Stella's writing career began at the tender age of *nine*. She had been suffering from a case of the measles and her father gave her a typewriter, figuring learning to use it would distract little Stella from her discomfort. Little did he know Stella would pick up the writing bug and clutch it close to her heart for the rest of her life.
In her adult life, Stella has, so far, penned more than *forty* works of fiction, which include the wonderful Jordan Lacey Mysteries.
Today sees the release of Stella's book, Lucifer's Bride. This is a deeply engrossing tale of jealousy and deceit married with (pardon the pun) revenge and murder. Don't let the pretty cover fool you. This one will make your heart race, as all great thrillers should.
Before we look at this exciting book, let's have a quick chat with Stella.
Hello, Stella. Welcome back to the Heart of Fiction. We appreciate you taking some time out of your very busy schedule to have a chat. You know our readers love learning more about their favorite writers.
We talked about your writing space the last time. But like any good story, your space must be a fluid thing. Do you write in the same space all the time, such as an office, or a little nook in the corner of your sitting room?
I have three writing spaces. The big dining-room table has been my desk for many years since I outgrew the kitchen table. It’s untidy but I know where everything is. Reference books are on hand, including tomes on police procedure and forensic science. The empty filing tray where Rosie always dozed is a sad reminder that my beautiful and intelligent tabby was hit by a speeding car on Christmas Eve and died on Boxing Day. Her son, Jasper, sleeps curled up by my feet. He can’t jump, poor baby. He can’t see properly and has selective hearing.
Often I write in bed, first thing in the morning. My subconscious works while I sleep and I need to get the words down on paper before they escape. There’s a stack of draft paper and pens beside my bed. If Jasper will let me write. He thinks serving his breakfast is vastly more important.
Thirdly, my knees, if you can call them a space. Like Trollope, I write on the train, always carrying a pad with me. There’s something about the rhythm of the wheels and the flashing countryside that I associate with writing. Some of my best short stories have been born on a train!
Wow! Sounds like your space is very fluid. And I know what you mean about trains being inspirational.
What is your daily writing routine like?
I always set myself dead-lines, a relic of my reporting days. So I work every day, starting about ten in the morning. A day without writing is a day wasted. I’m a vegetarian so a late lunch means preparing lots of vegetables or a big salad. I only go shopping when absolutely necessary.
A brisk walk or some reluctant gardening is a dose of fresh air. I try not to count the rose bushes. At five I start work again with a cup of tea and I will carry on till my eyes glaze over. Sometimes, if there’s a good drama at nine o’clock, I’ll allow myself an hour off. As I tell my students, television can be research time. Sometimes I analysis scenes for their content and dialogue exchanges.
I didn't know you were vegetarian. I might have to come to you for some great recipes!
So I'm guessing cooking must be a favorite past time too. Do I have any other interests besides writing?
Yes, so many that I think I am leading several lives all at the same time. Books are my indulgence. It is only by reading that my writing can be improved. I’m currently reading the latest Lee Child and Victor Hugo’s Les Mis. I love films and the theatre but time is a problem. I’m with the Front of House team at our local theatre. Big band jazz is a great favourite and there’s always music in the house. Occasionally I need Rod Stewart or Chris Rea to accompany a romantic scene.
My First Monday Club has closed after five years and I really miss it, so talking to writing friends is a special treat. I still invigilate at the County School and those teenagers give me many ideas. I have a folded envelope in my pocket for notes.
The Women’s Institute has booked me for ten talks this year and I’ve done three already. (I had to do an audition in front of ninety delegates!) This gives me a chance to meet new people which I always enjoy. Call it more research.
My goodness, Stella, you are one busy woman. We'll let you get back to it! Thanks for spending some of your precious time with us.
So, readers, we're onto Lucifer's Bride. It's hard to imagine that such a lovely woman as Stella can pen such dastardly stories, but she's one of the best. Here we go . . .
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A Cornish summer wedding with a deadly twist.
Fiona Kimberley was a self-centred young woman, hungry for money and social status. So when she is found murdered on her wedding day it comes as no surprise to anyone that there is a lengthy list of suspects. Fiona had alienated many people in her short life, all of whom were present at the wedding, and all of whom had the means, and the motive, to exact revenge on the beautiful bride.
Elvina closed her eyes and sat down on the edge of the bed, the world spinning round her. She had not thought of that evening in Wimbledon for so long; the hurried phone calls, the drive through the night in an ambulance, the small private nursing home. Then the very natural mistake made by the matron in charge that Fred Goldblummer was her father; a mistake which Elvina, in the confusion of the moment, had not corrected. For years Fred had seemed more like a father than a husband.
She had already met Sir Peter at the races at Lingfield. When he began to show more than a passing interest in her, the temptation became too much. Why not? Why shouldn't she? Fred was totally paralysed, unable to speak. He would never recover. She was still young and this was another chance for life.
So Fred, her husband, conveniently 'died'. The funeral was private. The only reminder was the standing order payment to the nursing home which increased annually. She never went to see him. Apparently he did not recognise anyone, not even the nurses. He existed in a grey, mindless vacuum.
She married Sir Peter and they lived happily ever after. Till a stray bullet shattered the idyll.
She put the letter down hurriedly. She was too old for scandal. The tabloid newspapers would love it, splash the bigamous marriage over the front page. AMBASSADOR'S WIFE HIDES VEGETABLE HUSBAND, or LADY ELVINA IN FORTUNE FRAUD. The State pension she had been receiving for years. . . would they want it all back? Would she be prosecuted for fraud and sent to prison? Even an open prison would be unbearable. She could not share a room or a bathroom with anyone, not at her age.
Sir Peter's relatives would doubtlessly contest the will. They would want their rightful share.
The recession had wiped out many of her investments, but she was too distressed to care. It simply brought her plans closer. Her money was running out. When it had gone, there was no point in living.
• • •
Stella Whitelaw began writing seriously at the age of nine. She was ill with measles when her father gave her an Imperial Portable typewriter. Covered in spots, she sat up in bed and taught herself to type.
At sixteen, she became a cub reporter and worked her way up to Chief Reporter. She was the first woman Chief Reporter, the youngest, and the only one who was pregnant.
After producing a family, she became Secretary of the Parliamentary Press Gallery at the House of Commons. Secretary then meant the original meaning, Secretariat, the keeper of secrets. She was awarded an MBE in 2001 but is not sure why.
Like Trollope, she wrote books on the train and in the recesses. The Jordan Lacey PI series is her favourite and the cruise crime books. Her big romances, No Darker Heaven and Sweet Seduction, were a marathon adventure.
Stella has won a woman’s magazine national short story competition and the London Magazine’s Art of Writing competition judged by Sheridan Morley. The Elizabeth Goudge Cup was presented to her at Guildford University.
Homeless cats find their way to Stella’s lifelong hospitality and she has written eight books of cat stories for the 7 – 70 plus.
You can find Stella online at --
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--> Stella is giving away a copy of Lucifer's Bride to one lucky winner today. Just leave a message for her in comments, along with your email address, and the best comment wins. :-)