Hello there dear friends.
Here I am again making Mondays better again since…forever!
If you want something to beat the Monday Blues then look no further than here and enjoy the fun interviews with excellent authors, it really doesn’t get any better than this.
(Unless you have chocolate tart, in which case I salute you, while using this movement to sneakily steal a piece from you because that’s how I roll).
For tonight’s entertainment, we have the pleasurable company of author Alice Castle, as she goes into deeper detail about her novel series, along with sharing with us what makes her tick when it comes to her writing ideas and techniques.
Grab yourself a tasty beverage and let’s get this show on the road with gusto!
Thanks for reading everyone and as always have a lot of fun doing so 🙂
Hi there Alice, a pleasure to have you here today to discuss your novels, along with your own passions, influences and writing experiences.
Let’s start first with your cosy crime novel series “The London Murder Mysteries”, which are based on Beth Haldane, a single mother turned amateur sleuth. Please tell us all about the plot and themes of each of your books, along with background behind the narrative thread that links all of these novels together as a series.
If I had to think of a subtitle for the London Murder Mystery series, I think it would be ‘the nastiest secrets can hide in the nicest places.’ This is what Beth discovers every time she starts to delve into the mysteries which seem to open up all around her.
In Death in Dulwich Beth has the worst first day in a job ever, when she stumbles across the lifeless corpse of her horrible new boss at lunchtime. She knows that the person who finds the body is usually the number one suspect, and is soon in a race to find the killer – before they find her. In the midst of the chaos of burglaries, rumours and neglected homework projects, she comes up against tall, cross, Metropolitan Police Detective Inspector Harry York…She also discovers an awful secret about the highly respected school she works in, which changes her attitude to Dulwich forever.
The next book is The Girl in the Gallery. Beth is stealing a few minutes in her favourite place in the world, the Picture Gallery in the heart of Dulwich Village, when she spots something horrifying. She is immediately plunged into her second mystery. Over-achieving anorexics, bullying and grooming – can all this be happening in the safe suburb she loves and thinks she knows? With the help, or hindrance, of DI Harry York, Beth is on the case.
In Calamity in Camberwell, well-meaning friends tell Beth she needs to start dating again. Her recently remarried friend Jen seems so happy that Beth is tempted. In this third book in the series, Beth is wrestling with compromises. She gets extra tutoring for her son, she tries cyber-flirting and even considers throwing herself into her work. But is it always wise to put other people first? And is everything really going as well as it seems for Jen?
Homicide in Herne Hill starts off with Beth watching her son in the school Nativity play and striking up a friendship with the new mum at the school, Nina. But Nina has a mystery she wants Beth to solve. Soon Beth finds herself plunged into a world of legal shenanigans, while all around Dulwich, dogs are being poisoned. Only Beth, it seems, can find the answers.
Revenge on the Rye sees Beth and her best friend, Katie, off for a walk on Peckham Rye with Katie’s naughty new puppy, Teddy. What could possibly go wrong? They soon trip over the answer… as well as strange goings-on in the art scene, and an elderly Labrador called Colin. Can Beth solve the mystery before her son misses his crucial school interview, or will everything she holds dear come crashing down?
If your novels were to be made into films (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
This would be such a dream come true. As my Beth, I’d love to cast someone like Phoebe Waller-Bridge from Fleabag (though she’s too tall) or Anna Friel, but my ideal Beth would be Emma Watson… basically someone short and feisty who isn’t daunted by being bashed over the head, or worse, ignored by the uber-yummy mummies of SE21.
DI Harry York would be James Norton from War and Peace – his role as Prince Andrei was excellent training for standing around looking masterful outside the Dulwich deli.
Katie, Beth’s sunny best friend, would be someone like Hermione Norris (and she might like the part because she’d finally be playing a nice happy role).
Belinda MacKenzie, Beth’s bête noire and the Alpha-mummy at the school gates, should be someone dauntingly perfect, with a steely edge – someone like Lucy Punch, or maybe even the wonderful Sharon Horgan from Catastrophe, playing against type with a posh accent, a sneer and the best party bags in town.
Wendy, Beth’s mum, would be perfect for someone like Olivia Coleman. Although she’s still quite young, she is very set in her ways and is always swathed in scarves and beads, with a great line in passive-aggressive putdowns.
You have just had your first novel in the series recorded as an audiobook. What are your own views on audiobooks as a storytelling platform and will you be getting the rest of your books made into audiobooks too?
I’m very excited about the audiobook of Death in Dulwich. I was really lucky to find a wonderful narrator, Alex Lee, who’s quite a specialist in cozy crime and does so much to bring the book to life. Audiobooks really seem to be taking off now and I’ve become a big fan. I’ve suffered from insomnia for ages and I now love to plug into a nice Agatha Christie or Dorothy L Sayers in the small hours. I know the stories so well that it doesn’t matter if I accidentally drop off! I’m not saying people should listen to Death in Dulwich to fall asleep – I actually thought it would be quite useful for mothers on the school run, who may not have too much time for reading. They can listen in their cars as they swish along, getting a bit of me-time, hopefully with a few laughs (as well as a mystery) thrown in. I’d love the rest of the series to be made into audiobooks, too. We’ll have to see how we go but it’s definitely an ambition.
If you could invite any one of your characters to dinner, which one would it be and what would you cook for them?
I would love to have Beth to dinner. She and I already get on well, most of the time, though we often have radically different ideas about how to do things. I, for instance, would never put myself into the dangerous situations she always plunges into. Sometimes I have to shut my eyes as I’m typing. I think she’d be fun to have coffee with. She does love to gossip, and knows quite a few secrets these days. The other person I’d have to dinner would be DI York. Just the two of us. Shh, don’t tell my husband. As for what I’d cook, I think I’d have to copy Beth here and get a takeaway.
What would you choose as your own personal mascot or spirit animal when it comes to you and your style of writing?
Ah, I’m definitely a cat when it comes to writing. You can make a lovely cosy corner for a cat, but will it come and sit there? Same with writing. Everything can be beautifully set up…yet sometimes things don’t quite flow. Yet on other days there’s no stopping the stories.
What do you think most characterizes or defines your writing? Do you have any writing quirks or themes that constantly crop up in your stories?
People often mention my quirky vocabulary! I sometimes use South East London slang, sometimes a little bit of Shakespearean English, the odd bit of American goes in too. I’m a bit of a magpie with words. And I do like ellipses…
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
The most difficult thing is to write something good. The easiest thing is to write something. Then the challenge is to make all those somethings into something good.
Who are some of the authors, musicians, poets and/or historical figures that inspire you?
Oh, there are so many of these. I’m indebted to Agatha Christie, who made it look so easy that I was tempted to try, only to find out how hard it really is. Raymond Chandler and PG Wodehouse both went to school in Dulwich and I am in awe of their very different, entirely unique voices. I love all of the so-called Golden Age crime writers of the 1930s (Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey) but there are loads of modern inspirations too. Val McDermid is a great and very prolific writer. I love the Tudor whodunits of C J Sansom. Sue Grafton was amazing. Janet Evanovich is hilarious. I also love Simon Brett, another Dulwich boy. And there is so much amazing crime drama on TV at the moment. Don’t even get me started on Scandi Noir!
Do you listen to music when you are writing and if so then what type of music do you listen to?
I never listen to music and in fact really like to keep sound to the minimum when working.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
I do tons of research – I have loads of coffees with friends living in Dulwich! I also know the area really well and have read books on the development of the place, the history of the schools, the background to the art gallery and the museum. If I’m covering a specific subject, like eating disorders in The Girl in the Gallery, then I’ll speak to local experts and read up on the topic thoroughly. My training as a journalist helps with this.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I write because I have to – if I’m not writing a book, then I find that my thank-you letters and cards start getting very long. I have words that need to get out. The first praise I got for my writing was from a kindly teacher when I was about four or five, and that made me feel that here was something I could do. Then when I was about eight, I read C S Lewis’s ‘The Horse and His Boy’ and fell into an extraordinary world. Though the thought didn’t crystalize until I was about twelve, I knew I wanted to write.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
The wonderful thing about writing is that you don’t really know when a good bit will come. When it does, it makes up for all the days of drivel. I feel a bit superstitious about writer’s block and don’t really like to dwell on it. Having worked on papers for years, when not writing wasn’t an option, I hope (and pray) it won’t happen to me.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Keep at it! And go to a better hairdresser.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Reading whodunits, and watching them on TV. I also love films. And spend the odd moment with my family.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I’m writing book number six of the London Murder Mystery series at the moment – The Body in Belair Park. I’m also supposed to be trying my hand at writing for TV but it’s very, very slow.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Make sure your writing chair is the comfiest seat in the house.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for joining us Alice to share more about your work and all of your cosy writerly advice, it is very much appreciated and we look forward to delving into all of your London mysteries real soon 🙂
Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.
Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim and also hit the number one spot. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, was published in August 2018, with Homicide in Herne Hill following in October 2018.
Revenge on the Rye came out in December 2018. Alice is currently working on the sixth London Murder Mystery adventure. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.
Alice is also a top mummy blogger and book reviewer.
She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.
You can connect with Alice via the following Social Media channels:-
Facebook:- Alice Castle – Author (FB)
Goodreads:- Alice Castle (Goodreads Author)
Twitter:- @DDsDiary (Twitter)
Website:- The Website of Author Alice Castle
You can buy her books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.