November 17, 2023

BLOG TOUR Shadows in Sussex by Emma Dakin

Hi friends! Welcome to my stop on the tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions for Shadows in Sussex by Emma Dakin. Check out my Q & A with the author, learn more about the book, and make sure you enter the giveaway. Make sure you show the other hosts some love as well - the link to the tour schedule is below, and the more you comment the more chances you have to win. 

Shadows in Susssex by Emma Dakin (Tour Schedule)

About the Book

Claire Barclay and her band of tourists are full of enthusiasm for her trip to Sussex and Kent, the beautiful southeastern part of England. A tragic death of a young man the son of the guest house manager sends Claire into comforting mode and makes it more difficult for her provide a bright and care-free holiday. Laura was not surprised at her son’s death as he had been a drug user and she expected he had taken contaminated drugs, a common fate. But the police lab said otherwise. He was murdered. Claire’s fiancé, Detective Inspector Mark Evans, investigates, so Claire is involved and privy to much information. Too much. In spite of her busy life with demanding guests, she discovers the motive for the murder and finds herself in danger.

A fun tour of Sussex with the extra treat for mystery lovers as Emma Dakin ties places to favorite books

—Rhys Bowen (NYT bestselling author of the

Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness series

If you are looking for a cozy crime novel that evokes a wonderful sense of place - look no further. Emma Dakin skilfully weaves a new mystery into a fascinating and informative tour of Southern England featuring heroine and literary tour guide, Claire Barclay, and a host of interesting characters.

—Julie Wassmer, Author of The Whitstable Pearl Mysteries

This engaging story will appeal to traditional mystery-lovers who like their murders set against the authentic backdrop of quaint English villages.

—Clara Benson, USA Today bestselling author of the Angela Marchmont Mysteries

Q & A with the Author

What are four things you can't live without? 

Aside from air, water, food, and shelter? Books, love, humour, fresh air.

Books because they can take me anywhere, teach me many things, satisfy my need for justice and remind me that love is all around.

Love because giving and receiving love make me humour and at peace with myself.

Humour because life is inevitably funny, and I appreciate it.

Fresh air because I feel connected to the world when I am outside in the fresh air. I live near the ocean so the air is usually sparkling—or damp. I’ll take it either way.

What is your favorite television show? 

Vera based on the books of Ann Cleeves

I love Vera’s approach to detecting and her unique personality. Bits of the Newcastle dialect enrich the dialogue. Vera says to a murderer, “Now, pet. You don’t want to cause trouble.” She’s such a wonderful character.

Where do you get your inspiration, information, and ideas for books? 

Like most authors, I get inspiration from my life experiences, from stories I hear from others, from stories I overhear in airports and cafés. My father’s family were story-tellers and I learned from them. When I was a public health nurse, it was the stories people told me about their lives which fascinated me more than the medicine. From my childhood, when I sat by my father surrounded by my siblings and listened to a nightly chapter of Burgess Bedtime Stories, I’ve been fascinated by stories. I have thousands of them in my head. As well as that treasure trove, a stranger might say something that triggers an idea. Then I can’t wait to write it down The inspiration for the series The British Book Tour Mysteries came from a chance meeting with a woman at the Bouchercon International Mystery Conference in New Orleans. I asked her what she did and she said she took groups to Britian to the site of mystery novels. I stared at her, then asked “Can I have that for a plot?”

“Sure,” she said. 

That was inspirational.

Do you write full-time or around another job? 

Full time. I had to stop writing novels when I worked as a university teacher. I couldn’t manage to teach, research and create lesson plans, correct essays and write novels. I had eleven eyars where fiction disappeared from my writing. I’ve been aback at it now for ten years and it’s wonderful.

If you have a full-time job, does it ever play into your writing? 

Jobs I have had in the past do play into my writing: public health nursing and teaching. I believe all our experiences contribute to our writing. When I was working at a job other than writing, I met people; they told me their stories; I reacted and interacted with others and so gained knowledge and experience. It all finds its way into a book eventually.

What three works of art have most influenced your writing? This can be an actual piece of art, a movie, a book, or a video game - whatever makes the most sense for you! 

Anne of Green Gables. That was the first time I realized that others had an imagination like mine. Emily of New Moon (same author, L.M. Montgomery). This book showed me that I could be a writer and that and that writing was a legitimate way of being in the world. My third is a series: The mysteries of Mary Stewart for the delicacy of the descriptions and the tight weaving of plot and setting.

What is your favorite writing snack and/or drink

Coffee. I finally had to substitute decafé coffee as I was drinking so much of it. It’s good to have a snack or drink that isn’t injurious; A friend of mine told me he was afraid to stop smoking because it was so much a part of his writing. 

What was your hardest scene to write and why

The hardest scene to write was the one where Claire sees Laura holding her son. I didn’t get to hold my son after his death and I imagined this scene with my own feelings drenching it. That was difficult, and it is difficult for me to read it.

What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft

Many typos disappeared but essentially the book remained as it was first written, although I did add reflections and words to heighten drama in places. Of course, I checked my research after I wrote the first draft by going to Rye and Canterbury. I had to wait until Covid allowed travel but I did get there. It was a good thing I did. I had the Martello which Google said was at the edge of Rye close by the town when it is three miles across the delta at Rye harbour. I rewrote that bit. Google said there was a police station in Rye. There is, but it is only open on Thursday afternoons. Who knew? I had to check my manuscript to make sure I hadn’t sent Caire there on a Wednesday. Being in Rye gave me a better understanding of how the cobblestones feel to walk on, how the servers in cafés talk to you.. A waitress in The Ship Inn spoke to me in the East Sussex dialect which was so thick I couldn’t understand her. I wrote that problem into the book after I’d been to Rye. 

Aside from writing, what is one thing you do for fun?

 I love my outrigger paddling with my crew of six. We have been paddling together for over ten years and love getting out on the ocean and around the nearby islands. One of our crew is an excellent photographer so we have many pictures of the see lions, seals, eagles, ducks, terns and oystercatchers that live in this area. 

Next book

Storms in the Cotswolds is plotted but needs more work. It is ready for a huge rewrite.

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Check out this excerpt from the book

        Approaching the small town of Rye, I marked the route to Canterbury and the road to Hastings where I’d take my guests later in the week, I didn’t know this area well but had done two quick reconnaissance trips earlier. Jacqueline Winspear set her books near here in the war years. Her descriptions had given me a sense of familiarity with the green land around me, but the miles of delta before the sea surprised me. Rother Manor, our guest hotel, was large, but not, I was sure, large enough to have ever been a manor house. The name was probably applied to the house recently to attract tourists. The common meaning of ‘manor’ was a large house on a huge estate, but sometimes it just meant a large house. Mark told me that his colleagues sometimes called their police district their manor. I ruminated on the application of the word. I tended to do that. I’d not brought guests here before, but it looked ideal, sufficiently old to satisfy the North American appetite for a romantic setting but not so old it was decrepit. Laura Wright, the manager, had seemed organized and experienced. 

I loved trying out new guest hotels and the whole experience of taking a tour to the sites of mystery novels. The tourists shared my itch for mysteries and were usually interested in what I offered. I’d had a career as a teacher of English to executives in many parts of the world. I enjoyed it as I was fascinated by linguistics and the way people use language. Now at forty-eight, I had achieved stability with a reliable partner, my own house and tour business and a legacy from my much-missed step-father. I should be able to feel comfortable, not always expecting a disaster. I admonished myself. This time the tour will go smoothly. This is a beautiful house; you will enjoy it here.

Rother Manor House was a three-storey rambling Victorian and was as close to a gracious house as was possible at the edge of Rye. The grounds were beautiful. Laura's son, Reece Martin, looked after them she’d told me. He was in his late twenties and committed to creating beauty. The owners of the guest house were glad to hire him, Laura had told me, as staff was hard to find. It was unusual to see so much land around a house of this age in a town but it made a picturesque setting for my visitors. Across the street and well below it lay the cricket grounds, still green in the July heat. Beyond the grounds, the salt marsh stretched to the sea. The tourists would love this view.

I pulled my eyes away from the vista and turned into the car park, a graveled area to the left of the entrance. After unloading my small suitcase, knapsack and briefcase from the van, I climbed a few steps to the front door. It was unlocked. I entered into a long hallway and saw a side table with an open guest book and a prominent bell. I called for Laura but there was no answer. I hit the bell. No one came. I hadn’t told her the exact time I’d be here. She was likely nearby. I wandered into the lounge which was off the hallway. A small table held two cups and saucers, sugar and a milk jug and a plate of cake. My guests weren’t arriving until tomorrow. She could have others guests tonight, but I hoped that cake was for me. I dropped my luggage on a chair in the lounge and walked down the hallway to the rear of the house. There was no one in the kitchen. I pushed through the back door and stepped into the garden. The minute I opened the door I heard the keening of a woman in distress, a soft, desperate cry that rose in the air and hung there. There was anguish in every tone. The hairs on my forearms rose and I stood frozen for a moment.

 The wail receded, then rose again. It came from the area at the back of the property. I walked towards a shed. I moved cautiously to the open door and peered in.

Laura was sitting on the floor beside a young man who lay still. His skin on his arms was pale, deadly pale. His head was turned so I just saw his dark hair. He was muscular, wearing a black T-shirt, denim jeans, black trainers. At first, I thought he’d fallen or had a seizure of some sort. Then I saw the Prenoxade kit open and the syringe on the floor nearby. Prenoxade, naloxone, the life-saving remedy for drug poisoning. Tour guides carried it; police carried it; teachers had it handy and, apparently, so did mothers.

About the Author 

Emma Dakin writes a series of mysteries set in Britain. Her protagonist is a tour guide who takes different characters in each book to the sites of mystery novels in the countryside. She appreciates the elegant, people and humor of each area. But in that idyllic country, Claire stumbles on murder. Author Emma Dakin has five books so far in this series with the latest release September 12th 2023. An historical mystery set in Vancouver in 1886 is due out soon. She won a prestigious 2022 Lieutenant Governor’s Community History Award for her non-fiction account of life in the 60s. 





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  1. Those were interesting questions. Thanks for inviting me in.

  2. This sounds like an interesting book and I also like the cover.

    1. The artist, Teresa Hanson, uses a phot I've taken, discusses with me how to compose the cover, then paints it, brings it to me and we discuss how to tweak it a little, then she finishes it. I make a digital copy, send it to Camel Press and they put the text on it.

  3. Happy Friday and Happy Holidays to you and your family. I hope that you have enjoyed your book tour as much as I have enjoyed reading about you and your work throughout the tour. I am looking forward to reading Shadows in Sussex and hope to see more from you in the future

  4. Thank you. It's been a good experience. I hope you take a tour or two with Claire.


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