The first series of Candy Jar Books’ Lethbridge-Stewart range begins at the end of this month, with an amended line-up that means Sharon Bidwell’s A Very Private Haunting will begin the new run of novels! This will be followed by The Man from Yesterday and The New Unusual.
Bidwell previously wrote the Lethbridge-Stewart short story The Wishing Bazaar (a extended version of which appears in the special edition volume), and has worked alongside range editor, Andy Frankham-Allen, on several projects since 2011, even co-writing a book with him. A Very Private Haunting sees Alistair and Anne visit the Scottish village, Glencross, to help out the son of a old army buddy. Strange things are afoot in the village; a teenage boy is missing, and a country manor appears to be haunted! And what’s with the new abundance of roadkill?
“Andy didn’t leave me with a choice. He’s always dragging me into things. I want to say he ‘invited’ me, but he was very adamantant that I’d write for the series. Which is a compliment, and Andy has a way about him, so one day I just emailed a first draft of the manuscript to him without any warning.”
“It did come out of the blue, but it was a nice surprise. So, I had the book in my files for almost a year before I found a suitable place for it, and then it all came down to finding a way to make it fit the ongoing narrative, tweaking it here and there, and suggestion a few changes to Sharon. In fairness, beyond series continuity, there wasn’t much to do. Sharon has always had a good grasp of story, and knows how to mix good character work with layers of meaning and emotional resonance.”
“I’m not a writer who consciously considers theme in a first draft. It’s something that presents itself to me sometimes as much as three-quarters into a preliminary version. It’s hard to choose a defining one in this book. The book questions the keeping of secrets, outmoded beliefs, what can happen if people never question their convictions. I also wanted to explore human behaviour in a macabre setting. The dictionary defines macabre as: disturbing and horrifying because of involvement with or depiction of death and injury. It seems to fit. One thing I was certain I wanted to incorporate was Edison’s talking dolls. The problem I stumbled into was the ‘why’. I know I wanted to use the doll but a writer cannot simply use a great idea if it doesn’t fit the story. I not only constructed an answer, I formulated one that provided me with a well-rounded end to the book.”
Here’s the blurb for A Very Private Haunting:
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is not a man who likes to leave things unfinished. He is, therefore, at a loss when forced into taking leave after his recent tussle with a ‘shadow creature’, a case that has yet to be fully resolved. Anne Travers is tired of the loss burning in her heart. So when Lethbridge-Stewart is called to Glencross to help the son of an old friend, she insists on going with him.
In Glencross, young Tomas Campbell has gone missing, and his friends band together to uncover the dark secret at the heart of the village. Meanwhile, Arthur Penrose had returned to his ancestral home to find a haunted residence, and a doll with a message.
What connects the doll to the strange sounds that scurry around Penrose Manor, why do the adults of Glencross seem so intent on keeping their children from leaving the village, and what has all this got to do with the ‘shadow creature’? It is up the Lethbridge-Stewart and Anne to find out.
This special edition includes an extended version of Sharon Bidwell’s short story, The Wishing Bazaar.
Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, teases:
“This book has a touch of The Daemons about it, in regards the atmosphere it creates. Perfect reading for a night in front of the fire, with a storm raging outside. It gave me the creeps in places, and I don’t even have a fire to read in front of!”
The suitably spooky cover is provided by the excellent Richard Young, who explains:
“I’ve always wanted to do a cover for a horror type novel. I love the old Hammer horror films so I wanted to do something in that vein… with my own twist.”
All pre-orders of A Very Private Haunting receive a free digital short story, The Comrades by Brian Gallagher; this sees Brigadier Douglas and Captain Bishop working alongside the SAS during the Cold War.
A Very Private Haunting is available for pre-order now, for £8.99 (+ p&p). You can pre-order it individually or as part of the discounted UK bundle for only £26.25 (including postage), saving £9.72, or an international bundle for only £45.00 (including postage), saving £5.97. Or, you can buy it as part of Candy Jar’s yearly subscription offer!