Today I’m pleased to welcome Sara Sheridan to the blog. Sara is the author of numerous novels including the Mirabelle Bevan series. The latest novel to feature Mirabelle, Operation Goodwood, is published by Constable on 7 April 2016
Sara kindly answered a few of my questions
1. Tell us a little about Operation Goodwood.
Operation Goodwood is set in 1955 in Brighton, London and on the Goodwood Estate. I love the glamour of 1950s motor racing – those cars really zoomed. It was the era of Stirling Moss, weekend house parties and speed, speed, speed. My sleuth, Mirabelle Bevan, is at the point where she has more or less got over WWII. Like many women in the 1950s she has struggled with the post-war world but is settled in Brighton running a debt collection agency. One night she wakes up and her flat is on fire. She’s rescued by a fireman and outside, receiving medical attention she realises her upstairs neighbour has died in the blaze. She has never met him but she recognises him as an up and coming star of the racing circuit, Dougie Beaumont. And then being Mirabelle, she realises that he must have been dead before the fire started and well . . . she sets off to find out why.
2. What inspired the book?
So many things! I find myself inspired sometimes in second hand shops – I once saw a vintage pair of gloves for sale and they sparked a story. I had visited Goodwood a couple of times and just loved it as a location – the Estate were very welcoming and allowed me to root around and figure out how to murder people all over the place!
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?
I tend to write about 5000 words a week so a Mirabelle Bevan Mystery takes about 16 weeks to first draft. But I don’t always write for 16 weeks straight. I stick to Agatha Christie’s advice about not planning too much or you give the game away. But I do research. Constantly.
4. Operation Goodwoord is the fifth Mirabelle Bevan novel . What do you think are the perks and downsides to writing a recurring character?
I’ve got to the point where I don’t want Mirabelle to get hurt! So recently I was writing her and she’d broken out of an attic (she’s always getting up to that kind of thing) and I was actually scared she was going to fall. It’s ridiculous. The upside is, it’s like having an imaginary friend. Writers are SO ODD and I am very much a writer.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I am a walker and a swimmer and I love relaxing that way. I also read quite a bit. But about half my life I spend running a new business I set up. I’m a history obsessive and fascinated by culture so I’ve started making gift items that relate to Scottish history. I work in collaboration with other creatives. Recently I’ve been mixing a perfume based on the thrilling stories of the Jacobite women. They were made out of steel – just amazingly brave and I find them really inspiring. The company is called Urban Reivers – look us up! It’ll be opening later this year.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Water Music by T C Boyle. Definitely. The language is fantastic!
7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
You know the problem with virtual interviews? No tea! So ‘would you like a cup of tea?’ And the answer is always YES.
About the book:
“WWII is over but Mirabelle’s time in the backrooms of Whitehall has made her the most stylish sleuth in Brighton. Perfect for fans of ITV’s The Bletchley Circle.
1955. When Mirabelle Bevan is rescued from a fire at her home on the Brighton seafront she’s lucky to escape unharmed – but the blaze takes the life of her neighbour, Dougie Beaumont, a dashing and successful racing driver living in the flat above. It soon becomes clear that this was arson, raising questions about the young man’s death that Mirabelle can’t resist investigating further. With her curiosity piqued and on the trail of a potential killer she finds herself taking on the mysterious world of Fleet Street with its long lunches and dodgy deals as well as the glamorous motor racing world at Goodwood.
It gradually becomes clear to Mirabelle that Dougie Beaumont’s life was not as above-board as it first seemed and that this talented man had many secrets, hidden when he was alive by his international lifestyle where he was constantly on the move. Then, when a second shocking murder takes place, Mirabelle’s pursuit is frustrated first by Dougie’s well-connected and suspicious family and then by the official investigation – led by her would-be lover Superintendent McGregor. With the help of her colleague at McGuigan & McGuigan Debt Recovery, Vesta, and some of her ex-intelligence service connections, Mirabelle discovers the dark secrets of the glamorous racing driver have ramifications far beyond the English coastline.”