"Stylish, skilful and packed with suspense.” – Sharon Bolton
SOMETIMES THE PAST IS BEST LEFT ALONE
The quiet Buckinghamshire village of Houghton is reeling. Soon after twelve year old Leanne Richards is killed by a hit and run driver, the two classmates who were with her that night disappear, one by one.
Jade and Becky said they couldn’t identify the car or the driver. Does someone want to make sure it stays that way? Or are other, darker motives in play?
As DI Lizzie Archer and DS Dan Baines search for the truth, buried pasts and secret loves begin to reveal themselves. But is time running out for the girls? Or is it already too late?
PRAISE FOR ARCHER AND BAINES:
‘You’ll enjoy this if you liked Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Gillian Hamer's Gold Detectives series and Val McDermid's Wire in the Blood’
- J J Marsh, author of the Beatrice Stubbs novels.
- J J Marsh, author of the Beatrice Stubbs novels.
I am delighted to welcome Dave Sivers to the blog today as part of The Blood That Binds blog tour. He has written a great guest post about speaking at the WI. Thanks for stopping by Dave, and good luck with the new book. You can see his post below.
Not All Jam and Jerusalem
Talking Murder and Mayhem at the WI
Okay, first a confession.
I’m a WIMP.
No, no, that stands for WI Male Partner. It’s what Women’s Institute members – at least those in my little corner of the Chilterns – call their significant others.
It so happens that Buckinghamshire – where I live, and the setting for my Archer and Baines novels – boasts the oldest WI County Federation in the country. And my own local institute, which will be 100 years old in May, is the oldest in Buckinghamshire.
The Bucks County Federation has its own speaking circuit, and it occurred to me last year that – especially as 80% of all book purchasers are apparently female – this was something I ought to get in on. What better way to boost my readership than talking to groups of women all over the county where Archer and Baines fight crime – and getting paid for it, too?
So I applied, with some stuff about me, and a bit of blurb about the talk I proposed to do. There’s quite an approvals process. The relevant committee has to decide to give you an audition, and then you give a cut-down version of the talk – about 20 minutes – to a packed hall of representatives from all over the county, who will be hearing from several hopefuls that day.
I didn’t have a satnav back then, and I’m rubbish at navigation, but AA directions had always served me well. So, allowing myself an extra half hour to get there and find the place, I set off – only to find that the village in question was a sprawling, rural affair, and that there was something hokey with either the directions or the postcode. It took three locals to help me find it and I arrived in a state of panic about five minutes before my slot.
Fortunately, I’m no stranger to public speaking, so I was able to gather myself and present my patter to this sea of ladies, who fortunately laughed in the right places and asked some interesting questions at the end.
I gather the feedback from each audition then has to be discussed by the committee – but in due course I received an email saying I was in!
New speakers go in a directory (for which there’s a small fee) and get advertised in the county newsletter when they’re first approved. Within a short while of my details appearing there, I started to get contact from various programme arrangers. Not just WI, either. By whatever route, some other organisations also contacted me, including wives’ associations, a senior citizens’ club and, my favourite so far, the Aylesbury Ladies Electrical Association.
The Electrical Association for Women was founded in 1924 to teach women how to use electricity. By the 1930s there were 260 branches throughout the country, including Aylesbury. The association into liquidation in 1986, but the Aylesbury branch, with about 100 enthusiastic members decided to carry on under the new name of Aylesbury Ladies' Electrical Association.
Anyhow, I digress! The upshot is that I have at least one engagement for every month this year, and I’m already receiving approaches for 2018 – again, not just from WIs.
And it’s great! I now have a car with a satnav (affectionately known as Zoe). I load up a box of books, tell Zoe where I’m going, arrive at a village hall or community centre, set the books up and speak when they want me to. The talk is about 40-45 minutes and I speak about my writing journey, the fast-moving changes on the publishing landscape, and the challenges of writing gritty crime fiction in a pleasant rural area. I leave time for questions, and the questions are always great (and show that my audience managed to stay awake).
And they buy books. Mostly the first in the series though. I’ve had to order more copies of The Scars Beneath the Soul, as my stock is almost sold out. There are always a couple of gift purchases for members’ WIMPs, too.
It’s often said that the WI isn’t all Jam and Jerusalem. Well, it’s early days of my bringing them Murder and Mayhem, but so far only one group has sung Jerusalem. It would have been churlish not to join in, but I was very aware of being the only male voice in the room.
As for the jam – there is sometimes cake, and you’ll find a Victoria sponge with jam in on those occasions. Mostly it’s biscuits with the tea though, which is just as well for my waistline.
If you’re an author and you fancy a few nice evenings out, with a warm welcome, a lovely audience, and a chance to earn a small fee and flog some books, I recommend applying to your local WI federation. I’m absolutely loving it!
About the Author:
Dave’s civil service career took him to exotic places like Rhode Island USA, Cyprus, Brussels, Northern Norway and Sutton Coldfield. Along the way, he moonlighted variously as nightclub bouncer, bookie’s clerk and freelance writer, as well as picking up a first class honours degree from the Open University.
Writing has always been his passion and, since giving up the day job, he has launched a second career as a novelist.
The Scars Beneath the Soul, the first book in his popular Archer and Baines crime series - set in Buckinghamshire’s Aylesbury Vale - and the follow-up, Dead in Deep Water, both hit the top three in Kindle’s ‘Serial Killers’ chart. The Blood That Binds is the fourth in the series featuring DI Lizzie Archer and DS Dan Baines.
Dave has also won prizes and publication with his short fiction, written for newspapers and magazines, and writes material for the amateur stage.
Dave lives in Buckinghamshire, England, with his wife, Chris.
Do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour and if I have tempted you to read this book it is available now from here.