Sometimes when I tell people about writing Paternoster, they ask how I started to write it, and where the idea came from. And sometimes they ask frankly why I decided to write a crime story set in Cheltenham.
The answer's quite simply - someone asked me to. Or rather, challenged me to.
For a few years I wrote murder mysteries set in the Australian outback. And then I wrote a murder mystery set in England. A friend read the book and asked, "Why don't you ever have a detective?"
Because I don't know where to start with a 'proper' crime book with clues and detectives and red herrings and important things like that. But it got me thinking. Why not give it a try? And why not set it close to home, where it would easy to research locations.
So I did what I always do when I think I've had a bright idea, I set to with a big sheet of flip chart paper and some crayons, and brainstormed everything I could think of about Cheltenham and its history, and then I added in things that didn't happen in Cheltenham but they might have done, until I'd covered the paper.
When I sat back and looked at it, frankly it was all over the place. Ideas and images and snippets of half remembered bits of history all jumbled up together. Time for another cup of coffee and a new marker pen, and I drew lines round bits that might fit together, or that didn't fit together but it would be cool if they did.
I came up with potential plots and scenarios for several novels. But there was one that really grabbed me and a few ideas that I was excited to work with, so I picked those first, grabbed another sheet of flip chart paper and set to again.
At this stage I had no detective, no clue how the two strands of the novel fitted together - the bit in Georgian Cheltenham and the bit in the present - but I wanted to find out. I knew I wanted the novel to be dark and not pull its punches. Murder is murder, after all, and I didn't want to pretty that up. And I wanted male victims because there are too many women getting killed in fiction at the moment, and I wanted a detective who was a bit of a maverick, was brave and opinionated and a little bit damaged.
And I cracked open a new notebook (always have to have a new notebook for each new project - choosing exactly the right one can take hours) and started to write.
I'm absolutely thrilled to see the completed cover for my new novel, Paternoster.
Funnily enough, when I was writing the book, and daydreaming about it being published, I always imagined the cover would be dark with white and red lettering. And a writer friend who read an early draft also commented that she could 'see' the cover - black with stark white lettering. So I was amazed when my publisher, The Mystery Press, sent me a draft cover that almost exactly matched what I'd imagined.
What I like about the cover is it tells you what to expect. That Paternoster is a gritty read. That it doesn't pull its punches. There's no cosy crime here, no genteel murders in chocolate box villages and no dear old ladies knitting and solving crimes.
Instead there's some nasty business going on in ostensibly elegant Cheltenham, with a female detective who can't knit a stitch, but sure knows how to turn a knitting needle into a weapon if she has to.
Kim Fleet lives and works in Cheltenham. Her two cats help the creative process by standing on the delete key.