Martin Edwards: Publishing a New Book
How does it feel to have a new novel published, when you’ve published plenty of books before?” An interesting question, I think. Of course, the appearance of one’s very first novel is a unique and never-to-be-repeated experience. But I still feel a thrill of excitement when a new book of mine hits the shelves, and I’ve been eagerly looking forward to the appearance of my sixth and latest Lake District Mystery, The Frozen Shroud, published in the UK by Allison & Busby on the 24th June.
To be honest, I’ve had a sneak preview of reader reaction, since due to quirks of the publishing industry, the American edition of the book has been available for a few weeks. Reviews in that great crime magazine Mystery Scene and elsewhere have been very positive. That’s a real relief, since although this is another entry in a series that has been running for a while, with The Frozen Shroud I did try to vary my approach with this particular book.
Trying different things, even in the context of a mystery series, seems to me to be a good way of keeping fresh as a writer. A new book in a series has to deliver the strengths that drew readers to earlier titles, but it is absolutely vital, in my opinion, to avoid any feeling of staleness or formula. So this time, I’ve structured the story a little differently, and focused more heavily on atmosphere and setting than plot complications – although there are, if the early reviews are to be believed, enough of them to keep whodunit fans happy.
Another great pleasure of writing life is research, and it doesn’t get much better than having the excuse of “I’m off to research my book” to justify a trip to the Lakes. At any time of year, and even when it’s raining (which, to be honest, is not unusual), it’s a magical part of the world.
The backdrop to the series is the relationship between DCI Hanah Scarlett, head of Cumbria’s cold case squad, and historian Daniel Kind. That relationship continues to develop – rather slowly, I have to admit, but I promise there are fresh developments in The Frozen Shroud!
Each story is set in a different part of the Lakes, and in The Frozen Shroud, I venture to Ullswater. Parts of the area around the serpentine lake are amazingly quiet and remote, despite being only a few miles as the crow files from the traffic teeming on the M6 motorway.
The research trips were tremendous fun. A visit to the dramatic waterfalls of Aira Force, close to where Wordsworth saw those legendary daffodils, a steamer trip from Pooley Bridge, a climb up Hallin Fell to enjoy the fantastic views, and the writer’s obligatory pub visit, to the bar of the hotel in the tiny hamlet of Howtown, were among many highlights.
The result is one of my darker novels, set in a remote community on the far side of the lake. Three deaths have occurred in Ravenbank on Hallowe’en, over a span of one hundred years – what can be the connection? History collides with the present in a book that takes the series in a new direction, one that excites me and will, I hope, excite my readers.