Friday, 8 April 2011

Author Interview with The Queen of Cosy Crime: Lesley Cookman

Lesley Cookman's latest book Murder to Music is a murder mystery set in the fictional village of Steeple Martin in Kent. It’s the eighth title in the Libby Serjeant series, published by dynamic independent publishers, Accent Press. I caught up with Lesley just before launch day to ask her lots of writerly questions.

How long have you been writing and what was your first book?
I’ve been writing for thirty years (can’t quite believe it) and started with features for Which Computer. After that, I wrote for various business titles, branched out into short fiction after a friend gave me her book on how to do it, wrote pantomimes and finally, was commissioned by How To Books to write a book on how to write a pantomime. That was my first book.

What made you want to write crime fiction?
I’ve been reading it since I was nine years old. My parents gave me the run of their bookshelves after I ran out of my own books. There wasn’t as much reading material for children around then, and I’d exhausted everything there was. I still remember the thrill of saving up for the latest Famous Five book and walking the mile and a half to the bookshop on a Saturday afternoon. Now I’d just download it onto my Kindle! So I started reading my parents’ books. Carter Dickson, John Dickson Carr (the same person), Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, Dorothy Sayers, Rex Stout. And others too obscure to mention. No Dame Agatha, though. So there I was, steeped in Golden Age detective stories. And the love has never left me.

Would you say cosy crime is an easier genre to write than, say, romantic fiction?
I think they both have well defined structures in their traditional forms, but neither are easy to write. Let’s face it, nothing is actually easy to write!

What can you tell us about your latest book, Murder to Music?
It’s the eighth in the Libby Sarjeant series. Libby is a former actress who lives in the village of Steeple Martin and paints pretty pictures for a friend’s shop and gallery in the nearby seaside town of Nethergate. So far, so traditional.  She has a cast of friends and family who appear in most books, and each time a new character appears, he or she tends to become yet another serial character.  It is becoming harder to invent credible situations with which Libby can become involved, but I hope readers will suspend belief just that little bit in order to enjoy the stories.  This particular adventure concerns a supposedly haunted house.

Will there be more Libby Sarjeant novels?
At least two more are contracted: Murder at The Manor due out in November, and Murder by Magic next May.

And will you ever write a different series? Or another sort of book?
If ever I have the time!  And of course, if I’m spared....

Thanks for the interesting interview Lesley - and best wishes for your Murder to Music launch!

Lesley Cookman lives near the sea in Kent. She has written features, short fiction, pantomimes, a musical, a non-fiction book and numerous press releases. Murder to Music, the eighth in the Libby Sarjeant series, will be published on 11th April 2011.

Murder to Music out now in paperback £4.99 and Kindle: £5.74

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Lesley Cookman said...

And thank you, Janice!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Enjoyed the interview, Lesley and Janice. I do love cosy crime and used to read all those old favourites, Lesley, as well Agatha Christie. Glad to find out about your series!

Talli Roland said...

Great interview, ladies! Love hearing more about writers' backgrounds and how they came to write novels. Thank you, Lesley and Janice!

Nostalgia4books said...

Nice interview. Interesting to get some background on Lesley's love of Golden Age crime fiction. It's a genre I particularly enjoy.

Janice said...

Thank you Lesley - it is facinating to hear how you got started with your Steeple Martin series. I also think that stories in which one has to suspend belief just a little bit make for all the better reading!

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

Thanks for the great interview. I love the Libby Sarjeant books and think they'd make a fabulous tv series.

Chris Longmuir said...

Interesting interview. I must get hold of one of the books to try as they sound fascinating. I do read cosy from time to time, even though I'm the 'Queen of Dark' (hopefully)

Henriette said...

Fascinating interview, Lesley, and particularly interesting for me because I write what could probably be classed as mystery with romance. I do enjoy hearing from other writers who and what inspired them to write crime, and some of yours are the same as mine. Plus I also have a real fondness for Raymond Chandler!