Welcome, Juliet. Can you tell us about your experience with Nanowrimo? Did you accomplish your goal?
JULIET: I can see why people get in a flap over it and I feel for those people who didn’t manage to finish. As usual though, DI Lyle & his team ran away with the story so I was able to finish my novella Prescription for Murder on day 15. I’m not sure if I’ll take part next year or not.
Why did you cancel your planned book A Murder-Free Christmas?
JULIET: It was short so making a paperback edition would have been counter-productive cost-wise. My 94 year old Gran likes my books, but she doesn’t have a computer or a Kindle so I really only make paperbacks so she can read them as I sell very few. I also felt that I was unlikely to sell many Kindle copies the rest of the year with Christmas in the title. By the time I decided this I had already decided to do Nanowrimo and thought I would put the two novellas together along with a couple of DI Lyle short stories.
That makes sense. Where did the title A Winter Murderland come from?
JULIET: After deciding to scrap A Murder-Free Christmas I thought about calling it The Winter Novella Collection, but John Holt came up with A Winter Murderland when I asked him to design a cover and it stuck because I liked it.
I love both the cover and the title. Can you sum up A Winter Murderland to give us an idea what it’s about?
It’s winter and DI Frank Lyle, along with his team, are hoping for a crime-free season.
DS Thomas Fox feels threatened after a chance encounter with someone from his past. Can he and his boyfriend, James Lyle, deal with the emotional consequences of both the encounter and a revelation it forces Thomas to make?
John Cassidy is found dead. As DI Lyle and his team investigate they uncover sinister secrets and darker motives as they are drawn into the unfamiliar world of pharmaceutical malpractise and the minefield of murder by prescription.
A Winter Murderland also includes two DI Frank Lyle short stories, Wishing on a Star and The Dare.
Your series is known for being meticulously researched. Did you have to do more research than normal for this one?
JULIET: Yes, Prescription for Murder is about pharmaceutical malpractice and contraindicating drugs. Cathy Goddard, the pharmacist at the hospice where my mum works, gave me a lot of very helpful information and advice on medications that were around in 1993 when the novella is set and pharmacy training as I wanted to make my pharmacist characters credible.
I also got in touch with the local branch of the National Association of Retired Police Officers (NARPO) and was put in touch with a constable who was serving at the time of the DI Frank Lyle Series. Former Police Constable Alistair Melling has helped me a lot with regard to the aspect of the story regarding DS Thomas Fox and what happened in his past.
I have acknowledged their help in the book itself.
Are any of the DI Lyle Mystery Series characters based on, or named after, people you know personally?
JULIET: I think that there is a bit of me in all of the main characters, apart from the nasty piece of work Bob Kenyon of course.
DI Redfern is named after Andrew, the 20 year old son of a friend of mine. DC Mahon has two older brothers called Simon and Joe. Andrew’s 19 year old brother is called Joe and Simon is named after my friend’s late husband, to whose memory A Winter Murderland is dedicated.
You hinted earlier that DS Thomas Fox has a few issues to deal with in A Winter Murderland. How do you think he and James will cope?
JULIET: I’ve done my best to make James and Thomas as far from the stereotypical gay male couple as I can. They’re not camp or promiscuous in any way. They are two young men who happen to be gay and totally in love with each other. I won’t share any spoilers here, but let’s just say that, if they manage to work their way through the emotional quagmire, they will emerge stronger for it.
Do you find writing gay love scenes difficult?
JULIET: Well M/M sex and relationships are things I can never write about from personal experience, but I can imagine and I have gay friends I can run scenes by if I’m not sure of anything. However I know my characters well.
Why did you decide to include short stories?
JULIET: I’m proud of my story, The Dare, which was originally published in the Shadows & Light anthology, to highlight the issue of domestic violence and the work of the charity Women’s Aid. I wanted to include it here along with Wishing on a Star, a short story I published on my blog last year. Wishing on a Star is simply about childish hopes and dreams for Christmas. The Dare is a coming of kind of story.
What’s next for DI Lyle & his team?
JULIET: Another baffling murder investigation involving drugs, people trafficking, bad karma and tragedy. I’ve not gotten far with it yet, but it will be an emotional white knuckle ride as I have to come up with something to top Best Served Cold.
What are you reading right now?
JULIET: I’ve just finished reading Wendy H Jones’ debut Scottish crime thriller Killer’s Countdown, which was totally awesome. I think I can go so far as to say it’s the best crime novel I’ve read this year. Established Scottish crime authors Val McDermid, Ian Rankin and Stuart MacBride should be quaking in their boots as I think Wendy and DI Shona McKenzie are definitely here to stay.
Could you share a short excerpt from A Winter Murderland with us?
JULIET: Here’s a little bit from Prescription for Murder:
Jean crossed the street and pressed the intercom button for Cassidy’s flat. The receiver crackled but there was no response. She swallowed hard.
“Mr Cassidy, are you alright?” she called. Ashbeck City Council paid Cassidy’s housing benefit direct to his bank account on a fortnightly basis and she came to collect. He had once been a lecturer at Ashbeck University, but about a year ago he had had surgery for a heart problem and not worked since. It seemed wrong to Jean, he was only in his early forties after all, but, she reminded, herself, when had life ever been fair?
There was still no response. Jean gave a glance at the leaden skies, before another tenant came out and held the door open for her.
“Thank you Mr Sakura,” she said, “Have you seen Mr Cassidy lately?”
“Not for a couple days, Miss Leyton,” he bowed respectfully as was Japanese custom.
“Alright, thank you.” she watched the Japanese walk across the road and down the street before ascending a flight of stairs to Cassidy’s apartment.
She knocked on the door, but there was no response.
She hated to invade a tenant’s privacy, but she had a need.
She unlocked the door and went in, calling his name. As she approached the door to the lounge she smelt an overpowering stench of decay. Almost afraid she pushed open the door and went in. She had not gotten more than two steps inside when the reason for Cassidy’s lack of response was made shockingly clear. Cassidy was slumped in the armchair, a bottle clutched in his hand. His dead eyes stared past her at nothing.
Where can my readers get their own copy of A Winter Murderland?
JULIET: You can buy A Winter Murderland here
Where can we get the other DI Frank Lyle books?
JULIET: The links below are on Amazon, but the ebooks can also be found on Nook, Kobo and Apple.
DI Frank Lyle’s Mystery Box Set
Heir to Misfortune
Murder in the Wings
Best Served Cold
DI Frank Lyle’s Casebook Vol 1
DI Frank Lyle’s Casebook Vol 2
A Winter Murderland
Where can we find you in cyberspace?