I'm delighted with the gorgeous cover that Ed Bettison has designed for my next Rachel Savernake novel, Blackstone Fell, which will be published in the UK by Head of Zeus in September. Ed was responsible for the covers of Gallows Court and Mortmain Hall, and there is a clear brand identity for the series now which appeals to me and, I hope, appeals to a lot of readers. The covers certainly seem to have contributed to sales growth over the past couple of years, and there is no doubt that Ed is very talented.
The central concept of Blackstone Fell came to me during 2020, when - after the easing of the first lockdown - I went on a trip to Hardcastle Crags, a National Trust site in Yorkshire and had a great day in a marvellous and evocative setting. It seemed to suit adaptation and the fictitious village of Blackstone Fell was the result. The village incorporates a dangerous stretch of water inspired by Bolton Strid, as well as a spooky tower which was largely the product of my imagination, but drew on a number of monuments in the real world.
At the time I was thinking about the book, I'd been watching again the complete run of episodes of David Renwick's Jonathan Creek, as well as working on John Dickson Carr titles for the British Library. So I decided it would be fun to have a genuine locked room mystery in the book - but as a sub-plot rather than the mainspring of the story. I've written locked room mysteries in the short story form but this is the first time I've incorporated one into a novel.
I won't say too much about the main plot-line since, as with Mortmain Hall, I've tried to disguise the nature of the over-arching puzzle. But suffice to say that this is a novel which offers all manner of Golden Age ingredients, including a sanatorium, a village pub, a church with a dodgy vicar - and a seance. Oh, and a cluefinder....
I'm really looking forward to publication and I hope that the cover artwork, at least, will whet the appetites of readers!