Author Interview: Nicola Slade on the Puzzles Behind Crime Writing

Murder Fortissimon by Nicola SladeMurder Fortissimo is quite a quirky crime novel. Where did your inspiration for the euphonium-based disaster come from?
I love country house mysteries but so many are now residential homes I thought it would be fun to use one as my setting. A friend played in an Oompah Band so I used that and the idea of the euphonium as a murder weapon just grew from that.

When did you write your first novel?
Probably when I was about eight! But my first published novel was a romantic comedy, Scuba Dancing, published by Transita Ltd in 2005.

What drew you to writing crime stories?
I think it’s the puzzle aspect that I enjoy, when I’m reading a mystery and certainly when writing one. I was influenced by my mother and grandmother who were omnivorous readers, particularly loving Miss Silver, Miss Marple, Albert Campion et al.

There is a lot of talk about genre currently, do you work strictly within genre boundaries when writing or just go with the flow of your story?
I think I’ve always tried to stay roughly within the genre though Scuba Dancing, which was a romantic comedy, did have four deaths, one of them rather suspicious. Similarly, my Victorian mysteries, featuring Charlotte Richmond, combine my interests in history and mystery, and there’s usually a romantic attachment of some kind but it’s not the central theme of the book.

What’s next for Harriet Quigley?
I’ve just heard that Robert Hale have accepted the second Harriet Quigley mystery, which I hope will come out next year. It’s called A Crowded Coffin, and has Harriet looking forward to a peaceful summer in her Hampshire village. Naturally, the peace is soon shattered and Harriet’s cousin – and sidekick – Canon Sam Hathaway, warns her against playing at being Miss Marple. Of course she ignores him and finds herself in danger. This book is full of art history, archaeology, Saxon legends, Roman ruins, all sorts – set in and around the historic city of Winchester.

Complete this sentence : On an ideal Sunday afternoon…

… I will have a houseful, as the whole family will have come round for a Sunday roast.

You can follow Nicola’s blog at

Her books Murder Fortissimo and Death is the Cure are available to buy now. A paperback version of Murder Fortissimo is out this month published by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery Library.

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