It pays to gather together friends who have reading tastes similar to your own. If I hadn't done that, I might never have discovered this week's featured author. Rebecca Tope is well known in the UK, but much less so here in the United States. Needless to say, I'd certainly like to change that! She's the author of three mystery series, and she's also "ghost writer" of the novels based on the UK television series Rosemary and Thyme. As much as I enjoy the Thea Osborne books, I know I will read the other two series as well.
Recently widowed, Thea Osborne has become a house-sitter who stays in a family's home and takes care of the animals while the family is away on business or on holiday. The series takes place in a variety of small villages in the Cotswolds in England. The books are a wonderful blend of setting, character and mystery. If you stop by tomorrow, you'll be able to read my review of the second book in the series, A Cotswold Ordeal.
Rebecca Topes' series (in order)
Now let's get to the fun stuff-- the interview!
What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?
The Book of Lyonne by Burgess Drake, with fantastic illustrations by Mervyn Peake is certainly one of the earliest. (I suspect Hurrah for Little Noddy might actually be a more honest candidate). I won The Book of Lyonne as a prize for coming top of the class at school. It is a glorious playroom fantasy, where all the toy animals have adventures and relationships. There are some horrific scenes, not least when the parrot rips her own breast open. I have no doubt that this book was a profound influence on me for life.
Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?
Where do I start? Well, firstly, I have a lot of animals, so I have to feed them and make sure they’re fit and well. Pigs, sheep, dogs and a cat all rely on me for their needs, and I do enjoy their company. As a spin-off (pardon the pun) from that, I always have a huge quantity of raw fleece to spin, knit and weave. I work with wool every day, in some way or other, and have done for over 30 years. I love it.
I like gardening, and have created a big new garden out of a patch of field. After 12 years, there are a lot of healthy trees and bushes, a great deal of long grass and several disappointments. It’s windy and wet here and not all my plants can cope. Furthermore, there are times when pigs and sheep break in and do their worst. I’ve made two ponds, and enjoy building weird erections of twisty sticks and stones.
I travel a lot, and have been all over the world.
I’ve also got quite a big family, and see them sporadically. A much-loved grandson lives nearby and I do voluntary sessions at his school, in the garden and the library.
If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.)
I live in a remote rural spot, and don’t have a home town. So you’d have to climb a mountain, walk alongside a river or a canal, spend a day watching birds (curlews, woodpeckers, finches, buzzards, kites, nuthatches, and many more), wade along small stony brooks and drop into a local farm where they make their own fantastic ice cream.
You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?
[You have two immediate ticket sales: mine and my husband's!]
Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?
Name one book that you've read that you wish you had written. What is it about that book that made it come to mind?
Gone With the Wind. Perfect combination of setting, history, character, romance, suspense. There are dozens of books I could equally well have chosen, but all my life I’ve regarded GWTW as being as good as it gets.
How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published? What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore?
It was actually rather an anticlimax. After sixteen months of deliberations, I received a short email from an editor, saying they’d be making me an offer. I didn’t celebrate at all, as far as I can recall. It was a long time before I stumbled across one of my books on a shelf in a shop, but when I did I turned it front cover outwards – something I did for years afterwards.
I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?
I was once on a panel with Parnell, and can imagine he has plenty of interesting experiences. My best one was in Guildford, many years ago, where I was giving an author talk. In the front row of the audience was my French teacher from school. I was totally thrilled to see him, after about 20 years.
What's the best thing about eBooks? What's the worst?
They’ve greatly increased my readership. I do not possess one, and have no plans to. The worst thing is being unable to find Victorian classic novels in book form any longer – only on Kindle. I find this sinister for many reasons. Thank goodness for Abebooks!
|On Sale Now!|
Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Rebecca. We appreciate the opportunity to get to know you a little better.
May your book sales do nothing but increase!
Don't forget to stop by Tuesday for my review of Rebecca Tope's A Cotswold Ordeal.