course, my husband, dashing past us on that final stretch. Luckily, I was given a cow bell to shake before I got too overcome. It made a fantastic racket and I’m thinking of keeping it handy, in case I need to call order. Since then, we’ve also had a lovely time celebrating elder DD’s 17th birthday.
And on a personal note, I’ve just signed a new contract with Choc Lit. I’m really excited because it’s for a mystery set in my home city. I’ve been in Cambridge for years now, and have found it’s full of surprising contrasts. Since arriving, I’ve lived everywhere from the house of Lord to a slug-infested flat. Squatters live cheek by jowl with professors and millionaire entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, given that it’s home to an 800-year-old university, it’s steeped in tradition, yet also at the heart of ‘Silicon Fen’, a phenomenally successful cluster of science and technology businesses.
It’s atypical in that it’s a very small city. Its enclosed environment means there are lots of interconnections between people you wouldn’t expect, which is perfect for a mystery writer. Telling a secret is a risky business… Cambridge’s size also means the student population’s very visible. Almost 20 percent of residents are here to study. It skews the age balance and feels odd, since it means I gradually get older, but I’m surrounded by Peter (and Pippa) Pans!
Inevitably, where there are academics with international reputations, bringing in multi-million pound research grants, there’s also pressure and rivalry. I’ve worked at the University, and at one of the colleges, so I’ve had a sneak peek into that side of life. All the while I was enjoying a ringside seat, the desire to write about the city grew.
The novel Choc Lit have just taken on is (currently) called A Stranger’s House in Cambridge. Here’s a flavour of the set-up:
When Ruby Fawcett is offered a house-sitting job it seems like a gift, giving her a roof over her head when she’s made a bolt from home. But it’s soon clear the absent house owner likes to play games with women and Ruby realises she’s being controlled by a man she’s never met. As she explores his house she sees signs of a talent for cruelty that’s been given free rein. But now he’s crossed the wrong person, and Ruby’s about to get caught up in a chain of deadly consequences.
The fictional house overlooks Midsummer Common and the river, and the action takes place in high summer. The cast includes students, an actor, an entrepreneur and an academic. There’s also Nate, an ex-PI, who’s more than secretive about why he gave up his job.
My current release and this one feature ordinary women who are flung into extraordinary situations. It’s fantastic to be able to explore both London and Cambridge as settings, and I hope to continue both strands.
On the London side of things, I’ve just finished the first re-draft of the novella sequel to You Think You Know Me. I’m about to repeat the experience!
The ebook version of A Stranger’s House in Cambridge is due out in December this year. (I will now bounce excitedly and ring my cow bell. I knew it would come in handy…)