‘Deadline with Death’ combines three of my passions: my love of castles, my interest in history, and my fascination with time travel. Back in 2018, I began working on the sixth book in the Movie Club Mysteries series, but the story wasn’t flowing. I kept stopping to jot down notes on an entirely different story idea that kept growing and wouldn’t let go. It took me a couple of months to admit defeat, but I eventually got sense and realised that this was the story I needed to write before I returned to Whisper Island for more Movie Club madness.
When I created the setting for the story, I knew I wanted a lot of the action to happen at Dunleagh Castle, the fictional castle that’s a central location in the series. I also knew that I wanted Dunleagh Castle to play a functional role in the present day, similar to Dublin Castle. Dublin Castle isn’t merely a place for tourists to visit. It houses several offices for the Irish Civil Service, as well as some functions of An Garda Síochána, the Irish police service. In fictional Dunleagh Castle, tourists mingle with the staff of the mayor’s office, the museum, and the town’s newspaper, the Dunleagh Chronicle. Castle rooms such as the Great Hall are on show for tourists, but also available for hire by the people of the town. I love the vibrancy and bustle this creates in the castle, and the juxtaposition of its roles in the past and in the present.
I’ll mention more about the history of the Irish War of Independence in the historical background section, but it’s a period of Irish history that interests me greatly. I studied History at university and I love reading history books and historical fiction. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a historical mystery for years, but the idea of a story played out simultaneously in two time periods fascinates me. I enjoy books that include a historical puzzle in a contemporary mystery, and I wanted to play with that concept. Each of the first three books in the Time-Slip series will have a new present-day mystery that will be solved by the end of the book, as well as the continuation of the historical murder mystery that begins in ‘Deadline with Death’.
Time travel—specifically traveling back to the past—has always fascinated me. Many of my favourite childhood books feature this theme: ‘Charlotte Sometimes’ by Penelope Farmer; Alison Uttley’s ‘A Traveller in Time’; and ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ by Philippa Pearce. An adult time travel book I enjoyed was Susanna Kearsley’s ‘The Rose Garden’. On screen time travel gems include the ‘Back to the Future’ film franchise; the American series ‘Timeless’; and the Netflix series ‘Dark’. Getting to write my own twist on time travel has been a blast. I’m looking forward to returning to Dunleagh in both 1919 and 2019 in the second book in the Time-Slip Mysteries series, ’Fatal Front Page’.