Tell us about Blackheath Séance Parlour.
The book is about two women who own a sweetshop that’s failing so they pack it in and open a séance parlour with a medium named Netta Walters. The shop becomes a huge success but it causes a rift between the sisters and between them, in different ways, they terrorise Blackheath until it’s decided they have to be stopped.
I finished reading the book recently and loved the strong female characters and how you hinted at their backstory. Without exposing too much, who was your favourite to develop?
Maggie. Maggie just wrote herself. The moment she’d walk into a scene I could pretty much lean back and watch what happened. Sometimes I didn’t know what she was going to do myself. I could barely type fast enough to keep up with her.
Were the characters based on anyone in real life?
No one in particular but there are elements of many people that sometimes get pulled in from the real world to make up a character.
The book gives a lot of detail about Blackheath and how it was developing in the 1800s showing you have done your research. Is there anything in its history that surprised you?
A lot of it surprised me. Everywhere you turn in Blackheath there is some form of impressive history attached to it; weather forecasting was invented here, golf was introduced to England, the Rules of Rugby decided in the Princess Of Wales pub. The great ship builders and slave traders lived here along with a suspect in the Jack the Ripper case. Great uprisings and royal tea parties were held on the heath and Dick Turpin terrorised the heath at night. And those are just a few examples of hundreds. When I began researching it became very clear that if I didn’t stop adding bits of history it was going to be one enormous book.
What is your favourite fact about Blackheath?
That beneath it are caves and caverns. I really want to get inside them. I’m working on their history at the moment for a short novella.
What are you currently reading?
The Shining. It’s the first book I’ve read after seeing a film version and I’ve seen the film a dozen times. I can’t put it down. I am reading it as I walk to work, when I go to bed, when I wake. It’s a very atmospheric and creepy read.
Can we look forward to more adventures from the Cloak Sisters?
There is one little fact I need to put into a future novel, as a surprise, but other than that no, their story is told.
Please check out Alan’s book on the link below, and go to www.blackheathseanceparlour.com