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I thought long and hard about whether the covid-19 virus would make its mark on the fictional village of Embervale.

The idea of a lockdown mystery appealed to me in some ways. Locked doors would abound, and with many of the residents at home, twitching the curtains, there'd be no shortage of witnesses. Some suspects could hide their identity behind masks, and so on.

But I think that most readers make the imaginary visit to Embervale to escape from the mundane hardships of real life, and I have no desire to drag them, kicking and streaming, back to reality. The mysteries are set in the present day, but to my mind, that doesn't mean they have to be historically accurate – it's enough to get the basics right and to give a general impression of the period in which the stories take place.

In addition, I'd like my stories be to be as timeless as possible. Readers enjoy creating worlds and characters afresh in their own minds, and any attempt to interfere with that process will surely irritate them. So I gloss over as many details as I can, trying to draw a line between painting a vivid picture and spelling things out. I don't mention the ages of the main characters, and I only tend to mention things like eye colour if they seem important, e.g. Alan notices that Dan has the same colour eyes as his sister.

I hope that this answers the question in the title, but if there's anything you'd like me to add, please drop a comment below.

All the best and happy reading,



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