MURDER IS BLOSSOMING IN THE WELSH BORDERS.
Aldermaston’s having a bad day. A falling hanging-basket has killed the town’s mayor, and a second narrowly missed him. His wife wants him to build her new greenhouse in three days, and some nutter is sending him death threats.
This isn’t the quiet life he expected as the new Marquess of Mortiforde.
It’s the annual Borders in Blossom competition, and Mortiforde is battling with Portley Ridge in the final. But this is no parochial flower competition. The mayor’s mishap looks like murder, and there’s another body in the river. Someone desperately wants Portley Ridge to win for the fifteenth successive year.
So when a mysterious group of guerrilla gardeners suddenly carpet bomb Mortiforde with a series of stunning floral delights one night, a chain reaction of floral retaliation ensues.
Can Aldermaston survive long enough to uncover who is trying to kill him, and why? And can he get his wife’s greenhouse built in time?
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I’m most creative in the mornings, so I much prefer to draft then and edit in the afternoon. Ideally, I need somewhere quiet where I won’t be disturbed, but I don’t always succeed with that. I have a desk in the corner of a bedroom where I try to hide from the real world and escape into the far more interesting world of my Marquess of Mortiforde mysteries.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Sometimes I re-read the last scene I wrote the previous day, although I try not to edit it then! What is important is to read my notes that I jotted down at the end of my previous writing session, so I know what I need to write next.
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Not food, but tea. Gallons of the stuff. It also means that I’m never hunched over my keyboard for hours on end, because after every twenty minutes or so, I have to get up and go to the kitchen to top up my mug!
– What is your favourite book?
Tom Sharpe’s Blott on the Landscape will always be a favourite. I love the British eccentricity of it and the farcical elements of the plot.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I’m not sure. For me, writing cosy crime is a different genre because I’ve only had non-fiction books previously published. This is my first novel, and I’ve got several ideas for my Marquess of Mortiforde series, so I’m concentrating on those in the immediate future.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Many of my characters are rather eccentric, so if I did base my characters on people I know I think my acquaintances would start worrying! However, there are sometimes little character traits that I observe in people that I occasionally use.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Not a notebook, but I have an app on my smartphone called Drafts, which is brilliant. Every time I open it, it gives me a blank page, and it’s set to dictation mode, so I simply press the app icon on the screen and start talking. It’s a fantastic way to capture thoughts, especially when I’m out walking. Even better, I have the Drafts app on my desktop computer too, so when I’m next sitting at that machine, all my ideas have synchronised over the cloud and are sitting there waiting for me.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I struggle with science fiction sometimes, because I find it difficult to imagine other worlds. However, I have enjoyed Jasper Fforde’s Time-travelling science fiction Thursday Next series, but that probably because they’re set in Swindon (which I’ve been to) and not some far-away planet I’ve never heard of.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
I think it would have to be either Tom Sharpe, or Michael Frayn, just for their eccentric ideas!
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you choose and why?
Hah! I’m the man who’s been abroad twice, and both were school trips (so I’m talking over three decades ago, now)! But living on the Welsh Borders is like living next to a foreign country, anyway. Wales is about ten miles away, and when you cross the border the road signs are in two languages, and I’m not that far from parts of Wales where Welsh is the first language. It is also a beautifully stunning part of Great Britain.
Mind you, I moved to the glorious county of Shropshire over 20 years ago from the outskirts of London, and when I told people where I was moving to, many turned round and said, “Where’s Shropshire?” So, for some people, I already live in a foreign part of the country!
What makes the Welsh Borders so special (and the perfect setting for my Marquess of Mortiforde mysteries) is that it’s sparsely populated, and travel to the nearest towns and cities isn’t easy and takes time. This means the people round here have to look after themselves a lot of the time. It’s the perfect place for an amateur sleuth to live!
Thank you, Simon Whaley and Rachel’s Random Researches
About the author
Simon Whaley is an author, writer and photographer who lives in the hilly bit of Shropshire. Blooming Murder is the first in his Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries, set in the idyllic Welsh Borders – a place many people struggle to locate on a map (including by some of those who live here). He’s written several non-fiction books, many if which contain his humorous take on the world, including the bestselling One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human and two editions in the hugely popular Bluffer’s Guide series (The Bluffer’s Guide to Dogs and The Bluffer’s Guide to Hiking). His short stories have appeared in Take A Break, Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, The Weekly News and The People’s Friend. Meanwhile his magazine articles have delighted readers in a variety of publications including BBC Countryfile, The People’s Friend, Coast, The Simple Things and Country Walking.
Simon lives in Shropshire (which just happens to be a Welsh Border county) and, when he gets stuck with his writing, he tramps the Shropshire hills looking for inspiration and something to photograph. Some of his photographs appear on the national and regional BBC weather broadcasts under his BBC WeatherWatcher nickname of Snapper Simon. (For those of you who don’t know, they get a lot of weather in Shropshire.)