Being the author of a series means constantly living in the future of your books (which, for me, still happens to be the past – I’m very temporally confused). The next Wells & Wong Mystery that you’ll read is Arsenic for Tea, out in the UK and Ireland on 29th January 2015 and available for pre-order now. For me, though, Arsenic for Tea has already happened, and the book I’m currently working on is Daisy and Hazel’s third adventure, First Class Murder.
Murder Most Unladylike is a boarding school murder mystery, Arsenic for Tea is a country house murder mystery, and First Class Murder is a train murder mystery . . . and not just any train. It takes place on a certain rather famous 1930s train, the Orient Express. And that’s the reason why yesterday I took the world’s best author research trip.
No, I didn’t go to Venice. But what I did do is take a five-hour tour of the Kent countryside, departing and arriving from Victoria Station, in Pullman dining carriages that have been restored to their original ridiculous 1930s beauty as part of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. The Orient Express itself would have been blue and cream rather than brown and cream, with three dining carriages to 11 Wagons Lit (sleeping cars), but what we saw was otherwise pretty much what my characters would have experienced. I’m enormously grateful to train manager Jeff Monk, who very kindly responded to my bonkers author questions (‘But would there have been ice cream?’), and to the train staff, who let me take hundreds of photos of window locks and curtains and their uniforms.
We had a completely brilliant time, and I have learned some very important things, such as: 1930s trains have weird suspensions. They bounce. They are also very loud, and when you move through them you have to constantly re-adjust the way you’re standing so that you don’t fall over. I’m now going to go back to my manuscript and add in a lot of people staggering about and not being able to hear each other. Authoring really is an enormous amount of fun.