Random Fact Time – Her Deadly Friend
Writing a novel can send the author down rabbit holes of research. For the last month I’ve been tweeting a daily random fact I learnt while researching my forthcoming crime suspense story Her Deadly Friend. I’m bringing the posts to a close with this blog summary of all the random facts featured plus a few more.
- The prologue of Her Deadly Friend features a mutilated viola. The thin wooden bridge that supports the strings is made of maple. Source: viola bridge maple – Bing images
- In chapter one danger lurks in a bluebell wood. The flowers of English bluebells droop to one side of the stem whereas Spanish bluebells grow upright with flowers all around the stem. So which sort was growing in my scene? No idea; my character was too pre-occupied to check… Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) – Woodland Trust
- In chapter two the first victim is found by a dog walker with a Scottish terrier. A pewter Scottie dog has been on the Monopoly board since the 1940s and remains one of the most popular tokens. Monopoly Pieces: Original to Current Tokens (+ New Token For 2022!) (monopolyland.com)
- In chapter three, a suspect is knifing stems of gerbera. Random fact: Don’t plunge oasis bricks into water too quickly as they will stay dry in the middle and flowers displayed in them will soon die. With thanks to my lovely flower arranging tutor Becky for this fact.
- Her Deadly Friend is set in fictional Gleveham, inspired by Gloucester, but in chapter 5 I ‘borrow’ the city’s real Greyfriars building. Grey Friars, or Franciscans, were followers of St Francis of Assisi who got their name from the grey habits they wore to symbolise their vow to a life of poverty. Source: Secret Gloucester by Christine Jordan. (Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2015)
- In chapter 6 we meet a character who grew up in the Philippines. Not all the islands that make up the Philippines have been counted yet and the number changes. It currently stands at 7641. How Many Islands in The Philippines? – Easy Travel 4U
- In chapter 11 a victim has a fatal encounter with an unusual weapon. Random fact I learnt during research: Cotswold stone is oolitic limestone, composed of egg-like grains (oolites), derived from the skeletal remains of marine organisms from the Jurassic period. The Origin of Cotswold Stone, The History. (elysian-estates.co.uk) and Cotswolds Stone, The Cotswolds – Cotswold Journeys — Cotswold Journeys – Walking Tours & Hiking Vacations
- My detective has the same surname as a well-known TV cop. Since 2010 there was a year-on-year decline in the average number of minutes spent watching broadcast TV. In 2020 it went up again by almost 10 minutes to 192 minutes per day. Not really a surprise, given that there wasn’t much to do in 2020 apart from watch TV or hunt down loo rolls. Daily TV viewing time by age UK 2020 | Statista
- In Her Deadly Friend, a pair of rubber gloves provides a clue. In 1894 the first chief of surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore invented rubber gloves to prevent staff developing dermatitis from surgical chemicals. Rubber glove – Wikipedia
- In chapter 15, a stalker takes up position in a coffee shop to observe his prey in another coffee shop across the road. A bit of a coincidence having two cafés so perfectly placed? Random fact: in 2018, when the story’s set, there were 25,486 coffee shops in UK. UK coffee shop count 2019 | Statista
- In the 1800s, a horse-betting parlour was called a poolroom. To pass the time between races, gamblers played pool. Gradually ‘poolroom’ came to stand for the place where pool was played rather than where bets were placed. The History of Pool, Billiards, English Billiards, Snooker, Eight-Ball, Cue Stick, Billiard Congress of America â€“ The Billiard Shop
- When my radio presenter character plays ‘Especially for You’ by Kylie & Jason in chapter 17, he airs a random fact: in 1987, 19.6 million UK viewers watched Neighbours lovebirds Charlene & Scott say I do. And here’s an additional Neighbours fact: the final ever episode of Neighbours, aired on 29 July 2022, pulled in 4 million UK viewers, becoming Channel 5’s most watched show this year so far. Neighbours – Wikipedia and Neighbours final Channel 5’s most watched show of the year with 4000000 view | Soaps | Metro News
- Featured throughout the novel, the soft, carbonated drink ‘dandelion and burdock’ really is flavoured with fermented extracts of dandelion and burdock roots. Dandelion and burdock – Wikipedia
- Here is my favourite and most random fact discovered when writing Her Deadly Friend: five hundred British people have been hospitalised by biscuits. Attack of the killer Custard Creams | Ally Fogg | The Guardian
- It’s death by dustbin when a body is discovered behind recycling skips. Random fact learnt during research: the first UK bottle bank opened in 1977 in Barnsley, West Yorkshire. History of Recycling [Timeline] | Who & When Invented Recycling? (hintonswaste.co.uk)
- In chapter 18 a hoarder wades through his extensive newspaper archive. Random fact I learnt when researching newspapers: the Sunday Correspondent was a British newspaper that launched in September 1989 but ceased publication a year later in November 1990. The Sunday Correspondent – Wikipedia
- A character reminisces about Millennium Night, a time before her life unravelled spectacularly. One place in UK celebrated the arrival of 2000 twice – the community of Cwm Gwaun holds Hen Galan, a Welsh New Year tradition on 13 Jan. Nation parties into the new century | The millennium | The Guardian and What is Hen Galan? Welsh New Year Traditions – Twinkl
- For the novel I had to research fire service procedure, so during a rescue demonstration at a country fair I took the chance to quiz Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service. Particular thanks go to Iain Robertson for his help. All errors and omissions for creative licence are entirely my own.
- A suspect in chapter 34 does a late-night shop. The number of supermarkets with 24-hour opening has dropped since the pandemic, reflecting changes in work patterns & more ordering online. Luckily my character was shopping in 2018. UK supermarkets rapidly abandon 24-hour opening | Financial Times (ft.com)
- My fictional police station canteen is a favourite haunt of my police characters. Rooibus tea is the beverage of choice for DC Harriet Harris. Rooibos tea is grown in Cederberg, a small mountainous area of South Africa’s Western Cape. Rooibos – Wikipedia
- DI Steph Lewis relies on sat nav to find her way through the fictional city of Gleveham. Personally I prefer printed maps when I’m about & about. Random fact: the first street guide of London was produced in 1593. The lost era of the A-Z map? – BBC News
- Even fictional detectives have days off sick. When Steph takes to her bed, her mother arrives with chicken soup. Random fact I found out: chicken soup is rich in an amino acid that helps reduce the inflammatory compounds that contribute to congestion and runny nose. The Healing Benefits of Chicken Soup — Dr. Sally’s Kitchen – Functional Medicine (drsallyskitchen.com)
- Very random fact I came across: Air Wick, now owned by British multinational Reckitt, was created in the US by Guy Paschal in 1943. Air Wick – Wikipedia
- In chapter 34 the larger-than-life radio presenter starts a new feature on his show. First track he plays is Unchained Melody. Written by Alex North and Hy Zaret in 1955, the song has been recorded by over 670 artists in several languages. Unchained Melody – Wikipedia
- My lead detective’s grandfather was a freeminer in the Forest of Dean. A Freeminer is granted a ‘gale’, an area of land below ground by the Crown with the right to mine coal, iron ore, stone and certain other minerals. ROYAL FOREST OF DEAN FREEMINERS ASSOCIATION – home (forestfreeminers.org)
- Have I ever written a book without citing something about Agatha Christie? Don’t think so. A character in Her Deadly Friend mentions The ABC Murders. This Christie novel was first serialized in the Daily Express and readers were encouraged to write in with their theories and guesses. One blamed the author for not reading The ABC Railway Guide carefully enough to prevent a character’s murder. Source: Agatha Christie: a reader’s companion by Vanessa Wagstaff & Stephen Poole (London: Aurum Press, 2004)
- Paddington Green police station closed in late 2018. Luckily the suspect I sent there in Her Deadly Friend went in May of that year while it was still open. Paddington Green Police Station – Wikipedia
- While researching and talking to my early-twenties children, I finally found out all there is to know about Jägerbombs. Random fact: Jägermeister is a German after-dinner spirit. The recipe, containing 56 herbs and spices, has not changed since its creation in 1934. Jägermeister – Wikipedia
- My detective draws conclusions about her suspect based on her use of colour. As a non-artist I knew nothing about the colour wheel. Random fact learnt: basic complementary colours comprise one primary colour and the secondary colour mix of the two other primaries. What Are Complementary Colors? (thesprucecrafts.com)
- Getting character backstories right in a novel takes a lot of checking. For Her Deadly Friend I had to be sure when polytechnics became universities. Under the Further and Higher Education Act of 1992, polytechnics became independent universities able to award their own degrees. Polytechnic (United Kingdom) – Wikipedia
- The staff at my fictional radio station have nightmares about dead air so keep 2 long songs on standby to fill the airwaves. Stairway to Heaven by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant appears on Led Zeppelin’s fourth studio album and runs for 8 mins and 2 secs. MacArthur Park, written by singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb and sung by actor Richard Harris, is 7 mins and 21 secs. Stairway to Heaven – Wikipedia and MacArthur Park (song) – Wikipedia
- Her Deadly Friend takes place in May 2018 against the backdrop of the Royal Wedding. Some of my characters even dress up to celebrate. Random fact learnt during research: a fascinator emerged in the 1990s as a formal hat design and was made popular by milliners Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones. Fascinator – Wikipedia
- Writers often spend time researching their setting. The early chapters of Her Deadly Friend take place in my fictional ‘Georgian Gardens’. No research needed here because the scene is inspired by Painswick Rococo Garden near Gloucester, one of my favourite places. I wrote the scenes longhand in my notebook during several visits. Rococo Garden | Family Days Out & Wedding Venue | Cotswolds, Gloucestershire
- The novel takes place in May 2018 so I had to research real-life events that took place then. British act SuRie endured a stage invasion at the Eurovision Song Contest but carried on singing and finished 24th with 48 points. UK come in 24th position after being SNUBBED by voters after stage invasion | The Sun
- Randon fact learnt when researching my new thriller: the puffball skirt ‘le pouf’ was invented by French designer Christian Lacroix in the mid-80s. Christian Lacroix: A career in pictures | Fashion | The Guardian So why does it get a mention in a suspense series set in 2018? One way to find out… Her Deadly Friend can be ordered here.
(Image featured above: cover reveal for Her Deadly Friend)
About Her Deadly Friend
Her Deadly Friend – the closer she gets, the more people die
When you shake off a bully…
Picked on by Steph throughout her school days, Amy has always felt like the victim. Decades-old resentment is never far away.
But she comes back into your life…
Now Steph is a detective inspector on the trail of a serial killer and closer than ever.
It’s an absolute killer.
Murders rock the city. First one, then another. The body count reaches five and all Steph’s leads point to Amy. But are the women obsessed with a schoolgirl vendetta, or is Steph closing in on a deadly suspect?
Book 1 of Gleveham Killers Suspense series
The book is published on Tuesday 23 August in eBook and paperback by Hobeck Books.