The Friday Slot - Lynn Shepherd, author
I've just recently reviewed Lynn Shepherd's superb new novel, A Treacherous Likeness, for The Herald, and I enjoyed it so much, I decided to ask Lynn for an interview for a bit more insight into it. It follows the investigations of a nineteenth-century detective, Charles Maddox, who has been asked by the son of the late poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, to stop his mother's step-sister, Claire Clairmont, from selling or making public letters his father may have written to her.
It's a fascinating story partly because so much of it is grounded in the real lives of these real individuals - Percy Shelley and his controlling wife, Jane, spark off the narrative, but an extremely alluring Claire Clairmont and the appropriately enigmatic Mary Shelley help anchor the story, too. As the fictional Maddox proceeds with his investigations, he is drawn into the Shelley story, to the mysterious death of Shelley's first wife, Harriet and the tragic suicide of Mary's half-sister, Fanny Imlay, who reputedly killed herself over unrequited love of Shelley.
Lynn's first novel was Murder at Mansfield Park, published in 2010, and she followed that with Tom All-Alone's (Corsair), which introduced us to her detective, Charles Maddox, by way of Bleak House and The Woman in White. 'Gripping' was the word reviews and academics used to describe it and Joan Smith in the Sunday Times called it a "terrific Victorian mystery". Lynn's vast research, though, shouldn't go without a mention, and it's the same with this new title.
I thought she would be the prefect candidate then, to start off a new series of interviews with writers who have fictionalised real people, to ask about the particular joys and difficulties of this kind of fiction. It's also motivated by self-interest - I've just finished a novel that touches on people the Shelleys knew, too, which should be published at the end of this year. I was curious to know how Lynn had managed the process, and here she is with some wonderful answers to my questions: