GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
(The County Guides Book 3)
(The County Guides Book 3)
by Ian Sansom
Westmorland Alone is the third book in The County Guides series by Ian Sansom. Also available: The Norfolk Mystery and Death in Devon.
Westmorland Alone is currently on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Welcome to Westmorland. Perhaps the most scenic county in England! Home of the poets! Land of the great artists! District of the Great lakes! And the scene of a mysterious crime ...
Swanton Morley, the People's Professor, once again sets off in his Lagonda to continue his history of England, The County Guides.
Stranded in the market town of Appleby after a tragic rail crash, Morley, his daughter Miriam and his assistant, Stephen Sefton, find themselves drawn into a world of country fairs, gypsy lore and Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling. When a woman's body is discovered at an archaeological dig, for Morley there's only one possible question: could it be murder?
Join Morley, Miriam and Sefton as they journey along the Great North road and the Settle-Carlisle Line into the dark heart of 1930s England.
It was the most violent collision. There was a moment’s shudder and then a kind of cracking before the great spasm of movement and noise began. I fell forward and struck my head on the luggage rack. I was momentarily stunned and knocked unconscious. When I came to I found we were all tilted together into a corner of the carriage – me, the mother and the baby. Our coach seemed to have tipped to the right, off the tracks, and become wedged against an embankment. What were once the sturdy walls of the carriage were now buckled and torn like the flimsiest material: the wood was splintered, the cloth of the carriage seats split, everything was broken. I remember I shook my head once, twice, three times: it was difficult to make sense of what had happened, the shock was so great. The first thing I recognised was that the mother and baby were both crying loudly – though thank goodness they appeared to be unharmed – and that the carriage was shuddering all around us, shaking and groaning as if it were wounded.
‘Are you OK?’ I said.
The woman continued crying. Her face was streaked with tears.
‘Are you OK?’ I repeated.
Again, she simply sobbed, the baby wailing with her.
‘We must remain calm,’ I said, as loudly and authoritatively as I could manage, above the sounds, trying to reassure both them and myself, willing them to be quiet.
‘Where’s Lucy?’ she said.
Where was Lucy?
I stood up, still rather disorientated and confused.
‘I don’t know—’ I began.
‘You have to get us out!’ said the woman, between sobs.
‘I have to find Lucy.’
‘OK,’ I said. I was still gathering my thoughts, trying to work out what to do.
‘GET US OUT!’ yelled the woman, suddenly frantic.
‘I have to find my daughter! You need to do something.’
I didn’t know what to do.
‘You need to do something!’ yelled the woman again.
The carriage continued to rock and sway all around us; clearly, we had to get out.
I looked around: the window was open to darkness and the tracks beneath us.
‘What’s under there?’ cried the woman. ‘Is Lucy under there? Lucy! Lucy!’ She did not wait for a response – she was hysterical. ‘Lucy! Lucy! Lucy!’
‘Look!’ I said. ‘You just have to let me check that everything is safe.’ I was worried that Lucy might be trapped beneath our carriage.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"Beautifully crafted by Sansom, Professor Morley promises to become a little gem of English crime writing; sample him now." ~ Daily Mail
"This is the third in the Counties of England series and is the best of the three so far. The train crash is extremely vivid in its description and the reactions of the people are well considered." ~ Helen
"Fast and entertaining read in summer heat." ~ Toto
"A third outing for the eccentric trio, this time involving a trip to Westmorland, a fatal train crash, a suspicious death and various other adventures (oh, and Stephen has possibly killed someone just before leaving London). Deft capturing of the late 1930s, the autodidact polymath and the prejudices of that time (and, it seems, this time too). On to Essex!" ~ Helen
"Oh I'm so glad Swanton Morley, Miriam and Stephen Sefton are back in the Lagonda and this time up to the Lake District. Only problem is I read it in one big greedy gulp and now I have to wait for the delights that Essex has to offer." ~ Stella
Guest Post by the Author
The Story Behind the Stories
‘You’re doing what?’
‘I’m writing a series of novels set in all of the historic counties of England.’
‘That’s what I thought you said. Just remind me - how many historic counties are there?’
‘Aha, yes, well, good question! Strictly speaking I think there are 39 historic counties, though if you divide Yorkshire into the three Ridings and then add the City of London, and throw in the bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey that makes ...’
‘Well, I’ll probably combine Jersey and Guernsey.’
‘Uh-huh. 43 or 44.’
‘You are seriously proposing writing a series of 43 [expletive deleted] novels, each one set in a different English county?’
‘That’s right. And then once I’ve done those I can move on to Scotland, Wales and Ireland, which would make - ’
It is surely a testament to the sheer optimism and utter professionalism of my publishers that my editor did not simply slam down the phone at this point in our conversation. Indeed, not only did he not slam down the phone - he has even allowed me to begin. Westmorland Alone is book number 3 in my new series of 43 - or maybe 44 - projected novels, The County Guides, in which my intrepid heroes, the People’s Professor Swanton Morley, his daughter Miriam and his assistant Stephen Sefton set off in their Lagonda to tour the England of the 1930s and to seek out adventure and mischief wherever they may.
It is, admittedly, a bit of an undertaking. I’m nearly 50 years old. I have a full-time job and I currently average about a book a year. So if I continue in my current habits, writing a book a year, I won’t be be finished until I’m in my 90s. But if I can perhaps do two a year, or three even. If I can just stay up a little later, or get up a littler earlier ...
I know, I know it sounds unrealistic. I know it sounds ludicrous. But in the end I suppose I want the books to add up to something - something more than themselves, a testament to the massive, ungovernable, horrible, messy excess of existence. Isn’t this what all artists want to do? What all of us want to do? A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, after all, or what’s a heaven for?
I’d love to say more but you’ll excuse me - I have another 40 books to write.
About the Author
Ian Sansom is the author of the Mobile Library Mystery Series. As of 2016, he has written three books in a series that will comprise a projected forty-four novels.
He is a frequent contributor to, and critic for, The Guardian and the London Review of Books.
He studied at both Oxford and Cambridge, where he was a fellow of Emmanuel College. He is a professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick and teaches in its Writing Program.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three ebook copies of Westmorland Alone by Ian Sansom.