Sunday 27 February 2022

Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Robert J Lloyd

On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo

I'm delighted to welcome Robert J Lloyd to Sunday Brunch

Welcome to Jaffareadstoo Robert. What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

A cooked breakfast, definitely, so I’ll bring the eggs, bacon, sausages, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, and hash browns in the hope you have a big hob and plenty of pans.

Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?

Coffee! Always coffee. So much coffee.

Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio?

It’s been pretty windy recently, so if this Sunday’s the same that could be very entertaining.

Shall we have music playing in the background, and if so do you have a favourite piece of music?

I get the chance to be very pretentious here, don’t I? But I’m a pop fan, especially 80s stuff, so how about some Gary Numan? His quieter stuff, as it’s a Sunday.

Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today?

Christopher Fowler, writer of the Bryant & May mysteries, and who has been a huge help towards getting my book published. Between us, we managed to make our planned meeting in London recently a complete debacle, so it would be great to get to talk to him. I have such a lot to thank him for.

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

In an ever-changing list of favourite books, perhaps Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy. (Am I allowed the trilogy?) It would have to be a long breakfast, though, if we’re going to make much headway. In my own genre, it would be anything by Barry Unsworth. He was the master, in my opinion.

Vintage 2000

When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet!

I’m struggling to read for pleasure at the moment, as I’m on a deadline to complete a final edit of The Bloodless Boy’s sequel before it goes to setting and design. Generally, though, I’m lucky as a historical novelist to find all my research reading a pleasure. I love reading about the 17th century. I do read other stuff, too, though. I’ve just read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and before that Lee Child’s Blue Moon. As far as the second part of your question, I have a magnificent To Be Read pile. In fact, it’s a bookcase.

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

The late 17th century, when my books are set, is such a fascinating time. Also, the literature of the time’s so rich. Restoration plays, too. My novels have a scientific emphasis, so the history of the early Royal Society constantly throws up ideas that make me think: that could become a mystery, or a thriller.

Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer?

I don’t mind where or when, really, but I have a beautiful big iMac, which I’m geekily fond of, and Scrivener. Using both, I find, makes a nice place to be.

When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so how do you bring back focus on your writing?

Deadlines are wonderfully focussing!

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

That’s tricky. An understanding family (especially my wife), a very structured approach to time management, a detailed plan for the novel, and coffee.

What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress?

I’m editing book 2, but have also been working hard to complete book 3. Book 2, a sequel to the Bloodless Boy, is called The Poison Machine, and will be out next November. After a body’s found in the Norfolk Fens, Harry Hunt is asked to investigate. He finds himself with another Civil War mystery, involving a dwarf and a diamond. And poison, obviously.

Melville House Publishing
November 2021

The City of London, 1678. New Year's Day. Twelve years have passed since the Great Fire ripped through the City. Eighteen since the fall of Oliver Cromwell's Republic and the restoration of a King. London is gripped by hysteria, where rumors of Catholic plots and sinister foreign assassins abound.

The body of a young boy, drained of his blood and with a sequence of numbers inscribed on his skin, is discovered on the snowy bank of the Fleet River.

Sir Edmund Bury Godfrey, the powerful Justice of Peace for Westminster, is certain of Catholic guilt in the crime. He enlists Robert Hooke, the Curator of Experiments of the Royal Society, and his assistant, Harry Hunt, to help his enquiry. Demanding discretion from them, he also entrusts to them to preserve the body, which they store inside Hooke's Air-pump. Sir Edmund confides to Hooke that the bloodless boy is not the first to have been discovered. He also presents Hooke with a cipher that was left on the body.

That same morning Henry Oldenburg, the Secretary of the Royal Society, blows his brains out. A disgraced Earl is released from the Tower of London, bent on revenge against the King, Charles II.

Wary of the political hornet's nest they are walking into - and using evidence rather than paranoia in their pursuit of truth - Hooke and Hunt must discover why the boy was murdered, and why his blood was taken. Moreover, what does the cipher mean?

Harry, wanting to prove himself as a natural philosopher and to break free from the shadow of Hooke's brilliance, takes the lead in investigating the death of the boy. He is pulled into the darkest corners of Restoration London, where the Court and the underworld seem to merge.

Harry has to face the terrible consequences of experiments done in the name of Science, but also reckon with a sinister tale with its roots in the traumas of the Civil Wars.

The Bloodless Boy is a beguiling thriller that introduces two new indelible heroes to mystery fiction. It is also a powerfully atmospheric recreation of Restoration London.

Where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @robjlloyd

Robert, thank you for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo.

Many thanks for inviting me, Jo. It’s very, very appreciated! These eggs are nice, aren’t they?

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