2011 has been a busy and exciting year for me so far. February saw the launch of my latest Wesley Peterson novel, The Jackal Man, and at the start of April Kissing the Demons, my third book featuring DI Joe Plantagenet and his boss DCI Emily Thwaite, was published.
Like the first two books in my Joe Plantagenet series, Seeking the Dead and Playing with Bones, Kissing the Demons is set in the ancient northern city of Eborby (a thinly disguised York). And as York is reputed to be the most haunted city in England, there is inevitably a supernatural element to my mystery.
My initial inspiration for Kissing the Demons arose from an interesting conversation I had with my son’s girlfriend. When she was at university she rented a run down Victorian house with some friends and, as the weeks went on, the house’s occupants found that the place had a rather peculiar atmosphere. During her time there former close friends would suddenly quarrel for no apparent reason and relationships broke down, so much so that it almost felt as if some hostile presence in the house was starting to control their lives. As well as all this, when a strip of wallpaper came away in the bathroom, the students found what looked like a bloodstain underneath. Needless to say, those students didn’t stay there for long but the story of this strange and sinister university accommodation whetted my imagination and eventually it became the starting point for a novel.
In Kissing the Demons 13 Torland Place is a student house with a disturbing past. Not only was it the scene of five brutal murders back in the nineteenth century, but it was also linked to the disappearance of two teenage girls twelve years before the story begins.
As with my earlier Joe Plantagenet books, I have been unable to resist mining York’s rich seam of chilling ghost stories. There is an old legend that a beautiful girl often used to be seen emerging from a churchyard to follow the city musicians – or ‘waits’ as they were known – as they paraded down a certain street: the girl later vanished without a trace and it was generally believed that she was a ghost. In Kissing the Demons a female student disappears after following a group of musicians down that same street and she is later found dead, the victim of a ruthless murderer who may have killed many times before.
Kissing the Demons is one of the first books to be published by newly launched Severn House imprint, Crème de la Crime.