Tule Author Q&A: H L Marsay did so much research!

H L Marsay stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the fifth book in the Chief Inspector Shadow Mystery series, A Forgotten Shadow!

Where did you get the inspiration for A Forgotten Shadow?

Usually in a Shadow book, all the action takes place in the city of York. However, in this story, I wanted to delve into the past of John Shadow, so I set the investigation in Kirkdale, the fictional village where he grew up and where his father (also a police officer) was killed in the line of duty. I liked the idea of Shadow solving his current mystery and at the same time discovering the truth about his own past.

I also wanted to incorporate the Ebor Festival, York’s most famous horse racing event and known as ‘the Ascot of the North’, so I made the victim a handsome racehorse trainer.


This is the fifth book in the Chief Inspector Shadow Mystery series. What has it been like following John Shadow and Jimmy Chang throughout the series? 

One of my favourite things about creating these books is writing the dialogue between Shadow and his sergeant, Jimmy Chang. I’ve loved seeing how their relationship has developed. The two of them are total opposites. Jimmy is full of energy and enthusiasm while Shadow is a world weary cynic, yet their different outlooks on life seem to compliment each other when it comes to cracking a case. Over time they have learnt to trust each other and this story even sees Shadow asking Jimmy for advice!


What kind of research did you need to do for this story?

Oh my goodness! Guns, guns and more guns! I came up with the idea of the victim being killed during a shooting party without fully realising how much research this would involve. I spent days and days reading about shotguns, ballistics, different types of pellets and gunshot wounds. My next victim is definitely getting stabbed!


Where and when do you get most of your writing done?

I usually sit at our kitchen table with the laptop open, radio on, dogs sleeping at my feet and my two sons occasionally appearing to forage in the fridge. Late afternoons and early evenings seem to be my most productive time, but if I get a great idea when I’m away from my laptop, I just grab my phone and write myself a quick note.


What are you currently reading?

I recently attended my first book signing event at a local book shop. I had a wonderful time and I got to meet a couple of other Yorkshire-based authors so I’m currently reading their books; A Suitable Demise by Andrew Clark and The Postcard Murder by Paul Worsley QC. I also can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Home Is Where The Body Is by Jody Holford.


About the Author

H L Marsay always loved detective stories and promised herself that one day, she would write one too. She is lucky enough to live in York, a city full of history and mystery. When not writing, the five men in her life keep her busy – two sons, two dogs and one husband.