The Story behind the Story: A Guest Post by Victoria Tait

I have been singing praises and only praises of Victoria Tait ever since I read her Kenya Kanga Cozy mystery series. I was so excited to hear that Victoria has introduced a brand new cozy mystery series. Aren’t we readers so lucky? Our favorite authors write a new series which in turn becomes our new favorite series!

I asked Victoria if she would be interested in doing a guest post as a pre-publication day special and she readily agreed. Let’s see what Victoria has to say about her new cozy series – Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery.

Over to Victoria.

The Story Behind the Story

What inspired me to write a cozy mystery set around an auction house and antiques centre in Britain’s picturesque Cotswolds?

In 2019 we were living in Kenya, East Africa (the setting for my Kenya Kanga Mystery series) when we received news that my husband was being relocated to Bosnia & Herzegovina, in Southern Europe, via 18 months language training in the UK.

It was a surprise as we had expected another posting in Kenya and we had all our possessions with us. It soon became clear that the military system would not help us move, so I set about organising my family’s return to the UK.

I sold a considerable proportion of our household contents, so when we moved into our new military quarter, between Swindon and Oxford, we only had a few pieces of our own and some beds and a sofa I bought from a neighbour.

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I didn’t want to rush into buying furniture or make another trip to Ikea: Ikea has its place and we’ve been surprised at the durability of its flat pack furniture and the number of military moves individual pieces made.

But I wanted some attractive, period furniture, with a history, so my Mum took me to her local auction house in Yorkshire. It was an eyeopener. Such an array of different items, styles and ages of pieces, and those I thought would be a bargain exceeded their reserves, while other pieces had only one or two bidders.

The first item I bought was an antique walnut drinks cabinet. I was attracted by the mellow golden tones of the wood and the detailing of the grain. It was perfect for storing our glasses and crockery.

I discovered there were several auction houses in the Cotswolds, including one only ten minutes away. I spent many enjoyable hours there working on my laptop while I watched the sale progress.

At one auction, I was interested in a pair of curtains for the living room, but the female auctioneer didn’t even look at me as she was concentrating on internet bids so as she was about to announce sold, I had to call out. I’m not shy but I was embarrassed to attract attention in such an alien environment.

Over time I became acquainted with the characters who worked or frequented the monthly sales, and from them I’ve developed the characters for my books. I travelled further afield buying dining chairs from outside Bristol, a bookcase from an auction house in a converted barn, and a corner cabinet from auctioneers in Cirencester.

I met members of the local aristocracy at evening viewings, watched dealers huddle together in corners, and I observed a variety of auctioneers.

I once witnessed two telephone bidders raise the price of an unattractive painting, with a bowl of fruit and dead birds on a table, to over £300,000. I talked to a member of staff afterwards and he told me his client only continued bidding as he realised who the other bidder was and he wanted to have some fun, so he kept raising the price. I presume he could have paid for the painting if he’d found he had the winning bid.

I have drawn on these experiences to write Fake Death, and the future books in the Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery series. I hope you enjoy reading about them.

Hour is Come, the prequel to the series is free to download, just visit my website VictoriaTait.com.

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