I’m utterly thrilled to be featuring another author today whom I’ve met in person, Emma Salisbury. Emma and I were at a blogger and author lunch in Edinburgh organised by fellow blogger Joanne Baird and when I heard Emma’s latest novel, One Bad Turn would be published today, 29th June 2016 I had to invite her on to Linda’s Book Bag. One Bad Turn is available in e-book for purchase here.
Emma has kindly provided a brilliant guest blog all about location in her writing.
One Bad Turn
A serial killer is on the loose…
No sooner has Detective Sergeant Kevin Coupland stepped off the plane from a family holiday than he gets the call that a woman’s body has been found on a path beside a recreation park in a smart suburb in Salford. Account Manager Sharon Mathers suffered a brutal blow to the head following a night out with friends from work.
Teamed with DC Ashcroft who has transferred from the Met under a cloud, Coupland struggles to find a motive for the killing when two days later another body is found, this time at the bottom of a footbridge at Salford Station. Could the same person be responsible? While still trying to work out the answer to this Coupland’s personal life spirals into freefall when his daughter Amy introduces him to her new boyfriend – a thug he’d put away for GBH two years before. The relationship puts a strain on the detective’s home life and impacts his judgement at work – putting him under the microscope with the powers that be.
When a third body is found DC Ashcroft makes a startling discovery – the killings are linked to a murder in ’92. Coupland was a probationer back in the nineties – could he be linked in some way to the killer?
Location, location, location.
A Guest Post by Emma Salisbury
So, you’ve got an idea for a novel. The characters in your head take on a life of their own and before you know it you’re asking friends and family to repeat themselves because you’re far too busy tuning into the ‘other’ conversations to notice what’s going on around you. The outline for the plot is taking shape but there’s something significant missing. The setting.
It took me a while to settle on the locations for my two crime fiction series – DS Kevin Coupland, the main protagonist in my police procedural series, patrols the streets of Salford, Greater Manchester, while Davy Johnson, ex jail-bird with a heart of gold in my gangland series pounds the streets of Edinburgh. Yet these weren’t automatic choices.
Probably like most writers the first novel I penned never saw light of day. It was set in the Peak District, where I grew up, the rugged landscape and local superstitions set the scene for a community steeped in secrets. I signed with a literary agent on the back of it – however the first thing she asked me to do was set my novel somewhere else! She already represented Stephen Booth, whose wonderful depictions of the peak district in his novels had kept me up reading through the night for many years, and she didn’t want another crime series based in the same location. For those who haven’t tried changing location in an established story let me tell you it would have been easier to write a new novel from scratch, which is what I ended up doing, as the writing felt clunky, as though I’d cut and paste ‘tower blocks’ for ‘rolling hills’. It just didn’t work. I lived in Scotland yet wasn’t confident about setting my stories there; I didn’t feel I could portray the language with any accuracy, or that I understood the demographic. Little did I know that would be about to change.
I based DS Coupland in Salford because I’d lived there for several years; I’d married into an extended family of three policemen, and their anecdotes, combined with the urban setting provided a perfect backdrop. Salford is a city rich in down to earth northern humour and it doesn’t stand on ceremony for anyone. Fragile Cord was sent to several publishers and one responded that they loved it – but it was a Scottish publisher and they wanted something set in Scotland! This was when I realised you can’t please everyone, and that sometimes you have to have the courage of your own convictions. Besides, I loved Coupland and wasn’t about to change his personality by moving him further up north. Don’t get me wrong, I love Scotland, which is why I went on to develop a series based in Edinburgh, but moving Coupland would have meant changing his language and his back story, and I wasn’t prepared to do that. It was around this time that a friend sent me a news clipping about an author who had self-published on Amazon, stating one of the benefits was that he felt free to write what he liked, and that really appealed. Once Fragile Cord was released on Amazon, followed by A Place of Safety the feedback was amazing – readers took Coupland into their hearts.
Once my sons were school age I started working for a housing association supporting ex-offenders into work. To say it opened my eyes is an understatement, not at the range of crimes committed, for sadly the story was a familiar one – a substance addiction that needed financing – but rather the way they were treated – cases coming to court so long after the offence that even though they’d turned their lives around they lost jobs because they had to take time off to attend hearings. I wanted to capture some of that frustration – so Davy Johnson was born. The setting had to be Edinburgh – it may have a shortbread tin image for visitors, but it is the drug capital of Europe and the police service in Scotland has undergone a major restructure which provides plenty of scope.
In terms of future locations, I love it when my favourite authors send their characters on holiday, so this is something I am considering further down the line, however for the moment both Coupland and Davy have enough to contend with on their own turf!
About Emma Salisbury
Born in Manchester, I started work selling ladies knickers (5 for a pound) on Grey Mare Lane market. This provided a natural springboard for my next role – selling investments for HSBC (very apt of course, as both are inclined to go down as well as up). It was whilst working at the bank that I met my husband David, pursuing him mercilessly until he agreed to remove the restraining order and marry me, producing two wonderful sons.
Married into a family of Salford cops I became fascinated by society’s change in attitude towards the police – and the impact this has on our reaction to crime. This led to the creation of my Salford police procedural series, introducing DS Kevin Coupland.
Following a move to the East Coast of Scotland I worked with socially excluded young men and ex-offenders, helping them find work and a way to get their lives back on track. This provided me with material for my Edinburgh series featuring Davy Johnson.
Most evenings I can be found walking the family dog on the beach near our home in East Lothian.
I love anything fizzy and sparkly, and have been known to eat my body weight in chocolate.