31 July 2019

Special Guest Interview with Author Pam Lecky


New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

London October 1886: Trapped in a troubled marriage, Lucy Lawrence is ripe for an adventure. But when she meets the enigmatic Phineas Stone, over the body of her husband in the mortuary, 
her world begins to fall apart.

I'm pleased to welcome Irish historical fiction author Pam Lecky to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

No Stone Unturned is the first book in my new series, The Lucy Lawrence Mysteries, set in Victorian London, and the wilds of Yorkshire in the north of England. The story centres round a suspicious death which has been made to look like an unfortunate accident, some stolen sapphires belonging to a Kashmiri maharajah, and a rather large unclaimed reward.

This story has been bubbling away at the back of my mind for some time. My first book was romantic suspense and although I really enjoyed writing it, I wanted to write something a little darker. The initial idea was the prodigal daughter returning home only to be embroiled in a crime, but I also wished to create a series in which I could develop the characters over time. 

Initially, Phineas Stone was to be the central character as the private investigator who specialises in insurance fraud, but the more I wrote about Lucy Lawrence, the louder her voice became. Eventually, the entire book was rewritten from her point of view and The Lucy Lawrence Mysteries were born!

Life for women in the Victorian age was very restricted and depending on your class, strict rules applied. I wanted to explore how a relatively young woman, with a strong personality and high intellect, would cope within the confines of a troubled marriage. Would she accept her lot or chafe at the bit? But in Lucy’s case, with no money and estranged from her family, she could not walk away. To do so, would mean social ruin. 

However, when circumstances finally release her (her husband’s sudden death), she struggles. Pretty much every man in her life so far has betrayed her on some level for their own ends. As a result, Lucy finds it difficult to trust her fate to any man.

Another theme, which emerged as I explored Lucy’s story, was the strong reliance on female friendship. I suspect this is what sustained many Victorian women, finding themselves in similar circumstances to Lucy. As the story progresses, Lucy comes to rely more and more on her maid Mary, who also begins to shine with talents hitherto unknown, namely a penchant for spying and intrigue. And when trouble does strike, it is her friends, Judith and Sarah, who Lucy turns to.

Lucy’s husband’s secrets continue to spill from the grave and then Lucy’s life is threatened. Somehow, she must rise to the challenges she faces. But who can she really trust? Phineas Stone appears to be working to his own agenda. Then comes a pivotal point in the story when Lucy realises she must take her destiny into her own hands and she sets out on a dangerous adventure in pursuit of the truth about her late husband and his less than legal activities. 

What is your preferred writing routine?

As I work part-time, my writing time is limited and precious. On the days I’m at home I also have to juggle the normal everyday stuff but I try to set aside a few hours to put pen to paper. If I’m not too tired on working days, I usually get a bit of editing done. Most days, I try to do a little marketing and promotion as well.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Whether you are traditionally published or an indie, you need to treat your writing as a business. You’re not just a scribbler of words, you are also an accountant, marketing expert, social media demon, graphic designer (for those wonderful ads and promos for social media), and a publicity expert. Once you launch a book into the world, all these other skills are called on. For me, it is always a relief and a pleasure to return to plain old writing!
What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

When I started out, I knew absolutely nothing. I just published with little or no planning, no budget and no idea how to get the word out. What I have learned (the hard way), is to start months before a book is released. Having a blog is great―you can publish posts related to the book (for me, these were posts based on my historical research). 

If you do this properly, it can create a bit of a buzz about the book. An author page on Facebook, using Twitter and Instagram, are other great ways to generate interest. I have also found interacting with readers and writers on social media helps. The writing community is very supportive. For my latest release, my author friends really helped create awareness. Another simple but effective marketing tool is to set up your book for pre-order at a discount and advertise it heavily.

Lastly, for me, entering competitions and seeking reviews from reputable groups such as the Historical Novel Society, helped get my debut novel off the ground (it was long-listed for their indie award). In Ireland, we are also very lucky to have the Carousel Aware Prize for Indie Authors: my novel was short-listed for novel of the year.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

No Stone Unturned often threw up some interesting questions. For instance, did Victorian households use rubbish bins? What kinds of trains were used in the London Underground in 1886? My collection of research books failed me.

I discovered that contacts online can be a useful source of information. Lee Jackson, a fellow historical fiction author, has written extensively on Victorian life. I contacted him on Twitter and he was able to tell me almost immediately what I needed to know about Victorian rubbish. The train question was a little trickier, as I also wished to know how long a particular journey took. Thankfully, I found the London Transport Museum online, and within 24 hours I had not only answers to my questions but copies of relevant timetables. 

Oh! And just in case you are interested, the Victorians did use domestic rubbish bins which were collected by dustmen in horse-drawn carts twice a day! 

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

In my debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, one of the main characters succumbs to her illness and dies. That was a tough scene to write. Maybe I became too close to her, being in her head, as it were. I still can’t read that section without blubbing.

What are you planning to write next?

I’m in the developmental stages of a new project for my agent. I can’t give too much away at the moment other than the setting is most likely England and France just after WW1. The Roaring Twenties intrigues me. It must have been an interesting time to be alive. The world was hurting but changing rapidly. For me, this time presents a wealth of writing opportunities.

Then I also have to work on the sequel to No Stone Unturned which is in its second draft and I hope to publish it before year end. The next instalment is entitled Footprints in the Sand, and is set in Egypt. My heroine finds herself embroiled in the machinations and professional jealousies of rival English and French Egyptologists. When a prominent member of the profession is found murdered, she must keep her wits about her to solve the case and avoid meeting a similar fate. As I have ideas for at least another two books in this series, I believe I will be busy for some time to come.

Pam Lecky
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About the Author

Pam Lecky is an Irish historical fiction author, writing crime, mystery, romance and the supernatural. Pam is represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency in London. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Society of Authors and has a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century. Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion; shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; and long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award. Her short stories are available in an anthology, entitled Past Imperfect, which was published in April 2018. Find out more at https://pamlecky.com/ and find Pam on Facebook and Twitter @pamlecky

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