Huge congratulations on winning your Chill Award, Harriet! You must be so happy that your work has been recognised in this way. Now, before we carry on, would you please introduce yourself to my readers, just in case they don’t know you already …
Hello Emma, and many thanks for inviting me to be in your spotlight. It’s great to be here and I’m thrilled to have won a Chill with a Book award.
For your readers who don’t know me, I’m Harriet Steel and I write historical and mystery novels. I’m married with two grown-up daughters and was brought up in Wiltshire but now live in Surrey. I’ve worked in fields from law to libraries and always loved to write but it’s only in the last few years that I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to devote a lot of time to it.
My historical novels have mainly been set in the Victorian era but I read widely in the genre. Where mysteries are concerned, I tend to enjoy vintage or vintage-style ones the most. If I could go back in time, I’d love to have lunch with Hercule Poirot, tea with Miss Marple and dinner at the Ritz with Lord Peter Wimsey.
So, your book has been awarded with a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award, what inspired you to write this story?
Trouble in Nuala is the first book in my The Inspector de Silva Mysteries. It’s set in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka of course) in the 1930s and was inspired by a visit I made there in 2016. I was captivated by the tremendous natural beauty of the country and the charm of its people who seem to have recovered remarkably well from the tragedies of their recent past. I’d been thinking of writing a mystery series for some time and I knew I had found the perfect setting. Putting the story in the era when it was a British colony would, I felt, add an extra layer of interest.
What does the award mean to you?
It’s a great honour to have been awarded it and a lovely way of connecting with new readers.
What other titles have you published? Tell us a little about them …
I’ve published four historical novels. One of them is a dramatized biography of Lola Montez, who was the most notorious adventuress of the Victorian era. Very few people have heard of her today but I hope my book has, in a small way, remedied that. Readers have certainly found her a compelling subject although some have found her a bit too feisty for their taste. I’ve also written an Elizabethan adventure which received a 5* accolade from the Historical Novel Society and a coming-of-age story in two parts set in nineteenth century Paris. Since the publication of Trouble in Nuala, I’ve brought out a second instalment in the series, Dark Clouds Over Nuala.
Are you working on a new book? Tell me about that …
My current book is the third in The Inspector de Silva Mysteries. It’s provisionally entitled Offstage in Nuala and I hope to have it out by November. The germ of the idea came from reading a book by Geoffrey Kendall (father of the actress, Felicity) about the years when he founded a travelling theatre company and took his family touring India with it, putting on Shakespeare plays. However the Kendalls never had to contend with the amount of offstage drama that Inspector de Silva does when the Danforths’ company rolls up to Nuala!
When not writing, what can you be found doing?
Hiking, looking round art galleries and museums, gardening or simply sitting reading other people’s books, particularly history.
Which three authors have most influenced your journey to becoming an author?
J.R.R. Tolkien for inspiring my love of language and the power of words; Agatha Christie for the intricacy of her plotting and Anya Seton for giving me a love of historical novels.
Why did you choose the genre you write in?
I chose the historical and, latterly, the mystery genres because they are what I most enjoy reading.
Which other genre would you chose if you had to change?
Possibly short stories although I’m not sure if they’re a genre strictly speaking. I like the variety and the challenge of condensing ideas and emotions that writing a good one presents.
Quick fire questions …
Twitter or Facebook?
Tea or coffee?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
Marmite – yes or no?
A very definite yes!
Early riser or sleep in?
Early to rise.
Pj’s or ‘normal’ clothes when writing?
‘Normal’ clothes as long as they’re comfortable.
Planner or pantster?
Book or kindle?
Both. Kindle is great for travelling.
Pineapple on pizza – yes or no?
And finally, … What is your favourite book of all time?
Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Thank you for joining me today and many congratulations again on your Chill with A Book Award!
Thank you too, it’s been great fun.
For more about Harriet’s books, do visit her various sites for all the news!
Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Harriet-Steel/e/B00845TT0U
Facebook – Harriet Steel
Twitter – harrietsteel1
Trouble in Nuala is out now folks, here’s the blurb …
When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves with his English wife Jane to his new post in the sleepy hill town of Nuala he anticipates a more restful life than police work in the big city entails. However an arrogant plantation owner with a lonely wife, a crusading lawyer, and a death in suspicious circumstances present him with a riddle that he will need all his experience to solve.
Set on the exotic island of Ceylon in the 1930s, Trouble in Nuala is an entertaining and relaxing mystery spiced with humour and a colourful cast of characters.
About the author …
Harriet Steel published several historical novels and a collection of short stories before turning to crime with the Inspector de Silva Mysteries. She was educated in the New Forest and London and subsequently graduated from Cambridge University with a BA in Law. She practised for many years as a solicitor before becoming a writer. She lives in Surrey and when she is not writing loves to visit art galleries and read about history, activities that inspire her writing. She is also a keen traveller and an enthusiastic gardener.