Pyramid selling has not figured with amateur sleuth Lois Meade much beyond a party for flogging plastic cookware some years ago, and here, she becomes involved with flashy jewelry parties in the next book in the Lois Meade Mystery series. Donald Black, an unpleasant character, runs this pyramid very successfully, and his wife Aurora, is a good friend of Lois.The Mill Hotel, opposite Aurora`s bakery, plays a large part, especially its restaurant with the huge old millwheel still driven with its green waterweed dripping behind the glassed in machinery.
As in her previous cases, Lois works with Detective Inspector Cowgill, who is fonder than ever of her, but is still at arm`s length. Lois’s family is divided about her “ferretin`” with Gran insisting a woman`s place is in the home, and husband Derek agreeing!
Research has consisted mostly of diving into my childhood memories, though “Suspicion at Seven” is very much a contemporary story. Holidays as a child in my Lincolnshire village family`s bakery, bring back the heavenly smell of baking and Uncle Jim with the long peel sliding out tins of golden baked bread and dough cake from the huge oven.
Mmm! Time for coffee and a good read ….
Ann Purser lives in the East Midlands, in a small and attractive village which still has a village shop, a garage, pub and church. Here she finds her inspiration for her novels about country life. She has only to do her daily shopping down the High Street to listen to the real life of the village going on around her.
Before turning to fiction, she had a number of different careers, including journalism – she was for six years a columnist in SHE magazine – and art gallery proprietor. Running her own gallery in a 400-year-old barn behind the house, she gained fascinating insights into the characters and relationships of customers wandering around. She had no compunction about eavesdropping, and sharpened up her writer’s skills in weaving plots around strangers who spent sometimes more than an hour in her gallery.
Working in a village school added more grist to the mill, as does singing in the church choir and membership in the Women’s Guild.
Six years hard study won her an Open University degree, and when she faltered and threatened to fall by the wayside, writer husband Philip Purser reminded her that he was paying good money for the course. During this period, she wrote two non-fiction books, one for parents of handicapped children (she has a daughter with cerebral palsy) and the other a lighthearted book for schools, on the explosion of popular entertainment in the first forty years of the twentieth century.
Ten years of running the gallery proved to be enough, and while it was very successful she decided to sell. The business moved down the street to another barn and owner, and Pursers stayed on in their house next to the village school – another rich source of material for the stories. Time to start writing novels.
Round Ringford became Ann’s village in a series of six novels, each with a separate story, but featuring the same cast of characters with a few newcomers each time. The list of books gives details of each story, and each features an issue common to all villages in our rural countryside. “Just like our village!” is a frequent comment from Ann’s readers.
Next: the Lois Meade Mysteries, each title reflecting a day of the week. Ann has always loved detective fiction, and determined to make it her next series. So Murder on Monday was born, followed by Terror on Tuesday, and Weeping on Wednesday. The rest of the week follows!
Mornings are set aside for writing, and the rest of the day Ann spends walking the dog, retrieving bantams’ eggs from around the garden, gossiping and taking part in the life of the village. She is never bored!