Peter Tickler Launches Blood in the Marsh… with ice-cream

Blood on the Marsh by Peter TicklerOn 28 October 2012, Peter Tickler launched his new crime novel, Blood in the Marsh, at George and Delila’s Ice-Cream Café in Oxford.

Launching a crime novel in an ice-cream café? Isn’t that a bit, well, odd? Maybe. But actually George and Delila’s in Oxford’s Cowley Road was the obvious place. Firstly because it appears more than once in Blood in the Marsh. Secondly because Cowley Road and East Oxford is very much the milieu which typifies my crime. And thirdly because books and ice-creams go together like … well not like bacon and eggs, but actually really well nevertheless.

The fact is that the launch was a blast! Two scoops of the best ice cream for the price of one; a sorbet named for the night after my book; loads of happy faces; a journalist from the Oxford Times; lots of books signed and sold. I am not sure what some of the students who had gone there for a quiet pore over their laptops made of it, but at the end of it I came away happy and exhausted. The first draft of the next Blood in Oxford murder is waiting on my desk calling, and finally I am able to give it my attention!

Peter Tickler

Blood on the Marsh is available to purchase now with a limited time only discount of 30%

Peter Tickler on his Oxford-based ‘Blood On…’ Series

Blood on the Marsh by Peter TicklerPeter Tickler has lived and worked in Oxford for nearly thirty years. He also studied at the University of Oxford, reading classics at Keble College. Previously a successful non-fiction author, Tickler turned his hand to novels in 2008 when Robert Hale published his first crime thriller Blood on the Cowley Road. The second of his Blood in Oxford series, Blood in Grandpont, was published in 2010. Here, he tells us where the Blood on… series all began…

Write about what you know. It’s an old adage, and for me it makes absolute sense. When I decided to try writing fiction, it was always going to be crime. Not because I have a huge personal experience of crime (none that I’m admitting to, anyway!), but because that was what I enjoyed reading – and indeed watching – on TV. But when it came to location, it had to be Oxford. I had lived some twenty-five years of my life there, as well as being a student for four years before that, so Oxford was what I knew – and loved. And it was Town not Gown that really interested me, the side streets and residential area of what might be termed non-tourist Oxford – the bits you rarely see on the TV programme ‘Lewis’. I’m also a great Oxford United fan. That is my Achilles heel, and so it is inevitable that Oxford United and its fans appear in my books. Of course these fans are entirely fictional, as are all the characters in my books. Only the dogs are real!

My first book, Blood on the Cowley Road, had as its central focus a mental health day centre, and again this derived from my own personal interest. Looking back at the three novels now available through Robert Hale Ltd – and indeed at the first draft of my fourth Blood book – I realize that I have continued to write about what I know. My characters are ordinary people: dentists and picture framers, lorry drivers and care workers, plumbers and administrators. And by and large they have the same sort of problems and lives that most of us will be able to recognize. Except that lurking there is the ever present possibility that they will suffer or commit murder.

My lead detective, DI Susan Holden, who lives in an unexceptional little Victorian terrace in South Oxford, has her own problems, of course. Don’t fictional detectives always have problems!? In her case, one of her problems is her mother. Or perhaps it is she who is a problem for her mother? She also has a high irritability rating and she – but I’ve given away enough….

Peter Tickler

Peter Tickler’s new book Blood on the Marsh is published tomorrow, with his previous titles, Blood on the Cowley Road and Blood in Grandpont, also available.

Blood on the Cowley Road and Blood in Grandpont are also available on ebook from all good ebook retailers.

Author Interview with Jacquie Walton (Joyce Cato / Maxine Barry / Faith Martin)

A Narrow Return by Faith MartinJacquie Walton was born in Oxford. She began her working life as a secretary but left to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. Here she tells us what drew her to crime writing, what it’s like working under different pseudonyms and why she loves her characters.

What drew you to writing Crime Fiction?

I’ve always read crime novels for preference, right from my early teens. Like most, I started off with Agatha Christie, but soon discovered all the greats from the classic British era – Dorothy L. Sayers, Patricia Wentworth, Margery Allingham et al. And now we have all the great modern thriller/crime writers, like Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Robert Crais. So it was only natural for me to want to write crime.

What do you think is required for a great story to work?

I’ve always liked pace in my reading, and so I try to keep all my novels, be they romance, crime or classic whodunits, really zipping along. I also think a strong central character is absolutely essential. And my favourite character (if I really had to choose one) would be Jenny Starling, with Hillary Greene running a close second. I like Jenny’s humour, competence and humanity, and I really admire Hillary’s strength and intelligence mixed with human fallibility.

You’ve done work under numerous pseudonyms. How is it writing as different people?

I chose my pseudonyms from family members names – thus I have a niece called Maxine and a nephew called Barry (my pen name for romances) another set of the same called Faith and Martin (the Hillary Greene series) and my grandmothers’ maiden names of (Alice) Joyce and (Winifred) Cato for the Jenny Starling series. But all three genres are very different, and I don’t find it all confusing juggling all three. I enjoy writing them all – but the classic whodunits with Jenny Starling are both the most difficult to plot and write, but also, I find, the most enjoyable.

Your Hillary Greene series is set in Oxford. Why did you choose this particular location for this crime series?

I set the Hillary Greene series in Oxford because I’ve lived within twenty miles of the city for all my life, and it’s the only city I know! Plus, I don’t see why Morse should have had all the fun and pleasure of solving crimes within sight of the dreaming spires.

Dying for a Cruise by Joyce CatoWith the digital age upon us and some of your books now out in ebook format, how have you found the transition? Are you an e-convert?

Whilst I am very glad that a lot of my books are going out in ebook format, I don’t own a device that would allow me to ever read them that way, and being a total Luddite when it comes to modern technology, I doubt I ever shall. I think I will always prefer to have the real thing in my hand.

You’ve written romance and crime fiction – which do you find more enjoyable and which do you read in your spare time?

I enjoyed writing the bigger, more glamorous and action-packed romances that really weren’t suitable for the classic Mills & Boon genre, and whilst they were fun to write, (sexy scenes included!) I prefer to stick to crime nowadays. I never read romance in my spare time, only crime – but not the gory or grisly forensic/serial killer type. I prefer escapism in my reading literature.

What do you love to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I have a dog that needs walking a lot, and living in some of the most beautiful scenery in the country (I’m on the edge of the Cotswolds) walking and wildlife watching are my main pastimes.

What can we expect from you in the future?

In the future, I would certainly like to concentrate more on classic whodunits – maybe do a few other titles for the Jenny Starling series, and maybe even create a second character and series, but still keeping to the classic country-house, cosy, twisting-plot, red-herring formula that I know so many readers like as much as I do. I think the ever-popular television series of Agatha Christie and Midsomer Murders-type programmes show just how much-loved they are.

Jacquie Walton writes under the pseudonyms Joyce Cato, Maxine Barry and Faith Martin. Her books can be found on the Robert Hale Ltd website and many of her ebooks – including Beside a Narrow Stream and By a Narrow Margin by Faith Martin – are available to buy at all good ebook retailers.

Out now: A Narrow Return by Faith Martin

Coming soon: Dying for a Cruise by Joyce Cato (available to pre-order now)