My debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was a stand-alone story, but much to my surprise I have been asked time and time again if I would write a follow-up tale. Perhaps someday I will take one of the secondary characters and explore their story, but I felt the story arc of the main characters left little room for an interesting sequel. Sometimes, it’s good to leave your audience wanting more.
However, when considering what to write next, it made sense to consider writing a series. After all, I’m rather fond of reading them myself! As the late Victorian era is my go-to, combined with a love of historical mystery and crime, I initially wanted to create a series around a character named Phineas Stone. I set off happily, creating his world and endeavouring to write something new and fresh, so I made him an insurance fraud investigator. I chose this profession as it promised to supply plenty of interesting crimes. However, when I introduced the female protagonist, her voice sang much louder and she emerged as a tantalising character with lots of possibilities. This, of course, left me with a dilemma. With some reluctance, as I was rather fond of Phineas, I decided to rewrite the entire novel from her point of view. I am so glad I did. Lucy Lawrence was a joy to write. She is certainly flawed, but doesn’t that make her much more interesting? She’s impetuous, headstrong and driven by curiosity which invariably ends badly for her.
A Victorian female protagonist isn’t the easiest to create if you want her to be interesting. The social mores of the time throw many obstacles in the writer’s way. Therefore, I had to work around these issues by making her slightly older than your average historical heroine (late 20s) and by making her a widow, it gave her a lot more freedom of movement and the ability to be more independent, both in her views and her actions. I had a lot of fun creating her back story and it features heavily in the first novel, No Stone Unturned. Lucy faces many dangers and comes out of the first adventure a changed woman, shaken by her exploits and feeling rather vulnerable.
I wanted her character to evolve in the next story, Footprints in the Sand. In the previous book, she had tasted freedom and gained financial independence. What would she get up to next? As I have always had a great love of anything to do with ancient Egypt, I decided to make Victorian Cairo the setting for my story. To my delight, I discovered it was a hotbed of professional rivalry amongst the archaeological community: the English and French were at each other’s throats. I didn’t think twice about throwing Lucy into this situation, making her the patron of a French Egyptologist much to the annoyance of his English rivals. Without giving away the plot, robbery, murder and mayhem ensue.
In Footprints in the Sand, poor Lucy arrives in Cairo, unsure of where she stands with her love interest from the first story. Phineas has mysteriously disappeared and possibly with a married woman. This sets up a new romantic arc for her character, as the man she has become patron to, Armond Moreau, is full of Gallic charm and does not hide his interest in the wealthy Lucy. Hopefully, readers will have empathy for her situation as she grapples with possible rejection from one man and the advances of another. Here again, her being a widow gave me a lot more freedom as to how she would handle the position she finds herself in.
However, as the story progresses, a robbery in the Egyptian Museum, closely followed by a murder in the Great Pyramid, become Lucy’s obsession. As a foil to Lucy’s impetuousness, her maid Mary is a cautious character who does her best to tame Lucy’s wilder impulses. Again, as the novel moves along, I show how mistress and maid, by surviving dangerous situations, become closer than would normally have been the case at that time. Mary is a real Dub and provides much light relief in some of the darker moments.
For me, the setting is almost another character in the story. My research on Victorian Cairo threw up wonderful ideas. Cairo at that time was the melting pot of the East, with every creed and nationality to be found there. By lucky chance, as I researched various locations, I came across reference to Amelia Edwards, a Victorian travel writer who spent a winter in Egypt in 1873/74. The result of her trip was the fabulous book, A Thousand Miles up the Nile. Although set a decade before my tale, her book gave me a great insight into the Victorian traveller’s mindset and attitude to both the country and its people. My character Lucy falls in love with Egypt too, and becomes passionate about protecting its heritage.
Luckily, readers love Lucy and are as captivated by her as I am, with No Stone Unturned regularly visiting the top 100 historical mysteries on Amazon in the US. The positive reviews keep me motivated to continue the series.
I envisage interesting times and adventures ahead for Lucy, Phineas and Mary. As a character, Lucy still has capacity to grow and change which keeps me interested and intrigued. Hopefully, it is the same for the reader. Unfortunately for Lucy, my plans for the third book in the series will stretch her to her very limits. More anon!
(c) Pam Lecky
About Footprints in the Sand:
Cairo 1887: A melting pot of jealousy, lust and revenge. Who will pay the ultimate price?Lucy Lawrence throws caution to the wind and embarks on a journey of self-discovery to the land of the pharaohs. Travelling to Cairo as the patron of the charming French Egyptologist, Armand Moreau, Lucy discovers an archaeological community plagued by professional rivalries and intrigue. It is soon apparent that the thriving black market in antiquities threatens Egypt’s precious heritage.When the Egyptian Museum is burgled, Lucy is determined to solve the case, much to the annoyance of the local inspector of police, and the alarm of Mary, her maid. But when an archaeologist is found murdered in the Great Pyramid, Lucy is catapulted into the resulting maelstrom. Can she keep her wits about her to avoid meeting a similar fate?
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