T.P. Fielden is the author of the Miss Dimont series, The Riviera Express, Resort to Murder, A Quarter Past Dead and Died and Gone to Devon. Stealing the Crown, the start of a new series featuring Guy Harford, was published by Thomas and Mercer on 1 August 2020.
T.P. Fielden kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Stealing the Crown.
It’s about love and murder in wartime Buckingham Palace. It features courtier and spy Guy Harford and his sidekick Rodie Carr who, though she’s exceptionally beautiful, is a compulsive burglar. Together they chase down a plot to rob King George VI of his throne – and his life.
2. What inspired the book?
There’s a huge treasure-trove of untold stories about Buckingham Palace and the Royal Family during WW2. I got to hear many of these over the years in my other life as a royal biographer and commentator, and I decided to dovetail some of the best of them into my plot. Some are so extraordinary it’s difficult to tell whether they’re fact or fiction. So separating the two – fact from fiction – is my challenge to the reader!
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I plan, plan, plan. Then I see where the story takes me! It’s a bit like getting in the car and driving through a forest – you know where you want to end up, but you’re never quite sure what you’re going to encounter on the way which may involve an unexpected detour. As a novelist you need to be prepared to tear up the map sometimes and take risks. But be prepared to back up if you get it wrong!
4. Having been through the publishing process a number of times, is there anything about the process of creating a novel that still surprises you?
The moment when that terrible caution and anxiety you suffer as a writer – did I get that right? – turns, on publication day, into a sense of disbelief – did I really write that? Happens every time.
5. You also write the Miss Dimont series. What are the benefits and downsides to writing a series?
If there’s a downside, I’ve yet to discover it. The joy of writing a series is in creating characters you can return to, and I think the readers enjoy it too. As long as you don’t allow the plot-lines to dry up, revisiting these old friends is as much a pleasure in fiction as it is in real life.
6. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
Music is my passion, whether it’s jazz, pop, or classical. Long ago I was a choirboy, then I played guitar in a band for over 20 years, and I so adore Handel’s music that I once wrote a play about him – he had a lyricist called Charles Jennens and their life together was a caper. That aside, I live on the edge of Dartmoor, for me the most beautiful place in the world, which would take several lifetimes to fully explore.
7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Just at the moment it would have to be The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts – it’s history, geography, travel, people, music and much, much more, all rolled up together in a glorious big bundle. On top of that, it’s beautifully written – the moment I finished reading it first time round I was forced to start Chapter One all over again.
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?
What’s your proudest possession?
The local pub. I own a tiny slice of it, along with virtually every other member of our local community – it was drowning, but together we all dived in and saved it. I’m very proud of being part of that joint effort, but I’m getting mighty thirsty waiting for the doors to open again.
About the Book
Britain is at war—but the greatest threat to the Crown might be within the Palace walls.
London, 1941: Major Edgar Brampton is found shot dead in his office in Buckingham Palace. All signs point towards a self-inflicted tragedy, but when Palace authorities hurry his body away and order staff to stay silent, fellow courtier Guy Harford’s suspicions are raised.
While the outside world faces the onslaught of war, within the Palace walls a curious mystery unfolds. Rumours swirl about Brampton’s relationship with the Queen, and there’s talk of other plots involving those closest to the King.
To get to the bottom of what really happened, Guy joins forces with some unlikely allies—Rodie Carr, a beautiful East End burglar, and Rupert Hardacre, a postman with a past—but time may be running out…for him, for the King, and for Britain. Someone has their eye on the crown, and they’ll do anything to get it.
Can Guy solve the case before more blood is spilled on the royal carpets? Or will he be the next victim?