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The Next Big Thing


Death on Lindisfarne


DoL small.jpg

Welcome to this exchange of ideas from writers about their work-in-progress. I was tagged by Claire Dunn, author of the wonderful Mortal Fire. Check out her blog on http://cfdun.co.uk .

For me, it’s about the second in my series of Aidan Mysteries, which I am writing for. Monarch

What is the working title of your book?

It was Death on Lindisfarne from the start. It’s not a particularly original choice for a crime novel. The impact comes from the clash between the word ‘Death’ and the sacred associations of ‘Lindisfarne’, which is also known as ‘Holy Island.’ It brings the jar of the unexpected.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Monarch asked me to write a crime series for them. To me, it is important that crime novels have an extra dimension, besides the solving of the obvious problem. I decided that the extra dimension in the Aidan Mysteries would be their setting in one of the sacred places of the British Isles. Islands have a special magic for me. I had already written a novel about Iona, so Lindisfarne was the obvious next choice. The island setting also enabled me to throw a small group of people together and explore the tensions between them.

What genre does your book fall under?

Mystery and suspense. I’m not interested in crime fiction as just the intellectual solving of a problem. The principal characters get intimately caught up in the tension and danger.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Aidan and Lucy must confront their own demons to unravel a vulnerable teenager’s tragedy.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I already had the first in this series, The Hunted Hare , published by Monarch, so naturally I wrote this sequel for them. My agent, Joanna Devereux of Pollinger, has been invaluable in brokering the contract for me.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Three or four months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Possibly Dorothy Sayers, because she has a breadth of interest behind straightforward detection, and the development of relationships plays an important part. Aidan comes to Death in Lindisfarne as a recent widower, and Lucy is hiding from her ex-partner, but the last thing they are thinking about is falling into each other’s arms.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I have a deep interest in Celtic Christianity and its successor in the Anglo-Saxon Church. Lindisfarne plays a pivotal part in the coming of Christianity to the North. Don’t believe that the only apostle to the English was Augustine of Kent. I had visited it twice before, walking the pilgrim way across the tidal sands. I fell under the spell of this almost-island, accessible only at low tide.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I have tried not to overburden the book with history, fascinating though this is. But Lucy does tell her group colourful stories from the rich vein of Lindisfarne’s past. I have covered this ground myself, with Visions and Voyages , about the Celtic Churches, and Runes on the Cross, about the Anglo-Saxon. The inspiration comes in large part from the Venerable Bede’s History of the English Church and People , added to from the Welsh sources and the later history of the Northumbrian kings and the Vikings.


For more exciting writers’ thoughts on their upcoming books, check out the following. They will be posting their news from Dec 12.


Sheila Skillman: www.sc skillman .co.uk

Beth Webb: www.bethwebb.co.uk


Sheila was a member of the same writers’ group as I was, and I have enjoyed sharing her journey into publishing.

Beth and I have shared fantasy and SF conferences together, and have a sympathy for each other’s work.