Search this blog

Friday 14 April 2017

ℚ♫ Secrets of Death: Cooper and Fry Mysteries [16] - Stephen Booth

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Secrets of Death (first published on 16 June 2016; this edition , Witness Impulse, 296 pages), a Thriller, book sixteen of  the Cooper and Fry Mysteries series.

"Utterly compelling, and told with stark authority, it is a British police procedural that bristles with reality and humanity on every page. This is crime writing of the finest quality." ~ (Daily Mail)

"Stephen Booth's writing is such a pleasure to read and I enjoy so much spending time with his characters in such a beautiful location, the mystery expertly revealed bit by bit. I love this series. Long may it continue." ~  (For Winter Nights)

"I'd rather given up hope of finding a decent police procedural series which was already well established and had a decent back catalogue to get my teeth into: this series shows that you're never too old to learn." ~  (The Bookbag)

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to fellow Brit, Stephen Booth; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

As we love music,  Stephen has shared with us her music playlist for Secrets of Death - enjoy!

What was the inspiration for Secrets of Death?
"As often happens, it was the result of two ideas connecting in my mind. Most crime novels are about murder, but I’m always trying to do something a bit different, especially since I’m 16 books into a series.

Part of the inspiration for ‘Secrets of Death’ came from a real-life incident in the city of Derby, when a young man was threatening to throw himself off a multi-storey car park. While the police were trying to talk him down, a crowd gathered in the street below shouting ‘Jump!’. It occurred to me that if you deliberately push someone into taking their own life, you’re pretty close to being guilty of murder.

Shortly afterwards I was visiting a well-known location in the Derbyshire Peak District, the national park I write about. At a spectacular viewpoint a series of benches had been installed, each one inscribed by a family with the name of someone who’d died, because it had been their favourite place. I realised that if you were planning to end your life, you might choose to do it in a well-loved spot, gazing at your favourite view. From that came the concept for the book and its tag line ‘A beautiful place to die’.

Detective Inspector Ben Cooper and his team are faced with a spate of ‘suicide tourists’ who travel into the Peak District to take their own lives. The suspicion is that someone is orchestrating these deaths and driving people to kill themselves. And of course there’s always the possibility that one of the deaths might not be a suicide at all…"
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"All of the books in the Cooper & Fry series owe something to my 25 years working as a local newspaper journalist, covering all kinds of stories and meeting a lot of police officers. I think a lot of us are aware of a small, dark corner of our own minds, but as a writer you have to build on those feelings and explore them in your writing. The good news is that it’s quite therapeutic!

This book also gave me the chance to choose favourite locations of my own in the Peak District, which is an area I love."

The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Secrets of Death - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"My publishers are responsible for the covers, and I love the fact that they can capture the atmosphere of a book in a single image of a moody landscape that reflects the nature of the Peak District. I think cover design is a much under-appreciated art."

I completely agree. This is actually a usual topic of conversation with one of our friends who is adamant that book covers were better in the 70s whilst I believe there is some truly stunning work currently :-)

Why should we read Secrets of Death and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your series unique?

"One of the great attractions for readers is the complex relationship between my two main series characters, Ben Cooper and Diane Fry. Ben, in particular, is very popular. He really seems to have struck a chord with readers around the world, who love him for his humanity and compassion and are rooting for him to find happiness.

A lady in the US once emailed me to say that Ben Cooper was “the most wonderful human being I’ve ever met”. I sometimes get a bit jealous of him, since he obviously has more fans than me!

And the Peak District has been an absolute gift as a setting for these books – it’s full of unique and wonderfully atmospheric locations for me to use, along with thousands of years of history, and all the pressures and conflicts that come from being one of the most visited national parks in the world. Everyone wants to take a trip there once they’ve read Cooper and Fry!"
Can you tell us something quirky about Secrets of Death, its story and characters?
"In ‘Secrets of Death’ one of the characters says she’s setting off to attend an event at Derby Book Festival. This is a real festival, which I took part in myself around the time the book was published. I’m fascinated by the way fiction can intersect with real life."
And where you will be appearing again this year, on Sat 10 June - readers, if you are in the area, do not miss it! Or catch the FREE taster event on 20 April at the Melbourne Assembly Rooms in Derby.

If you could / wished to turn Secrets of Death and the Cooper and Fry Mysteries series into a movie, who would be your dream team?

"I’m delighted to say that the Cooper and Fry novels are currently in development for a TV series here in the UK, so I already have at least part of my dream team on board in terms of the producers and scriptwriter.

The locations provide the perfect scenic setting for the small screen. I actually don’t watch TV or movies very much myself, so actors tend to pass me by – at least ones who would be the right age for Ben Cooper and Diane Fry. I’m trusting other people to do the casting!"
We eagerly look forward to that! Here is some more picturesque Peak District to whet our appetite ;-)

Edale church
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I began to write crime fiction because that’s what I enjoyed myself as a reader. I think that makes perfect sense. But I’ve been writing for a very long time. As a teenager I originally wrote science fiction, and later on I produced a couple of supernatural thrillers which I couldn’t get published.

Now, after 16 Cooper and Fry novels (and a 17th on the way), I still have lots of different ideas filed away on my computer, which I’d like to write one day. Some of these would fall into the science fiction or fantasy categories, or maybe even horror. It can be quite restrictive having a popular long-running series – you become known for just doing one thing, when as a writer you might be itching to explore different ideas and genres."
What is your writing process?
"My guilty secret is that I don’t plan my books at all. I know there are lots of writers who like to have a complete outline before they start writing, so they know what’s going to happen and how the book will end.

I don’t do any of that. I find it much more interesting and exciting to discover the story as I’m writing it. So I start with some characters, and a place they belong to. Then I devise a situation which puts them under pressure, with a murder happening or a body being found, and I watch how they behave. So the characters create the story, and what subsequently happens can surprise me.

Of course I rely heavily on Cooper and Fry and their police colleagues to do their part of the job and find out what happened. After all, they’re the detectives and I’m just the writer!

I’m sure everyone is different, but this process works for me. I write a book a year, and in the early stages I might not be putting many words on the page because I’m developing the characters and locations, and the themes of the book. The actual writing can happen quite quickly later on."
What is in store next?
"There’s another Cooper and Fry novel already written. I like to keep the dynamic between the characters moving forward, and there are changes ahead for both Ben and Diane. A lot of readers have been hoping for good news for Ben, and I think he’s finding some happiness now. Diane is always living on the edge, and with the return of her sister Angie into her life I’m afraid she has a crisis coming!"
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"Some readers may know that I was a breeder and judge of pedigree dairy goats for many years. We don’t have the goats any more, but I still miss them! They’re fascinating and funny animals, as well as being very productive. This is a photograph of me taken some years ago with one of our goat kids. "
And I see you're a cat lover, so I've added a bonus picture of one of my cats, Barnaby.

Brilliant pictures; thank you for sharing them with us. And of course lots of head scratches to the cats (especially to you, Barnaby)!

Secrets of Death
Available NOW!

purchase from purchase from purchase from Audible purchase from Barnes & Noble purchase from Kobo UK purchase from iTunes UK find on Goodreads


CMash said...

I am always interested as to what was behind the concept of a book and this one had me saying WOW!

Stephen Booth said...

Many thanks for hosting me on your blog, Flora, and for all the interesting questions. The amount of work you must have done tracking down all those links and photos is amazing! :)

BooksChatter said...

Hi Stephen, thank you for popping by! It was my pleasure :-)

The Peak District looks amazing; we must definitely visit it.
I simply could not believe that story about that poor kid in Derby - human psychology is definitely something else. And your animals are simply gorgeous; it's always a pleasure hosting fellow animal lover ;-)

Have a great Easter week end and a great tour!