When the world didn’t end on 31st December 1999, I moved to the UK and started a new life – for me, the past really is another country.
When the world didn’t end on 21st December 2012 I dug out a favourite manuscript and epublished on Kindle on January first, writing as E J Lamprey – One Two Buckle My Shoe. That was followed on April Fools day, 2013, with Three Four Knock On My Door – I can’t be the only writer who, while tidying up loose ends on one book, is constantly nagged and poked by insistent ideas for a second one? And third – well, eight so far. The whodunits are all novellas, ideal weekend or holiday reading, although Eleven Twelve Dig And Delve is a cross-genre story, called the Halloween edition for good reason, and published, with minutes to spare, on 31st October. I say eight – Fifteen Sixteen Maids In The Kitchen is with beta readers as I update this, and pencilled in for publication after professional editing, sometime around the date of the story – September / October. It is by far the most complicated murder mystery so far, with a larger cast than usual, and it has taken far longer to get it right. In the meantime I also brought out two novellas under the name Joanna Lamprey, Time After Time and No Place Like Place. Those don’t have clickable covers in the margin because the margin is really rather crowded already – there are clickable links below, with a brief description. Space also had to be found for the last venture because although it is a romp, it’s also a subject close to my heart, the delights and perils of making the most of the Indian summer age I blog about all the time. Specifically, being older, single, and venturing into a world of older singles. A Second Rainbow is entirely unlike the others, and to underline that I’ve used the tongue-in-cheek writer name of Clarissa Rodgers-Briskleigh. It isn’t autobiographical, most second-timers will recognize at least one of the characters who are all drawn from type, albeit exaggerated to fit into the sub-theme from Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
So when is the next world-ending event due? They’re interesting.
I have a mailing list option. The link is at the top of the sidebar. You get a free Lawns story for signing up, and fairly regular emails about forthcoming books, special deals, promotions, and freebies as and when. Not very often, but if you do get sick of me, just unsubscribe. That’ll teach me not to be boring. and it isn’t one-way traffic, either, I’d love to hear back from you. Really. Writing a book is a bit like starting a correspondence with a stranger who takes months to respond, if at all. Blogging on this website’s home page, exchanging jokes on my FB pages for EJ Lamprey, Clarissa Rodgers-Briskleigh and Joanna Lamprey , and chatting on Twitter @Elegsabiff, is great when it gets interactive.
The Lawns bunch are still my favourites and always will be. Until I can find that illustrator who can bring their faces to life (call me) I’ve borrowed some appropriate faces from some very famous actors to introduce the family pretty much as I see them. I couldn’t find anyone with the right hair for Edge, thank goodness we all have imaginations. Edge’s hair is shoulder-length and usually twisted casually up out of the way on top of her head, but I’m sure Ann-Margaret had her reasons for not adopting such a convenient hairstyle.
ABOUT THE BOOKS
Each novella in the series is a stand-alone adventure, they don’t have to be read in strict order. Certain red herrings in early books do somewhat lose their impact if you know they can’t possibly have been the murderer since you’ve seen them still doing the social in a later book. The books are cheerful and based as much on the interaction of the characters as on the murders, they are gore / porn / obscenity free (hey! come back!) and although the plotting and revealing of the murders was a deadly serious business to me, if I did the job halfway right it should all happen effortlessly in the reading.
Each Lawns book has its own clickable cover in the margin which will take you to the closest sale point but they are described in brief outline below, with clickable links. The first three Lawns books are also available in a $3 bundle on this link Omnibus (1 2, 3 4, 5 6)
ONE TWO BUCKLE MY SHOE is a breezy whodunit set in a slightly eccentric retirement home after the murder of an unpopular resident. The police could do with a little inside help at Grasshopper Lawns, and fortunately Sergeant Kirsty Cameron’s semi-retired Aunt Edge is right on the spot. She and her friends hadn’t any intention of interfering in the solving of the case. Piecing together scraps of information was intriguing, though. And they did keep coming across facts that no-one had given to the police –
THREE FOUR KNOCK ON MY DOOR – living within easy distance of Edinburgh as they do, the residents of the Lawns inevitably find themselves very popular with family and friends from abroad around Festival time. But the Festival is in August. Here it is, only February, and all sorts of visitors are coming knocking. A devoted handsome nephew for Sylvia, the enigmatic Dallas from Louisiana with life-changing news for Vivian; Death, complete with scythe, was certainly the most startling.
FIVE SIX PICK UP STICKS – Edge is unofficially and temporarily brought onto the Force to help smoke out a ruthless killer preying on wealthy widows through the singles websites. She’ll be monitored at all times, so absolutely nothing can go wrong … this has proved by far the most popular book so far, and it was the obvious interest in second-timer websites which first sparked A Second Rainbow.
SEVEN EIGHT PLAY IT STRAIGHT Edge’s actress stepdaughter is performing in a successful Fringe show during the Edinburgh Festival, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors and is always a busy family time at Grasshopper Lawns. Long-standing hostilities are set aside when a violent and bloody killing strikes all too close to home, but the temporary truce doesn’t last after Fiona accuses Edge of the murder.
NINE TEN BEGIN AGAIN there are, unsurprisingly, murky goings-on at the Grasshopper Lawns retirement village, but for once they’re not getting the attention they deserve. Between Edge, to her own astonishment, falling head over heels in love, and Vivian terrifying her friends by nearly dying of pneumonia, they’ve definitely taken their eyes off the ball. Can they settle down and get on with the job in hand in time? Well of course they can, they’re old hands at this by now. But it’s a close-run thing.
ELEVEN TWELVE DIG AND DELVE (the Halloween edition) is a cross-genre mystery which has delighted some readers and horrified others. There’s a newcomer at the Grasshopper Lawns retirement village, and she’s an absolute battle-axe. One requirement of residency is to have an interesting past and Beulah Quinn’s past has been interesting to the point of scandalous. Now nearly eighty, she was notorious for her lovers and her political machinations and has been described variously as the most beautiful woman of her day, a widow-maker, and a full-blown witch. Now, though, someone is trying to kill her; and family is family. To Edge’s horror, her aunt is moving in.
THIRTEEN FOURTEEN MAIDS A’COURTING Kirsty, Edge’s lovely young niece, is taking a brief holiday break from her job with Police Scotland to be wooed in the romantic surroundings of the beautiful island of Tenerife. Instead Drew vanishes, leaving her alone in the Canaries, unable to speak a word of Spanish and finding little professional cooperation being offered by the multiple policing services on the island. Edge and her friends are quick to the rescue but was Drew the real target, or just the bait?
FIFTEEN SIXTEEN MAIDS IN THE KITCHEN is the first of the series in the classic format, a country house, a houseful of guests, even a body in the library, and it all happens because William inherits a somewhat baronial shooting lodge from his decidedly eccentric uncle. Uncle was an illusionist, something of a genius in creating optical and mechanical illusions, and the attempts of William, Vivian, Donald and Edge to solve the case are definitely hampered by Robertson Manor’s peculiarities.
SEVENTEEN EIGHT PAST LIES WAITING is currently on the drawing board and, as the title implies, has its roots in the past, an old friend who killed a man accidentally in her early twenties and has now killed one deliberately and needs help. Not for herself, she has always been fiercely independent, but for Donald’s son . . .
The most recent book is always the top one in the side-margin, click on the pic to be taken to Amazon for Kindle or paperback version.
The books and publications not in the Grasshopper lawn series:
The Passing of Mrs Parker Woodburn (a short story available on Amazon but cheaper via the link, which will take you to the wonderful Alfie Dog short story website) which is the other side of the coin from the whodunits. Mrs PW was very put out about being murdered.
Time after Time is a collection of SF microstories and a novella about time travel. Lucy is the only character I ever created that I don’t like as a person, but she was very insistent about being created. My SF is published under the name Joanna Lamprey, and I do enjoy the freedom of SF as a change from the very tightly structured constraints of whodunits.
No Place Like Place is my personal favourite of all my books, the first in a planned trilogy. It may be set in the future, but the planet is retro in the extreme – it’s not quite a space western, and not quite steampunk, I do have a problem staying within the lines.Each of the books is free-standing, although the trilogy will go into paperback as a single book. Some day. In the future.
A Second Rainbow follows the story of Dorothy, suddenly single again after a long marriage to a man who always took care of everything. She joins the Yellow Brick Road singles website, meets a man with the profile name Scarecrowe … well, you can see the sub-theme. It’s a romp with adventures, a love story, a betrayal, and a very second-timers ending and unlike both the whodunits and the SF, it’s sexy – not pornographic, but overt. The clue is in the writer name – Clarissa Rodgers-Briskleigh.
A few Rainbow readers were a little disappointed that it wasn’t an actual guide for mature singles, so I added one about, essentially, kissing frogs, in Finding Mr Will-Do-Nicely. In the process so much of the advice I’ve had about enjoying every minute of this Indian summer thing kept cropping up that there’s a companion book on Perfecting Your Indian Summer. Writing, in effect, two books at once created a precedent. The current Lawns book has deep roots into the past, and in trying to keep track of Miranda’s complicated history without actually writing it into the whodunit I made such copious notes that they seem to be turning into a book on their own. It would have to be a Clarissa book, because of the life she’s led, and if it does happen it will probably be called Step By Step, because every decision she’s taken has led to another difficult crossroads and she’s gone with the road less taken every time. The two books are entirely independent (well, that’s more or less the point, right there) and overlap only around the murder. No idea whether it will be published in the end, but she’s an insistent woman. I’m sure most authors write what they choose to write, and are not dictated to by their characters.
The Beta Reader (and how to prepare your book for beta reading) has nothing new for the experienced self-editor but is a very useful handbook packed with advice on turning the book you wrote into the book you had intended to write. It’s also the only book currently available on Amazon for advice for those vital and wonderful people, our beta readers, and is priced at a friendly 99c. There are superb books out there for self-editing, but they’re a lot more expensive. This covers basics, and anyone wanting to beta read for me is welcome to have it, with my grateful thanks for offering, in either PDF or Kindle format.