Crime, Cornwall and My First Novel
Throughout my twenties I always wanted to write a book but never got round to it. My job as a features editor at Tatler, the whirligig of London parties and life got in the way. It wasn’t until I had my son that I took stock and realised the time was now. I took a gamble and didn’t return to work after maternity leave. I’m glad it worked out that way as I had more life experience to reap for my characters and inspiration.
I’d always been a crime girl so I knew I’d write a murder mystery. It all started as it invariably does with Agatha Christie. My sister and I were obsessed with Miss Marple when we were growing up. However, Marple soon gave way to Poirot, the little Belgian with his waxed moustache and his ‘little grey cells’ still has a place in my heart. One of my favourite novels is Peril at End House, which is set on the Cornish coast.
Another of my thriller heroes has Cornish links I’m talking about John Le Carré of course. He resides in St Bryan, in the part of Cornwall near Lands Ends that I love. I imagine him walking along the rugged coastline filling the vast landscape with his enormous imagination.
I’ve been a Cornwall devotee for many years and have written about it extensively. Whilst my first book is set in London and takes the reader headfirst into the society and newspaper worlds, the main protagonist, Lily Cane’s father is an artist who lives in Cornwall. Murdered in Chelsea is a rollercoaster ride that lifts the lid on ‘high society’ in both senses and also questions our society’s obsession with beauty. I’ve retained some of the format of the classic murder mystery in homage to Agatha and the characters are brought under the roof of a stately home for a dramatic denouement. Writing the Russian roulette scene had me on the edge of my seat, which I hope is a good sign.
This book is the first in a series of thrillers and my spunky heroine will certainly be coming to Cornwall, which gives me the perfect excuse to hit the south west coast path and let my imagination run wild.
Murdered in Chelsea by Ticky Hedley-Dent, published by Quartet Books is out in July.