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An Author's Real-life Mystery - the inside of the Monken Hadley church lit with red light and smoke effect with the image of Captain Tempest-Hicks in the top right hand corner

A Real-Life Mystery for A Cozy Author

Dear Readers,

The Mystery

Light streams up through the darkness of the ancient church colouring the stained glass windows. I didn’t see it. IReal-life Mystery - red light coming through church windows heard it. And I was sure I must have been mistaken.

Moments later, there it is was on the screen. I exchanged wide-eyed glances with my friend sitting on the same pew. Yes, she had heard it too: the name.

Son et Lumière

The fictional village of Sunken Madley, in which all of the Amanda Cadabra British humorous cozy paranormal mysteries are set, is based on a real place. Its name: Monken Hadley, a small community with a thousand-year-old history just north of London. This year they are celebrating 525 years since the rebuilding of the medieval church, most likely damaged in the Battle of Barnet. Every quarter of a century, this restoration is marked with a special event. Only a few days ago, in 2019, it was a retelling the story of the church and village in a spectacular Son et Lumière, sound and light.

son et lumiere in old churchThe Story

The event started at 3.30pm, but by the time the startling revelation occurred, it was already night outside. The monks of the old priory, the opposing sides of the famous battle, the gentry and the philanthropists of long ago had passed and sounded before our eyes and ears. The tale had reached the period of the first world war. The narrator spoke of a memorial stone on the walls of the building where we sat, dedicated to one … and that was when my ears pricked up…

How It All Began

In the winter of 2018, my author pal TJ Brown convinced me that I could pen a cozy paranormal mystery. I had beenTempest Amanda Cadabra grey cat with yellow eyes adamant for years that I was strictly a non-fiction writer and fantasy was way beyond my ken. But Tim knew better. He encourage me to go off to research the genre, and presently we sat down together to begin the process of creation. First, we needed a name for the heroine. I knew it had to be something to do with magic. With a thesaurus list before us, we tried out different forenames and surnames, googled possible variations to see if they’d been used. The clock ticked away. We began growing tired and then … playing around with Abracadabra .. Tim came out with it: Amanda Cadabra! I repeated it in my head. Yes. We’d found her.

Suddenly, I heard the name, the name of her cat, I knew he was a collection of greys, he had livid yellow eyes and was permanently grumpy. It was the first name and the first thing that came to me. I had never seen it as a person’s name before, I knew it only as a weather system and the title of a Shakespeare play.

Finding Home

In the days that followed as I began to get a sense of Amanda and her familiar. I knew I had to find the right location for them. It had to be a village, and as I’d never lived in Sunken Madley - Monken Hadley church against blue sky, trees on left, yellow flowers in the foregroundone, it had to be on the outskirts of a big city. I pulled up Google maps and began the search.

I’d have said that I knew the area pretty well, but I had no recollection of having seen the name of this particular village. Soon I was in the car and heading along the A1000, itself with a long history. Off the beaten track I went, by a pond, between trees and around the bend.

Behold. I knew: I had found my village, the village of Monken Hadley. Of course, I couldn’t call it that, so what about transposing the first letters … Hunken Madley? No … not quite right … another word ending in ‘unken’ … sunken … and it was born: Sunken Madley.

I tell you all of this, so you will understand why what I heard in the dim echoes of the church on that dark afternoon was so startling. I had no prior knowledge or use of that word as a pronoun or of that village.

How?

Captain Tempest-Hicks Monken HadleySo we’re in the dark of the church, sitting in a pew near the back looking up at the big screen, with the rest of the audience. We are hearing the saga of Monken Hadley and the officer whose efforts were instrumental in the achievement of the peace of 1918. Sadly he died just weeks before the end of the World War 1. His name? Charles Tempest-Hicks. The name of Amanda’s magical cat? Tempest.

Shivers ran down my spine, chills of excitement. Was the brave captain my muse? Had he been a cat lover? Was I being inspired? What would you say is the answer to the real-life mystery? Do share your thoughts with me.

Thanks

Regardless, I am overjoyed that Tim motivated me to begin my cozy mystery journey, that he thought of Amanda Cadabra, that Tempest came to me. It is a source of continuing delight that Monken Hadley somehow drew me, that I have met so many kind people there, and that I travel back in time whenever I visit, Through writing this series, I have connected with all the dear readers who help and support and encourage me. I am thrilled to be on the journey of a lifetime, and that you join me in it. Thank you.

What it was all for

This year the sound and light show raised money for the restoration of a precious listed building, the 400-year-old church house, so that it can serve the community as was intended. And believe me, the entire community, from young to old all participated in creating the 525 experience. Seeing them waving happily at us in the closing credits brought a lump to my throat. Proceeds from tickets and donations also went to  to the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice.

If you’re ever passing, do pop into the church of St Mary the Virgin, Monken Hadley. You can be assured a warm welcome and a moving and enchanting experience. It delighted at least one of our American cousins so much that it became the model for a church built in Chappacua, USA.

Next week: an offer and something new for December to help with your Christmas shopping. Want to get to know Tempest? Download your free short story here: Tempest’s First Day. Back soon!

Best wishes,

Holly


PS If you want to start the series:
Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth

Available

on

Amazon

Text free short story, Tempest's first day and photo of half the face of grey cat

New Short Story, and Saturday Night Special

Dear Readers,

This weekend I have for you a new free short story, never before published, only available here. After all, I finished itcozy book and hot drink only a week ago! For those of you who have read the first book in the British humorous cosy paranormal mystery Amanda Cadabra series, this will fill an enigmatic gap.

For brand new readers it introduces the quaint English village of Sunken Madley, asthmatic furniture restorer and covert witch, Amanda, her right-hand cat Tempest, Granny, Grandpa and some notable residents, including Tempest’s Achilles heel, the alluring Natasha.

We first hear of Tempest, the ever-grumpy feline familiar-to-be, at dead of night, on the Cadabra’s workshop bench. Witches Senara and Perran, alias Granny and Grandpa, have just reincarnated the storm cloud of greys with the glaring citrine gaze. He disappears for several hours before returning to meet their 15-year old granddaughter Amanda. But during that missing time, where was he? What was he doing? All is revealed in:

Tempest’s First Day

Cat close up and cover of free cozy paranormal mystery story Tempest's First Day

Subscribers and VIP Readers have been sent their copy. To download the story as either a PDF or a Word doc (just drop me a line for any other format) click on the link below. I do hope that you delight in this cat’s tale. Please let me know what you thought of it. It would be a great pleasure to hear from you.

Meanwhile, here is a Saturday night special of three recommendations for the perfect cosy combo.

Nicole Pyles, blogger, poet, short-story writer and video-creator kindly allowed me to guest post for her here:

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/2019/11/3-suggestions-holly-bell.html

The World of My Imagination header white on blue

At Nicole’s online home, you will find the trio of tips to make your weekend evening. Again, I’d love to hear what you think of them. In The World of My Imagination blog, you will also discover more Saturday Night inspiration, and recommendations of more cosy mysteries. floral painted typewriterIn particular, however, as book lovers, do check out Nicole’s video channel. Here’s a taster of a unique (in my experience so far) art form combining, poetry, visuals and music in Nicole’s moving and breathtakingly beautiful Ode to Books. Turn the sound up. You’ll be happy that you did.

Next weekend I hope to be back with news of the ‘Christmas Book’, a new cover reveal and a special offer for a last-minute seasonal present for you to keep orChristmas gif wrapped in red sparkly paper gift.

Only a month to go before the winter solstice, and the days beginning to lengthen. This celebration, in all its forms, of the return and triumph of light, is what links us together across the globe. Wishing you every happiness in your preparations for your special day.

Holly


PS If you want to start the series:
Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth. First in a new cozy paranormal mystery series

Available

on

Amazon

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