Friday, September 03, 2021

Guest Author Hannah Dennison

Hannah Dennison

Hannah's back! Type M 4 Murder is thrilled to welcome guest poster and one-time Type M regular Hannah Dennison back to the fold to catch up and to celebrate the release of her latest Island Sisters Mystery, Danger at the Cove. British born, Hannah originally moved to Los Angeles to pursue screenwriting. She has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant and Hollywood story analyst. Hannah has served on numerous judging committees for Mystery Writers of America and teaches mystery writing workshops for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program now on Zoom. After twenty-five years living on the West Coast, Hannah returned to the UK where she shares her life with two high-spirited Hungarian Vizslas. Take it away, Hannah, and tell us all about it.

Hannah Dennison

It’s wonderful to be here on Type M again. Thank you so much for inviting me. There have been a lot of changes since I last appeared as a guest in 2017—embracing my gray hair during lockdown for starters! 

Personally, it’s been an “interesting” time. They say you should never go back home again but go back I did and luckily, I haven’t regretted it. After twenty-five years in the USA – twenty of those living in Los Angeles, and five in Portland, Oregon, I returned to the peace of the English countryside with no husband but two dogs instead. 

Professionally, it’s been an exciting time since I now have three mystery series still in print (definitely something to be grateful for these days)—the Vicky Hill Mysteries chronicling the adventures of an aspiring investigative reporter who is stuck writing the obituary column; the Honeychurch Hall Mysteries featuring a mother-daughter duo who live on a country estate (a contemporary Downton Abbey meets Midsomer Murders), and my new series, the Island Sisters Mysteries that, as you might have guessed, star two sisters who live on an island. 

My new series was inspired by my new life and returning to the family fold. Gosh I had missed everyone—especially my sister Lesley, whose house is half a mile away if you take the shortcut through a field of extremely curious alpacas.

Hannah and Lesley

A relationship with a sister is like no other. Who else can I belt out songs with from Queen, Genesis and David Bowie or still drive our mother to distraction with our signature—and disgusting—Hot Snot Bogey Pie schoolyard rhyme? 

Although we’d been super close growing up, Lesley and I had drifted apart as the years passed, especially after my move overseas. As the eldest, I used to be the bossy one but I discovered that now it was Lesley who ruled the proverbial roost. As my 91-year-old mother pointed out, “Sorry darling, it’s your sister who holds the rolling pin these days.”  

Sisterhood can be both wonderful and challenging. I find that being labeled Eeyore to her Tigger is still extremely irritating. “That was fifty years ago,” I’d grumble, sounding very Eeyore-like. 

But it was through Lesley that the idea for the Island Sisters Mysteries grew. She introduced me to her friend Gill Knight who had worked as the HR manager on a tiny island called Tresco in the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago twenty-eight miles off the southwest tip of the Cornish coast. 

Tresco has no police presence, no street lights, no cars and no hospital. In fact, when Gill went into labor, her husband had to call out the lifeboat to make the twenty-minute journey across to the main island of St. Mary’s. Gill also mentioned that those seasonal workers who came to work on Tresco were either running away from something, or hiding from someone. As a mystery writer, I couldn’t think of a better place to set a series! 

Scilly has five inhabited islands with a combined population of around 2,200, and over 142 islets and a lot of rocks. The islands are known for their flowers—especially the legendary scented Narcissi. They are a birdwatcher’s paradise where sightings of rare birds with names like Pink-Footed Goose and Rose-breasted Grosbeak jostle with the Egyptian Vulture—apparently not seen for 150 years and just sighted last Monday so this is breaking news. To add to the magic, the surrounding ocean floor is littered with hundreds of shipwrecks having been a main trading route from the East to the New World. It’s an incredibly romantic place fringed with sandy beaches, heathland and the ruins of seventeenth century fortifications that had been built during the English Civil War when fleeing Royalists sought refuge there.

My island of Tregarrick does not exist but that’s the fun of being a writer. Even more fun is teleporting the Burgh Island hotel from Bigbury-on-Sea and dropping it at the end of a causeway on a rock, hence the Tregarrick Rock hotel. 

Death at High Tide, book one, introduces us to the sisters, amateur photographer Evie Mead and Hollywood film producer Margot Chandler. Evie is a young widow and Margot, a reluctant divorcee who had been living in California for decades, (yes, I know it sounds familiar). After a couple of murders, the siblings end up as chatelaines of the Tregarrick Rock hotel.

Danger at the Cove, released just last month, is the second in the series but it can easily be read as a standalone. We meet the sisters again just ten days before the grand reopening. They’re behind schedule and struggling financially so when Margot’s former Hollywood friend turns up followed by a mysterious boyfriend, mayhem—and murder—ensue. Of course, I couldn’t resist adding in a shipwreck and buried treasure. 

Aside from the mystery and stunning setting the Island Sisters Mysteries are about the complex relationship between sisters. There is a saying, “Sisters by blood, best friends by choice,” and to that I say Amen!


Hannah writes the Island Sisters Mysteries (Minotaur), the Honeychurch Hall Mysteries (Constable) and the Vicky Hill Mysteries (Constable)

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Susan D said...

These sound like fun, Hannah. Island. Sisters. Murder. What's not to love?

Sybil Johnson said...

Hi, Hannah. nice to see you here! Turns out I am reading Danger at the Cove right now and enjoying it very much.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Hannah, it's wonderful to see you back at Type M. I'm looking forward to reading your new series.

Much happiness back home in England.

Hannah L Dennison said...

Thank you Sybil and Frankie! It's so lovely to be back on Type M again ... and in England!!
Thank you for the warm welcome.

dru said...

Love the backstory of how you came up with the series. I don't think I could live on an island that limited.

Hope to see you in 2022. And congratulations on the book release. I love Danger at the Cove.

Hannah Dennison said...

Hi Dru - I am so happy that you enjoyed Danger at the Cove! Yes ... I think if I lived on Tresco I would go a little stir crazy :). Definitely planning on seeing you in 2022.

Rick Blechta said...

It's terrific having you back on Type M -- even if only as a guest!

And thanks for the terrific post. Bonus!

Hope the new book does land office business.

And by the way, I wonder what that phrase means…

Donis Casey said...

Rick, It has to do with the California Gold rush, the Oklahoma land rush, those sort of things. Hundreds of people standing in line at the land office to stake a claim!

Hannah L Dennison said...

Hi Rick - thank you so much for the warm welcome ... and Donis ... you are a mine of information (no pun intended). It's lovely to be back on Type M. Your blog has been going for so long!

Donis Casey said...

Hannah, I have a deep well of knowledge - as long as it's useless information.