The Sampford Slaying
The Story came about as a result of my travels around Dartmoor and my interest in local history. Dartmoor is well known for Bronze Age archaeology, but most of its medieval heritage isn't even marked as such on the OS map. The area is littered with evidence of medieval tin mining, farmsteads, and longhouses.
I wanted to write a story about medieval Devon, but my idea was to centre it on Plymouth and the raid of 1403, which I had researched for my own interest. I decided to shelve the raid idea for a second book and focus on Dartmoor. While researching local history I read about Sheriff John Herle - a character seemingly as corrupt as the literary character of the Sheriff of Nottingham - reading about Herle's deviousness gave me the basis of the plot for The Sampford Slaying.
There will be at least three independent mysteries in the series, covering the period 1402-1404, although I expect a few more will develop to cover a period beyond that.
My research has covered a great deal of local history, ecclesiastical and legal practices, food, and language. Fortunately, as a medieval re-enactor and keen reader of medieval history, I already had a good idea of the period, but when coming to write I needed to know about canonical hours, parish boundaries and so on, and then decide which ones to preserve and which to change (or even ignore) in order fit the story and to make it digestible for the modern reader.