1. What can you tell our readers about your new novel Last Dance at the Rothesay Pavilion?
Last Dance at the Rothesay Pavilion is the third in a series of cosy crime mysteries set on the Isle of Bute and featuring the same main protagonist, Alison Cameron. The Pavilion is one of only two buildings of this type left in Britain; the other is in Bexhill-on-Sea and often features in episodes of Poirot.
The Pavilion was a favourite place for the manyservicemen from all over the world stationed in Bute during the last war and the story tells how long-buried secrets from the past come to light when renovations of the building begin. I’ve woven some of this history into the novel and I hope the twist will please readers. Alison is a very ordinary woman, but she seems to become involved in extraordinary and often dangerous events.
2. When did you initial inspiration come from for the protagonist Alison Cameron?
I now this sounds a bit of a cliché, but she did just appear! I wrote a first novel featuring Alison and it was one of the prize-winners in its category at the Scottish Association of Writers (SAW) conference a few years ago. At the end of that novel she goes to Bute on holiday and it seemed to take off from there.
3. You have a holiday home on the Isle of Bute, is this why you chose to set the book there?
Bute is an ideal place to set this kind of novel. It’s a small island off the west coast of Scotland with a population of no more than 6000, except in the summer when the numbers are swelled by visitors. This allows me to focus in on some very quirky characters and in a small place you have lots of opportunities for local gossip and intrigues to help move the plot along.
4. You and your husband have family connections to the island for generations, can you expand on this for us?
My husband’s grandmother lived on Bute so from his earliest days he spent all his holidays there. And as a young child, I also went there a lot -Bute was a destination favoured at that time by those who lived in the west of Scotland, long before the advent of cheap holidays abroad. Or perhaps the summers really were better then! My son and his family now live on the island and we continue to have a strong attachment to Bute. It’s a beautiful island, a quiet retreat and not the hotbed of crime the novels might suggest!
5. Who are your favourite reads?
I read widely in all genres, not only crime. I like Ruth Rendell, Margaret Yorke and Morag Joss, but I’m also a fan of JoJo Moyes and writers like Anita Shreve, Anne Tyler and Joanna Trollope. The advent of e-books has made many new writers accessible and I’ve discovered a number whose novels have been most enjoyable.
6. Who has influenced your own writing over the years, other than Enid Blyton?
I like writers where the mystery is at the heart of the novel. I’m not a fan of violent crime (though I do read some, such as Minette Walters) so Simon Brett and M.C. Beaton are writers whose books I could read and re-read. In addition I find someone like Maeve Binchey an inspiration: her style lets her connect so easily with the reader. And Agatha Christie is still on the list!
7. You write both fiction and non fiction, so do you have a preference between the two?
I love the contrast. Perhaps because I’m a Gemini I enjoy the challenge of both kinds of writing and going from one to the other.
8. You have written for publications such as magazines and journals, how do these compare to novel writing?
Novel writing is my preference. I like developing the characters (though sometimes they seem to have minds of their own and have to be put in their place) and dealing with the twists and turns of the plot. The main interest for me in any crime is the puzzle - who did it and why. I suppose this springs from the development of the characters and I like to keep the reader guessing for as long as possible, though there are plenty of clues (and red herrings).
9. What can we expect next from you and the character of Alison?
The work-in-progress is set again on Bute with the provisional title of Endgame at Port Bannatyne. I’m giving Alison a new challenge - a film crew comes to the island and she’s taken on as one of the assistant scriptwriters. I’ve already decided who is to be the victim, but the murderer is lying low at the moment. And I’ve not quite decided what to do with her husband, Simon!
10. Do you think you will break for this series at any point to write in a different genre?
I already have! I’ve a grittier crime novel The Lost of Paradise which was runner up at the SAW two years ago, with a journalist as the main protagonist, but I’ve also written a short romance set in the Scottish countryside, a novel about a life changing situation (women’s’fiction) and a humorous story featuring a variety of characters set against the proposed closure of a local community centre.
However, reader feedback on this series has been very positive and I’m encouraged to write at least one more.
Like most writers, I’ve more ideas than there is time to write.
Female Frist Lucy Walton