The Sally Mellors Adventures Book 1
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but where’s the fun in that?
Artist Sally Mellors has planned the perfect revenge, but with two secret agents on her tail, and her best friends running the police investigation, getting away with murder is going to be tricky…
Everybody loves Sally. She’s a funny, generous, warm hearted friend, without a nasty bone in her body.
Unknown to her friends, Sally’s discovered another side to herself, cool headed and relentless, as she hunts down the three men who killed her husband. But Sally’s not the only one with an interest in the trio. Unknown to her, two agents have arrived in town, urgently hunting a missing man and his diary, which could blow their organisation apart. Their best leads are the very men that Sally’s hunting, and she’s getting in the way…
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I prefer to write on a large screen, so generally I write in my study. It’s also tranquil there and I’ve lots of space to put the research books I need at that point in time.
I write every day, but I can move the time around to suit whatever else I’m doing at that moment. That said, there are times when I simply have to write because an idea, realisation or inspiration has hit good and hard, and then I get stuck in regardless of the time of day. If that means bouncing out of bed at 2 AM then so be it.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
No. If I’m planning a piece of plot, or doing research, I’m almost instantly in the zone. If I can’t figure something out, or I’m waiting for a character “to speak to me” then I go for a walk, mow the lawn etc. but it has to be something physical.
When I sit down to actually write, it usually takes me no more than a minute or two for things to kick in. On the odd occasion it takes longer than that, I’ll do other things and come back to it when the mind changes gear.
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Nothing specific in the drinks line. A mug of tea is a real giveaway as to just how deeply I’ve been into my work. It’s usually a very good sign if I discover it still half full and stone cold when I go for my next sip.
Otherwise I’ll drink a mixture of orange juice and water, or a diet coke, or even a glass of milk.
There’s nothing specific in the food line either. It just has to be tasty and easy/clean to eat to avoid dirtying the keyboard.
– What is your favourite book?
Three Men In A Boat, by Jerome K Jerome.
Not exactly current I know, but I just adore it. No matter what my mood, there’s something in there for me to dip into.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
So far I’ve written in the Mystery/Thriller and Time Travel/Historical fiction categories. They’re quite different, equally fun and have tremendous scope for future books, but who knows where the next idea will take me? As long as I’m deeply interested in that idea, and I’m happy with the quality once I get into it, then I’m absolutely open to other genres.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
As whole individuals, no. But I do take bits of people, something they’ve said or done, their attitudes and beliefs, the way they carry themselves etc. and those get mixed in as required.
A new character typically appears in my mind as a name, a description of how they look, their key background elements, and key behaviours and beliefs, but that’s really just a placeholder. It’s not really them. Their true character only comes out during the course of the writing, and as that picture evolves, that’s when little bits of reality, from real people click into place. It’s an almost subliminal process.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Yes, for concepts, facts, or quotes. But if it’s an inspirational idea, I need to write it straight away or I’ll lose its essence. I might be perfectly happy with what I write later, but it won’t be the same.
So, if I’m on my own, I might use my phone to dictate a few things instead. That collects the stream of ideas much faster than I can write them, and with all the vocal inflections which add depth when I come to review it later.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
It’s more themes rather than genres that I’m not keen on. For instance, Mills and Boon romances aren’t my thing at all, but I think Jane Austin’s Pride And Prejudice is fantastic. I’m not really into horror that much, but I love Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Ironically, given how much I enjoy writing the Sally Mellors books (A Thoughtful Woman, and An Implacable Woman) I’m not really into reading hard-nosed, realistically gritty crime novels. I’d far rather read something along the lines of Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Fisher stories, which while they tackle some pretty serious types of crime and some pretty tough issues, are leavened throughout with warmth and humour.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Oh my heavens… Now THAT’S a question! If I can choose anyone living or dead, then Terry Pratchett. I love most of his work, and having read A Slip Of The Keyboard multiple times, I know that not only would I enjoy working with him, but that I COULD work with him. My way of working is very similar to Terry’s.
Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us, so we can probably rule him out for now…
So Neil Gaiman. I’ve seen interviews with him where he talks about his friend Terry Pratchett, and I’ve read and listened to what Terry had to say about Neil in return. Neil’s pretty much the perfect combination of a brilliant writer, fantastic friend and generous collaborator. What more could you ask for?
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Ah, this is a funny one in my case. I’m a Brit, but I haven’t lived there for many, many years, and there is so much research I want to do there for my current books. So given I live somewhere else, as my research foreign country I’d want to go home again.
If that’s not allowed, then Norway or Denmark so I can really study the Vikings.
Thank you, K.T. Findlay and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Ever since I first saw James Burke’s wonderful Connections series, I’ve been fascinated by the way a single new idea can change the course of history. The more I learned, the more intrigued I became about how some ideas stuck while others initially sank without trace, only to resurface perhaps hundreds of years later to change everything. The first Prince Wulfstan book, In Two Minds, explores this idea not just by introducing new ideas into a medieval society, but by showing just how difficult it would be to pull that off in practice.
I’m equally fascinated by the justice system. People expect it to be fair, which is why we allow it to resolve our disputes instead of simply taking revenge ourselves. But watch an individual case play out in court and it can seem more like a high stakes game between lawyers than the pursuit of absolute truth. And if you think it’s a game, do you still accept the result if you lose? Is that still justice? At what point will a perfectly normal, perfectly decent person snap, and what happens when they do? Is it possible to plunge into the darkness of revenge and remain the normal, decent, happy person you were before you started? Enter Sally Mellors, who’s going to give it a damned good try in A Thoughtful Woman.
I live on a small farm where I fit in my writing alongside fighting the blackberry, and trying to convince the quadbike that killing its rider isn’t a core part of its job description.
WHAT I ENJOY AS A WRITER
I love the moment when an idea jumps out at me. The trick then is to catch it, because I could be dreaming in bed, walking the hills, trying not to kill myself on the quad bike… Anywhere in fact, except in front of the computer. Obviously. Slowly the whole thing coalesces and I begin to write it down, fleshing out the gaps, understanding why these people do what they do. I’m the first person in the world to “hear” their story, and I get to write it. That’s exciting! It’s what Terry Pratchett called “The Valley Filled With Clouds” technique and it’s huge fun.
I also love the research needed to make my fictional worlds as real as possible. It could be learning about the first mountain bikes, or exactly how medieval clothes were made and worn, or the limitations of police radios, or how to blow glass, draw wire, or a thousand other things. I learn new stuff every single day, and that’s fun too.
WHAT I TRY TO ACHIEVE
First and foremost I want to entertain, to make you want to turn that next page instead of doing whatever it is you should be doing! I also want you to enjoy the journey. Even in their darkest moments, I like my books to have an underlying vein of humour that will make you smile, or even laugh. There’s nothing wrong with dark, gritty tales, redolent with unrelenting misery. They’re just not what I want to write. I want you to finish my books and return to the world with a spring in your step.