Cat adorer and chocolate lover, British author Holly Bell is a photographer and video maker when not creating novels. She had long experience of non-fiction writing before a serendipitous meeting with a successful fiction author. He convinced Holly that she could pen cozy mysteries.
Holly devoured all of the Agatha Christie books long before she knew that Miss Marple was the godmother of the Cozy Mystery genre. Her love of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings meant that her first literary creation in this area would have to be a cozy paranormal.
Having derived immense delight from the adventure of writing Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth and its sequels, Holly has more in the pipeline. The sixth book in the series Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr has just been released and the next book is already in the plotting.
Gotta Write recently spoke with Holly about her latest mystery in the series. Enjoy!
Denise: In Book 6 of the British, humorous, cozy paranormal mystery series of Amanda Cadabra, you focus on the strange case of Lucy Penlowr. How are the readers introduced to the case?
Holly: The book begins with a dream that Amanda has while travelling to Cornwall with Detective Inspector Trelawney. She witnesses a fire in a grand house and a murder. Trelawney wonders if it has anything to do with the story of Lucy that they are going there to hear.
Denise: Who is Hogarth and why can’t he stop thinking about a case from 30 years ago where children allegedly began to go missing?
Holly: Retired Chief Inspector Michael Hogarth, of the Devon and Cornwall police, was and is Trelawney’s boss and best friend. He is also Amanda’s honorary uncle. The cold case has unexpectedly personal associations for Hogarth, and links to Amanda and Trelawney. At the end of the previous book, Lucy, from deep in the shadows, tells Amanda that it is time for Hogarth to tell ‘Lucy’s story.’ It may be that Amanda is the key to solving the case.
Denise: What is the history of Bodmin Moor? What’s located in this area?
Holly: Bodmin is a granite moor at the heart of Cornwall, the south-east peninsula of mainland Britain. It is at least 60 million years old, and humans have lived there for at least 10,000 years. Now few people dwell there.
Brown Willy is the highest point in Cornwall, and the moor is rich in Bronze Age monuments, stone circles and ancient burial structures. The landscape is of barren rocks set a lush green of grass, marram, moss and bog. It is perfectly safe during the day but after dark …. It is also known for the legendary Beast of Bodmin Moor, the haunted Jamaica Inn (made famous by Daphne du Maurier), the ghost of a Victorian murdered girl, and witchcraft!
Denise: Is there a reason Hogarth and Trelawney’s father, Kyt, are eager to tell Amanda about the case and about Growan House?
Holly: The fire and murder at Growan House implicate the neighbouring witch-clans. The Cardiubarns, to the east, were Amanda’s grandmother’s family and the Flamgoynes, to the west, are Kyt’s mother’s clan. Both extremely unpleasant. There is also an important item from Growan House that could have a direct connection with Amanda and a significant bearing on her future.
Denise: Do they feel Amanda can solve the cold case?
Holly: Hogarth is convinced that Amanda is key to the solution.
Denise: How does Amanda become connected to a terrible moment that happened before she was even born?
Holly: It is likely that members of her Cardiubarn forebears were present that night, and played a significant role that later profoundly affected Amanda.
Denise: Do the police have any idea magic was involved that night?
Holly: The local police suspect that something supernatural occurred that night, given that it likely involved one of the witch-clans. But they know better than to get involved.
Denise: Does Amanda take on the case?
Holly: Amanda is drawn into the story and comes to feel a special connection with Lucy. She becomes determined to get to the bottom of what happened, whatever the danger.
Denise: Is this case necessary for her to learn the history of the various witch clans in the region?
Holly: Definitely. They are entwined with Amanda’s past, present and future.
Denise: This book looks far more complex than your previous novels. How were you able to clearly organize the plot?
Holly: Physically! It’s part of my writing process, that when I have some of the book down, partly in chunks and partly in notes, I print it out. Then I sit on the floor and organise the book in a ring around me. I alternate chapters of one plot with those of another. I have blank sheets of paper so I can write the number and name or subject of missing chapters and slot them in. Once the text of the book is complete in the first draft, I begin the editing passes. During these, I can see if something needs to be repositioned or if more explanation or context is required. I decide who is the best person to speak the information, or is it better to place it in the narrative. After the first draft, there are three editing passes: reading the printout, recording the book, and reading the Kindle version from my iPad. By the time it’s ready to go to the editor and beta readers, everything is in place.
Denise: How soon before it’s available?
Holly: The ebook version is already available on Amazon. The paperback should be out by the time you post this Q&A!
Denise: Are you currently writing Book 7?
Holly: I began writing Book 7 before I finished Book 6. I can’t help myself! That’s just the way it always happens. I get inspiration for one or two books ahead of the one I’m writing
Denise: How are you promoting your books?
Holly: I have a Facebook page, a Twitter following, also Pinterest and Instagram, but mainly I’m on Facebook. I post as often as possible on my website, amandacadabra.com, and readers can subscribe to get news of the latest titbits.
With each sequel book launch, Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, usually has a couple of free download days from Amazon, so that usually gets coverage on Twitter, Facebook or one of the book promoters like Freebooksy or Books Go Social.
In December, Amazon promoted Book 1 with a Kindle Deal, which was excellent. I also promote the series on Amazon, and increasingly I’m using Facebook ads for special deals. The next landmark will be when Book 1 gets the new cover my splendid illustrator Daniel is working on. There’ll be something to celebrate that!
May I just say, thank you so very much, Denise, for hosting my blog tour. I love your questions: so insightful, intelligent and profound. You really get me thinking. It also speaks highly of your readers, who I hope enjoy reading this as much I enjoyed taking part.
Denise: I’m sure they will. Best of luck to you. Can’t wait to read the next book!