Last month I talked about Kate Ellis and her latest novel, The Flesh Tailor, and now I'm glad to present a guest blog post by Kate herself.
'When you set out to write a novel, where do you start? Well, sometimes the whole process begins with the idea for a clever plot…or sometimes an intriguing situation, a strange historical fact or an engaging character can trigger the imagination. But once in a while I come across a fantastic title which sticks in my mind and leads to one murderous thought after another.
I have forgotten where exactly I heard the term ‘Flesh Tailor’ - which is, apparently, an archaic title for a surgeon - but once it was in my mind it sparked off a series of ideas which brewed for a couple of years and led eventually to the creation of The Flesh Tailor, a story of wartime evacuees, a house which once belonged to an Elizabethan anatomist and the execution style murder of a country doctor.
As my books always contain a historical mystery and well as a contemporary crime story, I usually have to carry out a great deal of research and The Flesh Tailor was no exception . I found myself learning about the evacuation of children to rural Devon during World War II and also about the study of anatomy in the sixteenth century. Reading up on the history of medicine, I came across characters such as Andreas Vesalius who in 1539 was granted permission by a Paduan judge to dissect executed criminals, thus enabling him to publish The Fabric of the Human Body, a well illustrated book which transformed the study of anatomy. My wartime researches were considerably less gruesome but I found the evacuees’ stories particularly poignant and I couldn’t help marvelling at the resilience of those children sent so far away from home to an alien way of life with complete strangers.
The Flesh Tailor begins when Dr James Dalcott, a popular country GP, is found dead in his Devon cottage with a single bullet wound to his head and as DI Wesley Peterson begins to investigate, he discovers that the amiable doctor was harbouring some bizarre and bloody family secrets. Meanwhile archaeologist, Neil Watson, unearths several skeletons in the grounds of an Elizabethan house called Tailors Court and, from marks on the bones, he suspects a link to tales of body snatching by a rogue physician who lived there back in the sixteenth century. However, when the bones of a child are found buried with a 1930s coin, the investigation takes a sinister turn. Who were the children evacuated to Tailors Court during World War II and where are they now? When a link is established between Dr Dalcott’s murder and the wartime evacuees, Wesley Peterson faces one of his most intriguing and dangerous cases yet.
The Flesh Tailor is out in paperback at the beginning of August 2010 and I’m now working on my next book The Jackal Man which will see Wesley facing a serial killer with an ancient Egyptian connection.'