Today I’m delighted to be able to exclusively reveal the latest author to be published by Fahrenheit Press. Fidelis Morgan has joined the Fahrenheit Press ranks and her first novel to be published by them, The Murder Quadrille is released today. Fidelis is an actor, director and author, having starred in Never Let Me Go alongside Keira Knightly and Carey Mulligan and in A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman. As well as acting on screen, Fidelis has an illustrious career on stage, appearing in productions of Proust, Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward. In between acting and directing Fidelis has also written many novels including the popular Countess series featuring 17th century Countess turned detective Lady Ashby De La Zouche. Faherenheit Press are delighted to be able to re-publish The Murder Quadrille, a novel described by actress Celia Imrie as “A cross between Wilkie Collins and Alfred Hitchcock, with a touch of Patricia Highsmith thrown in.”
Fidelis kindly answered a few of my questions and read on to find out more about The Murder Quadrille.
1. Tell us a little about The Murder Quadrille.
It starts at a dinner party. The couple hosting the dinner are on the road to divorce. The guests all have some interest in murder and, because a body has recently turned up on the local common, the conversation swiftly turns to murder. One by one, through the book, everyone at the dinner table becomes involved somehow or other in the real thing. Bodies get buried, bodies disappear, and so do the dinner guests.
2. What inspired the book?
A spate of ‘bodies under the patio’ domestic killings in the newspapers. I also wanted to write a multi-voiced book, as Wilkie Collins so often did. As he put it “the story of an offence against the laws as told in Court – by more than one witness”.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?
I start with an idea and let it roll. It’s the same way I cook. I know what ingredients I have, then I try to put them together and attempt to make something sizzle. Whenever I hit a patch where I find things slowing down, I think ‘What’s the best that can happen? What’s the worst that can happen?’ and ‘Who’s available to muddle things up?’ and then chose which way to go. It’s like driving without a map, deciding where you’re heading every time you hit a crossroads or a T junction. Sometimes you get taken up a blind alley, but that’s easy enough, – you just go back to the last junction and make a different decision.
As for how long it takes, I usually think about a book or a play, and research around it for about 3 months. Then I sit down and write like a whirlwind. But I do take the occasional long pause while I think, so that the 2 months actual writing ends up taking about 4 months.
4. You’ve a prolific writing career with an array of including sagas, short stories and the historical crime Countess series featuring Anastasia Ashby de la Zouche previously published. Which is your favourite genre to writing and are what are the biggest challenges to writing the various genres?
I don’t have a favourite. I’m bad at choosing. If put on the spot and asked to choose out of 10 CDs I’d end up choosing 6. Usually the project that is my favourite is the one I’m working on and the one in my head. I don’t really see that there is much difference between the genres. Dickens and Graham Greene for instance wroteeverything from historical, comedy, social, crime, and plain drama. It’s a pity that nowadays (to help bookshops and their displays) things have to be divided into genres. I’d prefer everything to be shoved together. All I want is a thumping good read. It’s all telling a story and grabbing your audience by the throat and not letting them go till you’re done.
5. You are both an actor and director and write in your spare time (I’m surprised you have any spare time!) Do you find that your experience as an actor and director has influenced your writing and if so, to what extent?
I always write (and direct) as an actor. I find myself acting out all the parts and I am allergic to the kind of characters that would not be fun to play. It’s a theatre actor’s job never to let the audience drift off. You have to keep them alert and interested. I try to do the same thing as a writer. If you look back, actors have always written, even before the 17th century when novels were invented. Shakespeare is the most famous, but Moliere, Sheridan, Dickens, Shaw, and more recently Noel Coward, Beryl Bainbridge, Alan Ayckbourn, Harold Pinter, Rodney Ackland, Jessie Burton, Jackie Collins, David Nicholls and my cousin, Lynda La Plante, also started out (or, in some cases, continued) as actors.
6. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
Writing, directing and acting are what I do to relax. I love cooking too, and painting, and playing music. And I adore travelling around on trains and boats. But I usually find myself having to write about travelling while I’m doing it. And I am usually travelling somewhere to write or act!
7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
The Universal World Train/Ship Timetable and Rail/Ship Atlas. Unfortunately, there are no such books. Failing that it would be Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable or the Dictionary of Historical Slang.
8. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Q. Is there anything you CAN’T do?
About the book
In this intriguing suspense novel written in the Hitchcock mode, Fidelis Morgan plays tag with the reader, taking them through the minds of six guests at a dinner party where Murder is on the Menu.”
“Creepy yet hilarious, filled with startling twists and thrills, this one had me laughing even as I was feverishly turning the pages. Only Fidelis Morgan can pull off a caper with such wit and style!” Tess Gerritsen
“Fabulously funny, twisted, dark and unpredictable. You couldn’t pry it out of my hands!” Rebecca Chance
“Fidelis Morgan plays a great game with the readers. The Murder Quadrille is twisty fun.” Karin Slaughter
“A totally engrossing read. Highly recommended” Classic Mystery
“A cross between Wilkie Collins and Alfred Hitchcock, with a touch of Patricia Highsmith thrown in.” Celia Imrie
“This is possibly the funniest crime book I’ve ever read… I found myself engrossed from chapter one. Every time you think you know where the story is going, it performs a switchback worthy of any white knuckle ride. In short, expect the unexpected, because this is a rip-roaring page turner that wrong-foots you at every end and turn.” www.crimefictionlover.com
Fahrenheit Press’ Chris McVeigh had this to say
“We’re so proud to publish Fidelis. She’s perfect for Fahrenheit – smart, funny, and always edgy. The Murder Quadrille is the first book we’re publishing by her but I’m delighted to reveal here that we’ve signed up ALL 4 of her best-selling ‘Countess’ novels. We’ll be publishing them under the Fahrenheit banner very soon and we can’t wait to bring these awesome books to the attention of a whole new audience.”
The book is available to buy now from Amazon. If you are a subscriber to the Fahrenheit Press Book Club you will receive a copy of The Murder Quadrille as part of your subscription. You can find out more about the Fahrenheit Press Book Club here.