Monday, December 26, 2016

NBtM: Westmorland Alone by Ian Sansom

Westmorland Alone
by Ian Sansom


GENRE: Mystery & Detective


Welcome to Westmorland. Perhaps the most scenic county in England! Home of the poets! Land of the great artists! District of the Great lakes! And the scene of a mysterious crime…
Swanton Morley, the People's Professor, once again sets off in his Lagonda to continue his history of England, The County Guides.
Stranded in the market town of Appleby after a tragic rail crash, Morley, his daughter Miriam and his assistant, Stephen Sefton, find themselves drawn into a world of country fairs, gypsy lore and Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling. When a woman's body is discovered at an archaeological dig, for Morley there's only one possible question: could it be murder?
Join Morley, Miriam and Sefton as they journey along the Great North road and the Settle-Carlisle Line into the dark heart of 1930s England.


Excerpt One:

Delaney’s places were famous for their wide range of entertainments and refreshments, and for the clientele. It used to be said that to meet everyone in England who really mattered one had only to stand for long enough at the foot of the stairs of the Athenaeum on Pall Mall: the same might just as truly be said of Delaney’s basement bars and bottle parties. Poets, artists, lawyers, politicians, doctors, bishops and blackmailers, safebreakers and swindlers: in the end, everyone ended up at Delaney’s.

I’d started out drinking champagne with one of Delaney’s very friendly hostesses, a petite redhead with warm hands, cold blue eyes, sheer stockings and silk knickers, who seemed very keen for us to get to know one another better –but then they always do. She told me her name was Athena, which I rather doubted. Sitting on my lap, and several drinks in, she persuaded me into a card game where I soon found myself out of my depth and drinking a very particular kind of gin fizz, with a very particular kind of kick – a speciality of the house. My head was swimming, the room was thick with the scent of perfumes, smoke and powders, I had spent every penny of the money that Morley had paid me for our Devon adventure, I was in for money I didn’t have – and Athena, needless to say, had disappeared. My old Brigade chums Gleason and MacDonald were watching me closely.

Even through the haze I realised that if I didn’t act soon I was going to be in serious trouble: Delaney was renowned for calling in his debts with terrible persuasion. I excused myself and wandered through to the tiny courtyard out back. There were men and women in dark corners doing what men and women do in dark corners, while several of the hostesses stood around listlessly smoking and chatting, including Athena, who glanced coolly in my direction and ignored me. She was off-duty. Out here, there was no need to pretend.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Ian Sansom is the author of the Mobile Library Mystery Series. As of 2016, he has written three books in a series that will comprise a projected forty-four novels.
He is a frequent contributor to, and critic for, The Guardian and the London Review of Books.
He studied at both Oxford and Cambridge, where he was a fellow of Emmanuel College. He is a professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick and teaches in its Writing Program.

Interview with Ian Sansom
As a kid did you write or make up stories?

Do you know, I don’t think I did, no. I have no recall or particular memory of being an imaginative child.  Indeed, the opposite – which might be the very thing that made me a writer. I was a shy, quiet child who was always watching and listening. I was an observer before I became a creator.

Where does most of your Character inspiration come from?

Characters come from everywhere and nowhere. Here’s an example. I’ve just started a new job. My office is in the middle of a busy city – Dublin. Yesterday morning I went to use the bathroom down on the ground floor of the building where I work. There was a man in there who looked like he might be an eccentric old Professor. While I was washing my hands at the sink the man proceeded to remove all of his clothes and give himself a full body wash. It was only then that I realized that he was homeless. There’s character inspiration.

Do some qualities of your characters come from real people?

Yes. But not just qualities – everything. Phrases. Remarks. Tics. Gestures. Clothes. Situations. Dilemmas. From real people I get quantities as well as qualities.

What was the inspiration for your book?

The book is the 3rd in a series of books I’m writing called The County Guides. The books are set in the 1930s, in England – they’re crime novels but they’re also guide books. I want them to be useful as well as entertaining. They were inspired by the work of a man named Arthur Mee, who wrote a series of guides to the counties of England called The Kings’ England series. It’s excellent. Eccentric but excellent.

What is your favorite spot to write?

Most of my books have been written in transit – on trains and buses, in waiting rooms, in those in-between places in our lives. I have never had a particular spot. I have lots of spots.

What advice would you give budding writers?

It took me 10 years to get my first book published. So my advice would be very simple: don’t give up.

Ian Sansom will be awarding 3 free e-books to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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