Welcome to Crime author, Rita Lee Chapman.
Please tell us about your publications/work.
There are four books in the Anna Davies Mystery Series: Missing in Egypt, Missing at Sea, Missing in London and Missing in France.
I have also written two crime mysteries – Dangerous Associations and The Poinciana Tree. I have also written a book for horse lovers, from teenagers upwards, Winston – A Horse’s Tale.
I decided the beautiful Poinciana tree would make a great cover for a book, so I started with the cover and then built a story around it.
Most of my books also come in large print editions.
Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom?
I believe learning to read and write empowers everyone and should be a basic human right.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?
I was actually given this advice by a wise, local bookshop owner. “Don’t expect to become rich from your writing.” Perhaps I should have taken more notice!
If you could have dinner with any literary character or author who would you choose, and what would you eat.
I think I would choose Kate Moreton, a local Australian author, who writes so beautifully. I would like to have oysters natural for entrée, followed by roast pork with crackling and real apple sauce accompanied by roast vegetables, finishing with a decadent chocolate dessert. There would, of course, be French champagne to drink.
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?
For some of my books, the research has already been done, i.e. I set the book in a country I have visited. Other books require quite a lot of research. For The Poinciana Tree I researched in formation on, and read books based in, the Sudan. The wildest research I have done was on rohypnol, the rape drug, for Missing at Sea.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing?
Write more books!
What is your writing space like?
Quiet! I’m lucky to have a study, lined with book shelves.
Tell us about your latest piece?
Missing in France is Book #4 in the Anna Davies Mystery Series. Like the others, it is a stand-alone book, although I have recently combined the four books into the Anna Davies Mystery Series e-book. Here is the blurb:
When Mike accepts a two-year contract in France, Anna is delighted at the prospect of spending time in Paris and Marseille. She doesn’t anticipate being drawn into yet another mystery, one which puts her own life in danger.
What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work?
I don’t offer books for free. I believe your time and energy deserve at least a small payment. I also think a lot of free books are downloaded and never read, because that reader has downloaded so many free books, with the best of intentions but lack of time to read them.
Sort these into order of importance:
With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling?
I think there is room for both indie authors and traditionally published authors. It is the writing that counts, not the form of publishing.
Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline?
I think online shopping has affected all shops, especially during Covid. There is no doubt that bookshops have declined in number and many are much smaller in size, which mean they are limited in the number of books they can display. I am confident, however, that there will always be a call for bookshops.
What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?
I wanted to be a show jumper, but as I lived in London, this was never likely to happen. I was fortunate to go riding at a local riding school once a week and when I moved to Australia I rode all week-end for many years. The show jumping bit never happened though.
Links to book
Large Print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08X63F2BN
Rita Lee Chapman was born in London and moved to Australia in her early twenties. It was only when she retired that she wrote her first novel, Missing in Egypt, the first in the Anna Davies Mystery series. This was followed by Missing at Sea, Missing in London and Missing in France. All can be enjoyed as stand-alone books.
Winston – A Horse’s Tale was written for horse lovers like herself. “It was the book I had to write.”
Dangerous Associations and The Poinciana Tree are crime mysteries.
When she’s not writing or reading, Rita enjoys playing tennis, walking and entertaining.
Title: Missing in France (Book #4 in the Anna Davies Mystery Series)
Author: Rita Lee Chapman
Genre: Crime mystery
Main character description (short).
Anna Davies is the protagonist of this series. She is curious, persevering and tenacious.
When Mike accepts a two-year contract in France, Anna is delighted at the prospect of spending time in Paris and Marseille. She doesn’t anticipate being drawn into yet another mystery, one which puts her own life in danger.
Brief Excerpt 250 words:
I could hear footsteps behind me as I ran down the cobblestone street. It was narrow and dark and I knew I had to get to where there were some people. My chasers were closer now, their footsteps echoing off the walls and I didn’t know if I could keep going for much longer. My breathing was coming in heavy gasps and my chest was burning. At my age, I was not used to running. Surely there were people around somewhere, it wasn’t very late. I had to find help, or somewhere I could hide.
Everything was closed; there didn’t seem to be anyone around. I turned a corner and flew up a flight of steps to the next street, where I could see street lights throwing their welcoming light. The men were not far behind. I had no idea who these men were or why they were chasing me. Did they want to kill me, or only to frighten me? I didn’t know – but I wasn’t slowing down to find out. I felt real fear enveloping me. In fact, I was terrified. I had to keep running.
I saw people lying in the street up ahead. Why were they lying in the street? Were they dead? As I came closer, a few heads popped up, but nobody moved to stand up or to help me. Why was no-one trying to help me? They stared at me with eyes that didn’t see and turned away. I ran past them, they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, help me. I kept running; down another cobbled alleyway, around another corner. I had a stitch in my side now and I was gasping for breath. How much longer could I outrun them?
Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?
This book will appeal to readers who enjoy mysteries combined with travel and a touch of romance. As a stand-alone book, it is not necessary to have read the previous three books in the series.
Large Print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08X63F2BN
*Name: Lesley Dessalles
*Tell us a bit about yourself:
How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? That is a long story…but I have an Actor friend who has always said I should use my voice, eventually I reached a time in my life when I could investigate that option. I approached a voice artist local to me, Andy Turvey who is somewhat of a guru and whose advice I have valued and continue to appreciate. Audible told me to contact ACX and here I am, just over 18 months later, 16 books through ACX and various voiceover jobs completed.
Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? Titles have varied from Thrillers, the paranormal, Ghost stories, the story of Joan of Arc, and Children’s books.
Do you have a preferred genre? Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I seem to work on a number of Ghost stories. I am not sure why. My first commission was Veiled by Kat Green, which was pretty gruesome. I have now completed 3 books for Kat and numerous other ghost stories, including a phantom caper in Las Vegas, the sad tale of a Mistletoe Bride, and of course The story of Blossom Rise.
If you could meet anyone from history or literature for dinner who would it be and what would you eat? I think it would have to be Joan of Arc, having narrated a book about her life. I have had connection with France for over thirty years, I would be interested to see what she would have eaten with the Men that supported her quest, although not in battle when she simply had bread and wine, to see if there are dishes that are still recognised on a French menu today. I expect so!
What are you working on at present/just finished? I have just completed a children’s book and I am about to work on a new genre for me, it feels very like a ‘chick flick’, in style.
*Tell us about your process for narrating? (Be as elaborate as you like.) First thing, is to read the book carefully and think about the tone and the accents of the characters. I like to know the author’s take on characters too. It is important that the author recognises their work! I then work through chapter by chapter, usually working with the author to ensure that they are happy every step of the way.
What aspects do you find most enjoyable? I enjoy finding the voices and accents for each character. It is not always easy, and if it is a long book I make sure I know in which chapter the characters appear, so that I can ensure the voice is right later on in the book.
What do you find least enjoyable? The editing side. The ironing out the lumps and bumps within the sound file. I don’t think listeners necessarily appreciate how long this takes for a humble narrator in their own studio or sound booth. They are used to seeing clips of famous actors in a studio with a sound engineer on the other side of the glass who will ultimately edit and clean the files.
Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Do you think this a fair split for your time? It is a good way for a beginner to gain experience. I am hoping that one day I get to have a sound engineer on the other side of the glass!
Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? My friend, who has been shielding over Lockdown says that audiobooks stop her feeling lonely. I guess, in our busy lives, audiobooks can be absorbed whilst doing something else such as driving or exercising.
Do you prefer a spoken book, or reading? For you how do they differ? Reading, every time I am afraid!
Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? To Kill a Mocking Bird, Narrated by Sissy Spacek, she is perfect.
If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? Maybe I’ll write something one day…
What is the best piece of advice you’ve had? I was told to be persistent and patient.
If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? A book that went on to be an unexpected bestseller would be nice…especially if I was able to narrate it with a sound engineer behind the glass!
Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I sneeze when I eat mints and good quality chocolate! I am the same height as Dolly Parton!
Where can we learn more about you?
Social Media links:https://www.facebook.com/LezDezVoice/
Facebook Lesley Dessalles – Voice
Lesley has narrated the Secret of Blossom Rise
Who are you? (Give a brief description of yourself). I am Jack, I seek to clean up the once noble streets, deal with the vice and the stain on our glorious empire.
How did you find yourself in your current predicament/on your current adventure? My adventure? I suppose it is. I avenge my brother, I avenge those who have fallen to the pox. I do it for her – the shining icon of decency and family life. She whose character is unstained.
Who are your companions? I have none, except the beast and the blade.
What is your moral code? How does it compare with the general moral code of your area? You mean the whores, the drunkards, the gamblers and the dens of vice? I come to solve the problems of the streetwalkers and their filth. I serve the common good. I serve in her name.
How many crimes have you committed? Five or five hundred – it matters not.
How do you think others see you? They fear me. My reign of terror has them cowering but still some ply their trade. I hear the cry of the newsboy on the corner when my night’s work is done, and the beast laughs. I want them to fear the blade in the night. I want them to smell the blood.
Do you see yourself as a ‘good’ person? I kill the tainted, the corrupt and the wicked. I serve the empire, I serve her.
What is your greatest achievement? The Double Event – two in one night!
If you could live your life again would you make the same choices? Of course
Do you have any dirty secrets? You have no idea!
Why should we read about your adventures? I will be a legend, a myth. I will disappear and yet my name will live forever.
Author – A. L. Butcher
Jack appears here:
The year is 1888, and the place is Whitechapel, in the very heart of London. But the heart is bleeding. A mysterious killer is stalking women of the streets – his true name is unknown, but his legend will go down in history. This is a short tale of Jack the Ripper.
18 rated for scenes of violence.
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2xdkprc
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2v6xDZs
Amazon UK audio
Blood on the Cobbles Bundle
From legends of murder, and undead killers walking, to missing girls, deadly diseases, suspense and gore aplenty; from sleuths and detectives, murder and vengeance enter into a world of crime, clues and mayhem.
12 authors weave tales both long and short of crime and suspense.
A collection of short stories and novels.
Courageous – Russ Crossley
Who Unkilled Johnny Murder? – Robert Jeschonek
What Leads A Man to Murder? – Joslyn Chase
Nice Man Jack – Baby Ice Dog Press
By Dawn’s Bloody Light – DeAnna Knippling
Expressway Thru the Skull – M.E. Purfield
Six Crime Stories – Robert Jeschonek
Double Edged – Jessie Kwak
The Disappearance of Wicked – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Body Language – Harvey Stanbrough
Tales of Twisted Crime – Russ Crossley
Crime du Jour – Diane R. Thompson
Justice Served – Russ Crossley
The Economic Hitman – Eugene Lloyd MacRae
The Sound of Murder – Kari Kilgore
Brothels and Prostitutes by Jane Fenwick @jane_fenwick60 #neverthetwain #historicalcrimenovels #romance #victorianwhitby
Brothels and prostitution feature in the opening of my new book Never the Twain. Men have used prostitutes since time began. There is even one mentioned in that very famous book The Bible!
Prostitution has always been a way for women to support themselves when all other means of earning a living have been exhausted. Very few women would have chosen this path had another option been open to them. In Never the Twain identical twins April and May find themselves in the unenviable predicament of being sold into prostitution.
Never the Twain is set in 1890 a time when it is easy to forget that women had very few rights. Women were considered chattel and on marriage were passed from their father’s care to that of their husband. Women like April and May, the protagonists in Never the Twain, had no male protectors and so had to make their own way in the world. April and May, through no fault of their own, are sold into prostitution so their actress mother can be rid of them. The acting profession in Victorian times was regarded as only a step away from prostitution and so it is easy to see why the twins’ mother would place them in the care of a Madam.
Educated women were still rare and middle class educated women rarer still. Had they been impoverished vicars’ daughters they would have found it relatively easy to get positions as governesses or companions. However, without a letter of reference they would have struggled to gain respectable employment. The twins could have taken work in domestic service or shop work but April and May would have found such work low paid and demeaning. Without means or protection their options would have been limited and falling into the poverty trap was a risk to avoid at all costs; once you lost the roof over your head there was no social security to fall back on. Once their “mother” died April and May were very much on their own.
Each twin had a different solution to their dilemma but ultimately the solution they agreed upon led to dire consequences. April knew that although they were educated it would be difficult to find respectable positions though she was willing to try. However, she allowed her twin to convince her to enter the brothel as a way of buying time – they were assured they would be untouched until their eighteenth birthday. It was a decision they would both come to regret.
Every port and harbour had their fair share of prostitutes. In seafaring towns prostitution was especially rife. Men who had been at sea for months had needs and a range of options were available for them to choose from when they were back ashore depending on their tastes and budget. From tuppeny streetwalkers to those who worked the inns, taverns and bawdy houses. And then there were the higher class brothels such as the one in Never the Twain, Mrs Jansen’s establishment where the higher ranks of the seafaring community, as well as the local gentry, were catered for.
In Victorian times gentlemen of rank often married for reasons other than love. The aristocracy, and increasingly the newly emerging merchant classes, often married to improve their finances and position in society. They married to join two influential families together or to gain the dowry of an heiress. Couples often married to unite two prominent families where one provided a title and the other party supplied the money. These misalliances often resulted in some gentlemen seeking their pleasures elsewhere especially once their wives had produced an “heir and a spare”.
For some, using “high class” brothels as opposed to regular bawdy houses offered ‘respectability’ as the brothels were often well-appointed almost like a gentlemen’s club. The girls were also thought to be cleaner and accomplished in the art of seduction. However, I found from my research, that some gentlemen liked “a bit of rough” too on occasions and would purposely seek out women of the lower orders as something different, a thrill!
The Victorian period saw the rise of a new class; the middle or mercantile class. “New Money” was made from newly emerging industries and manufacturing. The industrial revolution made enterprising men rich. My male protagonists Edward and Alistair Driscoll would have been part of this growth of the Nouveau Riche. Their fortunes had been made in the past from the slave trade and from importing tobacco from the New World – in this instance from Virginia. Now they were dealing in imports and exports and were adding to their fortunes.
Mrs Jansen boasted that her whores were “free from disease” and “practised in the arts of seduction”, something most men of position would appreciate. Men like Captain Edward Driscoll – being from new money – would have been the mainstay of Velda Jansen’s provincial brothel. In a port such as Whitby where a whore could be bought cheaply by any passing sailor, Mrs Jansen’s brothel would have been the epitome of class – if you weren’t from London that is. Anything which could attract her more wealthy clients would have been a boon for the avaricious Madam. So when beautiful, identical twin virgins were offered to her she saw the guinea signs flash before her eyes. She knew a marketable commodity when she saw it and here were two beauties ready for the plucking.
Sometimes prostitutes are portrayed as being happy with their lot or “the tart with a heart” but the reality was seldom so straightforward or agreeable. The girls were effectively slaves and the Madams ruthless. You can probably guess what would happen to one of Mrs Jansen’s “clean girls” if she became infected by a punter or when she lost her looks. Her only choice would be to walk the streets for business. As a result her life span would be considerably shortened. A girl would put up with a lot to keep herself from plying her trade in the dangerous ginnels and inns of Whitby so whatever the punter wanted the punter invariably got. The Madams would turn a blind eye to most things, even if this meant the girls were brutalised. So long as the gentleman did not spoil a girl’s face – the Madams would not be pleased if one of their precious girls were to be disfigured. Very occasionally a girl would get “lucky” and a punter would pay for her sole use or set her up in her own establishment as his mistress. Rarer still was the gentleman who married a whore.
In Never the Twain I wanted to show how devastating it would be for two relatively well brought up, educated young girls like April and May to find themselves in this frightening and dangerous situation. The twins, had they been ‘launched’, would have been sold to the highest bidder and thereafter used and abused day and night until their beauty faded. Such an end for the girls who were only valued for their beauty and bodies would have been shameful. In Never the Twain we see April and May struggle to survive the brothel but their lives soon become marred by jealousy and greed, betrayal and murder.
Never the Twain: A twin tale of jealousy and betrayal, love and murder.
The year is 1890. The port of Whitby is heaving with sailors and where there are sailors there are brothels doing a roaring trade. Beautiful identical twins April and May are in desperate straits. They have been abandoned by their actress mother and are about to have their virginity auctioned off to the highest bidder by a notorious brothel madam.
Their fate is hanging in the balance when Captain Edward Driscoll a handsome, wealthy shipping tycoon from Glasgow saves them before they can be deflowered.
But have they exchanged one form of slavery for another?
April, reluctantly swept up in her twin’s secrets and lies unwittingly becomes embroiled in a murderous conspiracy. Is May’s jealousy stronger than the twin bond which has always connected them?
Never the Twain: A dark blend of Gothic romance and murder.
Jane Fenwick lives in the market town of Settle in Yorkshire, England. She studied education at Sheffield University gaining a B.Ed (Hons) in 1989 and going on to teach primary age range children. Jane decided to try her hand at penning a novel rather than writing school reports as she has always been an avid reader, especially enjoying historical and crime fiction. She decided to combine her love of both genres to write her first historical crime novel Never the Twain. Jane has always been a lover of antiques, particularly art nouveau and art deco ceramics and turned this hobby into a business opening an antiques and collectables shop in Settle. However her time as a dealer was short lived; she spent far too much time in the sale rooms buying items that ended up in her home rather than the shop! Animal welfare is a cause close to Jane’s heart and she has been vegetarian since the age of fourteen. For the last twenty years she has been trustee of an animal charity which rescues and rehomes cats, dogs and all manner of creatures looking for a forever home. Of course several of these have been “adopted” by Jane!
Jane has always loved the sea and although she lives in the Yorkshire Dales she is particularly drawn to the North East coast of Yorkshire and Northumberland. This coastline is where she gets her inspiration for the historical crime and romance novels she writes. She can imagine how the North East ports would have looked long ago with a forest of tall masted ships crammed together in the harbours, the bustling streets congested with sailors, whalers, chandlers and sail makers. These imaginings provide the backdrop and inspire her to create the central characters and themes of her novels. As she has always loved history she finds the research particularly satisfying.
When she isn’t walking on Sandsend beach with her dog Scout, a Patterdale “Terrorist” she is to be found in her favourite coffee shop gazing out to sea and dreaming up her next plot. Jane is currently writing a historical saga series again set on the North East coast beginning in 1765. The first two books are being edited at the moment; My Constant Lady and The Turning Tides. Look out for My Constant Lady in 2020.
This is one of the better ‘Foul Deeds’ series, and all the more interesting as I live reasonably close to Bath. Bath is an ancient city, which has seen its share of blood and wickedness – these cases were, mostly the lesser known from 19 century onwards, there was a chapter outlining older crimes. The research was well done, and the author didn’t sensationalise the accounts (which tends to happen in many true crime books).
I’d recommend this for local historians, true crime buffs and people with an interest in the area.
First review of 2019! Yay!
A Day in the Life of Dorgo the Dowser.
*Who are you?
Why, I’m Dorgo Mikawber, otherwise known as Dorgo the Dowser. I earned that nickname because of the dowsing rod that I carry with me all the time. This is a rather unique and specialized dowsing rod, because it can detect the ectoplasmic residue of any supernatural presence or demonic entity, and sense the vestiges of any form of magical power used in the commission of crimes, crimes I’m often hired or asked to solve. Without my dowsing rod, I’d be out of work and forced to find other means of employment. I mean, what else can I do? I’ve been a mercenary, a body guard, and even a smuggler. I’m not qualified for much else. Can you imagine me being an innkeeper or a blacksmith? I can’t. And my luck is often so bad when it comes to gambling that I’ve learned to keep my money in my pocket, most of the time. I do gamble with my life often enough and thus far Lady Luck hasn’t left my side. But it would be nice if she’d let me win at dice or cards once in a while. Oh, well. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.
Tell us about an average day in your life.
On the rare occasion when I’m not engaged in something to do with murder, mystery, magic, mayhem, and the occasional monster, my average life is pretty average. I sleep late, stay awake all hours of the night, drinking, placing the rare bet on a Minotaur wrestling match or centaur race, and spending time with a lovely woman. But as I said, those days are rare, because those who deal with the supernatural and the demonic, and those who follow the Dark Light of Odylic Power, which is commonly referred to as magic and sorcery, are always up to something nefarious. In my city of Valdar, almost anything can happen, and usually does.
Are you a lark or a night owl?
I have to be both in my line of work, because evil never sleeps, demons never rest, and most crimes occur during the darkness of the night. I often have to walk a fine line between darkness and light, in the shadows of a world where life is cheap and souls are always up for sale.
How do you think your ‘average’ day compares to that of other people?
Well, I sometimes get a chance to break my fast, enjoy a bath and don clean but tattered clothing. I may even get a chance to visit with friends. But that’s where all comparison comes to a halt. When there’s a crime committed that involves dark sorcery, demonic entities and supernatural agencies, that when I come in. I’m either hired by some private citizen to help solve the crime, or my friend Captain Mazo of the Purple Hand (the Royal Constabulary in Valdar) will, most reluctantly, ask me and my dowsing rod to lend him a hand.
Do you court danger?
I don’t court it so much as find myself either caught in its grip or trying to keep clear of it. But when I’m forced to deal with unscrupulous men, duplicitous women, practitioners of the Dark Arts, and a criminal underworld . . . well, danger usually courts me. Trouble, as someone famous once said, is my business.
Do you think your life is fulfilling?
I think so. I hope so. I have helped a lot of good people, saved a lot of lives, and have sent many a dark soul to the dungeon or to the gallows. I’m certain Hell is filled with many of my foes who are just waiting for me to get there.
If you had the choice what would you change in your daily life?
Nothing. Not a damn thing. I love my life and enjoy it to the fullest extent of both my ability and my pocketbook. Although it would be nice to have a little more money so I could afford to buy some new clothes. My friends are always chiding me for wearing the same shirt, britches and boots day in and day out. By God, how some of them nag me to no end!
Tell us a little about your home/environment/land – how does this reflect on your day to day life?
I live in an interesting world where lost souls are often resurrected as hell-spawned devils; where entities from the other side of the veil separating the earthly from the unearthly can be conjured into existence; where beings from an ancient land whose borders cross over into other dimensions slip through to my own world. In my specialized line of investigative work I’ve had to confront sentient, gold-eating shadows, malevolent puppets, wicked witches, mad sorcerers, blood-thirsty men and women, plus hungry ghouls and zombies, faun assassins, demented demons, ghastly ghosts, vengeful vampires, raging werewolves, and the most deadly, other-worldly book ever written. Then there are the semi-human races, like the Muthologians, those so-call “mythical” beings and creatures who escaped from your world of ancient Greece and settled in my own world of Tanyime. Most of them are good souls, and I’m fortunate to call many of them my friends. I truly live in interesting and exciting times, don’t you think?
Are you organised or chaotic? Does this annoy your family/companions?
I’m usually chaotic, although when it’s called for I can be very organized. I have no family, but my habits, the hours I keep, my attitude, and my entire lifestyle often troubles and worries my friends. But they’re all decent folks who, more often than not, are willing to lend me a hand. Our tempers often clash when they disagree with me or try to prevent me from getting involved in something that might cost me my life and perhaps even my soul, but in the end I am blessed to have such good friends looking after me.
Thank you for spending so much of your valuable time with me. I enjoyed our little chat. And remember, if you ever have need of me: “Have Dowsing Rod. Will Travel.” I got that from some bloke whose name, sadly, escapes me at the time.
By the way, you can find my Mad Shadows adventures (volumes 1 and 2) on Joe Bonadonna’s Amazon author page: