I’m pleased to welcome David Coubrough to the blog. David is co-owner of the Beehive pub and restaurant in Berkshire, which has just been voted one of the best gastro pubs for 2016 by The Telegraph, and has launched a new career as a novelist. His crime novel, Half a Pound of Tuppenny Rice, will be published on 21st April by Peter Owen Publishing. You can find out more about the book below and can order a copy here: Half A Pound of Tuppenny Rice
Peter’s publicist was kind enough to send me a copy of the book which I have just finished so here some thoughts from me. As there is a summary of the story below, I’ll just say briefly that it focusses on Grant and his need to find out what happened when two suspicious deaths occurred during a family holiday 40 years ago. I was initially a little confused as there are lots of characters and lots happening. However, there is a handy list of characters at the beginning of the book and that definitely helped. The Cornwall of this story isn’t the romantic, sunny, peaceful place of many books but is dark, dramatic and brooding. I felt the author really captured a sense of mystery and foreboding. There were plenty of possible suspects among the holiday makers at the hotel and plenty secrets giving them possible motives to murder. The story turns darker as Grant returns to Cornwall and begins his investigations. The present day part of the story was the part I liked best with the author bringing in a bit about Cornish folklore while at the same time creating a feeling of threat. It becomes a bit of page-turner near the end with many of the characters seeming in danger as the secrets of the past begin to come to light.
First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
I am a 60 year old male who has always wanted to write! Time, convention and the need to provide for a large family (four children) has previously prevented me from having the space in my life to write. I reached a point three years ago when I decided my priorities had changed and it was time to go for it; ‘Enjoy yourself its later than you think’ as Jools Holland sings to remind us at the end of his annual New Year’s Eve show.
What inspired you to start writing?
I had my childhood holidays in Cornwall. They ended abruptly in my late teens; mine and several other families had returned every year for six or seven years. I started having a conversation with my imagination, inventing some sinister event (previously undiscussed) that caused their closure. The result is the book, ‘Half a Pound of Tuppenny Rice’.
Tell me about your journey to publication
I spent eighteen months writing it from the beginning of 2013. I had sent it to various literary agents and one of them David Godwin, came back to me very promptly saying how much he had enjoyed it as a story! He suggested improvements and by late 2014 we felt confident to send it to Publishers. In the end, I received an email from Alan Samson, Publisher, Weidenfeld and Nicolson stating ‘the story is full of complications and I thought it was very good.’ However the conclusion was ‘your manuscript is very nearly there’, but it was declined. As a first time writer I felt elated it had merited such serious consideration and the next stop ‘Peter Owen Publishing’ was to prove event better news when Nick Kent, Managing Director, presented me with a contract to sign.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
‘Half a Pound of Tuppenny Rice’ is about a cold case, set in two time zones, 1972 and the present day. Its principal character, Grant Morrison, has been haunted by the case and waits forty years before setting out to solve the crime. In 1972, his and several other families returned to the same holiday destination in St Ives, Cornwall. During that last holiday a hotel night porter is discovered poisoned. Several hotel guests are suspected, including a heart specialist, who is having an affair with Grant’s mother. In the course of his pursuit, Grant discovers there was a second fatality, previously written off as a drunk’s misadventure in the sea. There are sinister forces at work in the present day. Someone or some people do not want Grant to discover the truth. There is a showdown towards the end of the story back in Cornwall. The cast of ’72 are lured back, at least their offspring and what occurs is every bit as disturbing as the events of 1972 that caused each and every family never to return.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The nursery rhyme is both sung and referred to several times in the novel as Grant seeks to make some sense as to who is singing it and what is its significance. The trick is to find the weasel, who is exposed later in the novel by which time Grant already knew.
How do you plan to celebrate/did you celebrate publication day?
The Publishers, Peter Owen Publicists, Ruth Killick PR and myself have a number of events organised, which include a Savoy Hotel London launch, a Home House book signing evening, an Aldeburgh Book Shop signing, a Cornwall launch at the Carbis Bay Hotel, a Castle Hotel (Taunton) Literary lunch and various other events currently in the pipeline.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Yes, it’s working title is ‘Everyone’s Gone Home’ and it’s a sort of sequel, with rather more of an international flavour.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
There are three; ‘A Short Gentleman’ by Jon Canter, ‘Zennor in Darkness’ by Helen Dunmore and ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens.
What are you reading just now?
Re-reading ‘To the Lighthouse’ by Virginia Woolf, March 2016.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
Mainly book, although I enjoyed reading the trilogy ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ on Kindle. Evening and bed are my favourite reading times.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
On Facebook: David Coubrough Author
And on Twitter: @David_Coubrough
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Jude in ‘Jude the Obscure’ forever searching, forever questioning.