For those of you who follow my blog, you will know that I am a HUGE fan of Elizabeth Haynes and to be asked to take part in her #blogtour is a massive honour especially having been one of the first readers of #HarrietMonckton.
The Murder of Harriet Monckton is, in my opinion, a breathtakingly, stunning historical fiction novel based on true events. When you read the author’s notes at the end of the book you will realise it’s also a work of art, dedication, imagination and determination. I actually shed tears at the incredible skill Elizabeth Haynes has in bringing Harriet to life and sharing her story with us. To read more about the book and my review click here.
To celebrate the release of The Murder of Harriet Monckton Elizabeth popped in for a quickie:
Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?
The Murder of Harriet Monckton is based on a real murder case from 1843 that I happened to find in the National Archives while I was researching a different book. It was such a compelling story, with no resolution – nobody was ever arrested or tried for Harriet’s murder – I wanted to know how and why her killer apparently got away with it. Now I thought just about every intriguing Victorian true crime had been written about, but comprehensive searching told me otherwise. The only way I was going to find out what had happened to Harriet was by researching the case myself, and I could only really justify doing that by turning her story into a book.
So why should you read Harriet? Well, she deserves to be remembered. She was 23, a teacher; a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits. She was found brutally murdered in the privy of the Chapel she attended in Bromley, having swallowed a large quantity of prussic acid. It might have been suicide, except no bottle or vessel was found anywhere near the body, that might have delivered the fatal dose. The town of Bromley was horrified, and even more so when the post mortem revealed that Harriet had been six months pregnant. Intriguingly, the coroner had a suspect, and the police suspected someone else entirely – but the cast of characters revealed by the genuine inquest documents suggests that any number of people might have wanted Harriet dead.
I felt so very sorry for Harriet and the desperate circumstances she was in before she died. It felt like an opportunity to bring her story to the light of day, as well as to try and work out who might have done it. I feel very protective of her, and I hope anyone who reads her will feel that too.
If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?
Gosh that’s a tricky one. Something like: How To Be Kind and Nosy All At The Same Time. I have an insatiable curiosity about people’s lives.
What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?
I had a message from someone the other day wanting to know why my next book The Liar’s Wife was apparently only going to be released on ebook. I had to explain that I’m not Samantha Hayes, but that in fact this does often happen, that the ebook gets released early, and probably the paperback would be out in due course.
If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?
I’d quite like to co-write with Mark Edwards, not only because he’s brilliant, but also because he only writes bestsellers!
Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).
I’m notorious for oversharing so really there aren’t many secrets to be revealed anymore. I can tell you a secret about Harriet, though. When the hardback edition was printed in July, a misunderstanding meant that the endpapers, which are made up of photographs I took of Harriet’s documents, were missed off. The printer recalled all the copies from the warehouse and had them refinished, including the printed endpapers. So if you get a first edition of the hardback, it will have been redone by hand – something that doesn’t happen often these days! And if you should get a copy with blank endpapers, then it’s one of the very few copies that got away, and therefore very rare indeed.
Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.
This is going to be a tough one, because I’ve read some cracking books recently. Can I have more than three? I’ve recently read Lisa Cutts’ Lost Lives, which is coming in November – utterly brilliant and terrifyingly realistic. I think it’s Lisa’s best book yet, and it made me cry three times. I’m not giving away what happens to provoke that unusual response, but if you read it you’ll find out.
The next corker to recommend is Cass Green’s Don’t You Cry. I’m a massive fan of her books; they’re all absolute pageturners and she can’t write them fast enough for me. Finally, something a bit different: The Wolves of Leninsky Prospekt, by Sarah Armstrong. I loved Sarah’s debut, The Insect Rosary, and so I was intrigued by this one, which is very different: the story of the tensions and dangers of living as an Embassy wife in Moscow in 1974. I absolutely devoured it – something in between Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Handmaid’s Tale. Definitely one to recommend.
And as if that wasn’t a feast enough, I’m just starting Will Dean’s second Tuva Moodysonbook, Red Snow – the sequel to this year’s smash hit, Dark Pines. It’s every bit as good. I’m having palpitations.