A New Beer Mystery: Murder by the Barrel by Lesley Cookman

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When the sleepy village of Steeple Martin announces its first beer festival, the locals are excited. Beer, sun and music, what could possibly go wrong?

Beer, sun and music, what could possibly go wrong? But when an unexpected death shakes the village, it’s up to Libby Sarjeant to solve the puzzle. Was it just another rock star death or is there something more sinister afoot?


Interview

Lesley, welcome to Island Confidential!  Can you tell us a little about the protagonist of Murder by the Barrel? 

Libby Sarjeant is the eponymous protagonist of my series. She is a middle aged, nosy woman who, after the break up of her marriage moved to a village house in Kent (UK) found for her by some friends. She now lives with her partner, Ben Wilde and helps run the Oast Theatre in the village, Steeple Martin.

How alike are you and Libby?  

I think there’s a fair amount of me in Libby – and certainly my nearest and dearest are certain there is!

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

They’ve certainly evolved. Their lives have changed in the same way as my real life friends’ lives have, and my regular readers love them. They can often tell me of a fact about a character when I’ve forgotten it.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean? 

No! Although I have put someone who REALLY annoys me in a book, albeit with a sex-change. Funny thing was, people who read it afterwards who knew the real person recognised her immediately. I hope she didn’t…

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

My village is imaginary, but very much based in fact. It is in a recognisable part of the county, and I have a map of the whole area on my office wall, with all the main roads, villages and the nearest small town, of which I also have a map on my desk! The pictorial map of my village, Steeple Martin, appears in every book and is on my website.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the characters?

I have no idea! This is regularly discussed on my Facebook page, and readers all have their own pictures of the Libby and the rest of the characters, so I would be loathe to upset those visions! I can see them all in my head, and there’s only one who looks remotely like an actor, and that’s Libby’s partner Ben, who looks uncannily like the actor Paul Freeman!

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

Write what you know. Yes, of course, to a degree, but honestly – how many of us crime writers have actually committed a murder? How many authors have been to Alpha Centauri? Or a school for magicians? These days, we can research most things online, or find the resources to do so. And the best advice? Read a lot! Not that I needed telling – I’ve been reading a lot all my life!


About The Author  

Lesley started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she’s been grown up, following a varied career as a model, air stewardess and disc jockey, she’s written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories from Accent Press in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign.

The Libby Sarjeant series is published by Accent Press, who also publish her book, How to Write a Pantomime, with a foreword by Roy Hudd.   Lesley is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association.

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