Author Sally Quilford is an awesome storyteller with the knack of keeping readers glued to the page long after they should have put down their book and started making the dinner. She’s a favourite author of mine. Reading Sally Quilford is one of my guilty pleasures, like drinking red wine and eating chocolate. Given the choice between an evening of television and an evening reading one of her books, and the book will win every time. Her new release, The Curse of Lakeham Abbey, looks bewitching and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Today, Sally is sharing her thoughts regarding the setting of her new novel. I’m honoured to welcome her to MBB. Take it away, Sally!
The Place’s Fault
And setting in The Curse of Lakeham Abbey
One of my favourite poems is The Place’s Fault by Philip Hobsbaum. It is about a child, possibly a refugee, who is teased mercilessly by children from the town to which he has moved. By the end of this tense poem, in which the victim even blames himself for looking ‘odd’, he understands that the tormenters are the product of the place in which they live.
The poem has always made me think about setting and how it can affect people. Anyone who has lived in social housing and tried to further their education will tell you that it’s very difficult when others feel threatened by your attempts to better yourself. As a legal advisor, I had a client – a recovering drug addict – who told me that he had stopped going to the drop-in centre because not only did pushers hang around outside, but he could not get away from the people who weren’t trying as hard to recover as he was. Places influence us, whether they’re big towns, medium sized estates or a couple of offices in the town centre that had been given over to drug rehabilitation.
Lakeham Abbey, which has now appeared in three of my novels, is one such place. In its first appearance, in The Dark Marshes, it was a fairly generic Gothic pile, with secret rooms and a ‘ghost’. My heroine, Hetty, had gone there as a young bride and it almost drove her mad. In its second outing in The Secret of Lakeham Abbey, the secret rooms had become Blytonesque, forbidden rooms and priest holes, perfect for a young sleuth, Percy Sullivan and his friend to explore in a ‘Golden Age’ type murder mystery. By the time I wrote The Curse of Lakeham Abbey, I was inspired by the domestic noir of modern day, and saw the Abbey as a prison, or gilded cage, full of affluent people who each wear a cloak of happiness. One by one those cloaks fall off, revealing an undertone of darkness that can only lead to murders. Percy has grown up and the scales have fallen from his eyes, making it harder for him to be the hero he would like to be, or to see the heroic in others.
One of the characters says the Abbey is cursed (hence the title), and I wanted to explore how much this setting affected every character, as it starts to leak secrets that people would rather keep quiet. The Abbey is a prison to them, because their secrets keep them there, for whatever reason. But is it really to blame for the things they do? Can we blame our setting for the mistakes we make or the dreams we fail to follow? I’ll let readers decide that and I hope they enjoy thinking about it as they read the novel.
The Curse of Lakeham Abbey – Blurb
Everyone knows that Lakeham Abbey is cursed. All the stories say so. Throughout the years, there have been mad women, murders, and a general feeling of misery that drives people away. When another murder takes place there, it only adds to the legends.
Some seventy years after his first visit to Lakeham Abbey, Percy Sullivan returns. He has lost none of his truculence nor his thirst for justice. The Abbey has been turned into luxury apartments, of which down-on-his-luck Percy is one of the first new residents.
When Julia Marsh is murdered and her husband, fading rock star, Jake, is imprisoned, Percy is determined to find the killer and free the grandson of his greatest friends. Tensions rise as secrets that threaten to destroy everyone are uncovered. In a place where no one is entirely innocent, how will he ever find the guilty?
The Curse of Lakeham Abbey is released on 15th August 2017 and is available to buy from Amazon.co.ukhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1973988623 (paperback) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Curse-Lakeham-Abbey-Sally-Quilford-ebook/dp/B0748MN67L/ref=sr_1_21?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501492456&sr=1-21 (Kindle)
And Amazon.comhttps://www.amazon.com/Curse-Lakeham-Abbey-Sally-Quilford/dp/1973988623/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501492330&sr=1-3&keywords=Sally+Quilford (paperback) https://www.amazon.com/Curse-Lakeham-Abbey-Sally-Quilford-ebook/dp/B0748MN67L/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501492421&sr=1-2 (Kindle)
Amazon India: https://www.amazon.in/Curse-Lakeham-Abbey-Sally-Quilford-ebook/dp/B0748MN67L/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502867137&sr=8-1&keywords=the+curse+of+lakeham+abbey+by+sally+quilford