When farmer Dan Maddicott is found shot dead in one of his fields, he leaves behind a young family and a farm deep in debt. Although the coroner records accidental death, village rumours suggest he has taken his own life so that the insurance payout can save his family from ruin.
Dan’s wife, Kate, refuses to believe the gossip and is determined to prove to herself, and her children, that his death was an accident. But could it have been murder? Kate discovers a set of old diaries containing secrets that may reveal how Dan really died.
Set against the backdrop of the farming crisis of the turn of the millennium, Caroline Kington’s absorbing family drama also tells the secret history of another resident of the farm, decades before, whose tragic tale will come to have major repercussions in the present day.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
In my late husband’s study. It is full of books and papers and notebooks. Chaotic but very comfortable, with a long window that looks out over the garden. It is definitely not a room where I would be tempted to do anything else, unlike the kitchen, which I only use if it is freezing cold.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Having decided what I am going to tackle, I roam restlessly about the house till my brain clicks and I find what I am looking for – it could be something as little as an adjective or phrase – then I sit down and start writing, correcting, writing and correcting, until I feel I’ve gone as far as I can at that point. Then I get up and repeat the process.
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
On the whole, no. If I take tea or coffee in with me it inevitably gets cold. If I am writing in the evening, I might have a glass of wine. Never food.
– What is your favourite book?
Probably Pride and Prejudice – a cliché I know, but it is a book I never tire of reading.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
Yes. I’d like to write a fictional biography.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Yes. Particularly in the Summerstoke series. But never the whole person – it is usually a character trait or some physical quirk.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
– Which genre do you not like at all?
Dystopian novels. I find it hard to shake off the gloom.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
This is a difficult one – writing novels is quite a solitary activity. My husband was a writer and when he was alive, we would usually share what we had written, but more for seeking confirmation that it was on the right track than anything else. Script writing is easier to do with someone else and if anything was possible, I would choose to write with Jo Brand or Neil Gaiman.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Kenya and Italy, to do research for my fictional biography. Both countries are rich in history and very different cultures and they would form the backdrop to my fictional biography.
Thank you, Caroline Kington and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Caroline Kington spent most of her working life in theatre and television, as a director, producer and founder of the fringe theatre company Antidote Theatre.
Since the death of her husband Miles Kington, the columnist and broadcaster, she has posthumously published three of his books: a humorous memoir of his illness, called How Shall I Tell the Dog?; a collection of his columns and other writings, The Best By Miles; and a collection of his celebrated ‘Franglais’ columns that had not appeared in book form before, Le Bumper Book of Franglais.
In her own right, she is the author of the Summerstoke trilogy of rural comedies. She insists that no character in the series is based on anybody from the small village near Bath where she has lived for many years. Nobody believes her.
Her novel A Long Shadow had its origins in a feature she made for Channel 4 News at the turn of this century about the pressures on farmers as a result of BSE and foot-and-mouth disease.
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