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Friday 1 February 2019

Novel Conversations with Lucienne Boyce and her character

 In conjunction with Indie BRAG
posted every Friday

To be a little different from the usual 'meet the author' 
let's meet a character from the early 1800s...

Dan Foster
Principal Officer of Bow Street Magistrates’ Court

Bow Street Office by Thomas Rowlandson, 1808, 
Metropolitan Museum, New York, Public Domain

Q: Hello, I’m Helen the host of Novel Conversations, please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? You’ll find a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit on the table next to you, please do help yourself. I believe you are a character in Lucienne Boyce’s novel The Butcher’s Block. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role? 
A: Coffee for me, if you please. I don’t take anything stronger, and I don’t have much of a sweet tooth…I’m Dan Foster, Principal Officer of Bow Street Magistrates’ Court, and The Butcher’s Block is the second Dan Foster Mystery.  

Q: What genre is the novel and what is it about?
A: The Butcher’s Block is historical fiction.   
During a routine patrol, police arrest two men in possession of human body parts which are intended for sale to the dissecting rooms of a London teaching hospital. As a Bow Street Runner and amateur pugilist I make the grisly discovery that they are the remains of fellow-officer George Kean. The arrested men are charged with Kean’s murder, but I am not convinced that they are the killers. In pursuit of the real murderer, I investigate the activities of the resurrection men – body snatchers.

The body-snatching racket soon leads me to something bigger and much more dangerous. In a treacherous underworld of vicious pugilists, ruthless murderers, British spy masters and French agents, I must tread carefully – or meet the same terrible fate as Kean.

Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)
A:  I’m a law officer. Whether that means I’m good or bad depends on which side you’re on.

Q:  Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!
A: My Dad, Noah Foster. I call him my dad but he was a stranger to me until we met at the Johnson v Oliver boxing bout at Blackheath back in ’81. I was a kiddey then – you don’t know the word? It’s a thief, ma’am, a young thief, such as are still on the streets today, and no one to take them in and feed and clothe them and teach them any better, as Noah did for me.

I was there for a bit of diving – picking pockets – and I got into a fight with an older boy who said I was on his patch. So we set to and the next thing I knew I was flat on my back with my peepers swollen half-shut and the old man hanging over me and washing off the blood. He said I was a game cove but lacked skill and he would take me home with him and teach me to fight by scientific methods. I thought, I know your game but there’s other games I know better, and I went with him.

It turned out he was telling the truth about owning a gymnasium and training pugs – that’s pugilists, ma’am. Every day for the first month I thought, today’s the day I’m going, and I’d bundle up a few of his things and the takings from his cash box, and every day I thought, he seems straight enough, and I said to myself, I’ll give it another day.

He never said anything about the way things kept disappearing and reappearing, but the cunning old man knew about it all along. He taught me there were better things in life than I was used to. He took the savage out of me and brought me up as if I was his own son born. And he’s stood by me when I’ve made mistakes. Even when I married Caroline and he knew we weren’t right for each other, he’s never turned it against me that I ignored his advice to wait a bit.

Q: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?
A: The first in the series is Bloodie Bones, in which I’m sent to a village near Bath to investigate the death of a gamekeeper. There’s also a prequel, a novella called The Fatal Coin, in which I’m on the trail of a notorious forger and highwayman going by the name of Colonel Pepper.

Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A: Can’t say I enjoy being shot at or having a knife to my throat, though you have to expect such things in my line of work. That aside, I’d say one of the worst moments (in The Butcher’s Block) was searching the resurrection men’s warehouse on Horsleydown in Southwark, London. The dark and the smell…and what I saw there…

Q: And your favourite scene?
A: People seem to think the best part of the job is when you arrest the villain. More often than not, though, it weighs on you to know that your word is going to bring some wretch to the gallows. And I give the lie to those who say that we Bow Street men are tempted to put falsehood before the truth for the sake of the reward that comes with a conviction. Forty pounds, they say, is a great temptation to a hanging, and so it would be, if a man ever got it. But it’s shared between witnesses and arresting officers and any others whose claim the court admits. I don’t say there have never been law officers who weighed profit in the scale, but I defy anyone to bring it home to a Principal Officer of Bow Street.

But you asked me for a favourite scene. (Grins.) Well, there are moments when a villain gets what he deserves and I can’t help admitting to a great sense of satisfaction when I planted one on the jaw of the low-life who tied up and battered an old couple during the King Street burglary (in The Butcher’s Block). If you’d seen the old woman’s face you’d have felt the same.     

Q: Tell me a little about your author. Has she written any other books?
A: To The Fair Land (SilverWood Books, 2012, historical fiction) is an eighteenth century thriller about a young man who risks his life in his search for a missing author, a map, and a discovery that will change the face of the known world.

Lucienne has also written non-fiction about the women’s suffrage movement. In 2013 she published The Bristol Suffragettes. She also brought out a collection of short essays in 2018, The Road To Representation: Essays on the Women’s Suffrage Campaign.

Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?
A: She’s working on the next Dan Foster Mystery, and also a biography of suffragette Millicent Browne.

Q: How do you think indie authors, such as your author, can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for her personally?
A: It’s wonderful if readers can give reviews of books they’ve enjoyed, but obviously not everyone wants to do that. Even if you don’t want to write a review, simply telling your friends and other potential readers about a book helps too. And, of course, keep reading the books!

As for support from groups, it depends what sort of support an author needs. Personally my author doesn’t feel she gets much out of joining writing groups, but she does find associations such as the Alliance of Independent Authors, the Society of Authors, and the Historical Novel Society useful.

Q: Finally, before we must bid adieu, the novel you appear in has been awarded a prestigious IndieBRAG Medallion, does your author find this helpful, and is there anything else she would like IndieBRAG to do to help indie authors receive the recognition they deserve?
A: Lucienne was thrilled to get this award. Truth to tell, it had been an ambition of hers to win it. She feels this sort of recognition is invaluable to her because it reassures readers that the books are worth reading because they have been independently assessed.     

Thank you, Dan, it was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add a short excerpt while I pour you more coffee?

Dan glanced over his shoulder and caught his first sight of the carriage which had brought its royal occupant from Windsor. Every now and again the King waved, sending his subjects into paroxysms of delight. Dan saw a flash of yellow inside the vehicle and recognised John Townsend’s canary waistcoat. The Bow Street officer sat beside his royal charge, smirking proudly. Dan wondered that he didn’t give a regal wave out of the other window.
    As the people pressed forward for a better view, Dan and his men had a hard time to keep them from tumbling into the path of the vehicle. Crushing one of his loyal subjects to death under his carriage wheels would prove something of a dampener on the King’s celebrations. Luckily, the bottleneck forced it to go at a walking pace.
     “Make way, there!” Dan shouted. “Keep a tight hold of your child, missus.”
The woman addressed shot him an indignant glance but did look around for her little boy, who clung nervously to her skirts.
    “Step away!” Dan pushed back a young, well-dressed man, a medical student from the drunken look of him.
    On his left he glimpsed a woman in a dark cloak. Her face was pale, her eyes wide, her lips pressed shut in a white line. Dan thought he recognised her, but as she disappeared behind a fat merchant did not have time to place her. He was distracted by some foolishness on his right, and when he looked back again the woman in the dark cloak had made her way to the front of the crowd. Suddenly she slipped under the linked arms of the constables, ran towards the carriage and raised her right arm.
    “Gun!” someone yelled.
    There was a panicky scramble away from danger, the disorder spreading and made worse because no one knew what they were running from. The row of constables fragmented, the men unsure which way to go. Dan elbowed aside the officer nearest to him and lunged towards the carriage, put himself in the woman’s line of sight. He was dimly aware of Townsend’s contorted face in the window, one hand pressed on His Majesty’s chest pushing him back in his seat, the other reaching towards his yellow waistcoat for his gun.
    The woman faltered as the new target presented itself to her aim. “You!” she hissed.

Twitter: @LucienneWrite

Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery No 1
 Available as paperback and ebook.  

other buying links
The Butcher’s Block: A Dan Foster Mystery No 2
 Available as paperback and ebook.  

Amazon UK    Amazon.comother buying links
The Fatal Coin: A Dan Foster Short Read
 Available as ebook.

       other buying links 
To The Fair Land
 Available as paperback and ebook.  

The Bristol Suffragettes
 Available in paperback

Twitter: @IndieBrag

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Twitter: @HelenHollick



  1. Thank you for inviting me onto your blog Helen!

  2. I've 'met' Dan twice now and I really like him. He's down to earth, tough and if he has to bend a rule a bit, well, so be it....Great creation, Lucienne!

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you Florence ... and thank you for your enthusiastic support for Novel Conversations - it is very much appreciated!

    2. Thank you, Florence, I am glad you enjoyed it.

  4. What a great interview. Dan sounds like a fascinating character; even his back-story is well thought out. The books have gone on my tbr list.

    1. Worthwhile reads I can assure you!

    2. Thank you Susan, I hope you enjoy the books one day.

  5. This kind of mystery is just what I like and this book doesn't disappoint! Interviewing Dan give us a great taste of what this series has to offer. A fantastic award winning book!


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