I am excited to have a new to me author stop by today!
Please help me give Helen Smith a warm welcome!
Guest Post from Helen Smith
It’s getting cold in London, with snow forecast again this year. Thank goodness for my electric blanket and my log fire! Every year, about this time, as the nights get longer and the days get colder, I promise myself that I will try to escape the worst of it somehow, by going away somewhere warm and returning to London in the spring, just as the daffodils are coming out. It never happens, of course…
Then last year, just after Christmas, I got the chance to do it! My neighbor down the road needed to rent somewhere for her family to live for three months while they had some building work done on their house. She wanted to be close to the children’s school and near enough to her home to keep an eye on the work going on there. She sent an email round to the people in our street. She knew it was a long-shot, but did anyone know of anywhere she could rent in January, February and March… the coldest, most miserable months of the year. Well, as it happened, I did!
So we came to an arrangement: she swapped her house for mine, and I swapped my house for a cruise ship! When she first contacted me, I spent hours – literally – deliberating over where I should go for those three months. I had thought I would rent a little apartment somewhere by the sea in the off season, take my computer with me and write. But little places by the sea are rather expensive when you’re renting them by yourself. I did some calculations and decided it would cost about the same to stay in a single cabin on a ship, heading for California, where I had been invited to appear on a couple of panels at a crime writing convention called Left Coast Crime in Monterey.
In January 2014 I left Southampton en route for San Diego via Jordan, Burma, Hong Kong, Hawaii and several points in between. What an adventure! I had found a ship that would get me to California the day before Left Coast Crime began so, again, it seemed as if it was “meant to be.” Instead of taking a day to fly there, I would arrive, free from jet-lag, after taking the long way round. And I would have plenty to talk about when I got there!
My most recent Emily Castles mystery, Beyond Belief, was published while I was on board the ship – we had just passed through the Suez Canal. I celebrated by giving a reading for some of the passengers. When we were at sea, I spent my days at my desk in my cabin, writing. When we stopped at a port, I got out and explored. In total we had twenty-two stops on our itinerary, many of them at places I had never visited before, although I also had the chance to meet up with some old friends along the way. And I made some new friends – that was one of the things I hadn’t anticipated before I set off. But one of the nicest things about my trip was the people I met on board the ship. I would definitely like to travel that way again, if I get the opportunity.
And this year? This year I will be staying at home, writing. You can probably guess what I will be writing about, can’t you? Yes! My next Emily Castles mystery will be set on a cruise ship. So although I will be here in London, tucked up in my house with the log fire blazing, I will get the chance to go traveling again in my imagination. And when the book is published, I hope my readers will have the chance to share in my adventures when they open the book.
Helen Smith has a short Christmas mystery called Real Elves available in the Kindle store and as a paperback. It features her amateur sleuth, Emily Castles, and can be read as a standalone story. The books can be read in any order, but readers wanting to start at the beginning should start with the novella-length Three Sisters.
Helen Smith’s blog: http://www.emperorsclothes.co.uk
Helen Smith’s website: http://helensmithbooks.com
Helen Smith on Twitter: http://twitter.com/emperorsclothes
Helen Smith’s books on Amazon: http://smarturl.it/helensmithbooks
There is some bonus material, including fantasy casting and locations for my books, over at Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/emperorsclothes
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