I am thrilled to have my friend and fellow author, Elizabeth Ducie back on the blog. In this article she explains how she came to write her new series of cosy crime mysteries set in the imaginary village of Coombesford. Over to you, Elizabeth
Thank you for inviting me to your blog today, Val. As you know, before I started writing creatively, I spent thirty years in the international pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. It should therefore come as no surprise to hear that my early novels were based in a variety of locations: Russia and the former Soviet Union countries; Latin America; and Southern Africa.
After the publication of my Suzanne Jones trilogy (thrillers set in the sometimes-murky world of drug manufacturing), I took a year off to get the characters out of my head. After all, they had been there for the best part of six years, and I suspected they would be as sick of me as I was of them.
I’ve always been a fan of cosy crime: Midsomer Murders; Murder She Wrote; anything by Agatha Christie. So I thought I’d have a go at writing in that genre. The thrillers had been complex and difficult to write. I wanted something easier, and more fun.
I also wanted to bring my locations closer to home. I’m very much a city girl, having been born in Birmingham and living for a long time in London and its suburbs. So moving to a tiny semi-rural town (more a village with attitude) in Devon was quite a culture shock. There is so much about small town and village life that provides great material for a writer. But at the same time, I didn’t want to get run out of town.
So I invented a village! Coombesford is located just a couple of miles up the road from Chudleigh, where I live. It’s close enough to Exeter and Newton Abbot that I can bring real locations into the stories, while keeping it fictionalised so no-one recognises themselves in the characters.
And those characters I was trying to get out of my head? Some of them refused to leave! So I took one of the Jones sisters, plus her family, away from London. They now run the The Falls, a pub in the centre of Coombesford, making them one of the hubs of the village, ideally placed to solve mysteries as they arise. And believe me, they do!
So far, I’ve published two murder mysteries (Murder at Mountjoy Manor and Villainy at the Village Store). Calamity at Coombesford Church is due out later this year. And I’m already well into plotting the fourth in the series which will see some of the other characters from the thrillers make a guest appearance.
But I’m also a short story writer. Over the years I have built up quite a collection, very few of which have been published, although several have done well in competitions. Back in April 2021, I began rewriting each one, setting it in Coombesford and incorporating some of the characters from the crime novels. I then gave away a story each month to readers of my newsletter. At the end of the first year, I put twelve stories into a collection and published it as Coombesford Calendar volume I. This month, I am bringing out Coombesford Calendar volume II. These aren’t murder stories. They are a mix of themes and moods, most with a twist, often with humour. The idea is to show what the people of Coombesford get up to when they are not solving (or committing) murders.
Coombesford Calendar volume II (available for pre-order, out on 30th April)
Outwardly peaceful, the village of Coombesford has, at times, been the scene of murder and mayhem. Nestled between the Haldon Hills and Dartmoor in Devon, England, what secrets does Coombesford hide behind its quaint façade?
What happens when a leather-wearing goth gets a gingham-clad room-mate? How does a chance encounter on a train change the village’s Christmas? Who will take the honours at the village show?
Meet some of the residents of Coombesford in this second collection of twelve short stories and catch a glimpse of what they get up to when not solving—or committing—murder.
Elizabeth Ducie gave up a thirty year career as a technical writer and consultant in 2012 to tell lies for a living. Since then, she has published six novels and five collections of short stories. She also writes, teaches and coaches on Author Business Foundations, helping new writers to set up their small businesses, and on Indie Publishing. She is a confirmed authorpreneur and believes passionately that indie publishing is a viable and legitimate route, just one of many available to authors these days.