Good morning pals! Today I have a guest post from Rachel Ward, author of the Numbers series and YA thrillers The Drowning and Water Born. She’s now turned her hand to adult fiction, and the result is The Cost of Living. Here’s the blurb, to whet your appetites:
After a young woman is brutally attacked on her way home from the local supermarket, checkout girl Bea is determined to find out who’s responsible. She enlists the help of Ant, the seemingly gormless new trainee – but can she really trust him? Customers and colleagues become suspects, secrets are uncovered, and while fear stalks the town, Bea risks losing the people she loves most.
Read on to find out more about cosy crime, and Rachel’s journey alongside her characters, Ant and Bea.
When I started to write my new book, The Cost of Living, I was in the happy position of writing for myself. No contract, no previous experience of crime-writing, no idea if I could actually do it. I wasn’t meant to be writing the book. No-one was waiting for it. I just had my main characters in my head – Bea, a whipsmart checkout girl and her seemingly gormless colleague, Ant – and I wanted to find out more about them.
I set off hopefully, and fairly quickly a story emerged. I sent it to my husband’s kindle chapter by chapter. To start with he was at home, and I could hear him laughing at all the right bits. I’d never made him laugh with my writing before – my YA books are rather dark. Later, he was in hospital a hundred miles away, waiting for a heart transplant, and through the wonders of the world wide web I would still send him chapters and he’d message me feedback and talk with me about it when I visited.
The tone of the story seemed to choose itself. Once I’d started, it came easily, and I was so happy writing it. There is a dark thread at the heart of the book – and the plot touches on violent assault, murder, domestic violence and mental health issues – but what makes it ‘cosy’, I think, is a cast of (mostly) likeable characters who show resilience, warmth and humour in their day to day life, whatever fate throws at them. They are the sort of people that we all know or meet every day. We end up rooting for them, wanting things to turn out okay for them.
It was a surprise and a relief to write this way and with these characters. Writing became my happy place. My husband had his heart transplant and was very ill afterwards. After a little break, I carried on writing and read him chapters when he was in intensive care. The story was something more than just a cosy mystery – it was a welcome distraction from the horror of our lives and something to look forward to.
I don’t want to avoid life’s troubles or the darker side of things in this new series, but I want to deal with them through the eyes of a mixture of resourceful characters who support each other. Yes, bad things happen to people, but mostly we cope, we manage, we make the best of things. Life isn’t cosy, but writing cosy crime has helped me cope with the dark and the light, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next for Ant and Bea.
Rachel Ward is a best-selling writer for young adults. Her first book, Numbers, was published in 2009 and shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. An avid reader of detective fiction, The Cost of Living is her first book for adults. Rachel lives in Bath with her husband, and has two grown-up children.
Thank you so much to Rachel for sharing her story with me, and to Ceris at Sandstone Press for arranging the blog tour. Do check out the other posts on the tour! The Cost of Living by Rachel Ward is out tomorrow from Sandstone Press.