Just for the record, I have nothing against embroidery (with the exception of the interminable cross-stitch on gingham tray cloth I had to make in school aged nine). Although I’m a bit too impatient for french-knotting and even less patient when it comes to knitting, I do love dress-making and a number of other activities which are traditionally ‘girly.’
But that’s because I have options.
If the most dangerous pursuit I was allowed involved the risk of stabbing myself with a needle, I think I’d be learning to sky-dive instead.
When Liz asked me to collaborate on a novel and we had to work out where to begin, it seemed logical to me to write something set in Victorian England. I’m not sure if this is because it fitted in with some of Liz’s other books or because it appealed to me anyway. It was winter when we started talking about it and one lunch-time, I was staring out of the office window into gloom. The day before I’d been doing the same thing in London, where I work regularly. Something popped into my head: a mysterious letter.
I tapped an enigmatic letter into my phone and sent it as a message to Liz.
‘Ooh’ she replied. And that’s where we started from.
Who is the letter-writer? Male? Female? Friend? Foe? To whom is the letter addressed? Who is going to find out?
As young middle-class women in the late nineteenth century, Katherine and Connie find life quite restrictive, but underneath the constraints of staying respectable, they are no different to young women today or in any other generation: bored by routine, irritated by authority, straining against the ‘rules’.
And so, when Katherine opens a mysterious letter, she opens the door to a whole new world of adventure.
Now and again, she may even yearn for a bit of embroidery, just for some light relief.
Liz and I have had so much fun writing about Katherine and Connie, arguing and teasing each other via Google Docs and Messenger while we were editing almost as much as Katherine and Connie argue and tease each other in the books.
The Case of the Black Tulips, first in a series, comes out on 19th June. If you like feisty female characters and fancy a mystery set in London, November 1890, then have a look. It’s currently 99p/99c as a pre-order e-book. Paperback details will come out shortly.
It might be something worth putting down your embroidery for.
Words copyright 2018 by Paula Harmon. Book Cover by Liz Hedgecock (all accreditations within the book). All rights belong to the authors and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.