Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My full name is Tahnee Anne Georgina Campbell but I write under the pen amne of T.G. Campbell. Most people have difficulty pronouncing/spelling my first name. I therefore thought it would make my readers’ lives easier if I wrote under my initials. I’m thirty-four years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Milton Keynes, a large town located a half hour’s train ride from London. Aside from the three years I was at university in Winchester I’ve lived in Milton Keynes all my life. I was also born in Milton Keynes Hospital during its first year after opening.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I write a series of crime fiction books set in Victorian Era London about a group of amateur detectives called the Bow Street Society.
Prior to becoming an independent author, I worked for a charity that assisted victims and witnesses of crime through the (often times) intimidating process of giving evidence at magistrates and crown court. I’ve also worked for another not-for-profit project that assisted existing and ex-offenders into long term employment or training. Both roles have given me invaluable insight into the human impact of crime and the British Criminal Justice System.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
On the 31st August I released the fourth Bow Street Society mystery, The Case of The Toxic Tonic.
Each civilian member of the Society has been enlisted for a particular skill/area of expertise they possess. These skills and knowledge are derived from their usual occupation and are the means through which each member investigates the cases the Society has been commissioned to solve. Which members are assigned to investigate depends upon the nature of the case and the skills/knowledge required. All members are assigned to cases by the Bow Street Society’s clerk, Miss Rebecca Trent.
When the Bow Street Society is called upon to assist the Women’s International Maybrick Association, it’s assumed the commission will be a short-lived one. Yet, a visit to the Walmsley Hotel in London’s prestigious west end only serves to deepen the Society’s involvement. In an establishment that offers exquisite surroundings, comfortable suites, and death, the Bow Street Society must work alongside Scotland Yard to expose a cold-blooded murderer. Meanwhile, two inspectors secretly work to solve the mystery of not only Miss Rebecca Trent’s past but the creation of the Society itself…
Readers can buy it via Amazon:
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing the first Bow Street Society Mystery, The Case of The Curious Client, way back in 2015. I wanted to write a detective story without a single detective. I love the idea that anyone can become a detective simply by taking advantage of the knowledge and skills they already have from their so-called “mundane” jobs. This was the concept I started with and have continued to work towards with every Bow Street Society mystery since.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I decided to take writing seriously as a business. I’d enjoyed writing and experimenting with crime fiction prior to this but had never imposed “standards” upon myself or my writing. Since creating the Bow Street Society Mystery series, and my business along with it, I’ve worked hard to build a universe, characters, plot, and setting which readers will remember for a long time to come. I always hold myself accountable and try to go that extra mile to give my readers content that is of high quality and relevant to the subject matter of my books and short stories.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Though The Case of The Curious Client was the first book in the Bow Street Society series, it wasn’t the first book I’d ever written. That prize goes to a novella I wrote when I was sixteen years old. Its title was Death of a Kindred and I wrote it as a gift for my best friend’s sixteenth birthday. It was based in a fictional village called Trivial and followed a local journalist, Mr Mungo Lambert as he investigated the murder of his best friend, Tommy. He’s helped along the way by a mysterious, eye-patch wearing stranger, Mr Malcolm James. It was written in the vein of an Agatha Christie mystery and took place in England shortly after the Second World War.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I wanted to link it to the term “Next of Kin”. I then discovered the word “kin” was short for “kindred”, hence the title “Death of a Kindred”. That may, or may not, give you a clue as to the identity of the murderer!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I tend to write my mysteries within the classic “clue puzzle” formula. This in itself is a challenge and harder than one might think at first glance. Throughout the entire process you have to maintain fair play with your reader while simultaneously deceiving them enough so they’ll enjoy the challenge of the mystery you’re putting to them.
I studied English Studies at the University of Winchester and achieved a 2:1 Bachelor of Arts degree. For my final dissertation I wrote about the Cultural and Social Importance of the works of Agatha Christie. My university was unique at the time in that it was the only institution of its kind to include a module on crime fiction. I therefore have some insight into the evolution of crime fiction and its function as a form of reassurance. I’ve also read many of Agatha Christie’s books. The “Classic blueprint” chapter in H.R.F. Keating’s book, Writing Crime Fiction, was what initially sparked my interest in the “clue puzzle” mystery genre, though.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I conduct a great deal of research into the Victorian Era in order to ensure this aspect of every Bow Street Society mystery is as realistic as possible. Topics of research may include: telephones, electricity, locations, and etiquette. I use sources from the era, visit museums and relevant exhibitions, and non-fiction books to do my research with. In addition to ensuring the portrayal of the era is as historically accurate as possible I also carry out research into poisons, scientific methods of detecting poisons in 1896 London, etc. I’ve also researched the history of the Metropolitan Police, its hierarchy, and rules and procedures from the periods prior to and during 1896 (the year in which my books are set).
As far as basing the events on my own life, or that of someone I know: no, the events aren’t realistic in this sense. Some of the characters may have personality traits borrowed from people I know, though!
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I’m fortunate to live so close to London. It means I can travel to the real-life locations I include in my books. This means I can present a more vivid sense of place to the reader. I try to travel to these locations as often as I can. Locations I’ve visited in the past, and subsequently used in my books, are: Bow Street, Kew Gardens, and the Tower of London. I’ve also travelled to museums such as: the Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre, the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret, and the Magic Circle. Finally, I went to the Crime Museum at the London Museum where exhibits from Scotland Yard’s “Black Museum” were on public display for the very first time. I don’t limit myself to travelling to these places either before or during the process of writing my books. I instead visit them whenever the opportunity (and my finances) allow.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I came up with the overall template each book cover in the Bow Street Society mystery series adheres to. I wanted to create something that was distinct and instantly recognisable while scrolling through hundreds and hundreds of thumbnails on Amazon. The Bow Street Society logo was drawn by Heather Curtis. In the centre of each Bow Street Society book cover is an illustration drawn by freelance illustrator and artist, Peter Spells. Once he has created the illustration, I then put the cover together within the template.
Readers can see more of Peter’s work here: https://www.peterspells.co.uk/
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are several messages throughout the series I’d like the reader the grasp. One being the fact there were strong women in the Victorian Era who were intelligent, determined, and, yes, unconventional. In The Case of The Toxic Tonic, the majority of the Bow Street Society members assigned to investigate the case are women. This wasn’t done intentionally. Instead, these characters were included in the book because they possessed the knowledge and skills required to solve the crime. Their gender was incidental.
Then, of course, there is Miss Rebecca Trent, the clerk of the Bow Street Society. She is the driving force behind the group. She’s the only one who knows the identities of all the Bow Street Society members. She’s also responsible for listening to the cases of potential clients and for making the decision as to whether or not the group will accept the commission. She also recruits new members and enforces the rules.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Agatha Christie has been the biggest influence on my work. Her mastery of the “clue puzzle” mystery is something I’ve always admired and strived to achieve myself. She’s therefore my favourite writer.
With regards to new authors: John Bainbridge is an excellent Victorian crime and thriller writer who, I feel, doesn’t get the attention he deserves. He writes the William Quest series of books.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My very good friend, Karen McDonald. She’s supported me unconditionally from the very beginning of my journey to introduce the Bow Street Society to the world. She beta reads for me, listens to my late-night rants, and has endless patience when it comes to me being insecure about my writing. She’s been a great support. I don’t think I would’ve reached the point I am at today if it wasn’t for her.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Definitely. This brings me back to my earlier answer about taking myself and my writing more seriously. My mantra is this: how can I expect readers to make the effort to read my books if I can’t make the effort to give them high quality content?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not in my latest book. I would “tidy-up” The Case of The Curious Client if I had to do any of the books again. This is just the perfectionist side of me trying to escape though, I think.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learn many things with every Bow Street Society mystery I write. Whilst doing the research for The Case of The Toxic Tonic I discovered some Victorian Era hotels had “hot air” pipes which ran along the corridors and into guests’ rooms. These were intended to maintain comfortable temperatures. I’ve also discovered how Victorian Era doctors detected aconite poisons and the scandalous reputation of massages.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Though Miss Rebecca Trent is a pivotal and vital character within the Bow Street Society books, I write each mystery from the perspective that the Bow Street Society itself is the main character. I’ve therefore thought about which actors would play which characters. I would like Jerome Flynn to play the character of Inspector John Conway from Scotland Yard, and Marc Warren to play the part of bumbling Bow Street Society member and journalist, Joseph Maxwell.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Write what you believe in and believe in what you write.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Yes. If they subscribe to my free monthly newsletter, the Gaslight Gazette, they will be given an exclusive first look at brand new Bow Street Society Casebook short stories. These stories feature quirky problems which aren’t necessarily related to a crime. They also don’t include any murders. In addition to these short stories, subscribers will also receive news about upcoming book signing events I’ll be attending (I’m planning to attend several across the country next year), competitions exclusively for subscribers, sneak peeks at future releases, and the chance to read previous drafts/deleted scenes from previous books.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Abberton House by Debbie Ioanna.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It was a Ladybird book about a tramp who tried to convince an old woman he could get soup from a stone. I can’t remember the title of it though!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The song “You Must Love Me” from the musical “Evita” makes me cry without fail. I’ve seen the film version many times but I always end up with tears streaming down my face.
The TV programs “QI” and “Would I Lie to You?” always make me life as they have silly humour which I find funny.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
You might be thinking I’m going to say Agatha Christie for this one but no. I would love to meet her and talk about how she constructed her mysteries etc. At the moment though, I’d be more interested in meeting Inspector Jack Whicher. He was a Scotland Yard detective who investigated the Road Hill House murder case (made famous by Kate Summerscale’s bestselling book, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher). I’d love to ask him what it’s like being a Scotland Yard detective and what his life is like outside of his job.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Writing, research for my writing, and promoting my writing take up a lot of my time. I enjoy reading, watching top ten list videos on YouTube, and generally spending time with friends and family.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
My all-time favourite TV show is Ripper Street. It’s so well done and so underrated. I’d recommend anyone to check it out.
With regards to films, I enjoy watching obscure black and white crime movies from the ’30s, ’40’s and ’50’s. Humphrey Bogart is my all-time favourite actor.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I like most food. I suppose my favourite would have to be chocolate, though. My favourite colours are red and purple. I enjoy listening to a wide variety of music. I tend to listen to classical music/movie soundtracks whilst I’m writing though. Otherwise I find myself singing along to the music instead of writing!
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I like the idea of becoming a YouTuber. My videos would focus on true crime, the Victorian Era or movie trivia.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Probably trying to finish the Bow Street Society mystery series of books!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
This isn’t something I’ve spent much time thinking about so I have no idea!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Readers can find full details of the Bow Street Society books and short story collections on my website: www.bowstreetsociety.com. There are blurbs, reader reviews, and links to each book’s product page on Amazon. Details about how to subscribe to my free monthly newsletter, the Gaslight Gazette are also on the website. Future book signing events, interviews, and my monthly blog can also be found there.
Amazon Author Page UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/T.G.-Campbell/e/B01HV5P1XM