Murder by the Minster

Murder by the Minster

I casually narrate the thoughts of dog I pass in the street. We have always had dogs in the family. I love them and treat dogs how other people tend to treat celebrities. For some reason I have got into the habit of narrating their thoughts as they pass by – out loud. My husband is surprised about how many dogs are thinking ‘I would like to go home with you please, Helen.’

I pride myself on my homemade Yorkshire puddings. Though currently exiled to London I will forever be a northerner at heart and take great care over my Yorkshires. The trick is to flick the oven up 20 degrees higher than any recipe states and bake them for 15 minutes instead of 25. You heard it here first.

I announced I was going to be a novelist at the age of six. I made this announcement to my working class parents – the only people I really had to make announcements to at that age - who in the pre-internet universe were certain their firstborn child was going to starve if she persisted with this flighty whim. They prayed it was a phase but my first novel was published thirty-one years later and I’m pleased to report I’m not going hungry.

I struggled with body image issues for years. I know I’m not alone with this but body image issues dominated my life all through my twenties. I would diet and exercise fiercely to the point that I no longer had a social life to speak of. Though I still do a lot of walking and eat a balanced diet, I’ve realized there are more important things to devote myself to than ‘being thin.’ The pounds have piled on over the years but I smile a lot more than I used to so it swings in roundabouts.

I still enjoy a hug with a teddy bear. Life is hard and teddy bears are soft so you’ll have to forgive me this childish indulgence after a long day where nothing seemed to go right.

I got engaged rom-com style. My husband proposed over a microphone at a film quiz in front of over 100 people, all of whom applauded and cheered when I accepted the ring. I think my betrothed knew if he wanted me to say ‘yes’ I had to get a good story out of it.

Vitamin D supplements changed my life. It turns out that due to the British weather being a bit questionable for six months of the year, most of us have low Vitamin D levels. I’d read about this for decades but only started taking supplements about four months ago. I couldn’t believe the immediate improvement in my skin and energy levels. Tiredness and fatigue is pretty much a thing of the past. Quite useful when you’re on deadline for your latest novel.

I love reading pirate romance books. When I was 21 I read The Princess Bride by William Goldman, and I’ve read it every year since. It features a character called the Dread Pirate Roberts and is without doubt the most dryly funny and charming book I’ve ever read. As a result, I’m always looking out for my next pirate romance novel. I unabashedly read them on the tube and bus, revelling in the looks of judgment from other joyless commuters.

I’ve been a practising pagan for 20 years. I was 17 when a friend lent me a copy of Hedgewitch by Rae Beth. I had been raised as a Christian but as soon as I read that book I knew I’d found the spiritual path I’d stay on for the rest of my life. Quite a lucky thing to discover at such a young age. Ever since I’ve taken great pleasure in celebrating the turn of the seasons and taking note of the phases of the moon.

I think Grease 2 is better than the original Grease. If you go to the pub with me this will come up at some point. No matter what film critics across the land may tell you, Grease 2 is a feminist classic and Grease is a story about a girl who sews herself into some skin-tight leather trousers to impress a boy.

Murder by the Minster by Helen Cox publishes on 31st October 2019 (Quercus)

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