Hello Friends! It’s Monday, and I know Mondays are tough! If you, like me have spent the last few days at home trying to avoid every other living person on planet earth, I KNOW you are getting some serious cabin fever! I am with you, friends!
Today I am going to shine a spotlight on Lisa Matthews’ DEBUT novel, Death by Curiosity, which is one of my favorite reads this year! If you are into magical realism, witches, cults and enjoy a good mystery with fun characters, you have to pick up this book! Death by Curiosity is the first book in the Armitage Black series, and GOOD NEWS- the sequel will be released next year!!! EEK!
Lisa Matthews is not only an amazing storyteller, she is a lovely person that I always look forward to talking to, so I’m really excited to share my interview with all of you!
Everyone knows that witches aren’t real.
And yet when the sleepy village of Habely is rocked by a series of bizarre murders and James Pettyfer is arrested after being caught whilst disposing of the bodies, he claims that he was made to do it by Elodia Knight – a lady who’s capable of magic and can get into other people’s souls.
Armitage Black is a very relatable, witty protagonist. She is a police typist that will stop at nothing to solve the mystery of the dead bodies that keep appearing in the woods of her sleepy town. Elodia Knight is a local witch with a devious plan, AND a coven of people who worship her, and stop at nothing to see her plan through.
I enjoyed this book, and what I enjoyed most was the witty banter between Armitage and, well everyone. I related to Armitage, she was a very real protagonist that had me laughing out loud several times throughout the book.
I am giving this book a solid 4 stars. It had a strong premise and a fun story.
At some points during the book I felt overwhelmed with detail, and to get through a scene sometimes took paragraphs and paragraphs of detail, which wore me out a bit. The magical realism in the book fell flat for me, but I don’t think that took away from the story.
This is a solid mystery with a great cast of relatable characters, and I will definitely be reading the next installment in the Armitage Black series!
SO, lets talk about your debut novel, “Death by Curiosity”, the first book in the Armitage Black series. I just recently finished it, and it was a fun read! I like the way Armitage’s character developed throughout the book. Where did you get your inspiration for her character?Believe it or not, Armitage was actually inspired by Sherlock Holmes! I have to admit, I’ve never read any of the actual books – not for lack of trying – but I absolutely loved the first Robert Downey Jr film and the modern show starring Benedict Cumberbatch. I remember watching both and thinking how much I’d love to write something like that. I had a vague idea about what I wanted to write for a few years, but it wasn’t until I started working in the Typing Pool for my local Police Force that I realised how Armitage would find a way in to the case – I’m not sure Armitage would’ve had her story told if it wasn’t for that job!
This is your debut novel, which blew my mind, because it was so well written, and so incredibly witty! At times I was laughing out loud! How did writing/publishing your first book change your writing process?Thank you very much! I’m really glad you enjoyed it 🙂 I actually wrote the book about eight years ago now, and this has been its third (and final) rewrite. I think my own life experiences have helped in reshaping Armitage – I’ve grown up a lot since the first version – but I also think it helped to really know the characters. I’ve hand-written three sequels so far, which has allowed more development of the characters, and Armitage & Co have been in my life for so long that I know how each of them would act and react much more now than I did when I first started writing about them.
I loved the supernatural realism in Death by Curiosity, and let’s be honest, witches and cults make fun reading too! Do you live in an area with a lit of witchcraft history, or is that just something you are interested in? What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?Unfortunately, I don’t! The nearest place with a supernatural history is Whitby, which is much more about Dracula than witches. I’ve tried a few stories about witches over the years, but this is the first one that really found its way. One of the things I really enjoyed about writing the book was that I didn’t have to do any research whatsoever – I spent most of my teenage years writing about twins who were the Presidents’ kids, so that took a lot of Googling about High School grades and American politics. Because Habely and the surrounding areas are only based on my own home town and region, and because of the witch element, it was such a breath of fresh air to just get stuck in and write whatever I wanted to.
Let’s be honest here, Armitage is kind of a badass, and so is Elodia Knight! How did you select the names of your characters? I love books that have characters with unique names, and I have always been curious about how authors choose the names of their characters! You should see the list of original names I have in the notebook I first wrote Armitage in! I always wanted Armitage to have a unique name, primarily because who she was inspired by. She was originally going to be called Fallon Blackwood, but I can’t say I was every in love with the name. As soon as I stumbled upon the name Armitage, I knew that was the right choice for her. Elodia Knight was much easier – I wanted something that sounded vaguely witchy, and the name just popped into my head. To this day, I have no idea where I got Elodia from – but I think it suits her down to a T. Hadaway was actually the hardest character to find a name for – I have two long lists of names just for him!
Death by Curiosity is a fast paced, fun mystery and I loved every scene! Was there anything that you chose to edit out of the book? Yes, I took loads out this time. In the previous versions, there was a lot of Armitage arguing with herself about Hadaway, and I realised that that was telling more than showing – so I took all of that out and tried to make it more subtle. I moved a couple of scenes around and took a whole scene out, because it didn’t add anything to the story. Luckily for me, I absolutely love editing 🙂
I would think that the magical realism would be a hard thing to write about in a believable way, but you smashed it! What was the hardest scene in the book to write?The fight scenes are always hard to write; I’m not a natural action writer, but I knew that there had to be some scraps in there. I constantly question myself as well, asking myself if what I’m writing is believable in terms of Police procedure – but where it isn’t, I’d like to go ahead and claim poetic license 🙂
Armitage is getting a sequel soon, and I am SO EXCITED about it! How many books do you predict will be in the series, and can you give us an idea of what Armitage will be up to in the next book?Thank you! I’m really excited too 🙂 there will be ten books in Armitage’s series – the first four are already written, and I’m typing up the second book at every chance I can (although admittedly I’ve been distracted by wedding planning over the last couple of weeks). I’m really nervous about the next one – I know I struggled with the handwritten version, so I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to get it right. I know there’s a lot of waffle in there that needs to come out, so I’m also really excited to see how it turns out. The supernatural realism will continue, but this time it’s a demon instead of a witch. (If it sounds a bit out-there, bear with and all will be revealed.) Hadaway’s got a temporary promotion in this book, and he’s determined that Armitage won’t get any chances to get herself involved in this case. You also get to meet Armitage’s older sister, Coveney, who’ll cause a bit of chaos of her own.
After reading Death by Curiosity, and it being your debut novel, it is clear that you have amazing talent when it comes to storytelling. have you always wanted to be a writer?Thank you, that’s really kind! I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember – I’ve always wanted to see my name on the front cover of a book. I wrote my first short story when I was about seven or eight (in bright red Jokerman font on the first computer we had), and I was writing from being ten – mainly the Presidents’ twins mentioned above, but also a few stories that didn’t get past the first chapter. I came up with plenty of ideas as a teenager that I still remember, and I’m planning to revisit them some day.
What advice would you give the Lisa that is just beginning her writing journey, and have you gotten any good advice from any other authors along the way?The biggest surprise I got with Armitage – and the thing I enjoyed the most when I was handwriting the first draft – was that the story went in a totally different direction than I originally meant it to. So I guess my advice would be to not put pressure on yourself – just put pen to paper and let it flow, and let yourself enjoy it. Also to develop your own cures to Writers’ Block; it’s going to happen, and everyone’s got their own way through it – what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.
And last but not least, the question I ask every author I interview, What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?Oooo, good question! I don’t know if it’s under-appreciated, but I’m the only person I know who’s read it – so I’m going to say Marley & Me. I absolutely love it, and it’s even better than the film – it’s got more stories than those that made it into the movie. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll coo over the pictures. It’s really well-written, and I never get tired of reading it.