Tuesday 13 July 2010

Kate Ellis on The Flesh Tailor

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.'


Anonymous said...

Martin - Thanks for hosting Kate.

Kate - It is interesting, isn't it, what inspires a person to write. And the term flesh tailor is certainly intriguing. I can certainly see how that one got you started. I very much enjoy historical mysteries, and I look forward to reading yours. Thanks for sharing it with us.

lyn said...

Thanks for this insight Kate. I've read all your books & love the archaeological & historical themes in the series. Can't wait for the Jackal Man!

David Cranmer said...

The Flesh Tailor is sharp title and the plot, you described, intriguing.

aguja said...

Great guest blog, Martin!

Kate - I am totally drawn in by the title. Even before I read the blog, the title drew me. I am looking forward to reading your book and was also interested to read of the various ways in which your writing evolves ... and a good title just doesn't go away, waits, lurking, until the ideas follow on.

Thank you, Kate!

Dorte H said...

"The Flesh Tailor" sounds wonderfully sinister!

I am watching out for the postman every day right now, and actually one of the older Wesley Peterson mysteries is on its way to me!

Janet O'Kane said...

What an interesting guest blog! I don't usually go for historical mysteries but Kate's description of The Flesh Tailor has made me want to read it. Thank you.

Paul Beech said...

Martin – I don’t know why I’ve been depriving myself of Kate Ellis’ fiction for so long. Every time her name has come up on your blog I’ve thought, “Yes, must give this lady a try.” Now her guest blog has given me the extra prod I needed. An interesting insight into her writing and an irresistible synopsis of her latest Wesley Peterson. I’ve just checked out her website and extracted one of her Joe Plantagenet mysteries from my TBR pile, ‘Seeking The Dead’. Read the first chapter over lunch – good stuff. Thanks for hosting Kate.

Kate – Your stuff looks right up my street and I shall grab the paperback of ‘The Flesh Tailor’ as soon as it comes out next month. Interesting to learn from your Legal TV interview that although you plan your novels, you’ve sometimes changed the murderer! Sounds like a good tactic for fooling the reader! Good to note you write short stories too. I love quality sorts of all kinds from crime to mainstream: don’t you think the best have something of the precision of poetry? Do you have any plans to bring out a collection?

Regards, both - Paul

Martin Edwards said...

I'm delighted by your comments - Kate's books deliver very good value to fans of the well-plotted mystery.

Paul Beech said...

Martin – I finished reading Kate’s ‘Seeking The Dead’ early this morning and must say I enjoyed it a lot. It was a novel that made me realise again that the authors we like best are not necessarily the most original thinkers or the most dazzling stylists – though they might be. They’re the authors we find good company. Kate tells a good story well, and I found her great company, a really nice personality on the page. Somehow her rather odd place and character names such as Eborby and Peta Thewlis add to the charm.

Thanks for hosting. I will certainly read Kate again.

Regards, Paul

Martin Edwards said...

Glad you liked it, Paul.