Tom Harper is returning very soon – just over a month from now – but it’s impossible for me to look ahead to The Leaden Heart without glancing back at The Tin God.
I’m immensely proud of this book, not only for what it is, but the things it spawned. It celebrated real history, women being able to vote and stand as candidates in some local elections, an event that was the first real step on the road to the democracy we understand these days. And Annabelle Harper was at the heart of it, running to be a Poor Law Guardian for the Sheepscar ward. She was one of seven working-class women around the city running to be Guardians.
But there was a man who would do anything to keep women out of politics. Anything at all.
That didn’t stop Annabelle giving speeches – like this one.
The clues the man left at every scene were snippets of folk songs, so Harper consulted a local song collector, a real name named Frank Kidson. Out of this book came this article I wrote on the man:
And, of course, a playlist of music he’d collected that featured in the book.
For once, Annabelle really did take centre stage, even if it was Tom and his men who had to solve the crime. She had to try and be fearless, not easy when someone was trying to kill you.
The book was launched at an exhibition called The Vote Before The Vote. I was incredibly proud to be involved with it, celebrating those Victorian Leeds woman who were working for the vote and women’s rights before the Suffragettes appeared in 1903. I was even more proud that Annabelle had her own board as part of it. From fiction, she’d stepped directly into Leeds history. She’d have been over the moon.
That launch even sparked a film of its own, a glorious mystery from film maker Daisy Cale.
The book was a gift. It came to me in a flash when a historian friend – who actually curated The Vote exhibition – said ‘Why doesn’t Annabelle run for office?’ After that it was all so clear.
I did my only blog tour for the book, and it received some glowing reviews – and even a wonderful review in the Morning Star. These are some snippets or click here to read more.
It left me with a problem, however. How do I top it? Can I top it?
The Leaden Heart is my attempt at doing just that. You’ll be the only ones who can judge whether I succeed. And you can do it soon – even pre-order the book…