Oct 052017
 

AstronomerEvery story needs a hero and my new cosy mystery series even has two! Time for the introduction of one of the main characters, my amateur sleuth Jacob Hicks!

Jacob, can you tell us something about yourself?
My name is Jacob Hicks. I’m 52 years old and I am a part-time physics teacher at Milbury Secondary School.

Part-time, you say. How do you spend the rest of your time?
Well, I do experiments.

What kind of experiments?
Oh… um… At the moment I am tracking planetary motions and planetary moons, but I’m doing lots of things, really… Like tracking the International Space Station and other satellites in the night sky… umm… and I helped out a friend with his common vole project on the allotments.

Seems you have quite an eclectic range of interests.
Yes, that would be correct. I have always been like that.

Can you tell us a bit more about your childhood?
I was born here in Milbury and my father was a brick worker at the brick factory. Me and my best friend Dave always went out and did experiments. Like keeping track of the bats in Mr Patterson’s shed or testing which one of us could go faster down the hill. Me on my bicycle or Dave running.

So you were interested in physics from a young age?
Yes. I actually got a masters in biological physics and for my PhD specialised in biomolecular interaction. After that I got a research grand from the University of York for research into DNA replication and genome stability. This was in the eighties when DNA research was still in its early stages.

And now you teach unruly teenagers physics at the local secondary school.
… Indeed. Sometimes life takes you places you don’t really want to go.

Do you want to elaborate on that?
No… not really.

Is Dave still your best friend?
He is actually. Dave works for York Council and is head neighbourhood warden here in Milbury. His wife got them a dog when their children left home for university. I think he likes the little yapper now…

catcrouchAre you married yourself?
No… Women thinks I’m strange and besides, I’m always too busy with my experiments. I do have a cat named Spike. Spike’s not very enamoured by Dave’s dog.

Any more of your childhood friends still around?
Well, there’s Dave’s sister Peggy. She also finds me a bit strange, but doesn’t seem to mind.
And then there is Priscilla. She never was my friend, though… Archenemy, more like. She has returned to Milbury recently and is again making my life a hell. She still holds a grudge it seems that I skipped a grade in secondary school and then joined her class. Of course I was the smartest one in there…

Do you have any other friends in the neighbourhood?
Well, there’s Emily. Don’t know if I would call her my friend, but she helped exonerating me from a murder charge in the spring. She’s Dave’s niece and is now living with them after having been in trouble with the police in her hometown. She dresses like no one in the neighbourhood ever does.

And then there’s Abe Monday. He’s a mate of Dave and me and he was our local bobby, but after the murder he went into CID. That will do his career good, as he’s only a young’un.

One last question. What are you going to with the rest of your day?
Umm… I have to do some shopping for my mother and then feed Spike. After that the International Space Station will come over and it’s a lovely evening to see it.

Thank you for this little talk, Jacob and have a nice evening!

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Pictures via subscription to iClipart

 

Sep 282017
 

Interesting thing about writing murder mysteries is that you have to come up with new bad guys for every new book, but that’s what makes writing fun!

My second book in the Jacob Hicks Murder Mysteries series has taken a bit longer to come to fruition than I had hoped, but I can now say that the plotting has started and it promises to be an entertaining story once again.

In Sewer Mayhem (for now a working title, but it’s growing on me as the official title) Jacob and Emily, as well as Paddy and Vinnie, have to deal with hordes of hostile Italians that make the streets, and sewers, of Milbury unsafe.

Not wanting to unveil too much yet, I can say that I came up with the murderer for Book 2, after I had to deal with and unpleasant person in my part-time day job. So to ‘take revenge’ they’re now going to be immortalised as a murderer, but I’m not scared that they will ever find out.

Coming up with ideas
It’s interesting how writers come up with ideas for their books. Most of the rat world in the Jacob Hick Murder Mysteries, came to be after we had a rat infestation in our back garden and shed when I lived in York. This even included a rat getting trapped in a humane rattrap, like Pete in Don’t Feed the Rat!, although this rat wasn’t released into a neighbour’s kitchen, but in the fields south of where I lived. But not after it had sat in the cage for a day-and-a-half, after my housemate who set up the trap, became too afraid to release the poor thing.

Sewer Mayhem is set to be published either just at the beginning of the summer or just after it, depending on how it goes with the writing of it all. I have been looking forward to writing this story for a long time, as parts of it I already thought out three years ago.

Peanuts!
In the meantime, I’m hoping to publish a short story set in the world of Milbury, going by the name Peanuts!. (I know… I have a thing for exclamation marks in my titles, I don’t know why…)
The plan is to release this story exclusively for my newsletter subscribers, so make sure you sign up!

I have now also brought out an exclusive Guidebook to Milbury, with lots of interesting background info on the characters of the Jacob Hicks Murder Mysteries. It’s free for everyone, so don’t forget to download it.

This update has already become longer than I anticipated it would be, but I’ll leave you with one of my favourite reviews that Don’t Feed the Rat! got not that long ago. (Click image for an easier read!)

May 012017
 

‘How’s your book doing?’ is a question I have heard a lot over the last three years. But today I can finally say ‘It’s here!’

Three years seems a lot of time to spent writing ‘only’ 80,000 words, but in that time I did far more. I not only wrote Don’t Feed the Rat!, but also built an entire world with interesting characters. And op top of that I came up with two complete storylines for a nine-book cosy mystery series.

But still, three years!?

What I didn’t know when I came up with trying my hand at fiction instead of non-fiction, was that writing fiction is hard. It’s a skill that you need to learn. It has so many rules and pitfalls that at times I was ready to give up. Writing non-fiction was a doddle compared to writing fiction and why did I ever think I could do it?

Once pieces started to fit together and the process started to make sense, I luckily found my joy in writing again. Things started moving along. But I couldn’t have got to this point without the invaluable help of my developmental editor Eva.
She patiently kept reading all my plots and outlines and once I started on Don’t Feed the Rat!, all the drafts I produced.

And now after three years, Book 1 in my Jacob Hick Murder Mystery series is finally here! I’m very proud of the end result. Could it better? Possibly, but this is the best I can do at this point in time and I’m very happy with it.

Tomorrow I will start plotting Book 2. I can’t wait, but one thing I do know. It won’t take three years to finish that book!

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Don’t feed the Rat!, Book One of the Jacob Hick Murder Mysteries is for sale via Amazon. It will be available from other retailers from 1 December 2017.