Today I’m pleased to welcome M.R.C. Kasasian to the blog. M.R.C. Kasasian’s previous novels are The Mangle Street Murders, The Curse of the House of Foskett, Death Descends on Saturn Villa and The Secrets of Gaslight Lane and the latest in his Gower Street Detective series, Dark Dawn over Steeple House was published by Head of Zeus on 1 June 2017.
M.R.C. Kasasian kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Dark Dawn Over Steep House.
Dark Dawn is the 5th in my Gower Street Detective Series. As always it arises from the journals of March Middleton and her mentor the irascible eccentric Personal Detective, Sidney Grice. All the stories are set in the London of the early 1880’s. In this book, March and Mr G, as she addresses her guardian, are employed by a wealthy young woman to track the man who violated her in an opium den. The trail leads straight to a Prussian Count in the opulent Midlands Hotel and back through the murky alleys of Limehouse and the lair of an Armenian gangster. More women are assaulted and then the murders begin.
2. What inspired the book?
I have long been fascinated by the close proximity of untold wealth and unimaginable squalor in Victorian London and the two would meet in Limehouse when the more adventurous and less high-minded rich would seek their pleasures, delighting in the frisson of danger. What, I wondered, happens when that danger gets out of hand?
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I plan in huge detail with reams of notes – on paper and my laptop – but, once I get going, my characters start to play up. They refuse to do what I want and go off at all sorts of tangents and I am very glad they do otherwise I would be bored and the reader would be too.
4. Dark Dawn Over Steep House is book 5 in the Gower St Detective series. Is there still anything about the process of creating a novel that still surprises you?
Mainly as above, how much the figments of my imagination become real to me (and I hope to the reader) with their own actions and words.
Also how excited I still get about the process.
5. What do you find are the benefits and downsides to writing a series? Is the fear there that you know the characters too well or can they still surprise you?
I love writing a series. I feel that I’m calling in on old friends and finding out what they’ve been up to. It also gives me the chance to develop the relationships between characters. When March Middleton went to live with her guardian, the Personal Detective Sidney Grice he despised her for being a woman and the
police derided her as a ‘mere girl’. As the series progresses she becomes increasing accepted as a detective in her own right and an affectionate (platonic) relationship develops with Mr G.
A downside is that I obsess about them. Friends tell me I am starting to sound like Mr G at times. Also, like any writer, there are other projects I want to follow. I am currently working on the story of a woman police office in WW2.
6. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
A favourite day for us is a trip to the coast, fish and chips, a good walk along the beach and a pot of tea before a long country drive home.
7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
If you could put the whole of ‘À la Recherche du Temps Perdu’ into one volume (Scott-Moncrieff’s translation please) that should keep me occupied for a while. I love how Proust can spend two pages describing a hedge, for example, and still never be boring.
8. I like to end my Q&As 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?
You could have asked why I chose a female narrator but, since you didn’t, I’m not going to tell you.
Also I’m still waiting for somebody to ask if I could take their lottery winnings off their hands and the answer to that is definitely ‘yes’.
About the book
London, 1884: Sidney Grice – London’s foremost personal detective – is restless. Having filed his latest case under ‘S’ for ‘Still To Be Solved’, he has returned to his book, A Brief History of Doorstep Whitening in Preston, to await further inspiration. His ward, March Middleton, remains determined to uncover the truth. Geraldine Hockaday, the daughter of a respected Naval captain, was outraged on the murky streets of Limehouse. Yet her attacker is still on the loose. But then a chance encounter in an overcrowded cafe brings a new victim to light, and it seems clear March and Grice are on the trail of a serial offender. A trail that will lead them to the dining room of a Prussian Prince, the dingy hangout of an Armenian gangster, and the shadowy ruin of a once-loved family home, Steep House…
About the author
M.R.C. Kasasian was raised in Lancashire. He has had careers as varied as a factory hand, wine waiter, veterinary assistant, fairground worker and dentist. He lives with his wife, in Suffolk in the summer and in Malta in the winter.