Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Spotlight on Helen Hollick, author of A Mystery of Murder (Jan Christopher Mysteries, Episode 2)


‘Had I known what was to happen soon after we arrived at Mr and Mrs Walker’s lovely old West Country house, my apprehension about spending Christmas in Devon would have dwindled to nothing.’

Library Assistant Jan Christopher is to spend Christmas with her boyfriend, DS Laurie Walker, and his family, but when a murder is discovered, followed by a not very accidental accident, the traditional Christmas spirit is somewhat marred...

What happened to Laurie’s ex-girlfriend? Where is the vicar’s wife? Who took those old photographs? And will the farmer up the lane ever mend those broken fences?

Set in 1971, this is the second Jan Christopher Cosy Mystery. Join her (and an owl and a teddy bear) in Devon for a Christmas to remember.

Will the discovery of a murder spoil Christmas for Jan Christopher and her boyfriend DS Laurie Walker – or will it bring them closer together?


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 Helen Hollick

Fun Facts

(Stuff you may or may not already know!)

 I moved away with my family (and two horses, two cats, and a dog) from London in January 2013 (in a snowstorm!) We had won the UK Lottery Raffle on the opening night of the London 2012 Olympics, so we bought an 18th century North Devon farmhouse. Very much a life-changing win!

We have several ‘guests’ in our old house – by guests I mean ghosts! They are all very friendly and look after the house and us. We’ve a maid, a dairyman the Master, an 18th/19th century equivalent of the postman... a young boy. Oh, and my daughter’s seen a sabre-tooth tiger in our woods!

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Many of the anecdotes that are in the first Jan Christopher Mystery (A Mirror Murder) actually happened, taken from my years of working in a public library. Like the boy who asked for a book about Copper Knickers (no spoilers – you’ll have to read the book to find out what he really meant!)

South Chingford Library Photo © A Morton

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In A Mystery of Murder, my leading lady, Jan Christopher, wears a grey furry hat that looks more like a curled-up cat than a hat. I always wear hats. Apart from the fact that I like hats, I have to wear a hat with a brim because I am visually impaired and a brim helps keep too much light from my eyes. For book-related events, I wear my ‘Facebook’ hat (the one in my picture herewith!) I have, on three occasions now, been recognised because of this hat. It’s a sobering thought when your hat is more famous than you are.

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I was accepted for publication by William Heinemann (Random House UK) back in 1993, a week after my 40th birthday. They wanted Sharon K Penman, but she was contracted elsewhere. My agent back then, who represented us both, mentioned that I was Sharon’s protégé – I was signed up for my Arthurian Pendragon’s Banner trilogy.  Since then, I’ve moved to being an Indie author, it’s good to have personal control over your books.


 Helen Hollick

Helen Hollick and her family moved from northeast London in January 2013 after finding an eighteenth-century North Devon farmhouse through being a ‘victim’ on BBC TV’s popular Escape To The Country show. The thirteen-acre property was the first one she was shown – and it was love at first sight. She enjoys her new rural life and has a variety of animals on the farm, including Exmoor ponies and her daughter’s string of show jumpers.

First accepted for publication by William Heinemann in 1993 – a week after her fortieth birthday – Helen then became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she also writes a pirate-based nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages. Despite being impaired by the visual disorder of Glaucoma, she is also branching out into the quick read novella, 'Cosy Mystery' genre with the Jan Christopher Mysteries, set in the 1970s, with the first in the series, A Mirror Murder incorporating her, often hilarious, memories of working for thirteen years as a library assistant.

Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She also runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction, a news, and events blog for her village and the Community Shop, assists as ‘secretary for the day’ at her daughter’s regular showjumping shows – and occasionally gets time to write...

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