Travel to Sepulchre Street with Martin Edwards
Sepulchre Street with Martin Edwards
Martin Edwards, the KING of golden age crime mysteries invites you to come with him to Sepulchre Street…..
Books have many different starting points. My latest Rachel Savernake mystery began with a title – Sepulchre Street. The phrase appealed to me – not only did it have a suitably Gothic feel, it fitted in with the concept of the series. Each of the Rachel Savernake books takes its title from a location that plays a crucial part in the story: the first three are Gallows Court, Mortmain Hall, and Blackstone Fell. And each of those locations reflect, in some way, classic settings of Golden Age detective fiction.
I knew right away that Sepulchre Street would be a place where Terrible Things Happen and almost immediately I came up with the idea that Jacob Flint, the impetuous young journalist who acts as Rachel’s foil, would find himself in very big trouble as a result of venturing out to Sepulchre Street. The rough outlines of a plot – or one element of a much more complex plot, to be more precise – were forming in my mind.
Rye train station
The next question was simple: where is Sepulchre Street? I had the idea of an obscure, rather creepy place. But what mattered most was that it must be atmospheric. At around this time, I was invited to take part in Rye Arts Festival. I’d visited Rye in the past, and it occurred to me that the ancient Cinque Port, with its cobbled streets and curious little by-ways might be a suitable setting for key scenes of a Rachel Savernake story.
This prompted me to undertake extensive research of the town and its history, and I was lucky to benefit from a good deal of help supplied by the Festival’s Director, John Case. I also ventured further afield to the eerie flatlands of Romney Marsh and soon realised they would be another ideal setting for elements of the elaborate mystery that I had in mind. The relative proximity of Rye and Romney Marsh, despite the fact that they are in different counties (Sussex and Kent respectively) worked well as regards the plot – always a bonus!
Sepulchre House – Lamb House where Henry James lived!
As my idea for the storyline developed, so the ‘look and feel’ of Sepulchre Street began to form distinctly in my mind. It became a short cul-de-sac, with a spooky history and one grand house. This became Sepulchre House, which in the story becomes a ‘bolt-hole’ for a woman who calls herself Kiki de Villiers. Sepulchre House was to an extent inspired by a real life model in Rye, Lamb House (former home of Henry James and E.F. Benson), although there are architectural and other differences.
During the story, a number of people converge on Sepulchre Street on the same evening. Two of them have murder in mind – and the third is Jacob Flint. I found writing those particular scenes one of the most enjoyable pieces of writing I’ve ever undertaken.
Towards the end of the story, I was wondering how to draw together all the different strands of an admittedly complex plot. Specifically, how would Rachel make sure that justice was done? This question nagged me for a while until I realised that the answer was to achieve a sort of artistic unity with the storyline. So the dramatic revelations of just what has been going on all the time are made…in Sepulchre Street. Of course!
Thank you so much Martin! Readers – you HAVE to meet Rachel Savernake!