Nicola Upson, Dear Little Corpses
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Nicola Upson, Dear Little Corpses

Nicola Upson, Dear Little Corpses

1. I came to writing fiction by accident. The novels which feature Josephine Tey as their lead character began as a biography of her, but she rolled up the carpet of her private life very successfully, and when things remained hidden, my partner uttered the immortal words ‘For God’s sake, make it up!’ So now they follow Tey’s life and celebrate her work in the context of a murder mystery each time – and I’m so glad I get to write more than one book about that remarkable woman.

2. I’m a very superstitious writer, and I like to be surrounded by things that mean a lot to me: the computer I’ve written all my books on (he’s called Leonard), a pen pot in the shape of a rabbit that I inherited from PD James, a signed copy of Tey’s play, Richard of Bordeaux, and photos of the people I love.

3. I work best in Cornwall, where my partner and I have had a cottage for twenty-one years. We spend at least ten days a month there, and I love walking the coastal path, which is a great way of solving the plot problems that each book throws up. So is weeding! We have a National Trust allotment by the sea, so get plenty of practice. Cornwall has inspired two of the novels in the series so far – Angel With Two Faces and The Dead of Winter.

4. I teach a crime fiction course for the National Centre for Writing, and I love doing that and seeing new writers flourish – but the best advice I’ve ever had is very simple and it came from PD James: ‘Make it the best book you can, dear.’

5. I usually write to music – anything which captures the mood of the scenes I’m writing at the time. Dear Little Corpses was written to a lot of folk music, which seemed to reflect the elegiac tone of the book – Sandy Denny, June Tabor, Pentangle, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, Clannad, Darlingside, and my partner, Mandy Morton.

6. I’m a terrible procrastinator, and it takes me ages to get around to anything, serious or trivial. The only time I’ve ever finished a novel early is when Mandy managed to secure two tickets to Kate Bush’s residency, Before the Dawn, and threatened to sell them if the book wasn’t done. As a thank you, the novel in question is called London Rain, a title taken from a Kate Bush song.

7. I’m a typical Cancerian. I will crawl sideways around anything to avoid a confrontation, and I’m never happier than when I’m at home, by the fire or in the garden with my partner and my cat.

About Dear Little Corpses

It takes a village to bury a child . . .

1 September 1939. As the mass evacuation takes place across Britain, thousands of children leave London for the countryside. But when a little girl vanishes without a trace, the reality of separation becomes more desperate and more deadly for those who love her.

In the chaos and uncertainty of war, Josephine Tey struggles with the prospect of change. As a cloud of suspicion falls across the small Suffolk village she has come to love, the conflict becomes personal, and events take a dark and sinister turn.

Blending a Golden Age mystery with the timeless fears of a child’s abduction, Dear Little Corpses is an atmospheric snapshot of England in the early days of war.

About Nicola Upson

NICOLA UPSON was born in Suffolk and read English at Downing College, Cambridge. Her debut novel, An Expert in Murder, was the first in a series of crime novels whose main character is Josephine Tey, who – along with Agatha Christie – was one of the finest of Britain’s Golden Age crime writers. There have been nine previous books in the series, of which Nine Lessons was shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger in 2018. She lives with her partner in Cambridge and Cornwall.

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