Grumbling guests and escaping piglets are precisely what Martha doesn’t need. She’s already struggling to run a holiday cottage and a rather large smallholding single-handedly. Since her husband Mark died, three years ago, her rural property in France, beautiful as it is, has become an increasingly heavy millstone around her neck.
So whilst she’s horrified to stumble across a corpse at the local farm supplies shop, it does at least distract her from her own woes. Best friend Lottie, the cheese to Martha’s chalk, swoops in to offer moral support, and encourages Martha to join her in some unofficial sleuthing. Meanwhile, police officer Philippe Prudhomme, a former fellow chess-player of Mark’s, undertakes a rather more professional investigation.
However, despite everyone’s efforts the killer remains at large. And when more bodies (one and a bit, to be precise) come Martha’s way, it definitely feels like he’s closing in on her…
There’s suspense, humour and excitement in this entertaining cosy mystery set in the French countryside.
I hope you enjoy this.
1. When and where do you prefer to write?
I write first thing in the morning for about an hour and a half. I sit at the kitchen table. Winters are long and cold here in central France (we’re quite high at 500 metres) so we just keep the one room heated. And during summer it’s cool, thanks to the metre-thick walls of our farmhouse. There are lovely views over the garden and fields so I can keep an eye on our animals while I’m writing.
2. Do you have a certain ritual?
Up at 6 a.m., feed the dogs and cats, then feed myself with bowl of muesli and strong cup of coffee and start writing. At 7.30 a.m. it’s time to get washed and dressed and start on the farm jobs with my husband. (Our two adult children have left home, and our youngest is away at lycée from Monday to Friday. He boards, like most country kids do, as it’s too far to travel there and back every day being about 50km away in our nearest big town.) So for five days a week it’s just the two of us with 75 acres and a fishing holiday business to run, and an assortment of livestock and pets to look after. Sometimes there’ll be time for a bit more writing later in the day, but I can’t guarantee it.
3. Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Just that all-important coffee beforehand!
4. Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I’ve written many children’s books in the past, all traditionally published by presses in Ireland. I’ve also written and self-published non-fiction, a few short stories, two romcoms and two cosy mysteries. I have several other books underway, but all in those genres. They’re the ones I prefer so I shall probably stick with them.
5. Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Not directly in my fiction, but odd mannerisms or remarks might stay with me and find their way into my book! Mind you, Martha in Hate Bale shares quite a lot of characteristics with me, but fortunately I haven’t tripped over the number of bodies she does. At least, not yet…
6. Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
I really should! I often have sudden thoughts or minor brainwaves when I’m out and about. Usually I can remember them when I get back home, but I dare say I’ve forgotten a few brilliant plot twists that might have made me a bestseller! 😉
7. Which genre do you not like at all?
Horror. I just can’t see the point in scaring yourself silly!
8. If you had the chance to co-write a book, whom would it be with?
As a freelance editor I’ve worked with many, many amazing authors. Any of them would be privilege to work with, but if I have to choose only one then I shall have to go with Paul Douglas Lovell. We have a similar sense of humour and we’re both British expats. He lives in a beautiful part of Switzerland so I’ll be quite happy to visit regularly to discuss the progress we’re making!
9. If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Australia. I visited there two years ago when my daughter was working in Sydney. It was the most fantastic experience. I’m a bit of a crazy bird lady, and to see so many exotic birds like lorikeets, zebra finches, parrots, cockatoos, ibises and kookaburras fluttering around both in the wild and the city itself was stunning. I was in heaven! So that’s where I’d go to find out more about its bird population and their habitats.
Thanks for the interview. I really enjoyed answering your questions.
Thank you too, Stephanie Dagg and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
I’m an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie of animals, has made for exciting times. The current array of creatures ranges from alpacas to zebra finches, with pretty much everything in-between! Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it’s been a steep learning curve.
I’m married to Chris and we have three bilingual TCKs (third culture kids) who are resilient and resourceful and generally wonderful.
I’m a traditionally-published author of many children’s books, and am now self-publishing too. As well as being an author, I’m also a part-time editor and, with Chris, manager of three carp fishing lakes. My hobbies are cycling, geocaching, knitting and sewing.
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