GWT book cover

I’d like to introduce you to the fourteenth author in my ‘Meet the Author’ series. She is mystery writer, Bustles Lloyd.

QUESTION: Hi, Bustles! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?

ANSWER: I have been scribbling and doodling since I was able to put pen or pencil to paper – all fired up with a beginning, or a middle; rarely an end! (Although I have improved in that respect since then, in that I might even write the end before the beginning !)

QUESTION: Your mystery novel, The Greenwood Tree, will be the first novel published under the Grey Cells Imprint of Holland House Books. Can you tell us a bit about your book? What inspired you to write it?

ANSWER: The best thing would probably be to post the blurb which my publisher and I have been slaving over (if it had been a hot stove it might have melted by now!) :

“ ‘Well, what do all mysteries have?’ said Aunt Isobel. ‘Money, mistresses, and murder.’

1783 – and Lichfield society is enthralled by the arrival of dashing ex-officer Orville; he charms his way into the salons, grand houses and even a great inheritance from extrovert Sir Morton.

1927 – and detective writer Julia Warren returns to her home in Lichfield to work on her next novel. Initially she hopes to find plot material from the past and set it in the present. Aunt Isobel, while making preparations for the annual midsummer ball, has managed to root out an old journal from 1783 which might prove a source of inspiration. Once Julia starts reading her ancestor’s journal she becomes absorbed in solving the mystery surrounding officer Orville. Detective fever takes over, and she moves from reality to legend as events from the past seem set to re-enact themselves in the present, and she finds herself unravelling more than just the one mystery. Who was Orville? Who was the agent, Oddman, set to spy on him? And who is helpful Mr Grenall?

Pagan gods don’t walk away just because you stop looking at them. The Gronny Patch sleeps. Perhaps it dreams. Or perhaps not …

A complex, multi-layered story unlike any other, full of whimsy, horror, and mystery, shifting between the centuries and from source to source, until all the threads are finally drawn together by the imperturbable Miss Warren.”

QUESTION: You’re working on several sequels to the book. How many do you expect to write? Can you tell us about the second book?

ANSWER: At least three are in the planning stages, the second one is two thirds complete (or half ? I can’t count!) – with more ideas and locations popping up quite frequently!

The sequel is set in London, and centres on the themes of genus loci, a political family, with an 18th century writing desk (I can’t resist one of my favourite periods from sneaking in) and a ghost or two for good measure. I hope to make it creepier, and perhaps a little darker, than Greenwood Tree – while still retaining the feel and atmosphere of a ‘cozy’ mystery (although really, I think ‘cozy’ a bit of a misnomer – many of Agatha Christie’s are really quite gothic, to my mind :D)

As to how many will yet be written: I don’t think we have yet decided on a finite number …. infinity is so much more… exciting… 😉

QUESTION: You write under a pen name ‘Bustles Lloyd’, and your author bio on the Grey Cells Press gives us a brief explanation—‘A Bustle attached to a keyboard, occasionally to be seen floating on a canal’. Can you tell us more? I know that you studied music at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia in Italy, and assume that the pen name has great significance. A bustle attached to a keyboard, occasionally to be seen floating on a canal . . . A bustle attached to a keyboard, occasionally to be seen floating on a canal . . . bustle attached to a keyboard, occasionally to be seen floating on a canal . . .

ANSWER: Lloyd is actually a family name in a way, my grandmother was a Lloyd, and both sang and painted, while one of her brothers wrote poetry; as a family, they were into theatre and the arts generally: another great-uncle was married to an Italian opera singer who performed with the Carl Rosa Company, they often sang together.It is quite an easy name for people to remember (especially when you are in non-English speaking cultures) and as I feel a positive empathy with the Lloyds, it just seemed appropriate.

QUESTION: You write mystery novels, but you are as much a mystery as your books, similar to that of the late mystery novelist Josephine Tey. Is that deliberate?

ANSWER: Hmmm. (Pauses mysteriously before wafting back into the ether ….)

QUESTION: What has your experience with your publisher been like? Is it everything you’d hoped for?

ANSWER: More so and better. I hear of first authors’ experiences (not always positive ones!) and I count myself very lucky. It is one thing to agree to cuts and changes with a big house because it is a big house and you know it won’t sell your book otherwise; it is quite another to agree with total confidence to changes, additions and so forth with a publisher who understands every aspect of your work, who comes to it with a wealth of background knowledge and awareness of the reading culture out there in the bigger world (that part of the world that is not run by corporate (and often ill-read) greed. *smacks paw:’Stop ranting , Bustles’* 🙂

QUESTION: How does it feel to be a soon to be a published author? How are you dealing with marketing and advertising? Have you scheduled book readings and book signings? If so, how will you prepare for those?

ANSWER: It has rather taken me by surprise! A pleasant one, I hasten to add, and one of the best things about it has been coming into contact with the team at Holland House/Grey Cells Press.

The marketing is something I have been practising on, by trying to help fellow authors promote their own works, and the internet does have a huge potential for people to connect up and discover. For example, the cover reveal (starting 15th April: and Twitter: dialogues between characters from the book (@JuliaFWarren) and a few contemporaries (@GerryTorbin, @LydiaMaydew) – perhaps with the occasional TwitParty (Cocktails for Twits? *smacks paw again, Stop it, Bustles*)…

Ideas are the thing, followed by organisation. And timing. Not everyone can be at the right place at the right time, so it has to be balanced out. Scheduling is tricky, I think, because you are reliant on other people’s availability, so it is a mixture of keeping calm, not panicking – ‘If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now’ etc., and persistance. So once I have my media pack, I will be launching an assault… (*puts on Don Quixote’s helmet and prepares to do battle with windmills …*.)

QUESTION: How do you feel about the “rules” of contemporary writing: no adverbs, no dialogue tags, show don’t tell, etc.? In your opinion, how important are they to writing? Are there any that you particularly adhere to?

ANSWER: This is my cue to cite one of my favourite quotes, courtesy of Somerset Maugham : “There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

It sums it up for me; if it feels right, if it sounds right, if it fits – then it should be there. A lot of debate is heard, both online and off; people take sides, stand on principles, tout the latest from their own favourite manual (usually intended for the writing of business letters rather than novels…) – and nobody really agrees with anyone else. Meanwhile, tales are left untold, books remain unwritten, as yet another bout of ducking and dousing is carried out by a writing society with due vigour in the nearest canal… (

QUESTION: What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?

ANSWER: Can’t really think of one. Oh – not having the means to write (pencil and notebook got left at home)when I really want to jot something down before I forget it ….

QUESTION: If you could meet any book character, who would it be, and what would you do with them?

ANSWER: What would I do with them? The mind boggles! But tea with Peter Whimsey might be rather fun; then there’s putting on a play with the Moomins, or an afternoon’s DIY with Paddington Bear, perhaps rounded off with a walk through the forests in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell …

QUESTION: Of everything you’ve ever written, whether it’s to be published or not, what’s your favorite piece or scene?

ANSWER: I think there might be rather a lot of those, of my most recent, perhaps the opening and closing scenes of a tale I wrote for the winter season on the Kristell Ink blog:

Then, not so recent, there’s the opening scene from a WIP The Gondola Cat: And there are several scenes in Greenwood Tree … but I can’t post those here ! 😉

QUESTION: What books are you currently reading?

ANSWER: As and when time permits (which isn’t as often as I’d like!) Margery Allingham’s The Fashion in Shrouds, Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals (with Snuff waiting in the wings). And John Bayliss’ excellent Five and A Half Tons (which I will be illustrating … 🙂 )

QUESTION: Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!

ANSWER: I tend to collect everything together here :
but I shall add a few here anyway:

Twitter : @AuthorsAnon

Blog, Bustling Along Bookshelves :

Pre-order links :

On the Grey Cells website :

Amazon UK (pre-order) (hardcover)