Author Interview: Malcolm Noble
I would like to introduce Author Malcolm Noble, the winner of the BRAG Medallion for his book, “Peggy Pinch.”
Read the entire interview at:
Thanks for including me in your blog, Stephanie. It certainly needs to be a regular stop for anyone interested in the world of books. You have a knack for interviewing authors who have something to say, so I guess I feel a little out of place!
Malcolm, thank you for this lovely interview and my apologies for the delay. Please tell me about your book, “Peggy Pinch.”
It’s a murder story set in an English village at the time of the General Strike. Peggy Pinch, the policeman’s wife, knows that any investigation by Scotland Yard will uncover village scandals that will discredit her husband, so she sets out to solve the murder herself. It’s my favourite.
What inspired you to write this story?
I had already published eight Timberdick Mysteries and I wanted to break out a little. However, I felt a different book would disappoint the readers who had been with me from the beginning, so I started out by writing a back story for one of the minor Timberdick characters (Boy Berkeley in the book). However, Peggy’s character quickly became so strong and developed so unexpectedly that she soon grabbed my enthusiasm. The book became hers.
Initially, I wanted to set the story in the Hampshire village where I grew up (Stubbington) but that didn’t work out because I kept picturing the book’s location on a hillside with a stream at the bottom of the village.
What is the most challenging when it comes to writing novels set in the early 1900’s?
Peggy Pinch is set in 1926 so it’s on the margins of being a historical novel and the challenge for all historical fiction is use the research properly. The story and the characters come first. Research should do no more than underpin them. Your characters and story should never be built around the research. Someone once told me that if I used more than one tenth of any research, I was using too much. Even that 10% needs to used carefully. In Peggy Pinch, many of the episodes rely on reminisces told to me by my grandparents (who died in the 1960s). My grandmother once told me about a young woman who insisted that sexual intercourse couldn’t lead to pregnancy. I didn’t look for an opportunity to include that confusion but when I needed to show the naivety of an appropriate character, the story came to hand. But I would never change a personality to suit the anecdote.
I like to think that I’m as careful as I can be about getting little details right but that doesn’t stop me making howlers. In The Case of the Dirty Verger I allowed the characters to drink tea from paper cups on Waterloo Station in 1947. I could kick myself, because I know that crockery was used well into the 1950s. I simply wasn’t paying attention. My books do produce some lovely debate about nostalgia, and I always join in. I am still arguing (light-heartedly) with one reader about how many brands of king size cigarettes were available in the UK in 1963.
My comments show how important it is for me to keep notebooks with amusing anecdotes and curiosities.