When I received an email from Founding Fiction for an invitation to step back into the world of 1820s Leeds in a treasure hunt for extracts from Chris Nickson’s new release ‘The Hanging Psalm’, I was immediately intrigued. Although I can’t attend as I will be at another crime fiction event, if you live in Leeds or fancy a trip out, this might be just the thing for you! Here’s a bit about the author, the book and details about the event!
About The Author
I’m the author of the Richard Nottingham books, historical mysteries set in Leeds in the 1730s and featuring Richard Nottingham, the Constable of the city, and his deputy, John Sedgwick. The books are about more than murder. They’re about the people of Leeds and the way life was – which mean full of grinding poverty for all but the wealthy. They’re also about families, Nottingham and his and Sedgwick, and the way relationships grow and change, as well as the politics, when there was one law for the rich, and another, much more brutal, for everyone else.
Leeds in the 1890s is the settling for the Tom Harper series. The books are mysteries, but relationships are paramount, as well as politics – strike, racism against Jewish immigrats, the slow build of socialism and more.
I’ve also written about Leeds in the 1920s and ’40s (Lottie Armstrong) and the ’50s (Dan Markham). Different ideas, the same evolving place at the heart.
A good novel can make you feel like you’re in the world of its characters. But it’s not very often you get the chance to literally walk the streets of a novel’s setting while you’re turning the pages. On Saturday, September 29, literature fans in Leeds will get the chance to do just that as part of a unique book launch for Chris Nickson’s The Hanging Psalm.
About the Book
The Hanging Psalm Chris Nickson’s 25th book – pretty much all historical crime, and 20 of them set in Leeds between 1731 and 1957. The Hanging Psalm is the beginning of a new series set in the 1820s, featuring thief-taker Simon Westow and his young assistant, Jane.
Simon Westow makes a good living as a thief-taker. The boy who grew up in the workhouse has become a success, finding and returning the stolen possessions of the rich – for a fee. But when mill owner John Milner hires Simon to find his kidnapped daughter, Hannah, he faces a challenge like no other.
With his enigmatic and deadly young assistant, Jane, by his side, Simon’s search takes him through the dark underbelly of Leeds, where poverty, industry and death live cheek by jowl. But he soon comes to understand that the real answers lie in his own past, and an old enemy seeking revenge . . .
About the Event
Members of the public will be invited to take a step back in time to Leeds in 1820, when The Hanging Psalm is set, as they immerse themselves in the story in the hunt for exclusive extracts from the novel. Each extract will hold a clue to the whereabouts of the next – with all of them tucked away in specific city centre locations mentioned in the novel.
The first person to find all five extracts will win a free signed book. Everyone taking part will be invited to the official launch of The Hanging Psalm – at Waterstones on Albion Street on Thursday, October 4, at 6.30pm.
As the public takes part in this literary treasure hunt that’s a cross between geo-caching and Pokemon Go, they’ll be encouraged to share their experiences to social media using the #foundfiction hashtag.
Immersing readers in the mystery
The Hanging Psalm is the story of thief-taker Simon Westow, a workhouse boy who’s grown to carve a living for himself finding and returning stolen items for a fee, with his deadly young associate, Jane. Hired to find a missing girl – at the time, daughters are wives were legally property – he discovers the past has returned in a way he’d never expected.
The book launch is part of the #foundfiction project, which connects readers and writers worldwide through short stories that are left in random public spaces. Since 2013, #foundfiction has distributed around 4,000 stories across the world in this way. It has a community of writers and distributors in 14 countries, and has published literature in three languages – English, French and Polish.
“The idea behind #foundfiction is simple,” explains #foundfiction founder Steve Clarkson. “Writers send us stories, which we print out, fold into envelopes marked READ ME, and leave in public spaces for people to find. When someone stumbles upon a piece of #foundfiction, it marks a special connection between writer and reader – and that sort of leverage could make a huge difference to finding a bigger audience in the crowded publishing marketplace.”
“We thought that getting members of the public to take part in this experiment, looking for clues as a detective would, is hugely relevant to Chris’s new novel, given the mysterious, suspense-ridden nature of his work. We can’t wait to see how literature fans engage with it.”
“Leeds is always at the heart of my work,” says author Chris Nickson. “And this book launch with #foundfiction allows people to discover some of the lesser-known places in Leeds, to bring them into the book and become a part of it.”
Sara Porter, Editor at Severn House Publishers, says: “An original, creative and exciting way to connect readers and writers, and to introduce Simon Westow to the people of Leeds. #foundfiction has already inspired many readers around the world, and The Hanging Psalm is the perfect choice to inspire many more. Get ready to READ ME!”
How do I take part?
On the morning of Saturday, September 29, Chris Nickson will publish a map with an X in the location of the first extract, which will contain a clue to the whereabouts of the second, and so on, until the finder has managed to trace all five extracts. The first person to find every extract will win a free signed book.
For all enquiries and further images, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Steve Clarkson on 07907 311 545