Lesley Cookman has been described as the Queen of Cosy Crime and this year sees the release of her tenth Libby Sarjeant book. We welcome Lesley to our blog in celebration of her Jubilee year, which also sees her entire backlist reprinted in B format with new covers.
We’d like to celebrate in style, so what can we get you? Champagne, Gordons or English Breakfast tea? A chocolate HobNob?
Champagne, please, and forget the Hobnob!
It didn’t escape our notice that your new book is called Murder By Magic and your recent community theatre play was David Copperfield.
Don’t remember any magic in David Copperfield. Or did I miss something? Oh – ah. You mean that rather annoying conjuror. How dare he trade on the name of Dickens’s favourite novel?
When did you start treading the boards?
In primary school, then grammar school, from where I was sent to private drama lessons. I first appeared on the professional stage in London as Laura in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams at the age of fifteen and made the front page of the Evening Standard!
Oh, Shirley Valentine, without a doubt. The best showing off role in the business. I’m reprising a little bit of it for a show celebrating the 30th anniversary of our local theatre in July.
Would you consider writing a script for your theatre group and what would it take to encourage you to?
All my scripts were tried out at the theatre before publication. They now earn me my holiday money every year, bless them.
Inside every writer is an actor. What are your thoughts on this?
No, not always. I know some of us who are both, and I think it helps in a lot of cases, but I also know many more writers who are scared stiff of performance of any kind, regarding it as little less than water torture.
Now, onto your books.
When the publishers contracted the first book before it was finished and asked me if it could be the start of a series!
How has your heroine developed over the ten books? How has she changed? Were these changes planned, or did she take on a life of her own?
She hasn’t changed much, she’s still nosy and opinionated, and the changes in her life have happened by accident, as they do for most of us.
If you find out, will you tell me?
How do you develop the plot, including the twists, turns and red herrings?
By blundering on and remembering Raymond Chandler’s advice: “When in doubt, have a man come in with a gun.” I frequently don’t know who’s going to be murdered, or by whom. It just sort of happens – tortuously.
What is the strangest research question you have asked on Facebook or Twitter? Did you get the response you were expecting?
I ask very few research questions on either, and they’re usually quite mundane, like “What’s the name of those iron things you see on old walls?’ (It was wall ties, actually.)
What are your favourite genres to read and would you ever consider writing something radically different?
I tried, believe me, I tried. It actually raised my blood pressure so much I had to back out of the contract. My preferred reading is in my own genre, but I read a lot of my mates’ books, too, how could I not? Seeing that I still belong to the RNA and most of them are members!
What makes you laugh?
Pretty much everything. On the stage, both pro and community, I’ve specialised in comedy, Music Hall and pantomime, on which I’m considered an expert. (Laughs quietly up sleeve.)
Finally, what thing would you do if you had more time?
It’s not the time that’s the problem – it’s the money! If I’d been sensible and had a private pension, I could now stop work and spend a lot more time in my favourite village inTurkey. But, having been a self employed writer for thirty years – no pension. So, I keep on working.
Thank you for asking me. I wish you all the very best of luck in your careers.
Thank you, Lesley.
Now, does everyone have their glass ready? To Lesley and Murder By Magic.
or follow on Twitter @LesleyCookman.
Free until Thursday only, is the Kindle version of Murder by Magic, here. The paperback edition is out on June 7th. Enjoy, and cheers!