New Setting; New Characters?

Elizabeth Ducie

This week, Elizabeth Ducie tells us about her latest novel and why she’s bringing her writing closer to home.

“Writing has always been a big part of my life. During my career as a technical consultant, I wrote millions of words in the form of audit reports and training modules. I started writing creatively in 2006 and since 2011, I have independently published three collections of short stories, four novels, and a series of books on business skills for writers.

My novels were all based in far-flung places. Well, they say you should write about what you know; and after thirty years travelling the less-developed parts of the world, I had plenty of experiences and settings with which to work. I’ve set my books in Russia and Ukraine; in Southern Africa; and in Latin America. But each of my heroines – all my main protagonists are strong females – has some connection with Devon.

I finished my trilogy of thrillers back in 2018 and took a year off from fiction in order to get the characters and settings out of my head. I spent the year working on my non-fiction series and researching my next fiction project, which was going to be a complex time-slip set in Russia. But half-way through the year, I decided that was far too complicated and what I really wanted to write was a cosy murder mystery, set in the English countryside. I thought that would be much easier (!) and more fun to write. Well, I was correct in one aspect; I certainly had fun.

We moved to Devon fourteen years ago, and living is a small semi-rural community after a lifetime in large towns and cities has been a fascinating experience. There’s always so much going on; so much gossip – once over the garden fence, now on Facebook – and so much to smile about. I’d wanted to write about my new home for a while, but I always assumed I’d have to move house first! Then I started looking at how other writers deal with mixing fact and fiction.

And that’s how Coombesford was born! A fictional village, situated just down the road from Chudleigh, with a central location being the local pub, very loosely based on an establishment not far from here. It allows me to mix real places, places I visit all the time, with fictional characters and situations.

Writers often say their characters tend to take on a life of their own. And how true that is! I was convinced I wanted to move away from the Jones sisters and Francine Matheson. After all, I started writing Counterfeit! in 2012 so they’d been around for 6 years! But it turns out, Charlie Jones grew tired of life in London and moved with her little family back home to Devon, where they’ve taken over running The Falls, the pub at the heart of Coombesford. So readers will be hearing much more about Charlie, Annie and their daughter Suzy as the series develops.

Murder at Mountjoy Manor is a cosy murder mystery and the first in the series of Coombesford Chronicles. Think Midsomer Murders set in the Haldon Hills. It is due for publication in October. But in the meantime, I am recruiting Advance Readers for my launch team. If you fancy getting a free copy to read, and would be willing to give me a hand with the publicity push when we get to publication day, just drop me a line and I’ll add you to the list. The ARCs will be available to download from mid-July onward.”

Elizabeth Ducie

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