Paying the Ferryman

Writing wise it’s quite exciting at the moment. I have a new Naomi Blake book called Paying the Ferryman out this month with Severn House

and added to that, the first book in the series, Mourning the Little Dead has also been resurrected as an ebook by Endeavour Press  (link)

I’m very happy about this as I’m quite fond of ‘Mourning’. It was a bit of a departure for me; up until that point I’d always written male leads and Naomi Blake was the first time I’m written a woman in the main role. I’m also happy about it because it reminds me of my dear, late agent, Bob Tanner at International Scripts. A man who could create an entire, nuanced vocabulary out of the words ‘really’. and ‘I see’ – the latter usually being an indicator that he thought I was talking rubbish and needed to go away and think about things again.

People often ask authors where they get their ideas from and The Naomi Blake series was initially Bob’s idea.
And on that occasion I thought it was his turn to go and sit on the naughty step until he realised how daft it was. Severn House had approached us about the possibility of my producing a series for them and we were trying to come up with new angles. Bob’s suggestion was along the lines of ‘what you need is a blind detective, and she’s got to have a big black guide dog called Napoleon.’
His reasoning was kind of sound; it was an unusual idea, hadn’t really be done in a while and – as far as I know- the last blind detective popular in the literature was Max Carrados, created by Ernest Bramah and whose skills at detection using his other senses was almost superhuman.

But I just couldn’t figure out how I could approach this or who my character would be,
Bob, being Bob just said he’d leave it with me, knowing that the idea would nag and that, in the end, I probably wouldn’t be able to resist.
Of course, he was right, but the odd thing is that the eventual shape of both character and first book came from a completely different direction. I heard a snippet of an item on the news about a young couple who had just bought their first home and while some building work had been done a body had been found. Suddenly, their dream home had turned into a disaster zone. The floor taken up, the whole place turned into a crime scene. The remains were believed to have been there for a long time.

And I knew I had a starting point. I had the picture in my head of a woman sitting beside an open window, listening to the news and knowing…just knowing who the dead person was.
In the event, the plot veered off from that a little, but Naomi –and Napoleon – had finally appeared and I had the start of a story.
Bob, of course, was sanguine about the whole thing. ‘Really,’ he said. ‘I told you it could be done.’
So I’m glad to see the book available again – and in ebook form, which it hasn’t been before – so new readers can discover the start of the series and old readers may like to reprise the genesis of Naomi Blake.