Friday, August 26, 2016

Lesley Cookman - An Author Interview at the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Mystery Author Lesley Cookman. She is the author of the #1 Bestseller in Amazon's British Detectives!, Libby Sarjeant series.



Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Lesley Cookman
Author's Blog: Lesley Cookman
Twitter: @LesleyCookman
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Amazon Author Profile



Author Description:
Lesley started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many Woolworth's exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she's been grown up, following a varied career as a model, air stewardess and disc jockey, she's written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories from Accent Press in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign. The Libby Sarjeant series is published by Accent Press, who also publish her book, How to Write a Pantomime, with a foreword by Roy Hudd. Lesley is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers' Association.

Lesley's pantomimes are published by Jasper Publishing.


SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Murder Dancing. What do you have on the drawing board next? Will it be another Libby Sarjeant novel or an Alexandrians novel. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

The next book to come out will be Murder On The Run, the 17th in the Libby Sarjeant series, followed by the second in The Alexandrians series, which is as yet untitled and should be out in time for Christmas.

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? How much has it changed your book launch process?

My publisher put me on Facebook and Twitter in the early days of both. I didn’t use Facebook very much at first, but Twitter was excellent. I made friends and readers, and even got bookings for talks and signings. My income stream went up as the ebook revolution gained pace, but that has levelled out now, and I find Twitter no longer so useful. It seems full of people posting “Buy My Book”, and I don’t like it! I have someone who does lovely posters for me and promotes both my series, but I do very little myself. I use Facebook more now, although it’s more for my real life friends and family, although I do a little promo there. I have an author page, maintained by my publishers, but I don’t think that or Twitter have a marked effect on my sales these days. I don’t have online book launches.

Do you do any book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I no longer do signings, along with most of my author friends. We got very fed up with sitting in bookshops and being asked the way to the Ladies’ Room, or the cookery section! I do the occasional talk, few fewer now than I used to – the market has become crowded with authors only too keen to tell others about a) their books and b) how to write one! I am appearing next month (May) at my local literature festival, WhitLit, in conversation with another crime writer, Linda Regan.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

My covers are created by my publishers. I have very little input these days. I am “A Brand”, and the covers reflect that.

You have a great book trailer showcasing your series. (Click link.) It looks very professional. Do you know how much impact it has had on your book’s success? Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailer?

I have no idea how much of an impact the trailers have had – again, my publisher creates, them, not me!

Several of your novels have been converted into audio books. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience for you? Do you recommend new authors going this route to get more exposure?

In the early days I knew more about the audio and large print books than I do now. I get messages from people who like them, especially if a current book hasn’t yet been converted to audio, when they demand that it will be. I honestly can’t recommend this or any other publishing decision to other authors, as I am not involved with any of the decisions. I am an old fasioned, traditionally published author who leaves it all to my publisher!

Besides the Romantic Novelists' Association, what other writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

The Crime Writers’ Association and the Society of Authors. And do they help? The Society of Authors is always on hand for checking contracts and can be a powerful voice in influencing government decisions, but I belong to the others because many of my friends, do! Not really a valid reason.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

My books have only been given away on blog tours organised by other people! I know that very, very occasionally my publishers offer the first in the Libby Sarjeant series free as a taster. Again, I have no idea if this has a positive effect. It does seem to have garnered negative reviews on occasion!

Living in the UK creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation?

I live and work in the UK and always have done. I’m English to the core, and have absolutely no idea if this creates a unique situation – it is the situation I’m used to. I do look with envy on my fellow cosy authors in the US, as they seem to have a far bigger following than we do here. Marketing – such as I do it – probably helps spread the word overseas, to the US, Canada and Australia in particular, but again, my publisher handles that.



Author's Book List
Murder Dancing - Libby Sarjeant murder mystery series - 16
Max Tobin brings his all-male dance company to Steeple Martin, with his new ballet Pendle, based on the infamous Pendle Witch Trials, due to be performed at the Oast Theatre. There have been unpleasant incidents during rehearsals in London, and Max asks Libby Sarjeant and her friend Fran Wolfe to look into them. To everyone’s surprise, the seriousness of the incidents escalates until, inevitably, someone is murdered.

While the police look into the murder, Libby and Fran wonder why someone seemed so set against the ballet. Were occult forces at work, or was there a more worldly, personal motive?


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Murder in the Blood - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 15
Libby Sarjeant and friends are taking a well-earned holiday at a village on the Turkish coast – but despite their best intentions it seems that murder has even followed them there.

When out on a boat trip they discover a body, but at first it has nothing to do with them, for once … until they find out that the deceased was English – and so are the suspects.


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Murder Out of Tune - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 14
A member of a local ukulele group is found dead in Steeple Martin's churchyard. Libby's first reaction is relief that the victim isn't anyone she knows. She and the usual suspects have other things to occupy them as they are gearing up for a Christmas concert and pantomime in the Oast Theatre but when Libby's cousin gets romantically involved with a man in whom the police are taking an interest, she can't help asking a few questions – and getting into trouble…


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Murder in a Different Place - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 13
In this, the thirteenth book in the Libby Sarjeant murder mystery series, Libby and the gang visit the Isle of Wight for the funeral of an old friend. For once there is nothing suspicious about the death, but their invitation to the funeral comes from elderly cousins who do have an unexplained death in the family. As her best friend Harry seems to be involved somehow, Libby is determined to ignore the growing reluctance of the cousins to help as she investigates.


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Murder in the Dark - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 12
An unidentified woman’s body is found in a remote garden in Kent. With the owners not in residence, the only people with legitimate access are the caretaker, Johnny, and landscape gardeners Adam Sarjeant and his employer, Mog.

Afraid of her son falling under suspicion, Libby Sarjeant, with her friend Fran, are determined to find the murderer, with or without the assistance of the police in the person of Chief Detective Inspector Ian Connell.


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Murder in the Monastery - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 11
Libby Sarjeant is invited to look into the provenance of a jewelled Anglo-Saxon reliquary which has appeared on a website. The nuns at St Eldreda’s Abbey are curious, as it apparently contains a relic of St Eldreda herself. Libby’s friend Peter obtains permission to mount a play based on St Eldreda’s story in the ruins of the original monastery called, naturally, Murder In The Monastery. And then, inevitably, a real body is discovered, and Libby and her friend Fran find out that this is not the first.


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Murder by Magic - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 10
Libby Sarjeant and her friend Fran Wolfe are asked to look into the sudden and unexplained death of a devoted churchgoer. The police appear to have lost interest, but the villagers are certain that their new lady vicar has something to do with it! But if it is murder, how was it done?


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Murder at the Manor - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 9
Steeple Martin sleuth Libby Sarjeant and her partner Ben are hosting a writers’ weekend reunion at Ben’s family home, The Manor, when a body is discovered in the grounds.

Even though Scotland Yard are on the case, Libby feels impelled to investigate a murder on her home patch. Their enquiries take Libby and her psychic investigator friend Fran Castle to historic Dorset, where they uncover a complex web of writers’ jealousies that has further tragic consequences before Libby uses all her wiles to get at the truth.


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Murder to Music - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 8
In her eighth case, amateur detective Libby Sarjeant and her psychic investigator friend Fran Castle are invited to look into a house that is reputedly haunted. For once, Libby can be as nosy as she likes without being accused of getting in the way of a police investigation.

However, when they unearth 50-year-old graves in the gardens, the police are bound to cramp their style. Someone alive today doesn’t want them interfering either, and their lives are in danger as they try to unravel the mystery of a ghost who plays Debussy.


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Murder Imperfect - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 7
When sleuth-come-pantomime director Libby Serjeant learns of threatening letters sent to Cy, a friend of her friend Harry, at first she assumes it’s just anti-gay prejudice.

With her partner Ben having moved in to her cottage, and son Adam also at home nursing a broken leg, as well as having the panto to cope with, Libby is at first reluctant to get involved. However, when murder follows, Libby and her psychic investigator friend Fran are drawn into another investigation in which the shadows of the past have a dramatic effect on the present, with dangerous consequences for them both.


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Murder in the Green - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 6
Amateur sleuth Libby Sarjeant and her psychic investigator friend Fran become involved when a member of a local Morris Dancing side is found dead on May Day. Driven in part by her interest in Morris lore, Libby leaves her comfort zone in Kent and travels to Cornwall where she sees the darker side of Morris and its links to Satanism.

Back home in Kent, she and Fran begin to unravel the facts behind the murder and the cleverness of a completely unsuspected killer.


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Murder in Bloom - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 5
Middle-aged artist-come-investigator Libby Sarjeant’s son Adam has uncovered a body with his rotovator in Creekmarsh Place, where he is working as a gardener for TV personality Lewis Osbourne-Walker.

The police seem to think there is no connection with the current owner but Libby, naturally, can’t just leave it at that. With her psychic friend Fran’s mind on other things, Libby has to go it alone.

A murder in London inspires the police to dig deeper and Libby, determined to help her new friend Lewis, stirs up more mud than Adam’s rotovator.


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Murder by the Sea - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 4
Psychic investigator Fran Castle gets a request from the police to help when a body is discovered on a rocky island in the middle of Nethergate Bay. Libby Sarjeant, Fran’s sleuthing partner, is on the case too, as they delve into the shameful world of the exploitation of illegal immigrants.

Libby’s partner Ben is concerned that her occasionally over-enthusiastic investigations might get her into trouble: his worries seem justified as Libby and Fran get on the trail of a war-time fascist spy and they become a nuisance to a killer.


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Murder in Midwinter - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 3
Kent village sleuth Libby Sarjeant and her psychic investigator friend Fran Castle befriend Bella Morleigh, who has inherited a derelict theatre. When an unknown body is discovered inside the theatre, they feel duty bound to help with the investigation.

Although Libby is rather distracted by the preparations for her friends’ Civil Partnership ceremony, she’s getting the hang of using a computer to dig for information. However, when a second body is found it is one of Fran’s psychic moments that makes the connection between the deaths; a connection with startling results.


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Murder at the Laurels - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Book 2
Steeple Martin amateur detective Libby Sarjeant’s friend, and sleuthing partner, psychic investigator Fran Castle, suspects that there is something suspicious about the death of her aunt in a nursing home. When Fran’s long-lost relatives turn up and seem either unconcerned or obstructive, Libby and Fran are sure something is wrong, particularly as the will is missing.

As usual Libby needs little persuasion to start investigating, even if she doesn’t see herself as Miss Marple. They discover surprising links to Fran’s own past but, as the murders multiply and the police take over, can the amateur sleuths keep on the trail?


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Murder in Steeple Martin - Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery
Artist and ex-actress Libby Sarjeant is busy directing a play for the opening of a new theatre in her village when one of her cast is found murdered. The play, written by her friend Peter, is based on real events in his family, disturbing and mysterious, which took place in the village during the last war.

As the investigation into the murder begins to uncover a tangled web of relationships in the village, it seems that the events dramatised in the play still cast a long shadow, dark enough to inspire murder.

Libby’s natural nosiness soon leads her into the thick of the investigation, but is she too close to Peter’s family, and in particular his cousin Ben, to be able to recognise the murderer?


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Murder at Mallowan Manor - A Libby Sarjeant Short Story
It's the run-up to Christmas, Libby Sarjeant and her friend Fran have been invited to stay at grand old Mallowan Manor to investigate some mysterious rumours which are preventing the owner from selling up. A weird cast of characters, including an ageing actress and an enigmatic butler, makes Libby feel like she's ended up in an Agatha Christie plot …


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Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS Author's Spotlight
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Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.