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Inspiration: Ms Birdsong Investigates

Cob Web Cottage where Ms Birdsong lives in Ampney Parva

Cob Web Cottage where Ms Birdsong lives in Ampney Parva – her dream home.

I’ve always wanted to write a Crime novel and just over a year ago I knuckled down to it. Ms Birdsong Investigates wafted into my life; a 40 something Ex MI5 Officer who has settled in the rural village of Ampney Parva,  in the Vale of the White Horse, following ‘voluntary’ retirement from the service under somewhat of a cloud.

MI5 where Lavinia Birdsong was an Officer until her forced retirement to Ampney Parva

MI5 where Lavinia Birdsong worked until her forced retirement to Ampney Parva

Lavinia Birdsong loves the good things in life; good wine, the best food, clothes from the best designers, and she likes to dabble in modern technology; but then her life in ‘The Service’ exposed her to every manner of gadget and gizmo.  She indulges in it all lustily, especially her love of Victoria’s Secret underwear, and although the villagers think she is just a rather beautiful unmarried lady of a ‘certain age’, they cannot get a handle on her and what makes her tick.  Her past is a mystery to them – Lavinia never talks about herself, much to the annoyance of the locals.

View across The Vale of The White Horse (c) Jane Risdon 2011

Views across the Vale of The White Horse from White Horse Hill (c) Jane Risdon 2011

She is friendly and will always stop for a chat.  Although she never seems to indulge in actual gossip, she doesn’t miss a thing.  Nothing escapes her naturally, finely honed, inquisitive nature.

Tucked away in rural Oxfordshire she is in hiding from her past; old enemies and others she cannot face again.  To fill her time and to keep her brain active she takes to writing novels, which she bases on the people in the village.  She is published, under another name so as not to attract undue attention.  Little do they know that Ms Birdsong is keeping her hand in; all her skills in surveillance and  investigation are never far from the surface.  Though well controlled.

Lavinia's garden, her pride and joy. (c) Jane Risdon 2010

Lavinia’s garden, her pride and joy. (c) Jane Risdon 2010

Lavinia can hardly contain herself when there is a murder in the village. She makes sure she is in the thick of it, picking up clues, casually chatting to everyone, asking questions and making note of everything she learns.  She cannot help herself, the old juices are flowing and she is going into full intelligence gathering mode.

Cob Web Cottage, rear garden.  Tended by young Ben Oakes. (c) Jane Risdon

Cob Web Cottage, rear garden. Tended by young Ben Oakes. (c) Jane Risdon

Before she can formulate an idea of who the murderer might be, there is another murder and suddenly she comes face to face with someone from her past; someone she has been hiding from and who she never thought she would ever see again.

Locations in Ms Birdsong Investigates,(c)Jane Risdon 2011

Locations in Ms Birdsong Investigates,(c)Jane Risdon 2011

The idea for Ms Birdsong came whilst I was out walking one day, so often the case when I am alone with nature.  I had been recalling the beauty of the Vale and The White Horse and the lovely villages tucked around Uffington,  the site of the White Horse, and how they reminded me of St. Mary Mead, where Miss Marple – the spinster sleuth created by Agatha Christie – lives.

I recalled the village where Dame Agatha lived and is buried; Cholsey, in Oxfordshire – her grave is in St. Mary’s Churchyard there, and before long I was creating Ms Birdsong as I wandered along.

Location in Ms Birdsong Investigates (c) Jane Risdon 2011

Location in Ms Birdsong Investigates (c) Jane Risdon 2011

My sleuth would be a woman of the world, well-travelled and sophisticated, not a mild-mannered elderly woman.  She would have a past, would have had lovers and lived a life full of excitement and danger, and the only reason she ends up in Ampney Parva is because of a botched mission – she was the ‘fall guy;’  forced into early retirement and forced to hide.

Home of characters in Ms Birdsong Investigates (c) Jane Risdon 2010

Home of characters in Ms Birdsong Investigates (c) Jane Risdon 2010

I aim to complete Ms Birdsong early 2013 and then I shall have to decide which form of publishing I want to use, traditional – providing there is a publishing house who will take it – or e-book.  Either way Ms Birdsong Investigates will be available in 2013.

Location in Ms Birdsong Investigates (c) Jane Risdon 2011

Location in Ms Birdsong Investigates (c) Jane Risdon 2011

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Please leave a reply and comment - your input is really appreciated. Thanks, Jane

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