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Monday 4 April 2016

C is for... (Man in the) Canary Waistcoat

Click Here for a list of other A-Zers
Man in the Canary Waistcoat

Throughout April I have invited 26 authors who had been selected as Editor's Choice by the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews
 to help me out with the 2016 A-Z Blog Challenge...

Except to be a little different I interviewed 
their leading Character/s...

Today's Character is from :

HH : Hello! I believe you exist in Susan Grossey’s  novel – what is the title of the book, and would you like to introduce yourself - who you are, what you do etc? 
I am Constable Samuel Plank, and I am the narrator of a series of books including “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”.  I am a magistrates’ constable, which is a job that no longer exists in your modern world.  In 1820s London, where I live, there are seven magistrates’ courts where cases are heard.  If someone fears that they are the victim of a crime, they can take the matter to their local magistrate who may well issue a warrant for the arrest of the suspect.  It is my job to apprehend him and bring him in for questioning.  As you can imagine, I meet all sorts of people, but I try to treat them all fairly – although some do try the patience.

HH : Where and when are you? Are you a real historical person or did your author create you?
I live in what you might call the late Regency period – King George IV is on the throne, and a right mess he’s making of it too.  My job is certainly real, and indeed there was a constable called Sam Plank who occasionally gave evidence at the Old Bailey – his name appears in their transcripts – but personally, I was created by my author.

HH. In a few brief sentences: what is the novel you feature in about?
People always think that what is happening to them is new and original, but I read my history and I know that we are creatures of habit and repetition.  I am told that your modern newspapers are full of stories about investment frauds – people being induced to put their money into all manner of mad schemes.  In 1825 we were no different.  And in “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”, I am called upon to find out what is causing otherwise sensible people to throw caution to the winds and invest in the great invention of the day: gas lighting.  For some of them, I am afraid, it does not end well.

HH :  I ‘met’ my pirate, Jesamiah Acorne on a beach in Dorset, England -  how did your author meet up with you?
In the first book in which I appear – “Fatal Forgery” – there is a banker called Henry Fauntleroy, who is stealing from his own customers, and I have to arrest him.  Once she had written the whole story from Fauntleroy’s point of view, my author realised that she liked me much better (which is not much of a compliment – the man is a criminal) and that I would make a good narrator, with my keen eye for observation and my love of truth and plain-speaking.

HH : Tell me about one or two of the other characters who feature with you - husband, wife, family? Who are some of the nice characters and who is the nastiest one?
It is no secret that my wife Martha is one of my great strengths.  She is a woman of keen intellect and good humour – both of which she needs to endure life married to a constable.  I am also doing my best to bring on a young constable, William Wilson.  Like most young men he can act in haste, and his temper does get the better of him at times, but I have high hopes that I can make a good officer of him.  As for the nasty ones, well, I have met plenty.  In this book, I fear the title character; he is dangerous because he is clever, and willing to bide his time.  I feel sure our paths will cross again.

HH : What is your favourite scene in the book?
It is not very dignified, I know, but I do enjoy remembering my visit with Martha to the London Mechanics’ Institute, when we wanted to find out about who had attended their lectures.  The man who answered our questions was quite a character, and how Martha and I managed not to laugh in his face, I will never know.  Mr Baines, that was his name – although now we simply refer to him as “All Ears”.

HH : What is your least favourite? Maybe a frightening or sad moment that your author wrote.
I do not wear my heart on my sleeve, as Martha would tell you: it is enough for a man to bear his own sadness without visiting it upon others.  But in this book I did want to explain why I had become a constable – after all, my first profession was that of barber – and it caused me great pain to recall that.  It is not something on which I would choose to dwell.

HH : What are you most proud of about your author?
My author is self-published; she did offer me to various publishing houses, but they all said that no-one was interested in financial crime, which is plainly nonsense.  So I am proud that she has done all of the work herself.  Also, she is very disciplined: we work hard together, to bring out a new Sam Plank story every October.

Mistress Susan
HH : Has your author written  other books about you? If not, about other characters?
How do you feel about your author going off with someone else!
Although I was initially supposed to appear only in “Fatal Forgery”, I managed to convince my author that I had plenty more to say.  And so she has planned a series of seven books for me, set in successive years: “Fatal Forgery” (1824), “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat” (1825) and “Worm in the Blossom” (1826) are already out, and we’re working now on “Plank 4” (1827) – we must think of a better title – for publication in October 2016.  Although she has written dozens of non-fiction books about financial crime, I am her only fictional creation.  Someone did suggest that once I have retired (after book seven), she might do a series about Wilson, but I’m not sure that is at all suitable.

HH : As a character if you could travel to a time and place different to your own fictional setting  where and when would you go?
I was lucky enough to witness – indeed, participate in – the setting up of the world’s first two police forces, in London and Gibraltar.  I would very much like to travel forward a century – to about 1930 – to see how these two forces are faring, and whether others have been created in their image.  And as someone who does not support the indiscriminate use of the death penalty, I would like to see whether cooler heads have prevailed and a more humane approach is being taken to understanding why people commit crime.

Thank you that was really interesting!

Now where can readers of this A-Z Blog Challenge find out more about you and your author?
Twitter @susangrossey
Buy on Amazon    [or just search on my name!]

Here is the company we will be keeping on this 
A-Z Blog Challenge!

A 1st  Friday - Aurelia  - Alison Morton
B 2nd Saturday  - Bloodie Bones - Lucienne Boyce
C 4th Monday - Man in the Canary Waistcoat Susan Grossey
D 5th Tuesday - Dubh-Linn  - James Nelson
F 7th Thursday - Fortune’s Fool- David Blixt
H 9th Saturday - The Love Letter of John Henry Holliday - Mary Fancher
K 13th Wednesday - Khamsin- Inge Borg
L 14th Thursday - Luck Bringer   - Nick Brown
N 16th Saturday - A Newfound Land  - Anna Belfrage
O 18th Monday - Out Of Time  - Loretta Livingstone
P 19th Tuesday  - Pirate Code  - Helen Hollick
Q 20th Wednesday - To Be A Queen – Annie Whitehead
R 21st Thursday  - The Spirit Room - Marschel Paul
U 25th Monday  - A Just And Upright Man - John Lynch
X 28th Thursday – The FlaX flower – AmandaMaclean

So call back tomorrow 
To meet the next exciting Character! 
(unless it is Sunday - in which case, I'll have something different 
but just as interesting !)


  1. Great post - I'm really enjoying getting to meet all these characters :)

    1. Susan's having problems accessing Blogger so I'm replying for her - she says: “Sam’s wife Martha is a little concerned about all the attention her husband is receiving, but Sam himself is quite enjoying it. It’s a welcome distraction, he says, from the unpleasant things he is currently investigating in the vaults under the London docks, for ‘Plank 4’.”

    2. Must admit Annie - I'm thoroughly enjoying meeting all these characters - and we've some crackers coming up!

  2. Glad Sam convinced Susan he's a colorful (naturally, with his waistcoat) and worthwhile protagonist, and for her to dedicate more books to him.

    1. susan says : "Thank you Inge -I'm looking forward to your character on the 13th!"

  3. It's great to read more about Sam...he's a lovely character and I'm sure Martha understand just how special he is ....

    1. Susan says: "Lovely of you to comment, Jo and Jaffa – many thanks for all your support and encouragement for both Sam and Martha.”

  4. Another brilliant post, Helen and Susan. I am really enjpying these and love it when a character makes me chuckle at one or two of the answers, too. This is a great series. Definitely no April fools here.

  5. Mr Plank seems like a must-make acquaintance - as does his wife. And for a Financial Director, Financial crime in a historical setting is yummy-yummy (it takes all sorts...) Great post! Tweeted!

  6. A terrific post! Lovely author photo too, the canary cardigan is a nice touch.

  7. I'm quite a fan of the Sam Plank mysteries - have one all ready on my Ipad - The Worm in the Blossom - to take on holiday next week and am very much looking forward to it. After all, what's as good as writing historical fiction? Reading it!

  8. Looking forward to reading this. Off to download it.

  9. Another rich vein to tap for stories, it seems. Great cover too.

    1. Wonderful cover isn't it! Thanks for dropping by Steven

  10. I love how the author "met" the character! Also, loving the pictures of your pups on the sidebar :) Thanks for the visit!

    1. Thanks CyborgMom - Pup Eddie has just come back from his walk and I am now tattooed with muddy paw prints!

  11. Not read any Sam Plank stories yet - but now added them to my list for the summer! Great blog :)

  12. I personally love the notion of financial crime as a theme. And Sam Plank sounds like a terrific character. So glad Susan Grossey indie published.

    1. Its a somewhat topical topic as well! (Yesterday's news leak of financial tax dodging!)

  13. Great idea! I've read the first of the Sam Plank novels (Fatal Forgery) and loved it. The Man in the Canary Waistcoat is next on my list.

  14. Susan is still having difficulty accessing blogger so on her behalf:
    The biggest THANK YOU for the blog in the first place, and now for fielding all the comments:

    “Thank you all for making Sam so welcome – I swear he’s blushing, although he’s muttering something about having partaken of one tankard too many. I love financial crime as a subject but couldn’t find an agent or publisher who agreed, so I went the indie route and am so pleased that I did – I get to write about what interests me (and I’m delighted to see that a few of you agree).

    You’ve given both Sam and me great encouragement as we head towards his fourth outing in October.”


  15. Hello, Helen. As a new member of HNS, I'm gradually finding my way around & I love your blog. Brilliant post & what a great way of introducing books to readers - blurbs not required. Thanks for sharing.
    Best wishes

    1. Thanks for dropping by- and welcome to HNS!


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