The story behind the story – ‘Attention To Death’ by Ailsa Abraham

Where do writers get their ideas from? Over the next few weeks I’ll be quizzing my coffee shop visitors on the inspiration behind their writing. To start the Story Behind the Story series I’m delighted to welcome Ailsa Abraham today to talk about why she has turned to crime.

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Thanks for inviting me Katy. My next Crooked Cat publication is “Attention To Death” which will be released next spring.

Newbie and wannabe writers are always advised to “write what you know”, so in my first series I wrote about magical realism, having been a practising Wiccan and High Priestess for some time before pursuing a solo path as a village shaman and healer. From that experience came “Alchemy” and “Shaman’s Drum” the first two in a series which continues but I fancied a break, a change of scene.

My past is long and chequered but I drew on a shared history with my husband for this next book: the military. He was Royal Navy and I was Royal Air Force, so of course I decided to use Army Military Police for this one. I drew on both our memories for sections of this novel. I don’t watch much television but I am addicted to murder mysteries so it seemed appropriate to set a brutal murder on an Army base. Needle in a haystack? More like murderer in a whole group of trained killers!

Possible motives are myriad, superior officers unhelpful, and the case is made more complicated by the personal demons the investigation are both fighting. Let’s just say they don’t have it easy…

Attention to Death will be published in March 2017.

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About the author
Ailsa Abraham retired early from a string of jobs, including veterinary nursing, ending up with teaching English to adults. She has lived in France since 1990 and is married with no children but six grandchildren. Her passion is motorbikes which have taken the place of horses in her life now that ill-health prevents her riding. She copes with Bipolar Condition, a twisted spine and increasing deafness with her usual wry humour – “well if I didn’t have all those, I’d have to work for a living, instead of being an author, which is much more fun.”. Her ambition in life is to keep on breathing, and writing.

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Alchemy and Shaman’s Drum published by Crooked Cat

Four Go Mad in Catalonia – self-published, available from Smashwords

Twitter – https://twitter.com/OtterAbraham

Facebook – Ailsa Abraham

 

On the eve of St Lucy

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When we were travelling through Europe one December the owner of the hotel where we were staying told our little girls that if they left their shoes outside the room that night Santa Lucia would come on her donkey and leave them some gifts. In the morning they were delighted to find the shoes filled with sweets. So we brought the tradition home with us and every year the shoes still go out along with a carrot for the donkey.

In our house it’s the day we get the Christmas tree, make the gingerbread house, light lots of candles and switch on the Christmas lights.

Santa Lucia was a young girl who was martyred in the third century. She used to secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians who lived in catacombs under the city. She wore a crown of candles so that her hands were free to carry the food.

The name Lucy means light and the celebration is all about bringing light into the darkest day of the year. St Lucy Day – December 13th – coincides with the old Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year in the old Julian calendar and a time of feasting and gift giving to herald the rebirth of the sun.

The Lucy story may also have merged with the folklore of the Lussi in Northern Europe. On Lussinatten the Lussi, a female demon, was said to ride through the air with a band of trolls and evil spirits. Seeing them could bring retribution so people stayed indoors. The Lussi punished anyone found working and children who had been naughty had to be especially careful or the Lussi might come down the chimney and take them away. As a result a tradition grew up of parting all night.

In Scandinavia Santa Lucia celebrations are very popular. In Sweden a girl dressed as Lucia heads a candlelit procession of women wearing white dresses who hand out saffron buns and gingerbread biscuits.

The Lucy/Lussi traditions are a perfect fit for the current trend of all things hygge – a Danish word which roughly translates as coziness. Whatever your beliefs it’s a good time to batten down the hatches, gather round and light some candles. And don’t forget to leave your shoes out under the tree tonight…