Welcome to Holland House in Kensington! Once called Cope Castle, this magnificent early Jacobean mansion (built 1605) with ties to British royal events and personages, was bombed during WWII and only the East Wing survives today.
I featured it in my upcoming historical mystery, A Tale of Two Murders, multiple times, since the Lord and Lady Holland of 1835 are minor characters in the book. They are two colorful people who desperately need a biography about them! Lady Holland really was a friend of Charles Dickens, which is how the family, and their magnificent home, came to enter my book world.
Of course I had to make up some of the spaces the characters visited, but one I did not was the gilt chamber, which must have been a dazzling space in its time.
Everyone who watches royals has their thoughts centered on Kensington Palace these days, but did you know that Kensington Palace was almost Holland Palace? Yes, William III considered both properties before choosing to purchase Kensington House instead.
You can see more information and depictions at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holland_House.
I’m so excited to announce that my first historical mystery under my new Heather Redmond name has received a coveted Starred Review from Kirkus Reviews!
Here is the complete text:
A TALE OF TWO MURDERS [STARRED REVIEW!]
Author: Heather Redmond
Review Issue Date: May 15, 2018
Online Publish Date: May 1, 2018
Price ( Hardcover ): $26.00
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-4967-1715-3
A ghastly poisoning sets a young writer on the trail of a killer in Victorian London. January 1835 finds rising journalist Charles Dickens enjoying Epiphany dinner with his editor, George Hogarth, and his family in Brompton when a terrible scream splits the air. Dickens, Hogarth, and Hogarth’s daughter Kate rush next door to Lugoson House. There, Lady Lugoson’s daughter, Christiana, who’s been taken violently ill, dies before her mother’s horrified eyes despite the ministrations of the host of doctors summoned to her bedside. The next day, at the offices of the Evening Chronicle, Charles confides his unease to fellow journalist William Aga. How could Christiana Lugoson have become mortally ill when none of the other dinner guests were affected? William recalls the similar death of another young woman, Marie Rueff, just one year ago at Epiphany. Watching young Charles sniff out the connection between the two deaths is only part of the fun. Readers can also watch the sweet, unsurprising romance between Charles and Kate unfold at a modest but steady pace and can travel through a historical London that’s vivid without being overcrowded with detail. Each character’s voice is distinctive and appropriate to the period, and Redmond’s exposition is as stately and lucid as any contemporary reader could wish. Redmond, who writes romance under the names Heather Hiestand and Anh Leod, adds crime to her portfolio. Mystery fans and history buffs alike should cheer.
I track most of my reading on Goodreads. Generally I don’t put in the middle grade books I read every day with my 3rd grader (sooo much Geronimo Stilton), but just about everything else is in there. I went through the past six months or so of my reading and started to build a visual representation of my favorite historical mysteries on Pinterest. I’d love to know your favorites, and hope you enjoy my reads! I started writing historical mystery in late 2016, and my first Heather Redmond tale will be out this July…
The terrorist attacks in Belgium today settle on me uneasily as an author of historical fiction. As I blithely changed the timeline on my work in progress , I wondered what historical events I might be missing that might distract the characters in my novel, or even affect them. Characters live in larger worlds than our plots. For instance, my current hero is from Sicily. What might have been happening in his hometown during that week I just added to my story because I realized my plot timeline was too tight?
The other issue that concerns me is how I write about circumstances like what happened in Belgium today. My upcoming series (debuts 9/27/16), The Grand Russe Hotel, is concerned with Russian immigrants in England. Most of them are solid citizens trying to restart their lives after the Russian revolution, but some are Bolsheviks hoping to disrupt the British government. There are bombers and bomb threats and even actual bombs. Danger for all, a very real situation. As I writer, I need to make sure to keep the emotion tangible. It’s not just a plot. My characters need to feel the fear that is present in Europe today in the midst of so much sorrow, uncertainty, and despair. I must remember to keep my world of 1925 London three-dimensional. The terrorists of 2016 are different than those of 1925, but the emotions of those living through the experience are the same as those suffering today.
If we want readers to bond with our characters, understanding the mindset of people in crisis is very important. And if we can give our characters happy endings despite the traumas they live through, hopefully it can give readers a feeling of closure and hope that all is not lost, no matter how dark the sky that day.