I’ve been talking to debut historical crime writer Michelle Salter about her work, here’s what she had to share with us all.
What motivates you to write?
I write historical crime mysteries as I love the research as much as the writing. I find it fascinating to take modern day situations and place them 100 years ago.I’m particularly interested in showing how a woman’s role in society has changed in the twentieth century. My debut novel, The Suffragette’s Daughter, is set in 1920 and is the first in a series of mysteries that focus on crimes and social issues affecting women during this era.
Which do you like to write, series or standalones? If you write both, what do you find the difference?
I’m currently busy with the Iris Woodmore Mysteries series. However, I would like to write a standalone gothic novel, possibly switching between two timeframes.
What do you like to do to relax when not writing?
I’ve been a volunteer at my local nature reserve, Fleet Pond, for nearly fifteen years now. At 52 acres, Fleet Pond is the largest freshwater lake in Hampshire and is surrounded by an extensive nature reserve made up of wetlands, woodlands, and dry heathland.
Many local locations feature in my books, and the fictional lake Waldenmere, which plays a prominent role in my next novel, is inspired by Fleet Pond.
Who is your favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?
Percy Baverstock is a favourite of mine and my readers. He’s enjoyable to write because he doesn’t always think before he speaks. He has a grasshopper mind and hops from subject to subject – his mood can change as quickly as his conversation.
He loves to go dancing in the jazz clubs that are springing up in London in 1920. He makes his first appearance in The Suffragette’s Daughter and was only going to feature briefly, but he’s very lovable. He’s become a recurring character and returns in the second Iris Woodmore mystery due out later this year.
Who is your least favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?
Sir Nigel Bostock is a particularly obnoxious character who appears in The Suffragette’s Daughter. He’s a snob and a chauvinist. He takes his privileged life for granted and shows little empathy for others. I’m sure most readers will have come across someone in their lives who shares a few of Sir Nigel’s boorish traits!
Tell us about your last book…
The Suffragette’s Daughter is a historical crime mystery set in 1920. It’s a period of rapid social change, but even in these progressive times, it can still be deadly for a woman to show too much strength.
Rather than the stylised world of the flapper girl, I wanted to explore the reality of Britain in the aftermath of the Great War and the suffragist movement. It was a period of empowerment and greater independence for some women, but the reality for many others was that their lives were the same as they had been a decade earlier.
Inspiration for the novel struck in the summer of 2018 on a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. Westminster Hall was hosting an exhibition to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act of 1918 – a significant milestone in the suffrage movement.
Despite introduction of the Act, a third of the adult female population in this country still didn’t have the right to vote. The fight for equal representation was far from over – and the seeds for The Suffragette’s Daughter were sown.
What’s coming next…
I hope the second book in the Iris Woodmore Mysteries series will be out later this year, and I’m currently working on a third.
I’m enjoying exploring the maturation of my lead character. Iris is a young woman who’s stepped outside of social convention, and while some doors have opened, others have been slammed firmly in her face.
I hope younger readers of my novels will appreciate the challenges their predecessors faced and how much we owe to the suffrage movement.
Anything else you want to share?
The Suffragette’s Daughter is now available from Amazon.
Michelle Salter is a historical crime fiction writer based in north east Hampshire, UK.
Michelle works as a copywriter and has written features for national magazines. Her love of social history influences her writing, and her novels explore how events from 100 years ago reflect the world we live in today.
When she’s not writing, Michelle can be found knee-deep in mud at her local nature reserve. She enjoys working with a team of volunteers undertaking conservation activities on land and in water, repairing riverbanks, sloshing around in the marshes and driving a tractor badly.
If you’d like to be the first to hear the latest news on novel releases and works in progress, visit https://www.michellesalter.com to subscribe to Michelle’s newsletter.
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Thank you, Michelle for sharing with us, and best of luck with the debut.