It’s Wednesday which means…..another Meet the Author interview for you! Today I’m talking to the lovely T. G. Campbell about Victorian London, editing as she writes, Victorian slang, living her dream job a different way, her most recent book, The Case of the Toxic Tonic and more…..
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I write books and short stories about a fictional group of amateur detectives called the Bow Street Society working in Victorian Era London. The group’s civilian members are enlisted for their skills and knowledge derived from their usual occupations. I’ve also written articles for Listverse, Fresh Lifestyle Magazine, and the Schools History website amongst others. My monthly blog covers various topics including the origin of the word “copper”, and interviews with a former Bow Street Police Station officer, and the curator of the Metropolitan Police Service’s historic collection.
How many books have you written and published?
I’ve currently written four books in the Bow Street Society Mystery series. They are: The Case of the Curious Client, The Case of the Lonesome Lushington, The Case of The Spectral Shot, and The Case of The Toxic Tonic. I’ve also written three volumes of short stories in the Bow Street Society Casebook series. They are: The Case of the Shrinking Shopkeeper & Other Stories, The Case of the Peculiar Portrait & Other Stories, and The Case of the Russian Rose & Other Stories. Each book and short story volume have been independently published through Amazon in eBook and paperback formats.
How long does it take you to write a book?
On average it takes me around 4-6 months to write a book. This includes planning the plot, conducting research to determine if that plot would’ve been feasible in the late nineteenth century, writing, and editing the book. I usually edit as I write as I’ve found this to be the best method for me. Otherwise, I struggle to hold the entire book in my head when editing a full manuscript at the end. As a result, a single chapter can have up to thirteen drafts by the time I’m satisfied enough with it to be able to move onto the next.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
As an author, I think your current favourite will always be the last one you finished. Since I’m being asked to choose my overall favourite, though, I’ll have to pick The Case of the Spectral Shot. I loved conducting the research into Spiritualism, talking boards, and séances as the paranormal fascinates me anyway. Spectral Shot is also my favourite because it includes one of my overall favourite scenes. Mr Samuel Snyder, a veteran hansom cab driver and Bow Street Society member, travels to a deserted Hampstead Heath in the middle of the night with Metropolitan Police officer, Inspector John Conway, to meet a potential client for the Society at the Heath’s famous flagstaff. The scene is incredibly atmospheric with the ferocious wind causing the trees’ leaves to swirl and rustle, the near pitch-blackness, and the strange-looking individual who eventually arrives to meet them. I wrote the scene with Bram Stoker’s Dracula in mind and feel proud of the Gothic-like atmosphere I achieved with it as a result.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I’d wanted to be a police officer from a relatively young age. I grew up watching police dramas like The Bill and Taggart. I therefore wanted to be a detective in C.I.D cracking the cases. Unfortunately, I discovered I’d never be able to fulfil my dream due to health reasons. Disappointed but still fascinated by the world of police work, I decided to write about the police instead.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
I’ve worked in the not-for-profit sector. First, for a project assisting offenders into training or employment, and then for a charity supporting victims and witnesses through the process of giving evidence at court. The former role was mainly administrative so I had little contact with the offenders. In the latter role, though, I was in frequent contact with representatives of the police’s Witness Care Unit, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Magistrates Court, and various charities.
I was also the first point of contact for witnesses and victims who were due to attend court. I’d explain the process to them, describe parking arrangements at the court building, identify any additional needs they may have had, e.g. side-door entry into the court building, and offer the support of a highly trained volunteer on the day. Although I wasn’t privy to the details of the case (to ensure the service remained unbias and to avoid influencing a witness’s statement) I was given a tremendous insight into the emotional, physical, psychological, and practical impact crime can have on people’s lives (for both defendants, victims, and witnesses). This has proven invaluable when planning and writing about fictional crimes in my books.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go and why? (Backwards or forwards!)
I’d travel back to London in 1896. This is the year in which all my books and short stories are currently set. I’d therefore be interested to see how accurate my portrayal of Victorian Era London is. It would also be an excellent research opportunity.
What’s your favourite film of all time and why?
Evita. I know all the words to all the songs and have seen the original stage musical the film is based upon. I think the story of a young woman breaking away from what’s expected of her to forge her own path fascinates me the most. Although it doesn’t seem like it on the surface, there’s a great deal of complex characterisation going on in the film. The song “You Must Love Me” also makes me burst into floods of tears every time.
You win a million pounds – you give half to charity. Which charity do you pick and why? What would you do with the rest of the money?
I’d pick Shelter or a similar charity supporting people who are homeless. Whilst at university I struck up a friendship with a homeless man who I’d often see on my way to the supermarket. He opened my eyes to the realisation that homeless people are still human beings. I also had an impact on him because I persuaded him to contact his mother who he’d not spoken to in years. I’ll always remember him as he reminds me that anyone can find themselves on the streets and we shouldn’t treat homeless people as less than human because of their situation. As for the rest of the money, I think I’d invest it in a dramatization of my Bow Street Society books.
Do you feel it’s more important to have a) strong characters b) a mind-blowing plot or c) amazing settings?
A good book should always have good characters, plot, and settings. Out of the three, though, I think strong characters are ultimately what drive a good book. They’re the thing readers relate to the most and it’s the characters’ motivations and actions which often shape where a plot ends up. In my books, I try to make the members of the Bow Street Society as well-rounded and complex as I can within the space I have. As a result, many have secrets and crosses to bear away from their investigations into criminal cases. I’ve also tried to include representatives from all parts of society, including people with a physical impairment, people of various sexual orientation, and people of different genders.
What is your favourite word and why?
I don’t have a favourite ‘modern’ word. Each month in my Gaslight Gazette newsletter, though, I include a “Slang word of the month” from J. Redding Ware’s The Dictionary of Victorian Slang & Phrase. Originally published around the turn of the twentieth century, the terms it lists are authentic to the Victorian Era. Out of these my favourite is “umble-cum-stumble” meaning “thoroughly understood”.
What is different about your writing compared to other crime fiction books?
Due to members of the Bow Street Society using the skills and knowledge from their usual occupations, only certain members are required at certain times. As a result, the group of members assigned to investigate cases by the Society’s clerk, Miss Trent, changes each time. For example, a solicitor, journalist, and architect are assigned to The Case of the Curious Client, but only the journalist is assigned to The Case of the Lonesome Lushington alongside a fashion journalist and her secretary.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
When the Bow Street Society is called upon to assist the Women’s International Maybrick Association, it’s assumed the commission will be a short-lived one. Yet, a visit to the Walmsley Hotel in London’s prestigious west end only serves to deepen the Society’s involvement. In an establishment that offers exquisite surroundings, comfortable suites, and death, the Bow Street Society must work alongside Scotland Yard to expose a cold-blooded murderer. Meanwhile, two inspectors secretly work to solve the mystery of not only Miss Rebecca Trent’s past but the creation of the Society itself…
This is the fourth book in the Bow Street Society Mystery series. It may be purchased worldwide in either eBook or paperback formats from your usual Amazon marketplace.
final words from chelle…
Thanks so much for coming over and talking to us. I have to say the Bow Street Society Mystery series sounds fantastic, and I’m completely sold on The Case of the Spectral Shot – I love a bit of the paranormal! I literally screeched out loud when I read that your favourite film is Evita…..it’s one of mine too! I also know all the words, You Must Love Me ALWAYS makes me cry, and there may be a video on Facebook somewhere of me singing Don’t Cry For Me Argentina in a cat onesie with a glass of wine…..! Your thoughts on those that are homeless are so true, and I agree that it’s really important to us all to remember that they’re human too. I’m so excited to read your books and will be adding them to my ever expanding Wishlist!
If you have any questions or comments for T.G then you know what to do!
I’ll be back shortly with my final post of the day!