Interview with Rebecca Tope
What genre do you write and why?
In the UK we call it crime fiction, but in America it’s mystery. I stumbled into it by accident in the late 1990s and have been firmly fixed here ever since. I have tried historical fiction in recent years as well, which I ended up self-publishing.
Tell us about your latest book.
In the US, the latest book is ‘The Troutbeck Testimony’ (there have been at least two more recent titles in the UK). This is the fourth in my Lake District series. The main character is Persimmon (Simmy) Brown, who is a florist. She has recently moved to Windermere, where her parents already have a B&B. Simmy discovers that flowers can very often be associated with unpleasant dramas and malicious motives. In association with three young friends, she is drawn into one murder investigation after another.
What’s your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
A writer can live anywhere, because he (or she) inhabits his own portable homeland of the imagination. (Don’t know who first said this, but a friend reported having heard it at a talk in Michegan. I regularly repeat it to myself.).
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Being able to dedicate a book to an unsuspecting friend or relation. I love doing that.
How long did it take to write your book?
I don’t remember exactly, but they usually take just about four months. I can comfortably write two in a year, but quite often it’s three.
How do you research your books?
Because they are all set in real places, I generally pay a brief visit to learn where the local pub is and how the village is arranged around the church. I try not to speak to anybody. Several of the novels include some local history, too. In the Lake District this inevitably involves John Ruskin and William Wordsworth, among others. I do random bit of online ‘research’ to check details.
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
Peril in the Cotswold. This is the 15th title in my Cotswolds series, featuring Thea Osborne, house-sitter. But now she is Thea Slocombe, married and settled in Broad Campden. As with all the others, this book is set in a real village. Thea and her husband Drew are confident that they will no longer encounter vilent crime and murder investigations. But their confidence is sadly misplaced…
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
It can only have been my mother. She was a freelance journalist, selling articles to many national magazines, so from my earliest years I remember the typewriter clattering, and the excitement when a piece was accepted. She was also a massively energetic letter-writer, which I became in turn. I also had a wonderful English teacher at school, who directed my reading and boosted my self-confidence.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have eight acres of land, and spend much time watching birds, planting trees, keeping thistles and nettles at bay. But I also go on overseas trip several times a year, and have been to dozens of countries. My ideal trip is to drive through the central states of the US. But I also love New York, and go there regularly.
I enjoy handicrafts, especially using the wool from my own sheep. I also love antique auctions and go far too often. The house is full of my impulse buys.
I have a big family, and a wide circle of friends, so I write letters and emails to them all.