Sunday 23 August 2020

Fireside Chat With Johnson Nottidge from Belle Vue

Today we have part two of our C S Alleyne interview weekend and a Fireside Chat with Johnson Nottidge from her novel, Belle Vue.

Fireside Chat with Johnson Nottidge

“Welcome everyone, to another Fireside Chat. I’m Richard Dale, your host. Today, our guest is the Honorable Doctor Johnson Nottidge, of the Belle Vue Asylum.” Richard Dale holds out a hand in greeting.

Nottidge gazed at the outstretched hand with a slight moue of distaste. He brushed a non-existent speck from the lapel of his frock coat and, after carefully adjusting his straight legged trousers, seated himself.

Richard Dale takes his own seat, a slight scowl on his face. “Why don’t we begin with a bit of your life story, shall we?”

“Let’s not. I am here at the behest of a chum, who is Chairman of the Metropolitan Asylums’ Board solely to provide information about my role in capturing that murderess Mary Grady who dared to bring Belle Vue into disrepute. Her poor sister, an inmate at the asylum, who died in unspeakable pain. I knew immediately it was that shameful trollop and was more than happy to play a key part in revealing the culprit and her guilt and see justice done.”

“I see. Perhaps we’ll get to that later. For now,” Richard leans forward slightly, “describe your relationship with your father.”

“Distant. Which suits me. His lordship has a sense of noblesse oblige whereas I have none at all. Every man for himself. It used to worry him, he even threatened to disinherit me but my exposing the murderess has seemingly made him feel I can be in his words ‘saved’. The title and estates will be mine on his demise and I shall carry on as normal doing exactly what I want.” Nottidge gives a broad smile but his eyes remain cold.

“Interesting. What is your involvement with the Mephisto Club?”

“What is that?” Nottidge leaned forward his piercing gaze raking Richard’s face as though seeking any malicious intent. “I am of course a member of the best clubs in London but don’t recall one with that name. If it exists, perhaps it is some sort of secret society who doesn’t want all and sundry,” Nottidge’s mouth tipped upwards for a bare second, “poking their noses and causing undesirable consequences for themselves.”

The sound of clinking cups interrupts the tense conversation, as a distinguished gentleman enters the room carrying a tea tray.

Richard eyes his guest and says, “Ah, here’s Jenkins with refreshments” Richard turns to the butler. “What’s on the menu today, Jenkins?”

“I have a lovely Darjeeling tea today. And some scones fresh from the oven, as well as strawberry jam.” Jenkins sets the tray down and asks Nottidge, Would you care for a cup, sir?”

“No thank you.”

Richard adds. “My usual cup, please. And one scone.”

Jenkins pours one cup and serves Richard Dale, before retreating.

Nottidge takes out an impressive gold watch from his fob and opens it. He raises his eyebrow then puts it away. “Are we done yet?” Nottidge asks with not a smidgeon of enthusiasm.

Richard Dale takes a sip of his tea and asks, “Almost. We’ll continue with a more mundane question. Tell us about a fond childhood memory?”

“You’re assuming I had any. Or would speak about them to you. Your questions are very impertinent. The past is over and nothing can change it. The present and future are what interest me and how I can profit from and enjoy whatever it is I choose to do. That will create the memories I want to retain. Mary Grady’s hanging next week will be one for instance.

“A sad affair that. Of course, you got involved in that sordid mess through your work. How do you find your career at Belle Vue? Fulfilling?”

“Not fulfilling, rather the means to an end. The dregs of society are off-loaded in ever increasing numbers to the Belle Vue Lunatic Asylum. I study them. Study—and experiment—on them. On occasion that part of the work is fulfilling but mostly dealing with the imbeciles, cretins, drunks and worse from the rookeries and workhouses—and my responsibility is for the female inmates—can be extremely tiresome. They want so much attention and I am an extremely busy man who has far more important matters to deal with. But they have their uses…” Nottidge stopped there and this time the smile did reach his eyes.

Richard Dale’s eyes and lips narrow and his fingers tighten over the arm of his chair. “Let’s get a bit philosophical. What would you consider your perfect life?”

“I have it now. I do what I want, I have everything – and everyone - I want.  Little bothers me. I love the gambling tables as the element of risk is what excites me.  My only concern is that life becomes boring. So it’s about continually raising the stakes. Winner takes all.”

Richard Dale nods. “In your own opinion, what are your best features, and your worst habits?”

“My best is that I always win. Anything less is not acceptable. It may take a little while – as Mary Grady has found out to her cost – but I will not rest until I am the victor in whatever battle I choose. I think your definition of worst habits and mine would greatly differ. And I am not going to share them with you as doing such a thing creates vulnerability. That is a failing I despise. It is something I will never suffer from.”

“One last question. What does morality mean to you?” Richard Dale finishes his tea as he waits for an answer.

“Nothing I need worry about. That is for the lower orders. Like religion, it keeps them in their place.”

“Thank you, Doctor Nottidge, for joining us today.” Richard Dale doesn’t offer his hand to his guest, nor does he rise as the man sees himself out.


Check out Belle Vue on Amazon

You can read an excerpt of Belle Vue here: 

Prologue and first two chapters

Saturday 22 August 2020

Interview with Author C S Alleyne

Today we have the first of a two part interview with author C S Alleyne and her character Johnson Nottidge. Today's interview is with the author as she joins us to discuss her paranormal horror novel, Belle Vue, and her writing. And tune in tomorrow when Richard Dale puts her antagonist Johnson Nottidge on the hot seat. Enjoy!

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

My name is Cheryl Alleyne. I grew up in Australia and originally trained as a hotel manager in the UK. After several postings in the Caribbean, I changed tack and completed my MBA followed several years later by a PhD in Information Systems. When not writing, I am a management consultant and also lecture in several universities.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

My debut novel, Belle Vue, is a paranormal horror which is told in two strands – past and present – around a Victorian lunatic asylum and the people who live there. It is very dark and focuses on an unspeakable crime, the hunger for justice and how when revenge is paramount, innocence doesn’t count. It will be published on 25th August 2020 by Crystal Lake Publishing.

Do you have a favourite character? If so, why?

I always have a preference for ‘baddies’ and there are numerous in Belle Vue but my favourite (and goodness knows what this says about me lol!) is the aristocrat, Johnson Nottidge. He is completely amoral, a cunning schemer and cares not a jot for anyone or anything but his own pleasure.

Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration?

Although I was always jotting down ideas for stories, I never got round to completing anything but then that unexpectedly changed. I used to go past a derelict asylum on my way to the gym. It was then converted into luxury flats and some time later, I found a book in the library about murders in Hertfordshire (the county in which I live). In it, there was a case about a girl in that asylum who was murdered. That story, and my connection to the location, captured my attention in a way nothing had done before. So from having years of half-finished stories and yellowing notes, I wrote every spare minute I could get and didn’t stop until Belle Vue was complete.

What did you enjoy most about writing your book?

To create characters. For me, that is a fascinating process as you can choose every aspect of their lives and appearance and with but a few words change their fate. What I didn’t expect was that – for me - the characters became so strong that it was as though they were directing their actions and speech on the page, not my imagination!

Did anything surprise you about the process of writing your book? 

Yes - that I could write so much! When I first started and had the idea about a murder in the asylum in Victorian times and it being converted to luxury flats in the present day, I didn’t really think I’d be able to write much and wondered if it might be a short story as it was unlikely I could find enough to write for a novel. I sure got that wrong! The soon-to-be-published book is half the size of my first complete draft.

I joined a writers’ circle and many there who had had books published said they had written lots of novels before getting published (now in bottom drawers) so each was a form of practice and developing their writing skills. I did it the other way round and used the same book to do this!  I pruned it and rewrote it numerous times instead (using advice from a lot of rejection letters!). Then my wonderful agent, Italia Gandolfo saw its potential (or I caught her at a weak moment lol) and we did more pruning and editing before it was accepted by Crystal Lake Publishing.

How do you research your books?

I love all the research and given I didn’t know much about the history of asylums, murder and punishment in Victorian times and satanic societies, I had much to get my teeth into. The present day required a different type of research and as I was local I was able to visit old asylum grounds – not just the Leavesden one but also others in the area such as Colney Hatch and others that had also been converted into luxury accommodation. I also posed as a potential buyer to view the inside of the main building and one of the luxury Leavesden apartments but the buyer who knew my husband (at the time), recognized me and wanted to know all about our moving plans! Oops.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

If you love to write or have a story you want to tell, then - as long as you are enjoying yourself - keep at it. Hone your craft – be open to ideas and feedback and whether you want to be published or not – take pride in your creation. If you can translate that pride and excitement about your work to the page – you’re halfway there! If you do want to be published, you may get (lots of) rejections but believe in yourself, keep honing and never give up.

Are you working on another book?

Yes, Belle Vue is now planned to be the first of a trilogy. I am in the middle of writing the sequel – Secret Nemesis is the working title - and in it, the main characters from both the Victorian and present day move to the United States and face a cross-fire of evil and danger.

About the Author

C S Alleyne grew up in Australia and originally trained as a hotel manager in the UK. After several postings in the Caribbean, she changed tack and completed her MBA followed several years later by a PhD in Information Systems. She is a management consultant and also lectures in several universities.

Her dark horror novelette, POWEЯ, was published in December 2019. 

Author links

Website | Blog | Goodreads Profile | Twitter | Facebook

US Amazon Author Page | UK Amazon Author Page

Belle Vue by C S Alleyne

Jealousy, betrayal, murder and a hunger for vengeance that spans the centuries…

History student Alex Palmer is thrilled when his girlfriend, Claire Ryan, buys an apartment in Belle Vue Manor, formerly a Victorian lunatic asylum.

But as Alex begins to discover the dark truth about the asylum’s past, he, Claire, and their friend Marianne find themselves on a nightmarish journey. Each will face the deadly consequences of the evil that began with the construction of the first Belle Vue Manor by an aristocratic French émigré in 1789, as well as the cruelty and satanic practices that continued when it became an asylum for the insane.

As the two strands—past and present—unfold, Alex uncovers a supernatural mystery where revenge is paramount and innocence irrelevant—without being aware of the price he, and those around him, will pay.

You can check out Belle Vue on Amazon:

Or on Goodreads

You can read an excerpt of Belle Vue here: Prologue and first two chapters

And click the link to check out C S Alleyne's other book POWEЯ:


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