I am on tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club, and today's I have the utmost pleasure in interviewing historical fiction author, M J Porter. But before you do, let's check out M J Porter's book.
A delicious 1940s mystery.
Birmingham, England, 1943.
While the whine of the air raid sirens might no longer be rousing him from bed every night, a two-decade-old unsolved murder case will ensure that Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is about to suffer more sleepless nights.
Young Robert McFarlane’s body was found outside the local church hall on 30th September 1923. But, his cause of death was drowning, and he’d been missing for three days before his body was found. No one was ever arrested for the crime. No answers could ever be given to the grieving family. The unsolved case has haunted Mason ever since.
But, the chance discovery of another victim, with worrying parallels, sets Mason, and his constable, O’Rourke, on a journey that will take them back over twenty-five years, the chance to finally solve the case, while all around them the uncertainty of war continues, impossible to ignore.
What inspired you to start writing?
In the very beginning, my ambition was to write historical fantasy. This was based on my love of history and heavily influenced by the writings of Katharine Kerr, Anne McCaffrey and Patricia Keneally Morrison. I read their books while I was studying at university and wanted to produce something similar, with my own spin on it.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
The hardest part was writing things without knowing for sure they were historically accurate. I like to be on surer footing, but I’m not an expert on the 1920s-1940s and had to allow some things to slide while researching elements that concerned me more – such as road names, places, and public transport. It was pointed out to me that I needed to be very careful when talking about trains and trams as a lot of the actual timetables and routes are still known.
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
Not really, no. But, I did name my main character after family members so I felt a close connection to him.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
Cor, I’ve got no idea. Mason would need to be someone a little road weary and craggy, but with tenacity, I’m thinking like Ben Miller in Death in Paradise, and O’Rourke could be Florence from Death in Paradise as well, Josephine Jobert. Mr Owl would need to be someone quite pompous – a bit like the ‘leather-bound-pound’ man from Black Books – Rupert Vansittart.
What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Bizarrely, I wrote this book to shed a light on the Birds Custard adverts in the Picture Post magazine which inspired me. So, I hope people might take a look at the advertising and appreciate its bold colours and design. Or, take a look at an edition of the Picture Post. It’s a fabulous resource for the 1930s-1950s – think OK and Hello magazine. Scarily, many of the headlines won’t be so different from the ones we see today, especially concerning politics.