Today I’m delighted to launch the beginning of the Frozen Minds Blog Tour and to kick off the tour, I would like to welcome Cheryl Rees-Price today to talk about her new novel Frozen Minds and fictional detectives.
Welcome Cheryl to the CKT blog.
To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your new novel Frozen Minds?
Frozen Minds is the second book in the DI Winter Meadows series. It centres on a murder in a residential home for adults with learning difficulties. The victim, a seemingly well-liked and respected man, was the supervisor and had worked at the home for many years. Suspicion falls on the residents and the investigation requires sensitivity and understanding to gain the residents trust. The team soon uncover some unscrupulous dealings among the staff as well as a culture of fear. Just when Meadows thinks the case is solved the killer strikes again, and the home, which should be a sanctuary, is no longer safe.
DI Winter Meadows, your main protagonist, is not your stereotypical detective. For anyone who hasn’t read your novels, how would you describe DI Meadows?
DI Meadows was born and raised in a commune. He was home schooled until he was fifteen, then was sent to main stream school when the family moved. He had a tough time with bullies, his name, Winter, and background singling him out from the other teenage boys. Despite this he grew up retaining his principles and treats everyone as equal, he doesn’t see social status, race, class or sex, just people. His need to always try to see the best in people which can sometimes be his downfall, however; he is highly intuitive and has an uncanny gift for finding the truth.
Frozen Minds is the second novel in the DI Winter Meadows series. When you were writing your first novel did you have the idea for a series character in mind?
Yes, although the series I had in mind was for another character. I initially started writing the first book with DI Lester as my protagonist. I created Winter Meadows as a side kick for Lester. As it turned out Meadows was so much more interesting than Lester so I instantly promoted him. Lester still plays small part in the series as Meadows’ boss.
In Frozen Minds the first murder takes place at a home for adults with learning difficulties. I found the portrayal of these characters authentic, how did you go about researching this theme and incorporating it into your characters?
I have a family member who is autistic so was very fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with some of the carers as well as some other young adults who have autism and Asperger’s syndrome. It is a subject close to my heart. There has been reported cases of abuse in residential homes, yet no reports on the wonderful work some of the dedicated carers do. It’s not always an easy job. I wanted to try and portray this in the book.
Despite all the information we have at hand it surprises me that so few have an understanding of mental disabilities. One young man told me he gets called names and even has things thrown at him when he is out shopping. I was appalled listening to his story. The characters in the book are not based on one singular person but a mixture of the people I met. I hope I did them justice in the book and also hope that I managed to raise a little awareness.
Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process; do you plot the story out first or dive right in and see where it takes you? Or a mixture of the two?
I tend to do a lot of preparation before starting on the first draft. I start with creating the cast and backstories then work through the plot. Once the research is complete I put all this information into a file for easy reference. Usually when I start work on the first draft the story veers away from my plan, then I just have to go along with the characters and see where the story takes me.
Who are your favourite fictional detectives and why?
R.D Wingfield’s Inspector Jack Frost is one of my favourite detectives. I’ve read all the books, more than once. Frost is down to earth, a little shabby, and useless with paperwork. He has a wicked sense of humour but can be sensitive and compassionate. Frost doesn’t always stick to the rules but getting results is more important to him than moving up the ranks. He’s certainly a memorable and realistic character.
Anne Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope is another of my favourites. Vera doesn’t appear at first to be a likable character. A bit of a loner, she is short tempered and has little regard for her team’s family life. As the series progresses you get to know the character and witness her devotion to the job as well as some moments of compassion. Again I find this character to be realistic and memorable.
What books would you recommend for the devoted crime reader?
So many books to choose from! I think Tania Carver’s The Creeper is a good one to keep you up half the night turning pages. It certainly plays on your fears.
And finally, are you working on anything at the moment? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?
I’ve just finished writing the third in the DI Meadows series. It’s a little darker than the first two and sees Meadows pushed to the limits in a desperate search for a missing child. That’s about all I can tell you at the moment.
This sounds really intriguing! I would like to say a huge thanks to Cheryl for answering my questions.
Now for the Frozen Minds Blurb:
When a man is found murdered at Bethesda House, a home for adults with learning difficulties, local people start to accuse the home’s residents of being behind the killing. The victim was a manager at the home, and seemingly a respectable and well-liked family man. DI Winter Meadows knows there’s more to the case than meets the eye at first, though. As he and his team investigate, Meadows discovers a culture of fear at the home – and some very sinister dealings going on between the staff. Does the answer to the case lie in the relationships between the staff and the residents – or is there something even more sinister afoot?
Go grab a copy and don’t forget to check out all the other stops on this great blog tour!
To buy this book from Amazon click here.