Today’s guest for a FAST FIVE Author Interview is Peter Bradbury, author of Stonebridge Manor. Peter was born in Oldham, UK in 1955, and raised mostly by his mother, Dorothy. He has three siblings who still live in England with their respective families. Peter did a variety of jobs after leaving school early, but he mostly worked in hotels and restaurants around the UK until finally training to be a Butler.
After working in many fine homes for the rich and titled, Peter moved to the USA in 1994 after marrying his wife Debbie and resides currently in the San Francisco area of California. He has continued to work as a Butler, spending 10 years in Dallas with one family, before the recession bit and losing a position in Maryland because of it. This did however enable him to finish his first book, Stonebridge Manor, which he had started years previously.
GAIL: Welcome, and thank you for visiting today, Peter. Along with playing golf and supporting your boyhood football (soccer) team, you enjoy writing “in an entertaining style.” Rather than the 140 characters we’ve grown accustomed to on Twitter, can you share with us a more detailed account of your first novel and your research for Stonebridge Manor?
PETER: Stonebridge Manor is like an old fashioned Agatha Christie type novel set in a huge English country mansion. Lady Baldwin rules the roost along with her servants and family. She can be generous and kind, but very often nasty and cruel, and she likes excitement. Her husband Lord Baldwin is too set in his ways and has become too boring for her, so she seeks fun elsewhere. The story is told from her perspective and from Phillip's, the sarcastic butler. When a murder occurs at the end of an outrageous weekend party, there are many suspects as nearly everyone has a motive. It's a fun novel, and it gives a good look behind the scenes in a very rich household.
Most of the research was in my head for this book as I am a butler. People are always asking me what life is like as a butler and that is how the book started. I put the murder and plots in later. The things that go on in the book like the unpacking, setting of table, serving, pressing of clothing etc, is true. So is the chatter behind the scenes. It's a huge no-no for servants to talk about their masters away from the house. But inside the house is a different matter. You have to talk about them to find out anything but there is a lot of loyalty involved.
GAIL: Oh, I like that part about the sarcastic butler. Is “the job” the most important part of your protagonist’s life?
PETER: Lady Baldwin likes being a Lady, married to a Lord. It gives her standing in the community. She enjoys being at the center of everything, with the power it entails. She is also aware of her sexuality and of lust. If she wants something, she gets it, and she doesn't care how. She also likes to control and manipulate. Her job is being Lady Baldwin.
GAIL: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?
PETER: I think my murder/mystery stands out because of where it's set and the insight it gives. I liked Gosford Park and Remains of the Day and in most instances they got the details right. But then the butler in Remains of the Day wouldn't have been so wishy-washy when asked a direct question, and the valet who couldn't polish a shoe would have been rumbled immediately. Little things like that can be spotted by someone from the inside. This is also an old style novel in that to find the culprit involves leg work and asking questions.
GAIL: How is your main character drawn into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)
PETER: Lady Baldwin doesn't realize that her actions give cause for motives. She thinks she can do what she wants because she is who she is, and she pays well and is generous. She demands and expects total loyalty from everyone.
GAIL: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?
PETER: No, it isn't part of a series unless I'm asked to do one. I am thinking of doing an American wealthy household but that would be more along the lines of the TV series Soap. At the moment though, I am not thinking of doing a sequel to Stonebridge Manor.
GAIL: Apparently, you are not one to rest on your laurels, however, Peter. Though not a sequel to Stonebridge Manor, you have completed a second novel, Prospects, and started your third, Consequences. This last is not a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.
PETER: If I could, I would spend my time writing in a very cosy library that overlooked the ocean. The library would be virtually self contained so that I could make myself some tea, have an adjoining bathroom, and a huge blackboard to keep track of my characters. Apart from the ocean view, the only other thing would be a nearby golf course so I could bash a few balls when I can't think.
GAIL: What a heavenly idea for a writing salon, especially the huge blackboard for keeping track of characters! Please visit Peter Bradbury, Author of Stonebridge Manor at: