FELICITY YOUNG: I HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH A NAME THAT MEANS HAPPINESS
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
The Scent of Murder by Felicity Young was published in February 2014 by HarperCollins, but the book continues to receive positive feedback year and a half after the release. “Good mystery with plenty of surprises”, “Fresh and absorbing”, “One of the best crime series,” are the comments by the readers. The novel stands with 4.9 Amazon stars and for sure will be a pleasure to read by the crime fiction fans.
We are happy to introduce you Felicity Young as our next special guest at Land of Books.
– Felicity, what is your book The Scent of Murder about?
– This is the blurb on the back of the book: To Doctor Dody McCleland, the unearthing of an ancient skeleton in a dry riverbed is a welcome break from the monotony of chaperoning her younger sister at the country house of her beau’s family. But when she begins her analysis of the bones Britain’s first female autopsy surgeon discovers they are not as old as assumed; furthermore they are the result of a murder. With Chief Inspector Matthew Pike’s help Dody investigates the mysterious death in the isolated hamlet of Piltdown. Soon she finds herself pitted against ugly traditionalism, exploitation, spectral dogs, a ghostly hunt and a series of events that not only threaten her belief in scientific rationalism, they threaten her life itself.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– The Scent of Murder is the third of my Dody and Pike series. The books usually have a London setting but this time I felt like a change, so I chose a country setting. The south of England countryside, (where I mostly grew up) seemed the perfect place to base a semi-ghost story like Scent.
In the countryside the people tended to still hold the same supernatural beliefs they’d had for centuries. For example, one character says to Dody:
‘…We’re travelling along the old corpse way, the route a funeral procession takes to the churchyard. If a black dog appears it is thought to be escorting the dead soul to the afterlife. A black dog sighting without a funeral procession, however, is supposed to foreshadow death.’
The setting almost wrote the story for me and I think it was the easiest book I have ever written!
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– The research I had to do into the science of early ballistics was quite challenging. The principles were the same as those used today, but more basic, so I had to make sure what I wrote was still interesting to the modern reader — I hope it worked!
– Tell us something more about your main character Dody McCleland? Is she close to someone from your real life?
– I knew my female character would need special qualities to succeed as a doctor in the man’s world of Edwardian England. While I was still getting a grip on Dody’s personality I came across a box of my grandmother’s memoirs. She came from a very unusual family, and I realized that with just a little artistic license how perfect they would be for my Doctor Dody McCleland. My Dody’s eccentric father is actually based on the real Dody’s uncle, a highly ranked Fabian who hung out with the likes of George Bernard Shaw and HG Wells.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– Scent took about a year to write, but it took another year before it was a published book sitting on the shelves of bookshops. Conventionally published books take a lot longer to produce than ebooks.
– What the readers will find in your novel The Anatomy of Death?
– This is the first book in the series, also known as A Dissection of Murder. Among other things it tells the reader how Dody and Pike met. This is the blurb:
After a heated women’s rights rally turns violent, an innocent suffragette is found murdered. When she examines the body, Dody McCleland is shocked to realize that the victim was a friend of her sister—fueling her determination to uncover the cause of the protestor’s suspicious death.
For Dody, gathering clues from a body is often easier than handling the living—especially Chief Detective Inspector Pike. Pike is looking to get to the bottom of this case but has a hard time trusting anyone—including Dody. Determined to earn Pike’s trust and to find the killer, Dody will have to sort through real and imagined secrets. But if she’s not careful, she may end up on her own examination table…
– Share some insights about Antidote to Murder?
– This largely deals with the problem of illegal abortion in Edwardian England. This was by far the most challenging book I have ever written as it required an enormous amount of research. For example it took me about three months to find out the correct procedures of the Edwardian Coroner’s court. Here is the blurb:
When an act of compassion misfires, autopsy surgeon Dr Dody McCleland must fight not only for her career, but also for her life.
The body of a scullery maid is discovered in her room. When it emerges that she had recently begged Dody to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, the coroner recommends Dody be tried for criminal abortion causing death. Meanwhile, the one man who might be able to help her, Chief Inspector Matthew Pike, is nowhere to be found. After another woman′s body is discovered bearing all the hallmarks of the same crime, Dody suspects that a rogue doctor is on the loose.
Amid the turbulence of Edwardian London with its mix of strikes, suffragettes, German spies, exotic dancers and an illicit drug trade, Dody must unmask the killer before more girls are butchered and her own life ends on the gallows.
– Who are you?
– I have been blessed with a name that means happiness, and it’s something I have always lived up to. I am a happy, contented person who adores her husband and family.
– What are your writing habits?
– I write early every morning without fail – even on Christmas day!
– Are you satisfied by the sales of your books?
– It’s taken a while for my books to take off, but I am now delighted with my sales.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– An online presence is very important – as are interviews like this!
– When we will see your next novel and would you unveil something more about it?
– My next book, The Insanity of Murder is coming out on August 1st. This is the blurb:
To Doctor Dody McCleland, the gruesome job of dealing with the results of an explosion at the Necropolis Railway Station is testing enough. But when her suffragette sister Florence is implicated in the crime, matters worsen and Dody finds her loyalty cruelly divided. Can she choose between love for her sister and her secret love for Chief Inspector Matthew Pike, the investigating officer on the case?
Dody and Pike’s investigations lead them to a women’s rest home where patients are not encouraged to read or think and where clandestine treatments and operations are conducted in an unethical and inhumane manner. Together Dody and Pike must uncover such foul play before their secret liaisons become public knowledge – and before Florence becomes the rest home’s next victim.
– You woke up the literary creativity during a long plain trip. Would you share more about that memorable experience of yours?
– More than one plane trip, Ognian! As a child I used to travel from the UK to Australia and back up to six times a year. The trip was much longer than it is now and there were no films or computers to occupy a bored ten year old in those days. As a result I would read and read and concoct my own stories in my head.
– Rearing an orphan kangaroo sounds very exciting. Would you describe the process of growing such an animal?
– The last roo we raised was no bigger than my husband’s thumb when we rescued her from her dead mother’s pouch. Like an embryo, she had no hair and just black dots for eyes. We fed her every four hours and kept her in a wool lined cooler box with a hot water bottle. It took a year for her to grow hair and graduate to an artificial pouch, which we hung on the back of a kitchen chair near the stove. I haven’t raised a kangaroo since writing became a full time job. Now I hand the orphans over to a wildlife rescue centre.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be?
– How many more books will you write in the series? I will keep writing as long as people want to keep reading them!