From Agatha Christie to Dorothy Sayers, in Golden Age crime it’s obligatory to have a scene towards the end of the book where the dastardly villain confesses to his murderous crimes - and often at some length.
True to type, the books in my Lady Swift Golden Age crime series, including A Lesson in Murder, also feature a scene where the villain declares to Lady Swift (our amateur sleuth) that it’s a fair cop and they’ll go quietly. Once they’ve spilled the beans on their nefarious wrongdoings of course.
So, I decided it’s time to play fair by my readers and spill my own beans on 7 things I’d rather they didn’t know...
1. Verity Bright doesn't exist
She’s actually a fictitious character herself. Or to be more accurate, she’s a wife-and-husband writing team. The husband (that’s my better-by-far other half) does the research and creates an outline of the plot. Then the wife (that’s me) turns this sparse outline into the first draft of the book. Then my husband tells me it’s way too long and ‘edits’ it - which is a euphemism for shortening it by cutting out swathes of my literary genius.
2. Clifford, Lady Swift's butler, was a woman
Originally, the Lady Swift series was supposed to consist of an Edwardian Lady sleuth and her kick-ass maid companion. But then a, now rather well-known, series came out featuring just such a duo. For a while, we thought about scrapping the series, but in the end, simply gave the maid a sex change and promoted her (now him) to the butler. It’s worked out very well with Clifford becoming a firm favourite with my readers. I still wonder sometimes how the series would have fared if I’d stuck with the original idea.
3. I love eating as much as Lady Swift
My main character loves her food and is lucky enough to have a talented cook to keep her supplied with tasty meals, snacks and picnics. I don’t cook at all, my husband does all the cooking. I just eat whatever he puts in front of me - and it’s usually delicious. My tastes are as decadent as Lady Swift. At the moment I’m obsessed with tiger prawns, salmon and pecorino and white truffle nuts.
4. I've never seen Downton Abbey
The Lady Swift series is often described as ‘Downton Abbey Meets Agatha Christie’ which I take as a compliment. However, I’ve never actually watched an entire episode of Downton Abbey - I know in one episode somewhere the family dog dies and I would never stop crying. One day I’ll get the box set and binge on it with a massive pile of tissues to hand.
5. I live in the 1920s
What I mean is, I live on a vast estate owned by the same family for over 600 years. The house I live in is a tiny cottage on the estate. The main house is often used in TV and Film and the local village is also owned by the same family and hasn’t changed much since 1920. On the estate, they still play polo and shoot every weekend - how Downton Abbey is that?
6. I wouldn't last five minutes as an Edwardian lady
Much as I love the frocks and general glamour it was almost impossible to get hold of prosecco and decent chocolate in Edwardian times, especially when they brought in rationing in 1918. Also, I’m worse at social etiquette and saying the right thing than even Lady Swift. I’d just end up drinking too much champagne and using the asparagus fork to hook out my snails and the snail fork to hook out my dentures from my champagne glass.
7. I never know if what I've written is any good
Most writers suffer from this. No matter how many people read your last book, you still worry that your latest one is going to be universally hated and gather nothing but 1-star reviews. Even though this has never happened to me, I still finish each book and wonder if I should just hit ‘delete’ before anyone else has had a chance to see it. Luckily, my husband sees it first and tells me to stop being so silly. It’ll be fine once he’s ‘edited’ it. And so far, he's been right.
A Lesson in Murder by Verity Bright is out now. Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery. They are the authors of the fabulous Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery series, set in the 1920s. Follow the pair on Twitter, @BrightVerity.
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