Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Aloha to Hannah Dennison and MURDER AT HONEYCHURCH HALL


Today I am attending Book Blogger Conference hosted by Sarah Wendell and Jane Litte (link). Blogging has connected me to Romanceland ... and it is a romance blog that introduced me to today's guest, Hannah Dennison.  From her bio,

Born in England, Hannah relocated to Los Angeles with her daughter and two cats to pursue a career in screenwriting. Along the road to publication she has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant and Hollywood story analyst. Hannah is the author of the Vicky Hill Mysteries (Constable UK) and "Murder at Honeychurch Hall" (Minotaur USA), the first in a new series which will be published in May 2014. It will also be published by Constable UK in November 2014.

Now living in Portland, Oregon Hannah continues to teach mystery writing at UCLA, has served on numerous judging committees for the Mystery Writers of America and still works part-time for a west coast advertising agency. She is married to an advertising executive and enjoys hiking, horseback riding, skiing and seriously good chocolate.  

File:Hever Castle.jpg
Hever Castle
Public Domain (link)

Kim:  I love your bio. Hampshire - Devon - Kent - LA - Oregon. That's quite an address book! Let's chat about England ... did you have a favorite "old place" (manor, castle, pub, etc) in Hampshire? Devon? Kent?

Hannah:  The first “old place” that ever captured my imagination was Old Basing House in Hampshire (50 miles south of London). It was the site of a bloody and violent siege fought between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers during the English Civil War. Since the house was razed to the ground, only the ruins and an underground tunnel remained. Today, everything is fenced off but when I was a child, my sister and I used to play among the ruins and dream of knights in shining armor.

In Kent I lived in a sixteenth century farmhouse followed by a short stint in a haunted cottage in East Sussex (about 50 miles to the south-east of London). Both counties are filled with romantic castles. My favorite is Hever Castle where Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII’s unfortunate second wife) grew up. But it’s in Devon where my heart remains (200 miles to the south-west of London)—Agatha Christie country and home to her beloved Greenway. My family moved there when I was 19 and still live there. It’s an extraordinary place steeped in history, magic and mystery—every author’s dream setting.

So … as you can imagine, spending twenty years in Los Angeles where the oldest building dates around 1900 was quite a shock to my system. Even more puzzling is the Angeleno obsession for pulling down the old buildings they do have to build even newer ones. I suppose it’s because Los Angeles is a place where people can reinvent themselves. I know I did! I’m still finding my way around Oregon but I love Portland. It feels a little like home and does boast of having a handful of homes built circa 1880s. 

View from Greenway in Devon, England
National Trust (link

Kim:  How do the Oregonians react to your English accent?

Hannah:  I’m always asked if I come from Australia. It’s rather like someone from South Carolina being asked if they are from Boston. Our accents couldn’t be more different! I’m going to see if I can give you an example phonetically. “Good day,” (English – rhymes with pay) “Good die” (Australian, rhymes with pie). 


Kim:  What did you learn from writing your Vicky Hill series, including reader feedback?

Hannah:  When I wrote the first Vicky Hill mystery I didn’t expect it to become an ongoing series. I quickly realized how important it was to keep a big bible with all the details of my characters—ranging from what they eat to what cars they drive; descriptions of places, especially the geographic lay-out of Gipping-on-Plym. But, most of all, to keep track of the story lines, clues and trademark quirky hobbies that appear in each book. I definitely pay attention to reader feedback especially if I have got a basic fact wrong e.g. mixing up a husband and wife! Readers are incredibly perceptive—I love that! 


Kim:  Tell us about your new series and new release, MURDER AT HONEYCHURCH HALL?

Hannah:  You could say that I’ve incorporated everything I love and miss about England into my new series. It’s set in Devon and focuses on former TV celebrity Kat Stanford who discovers that her newly widowed mother Iris has recklessly bought a dilapidated carriage house on a country estate known as Honeychurch Hall. Although this is no Downton Abbey and times have changed, a line still exists between those upstairs, and those below. Predictably, the newcomers aren’t popular especially when they discover that Iris has quite a few skeletons in her own closet—one being the fact that she’s been secretly writing racy-bodice-rippers under the pseudonym of Krystalle Storm.

An upstairs-downstairs backdrop wouldn’t be complete without a feisty, octogenarian countess but I also threw in a precocious seven year old who is obsessed with the famous fighter pilot called Biggles, a treasure trove of antiques, the occasional haunting and of course, the paparazzi, who are always hungry for celebrity news. As you can imagine there are plenty of motives for intrigue … and murder.

Yet at the core of my new series is the relationship between a mother and daughter facing new and uncertain beginnings. I’m fascinated by the notion that it’s those who are nearest and dearest to us who are often the most duplicitous of all.

Kim:  What's next for Hannah Dennison?

Hannah:  I have just turned in the sequel to Murder at Honeychurch Hall that will be published in 2015. I’ve also learned that there will be two more in the series so that is very exciting. At the same time, I’m writing a fifth Vicky Hill mystery called Accused! You could say I’m rather busy.

And finally, I’d like to extend a big thank you for hosting me on SOS Aloha today. It’s been great. I do hope you’ll stop by my website hannahdennison.com and visit me on Facebook.

Totnes Castle, Devon, England
English Heritage (link)

Mahalo, Hannah, for joning me today! I posted my five star review of MURDER AT HONEYCHURCH HALL on Goodreads at this link.   Hannah set MURDER AT HONEYCHURCH HALL in Devon - home of my English granny.  I am giving away a "English" prize package to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about honey, old buildings, and/or antiques.   

2.  Comments are open through Sunday, May 18, 10 pm in Baltimore.  

3.  I'll post the winner on Monday, May 19 (assuming I recover from RT).


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Learn more about Hannah and her sisters, er, books at hannahdennison.com.

Buckland Abbey in Devon, England
National Trust (link


  1. We don't have many old buildings here in las Vegas, they blow them up and make room for new ones all too often. But we do have the old Mormon Fort here. That's the oldest buildings I know of here. If you want really old you have to go out to Red Rock and take a little hike and see the hieroglyphs on some of the rocks.

  2. I love visiting old buildings. They have secrets.

  3. Not many old buildings here in Canada... Lots of honey though.

  4. Morning from the west coast! I loved answering these questions Kim. I also felt a wave of nostalgia looking at Totnes Castle.
    Mary - your comment made me laugh - that's so true of Las Vegas! I'd love to know where the Mormon Fort is.
    Debby ... absolutely. "If those walls could talk!"
    May ... we have some delicious honey in Portland, Oregon actually ... in fact I might go and have some on my morning toast.

  5. Lots of old buildings in Pittsburgh - from our old jail to the huge homes (some now museums and showcases) of the shakers and breakers that started all the industries such as Carnegie and Rockefeller. And honey is the only food that never goes bad :)

    1. I would love to look around Pittsburgh. There is so much rich history there and I would especially love to see the old jail! I saw Old Sparky in Cleveland once ... that was quite chilling :)

  6. arghh it ate my post!

    Lots of old buildings in Pittsburgh from the old jail to the huge homes that belonged to the likes of Carnegie or Rockefeller etc. And honey is the only food that never goes bad!

  7. There's an effort here to try to save some old buildings to save them from demolition.

    1. I think more people are becoming aware of what it means to lose historic buildings ... when I lived in LA everything "old" was torn down. We had a beautiful Art Deco apartment with an original Art Deco bathroom of colored tiles ... sadly the new owners came in and ripped it out. Although I have to say the shower used to be pretty grim.

  8. We do have lots of old buildings. There are a lot of old churches, schools and historical sites. Honey soothes a sore throat and I like to put it in my tea.

    1. I love honey, too. My Dad used to say that a sure cure for getting a cold was a hot toddy ... whisky and port, honey and lemon... potent stuff!

  9. I liked Hannah's comment about how we Americans tend to tear down our old buildings and replace them with new ones. I've often felt cheated of our American history and heritage when I see so few historic buildings (granted, most only date back to 1800's) refurbished and still standing. And I would definitely collect and use antiques if only I could afford to buy them! As for honey, I use it as sweetener in my tea every day in addition to putting it on my toast. It tastes so much better than sugar or fake sugar. :-) And I am intrigued by Hannah's move from England to the USA and how she managed not to feel displaced by our lack of tradition and our quest for modernization. I spent the Summer of 1986 in Wigan, England (Lancashire) and got to travel 'round a lot of Northern England and the south part of Scotland. I would dearly love to go back and see the sights and sites in Southern England. A lot of the folks we got to know quite well in Wigan would introduce us as folk from "The Colonies." :-) Thanks so much for this post. I really would like to read a mystery from an author who uses the "King's English." Ha jdh2690@gmail.com

    1. HI Janice - Although I am really a "southerner" my Dad came from Yorkshire and my grandfather is Scottish ... so I definitely feel a connection there. I know what you mean about antiques ... there used to be a time when it was possible to find a bargain - but now, with all the antique shows on TV people are far more savvy aren't they? Thanks for stopping by - I enjoyed reading your comments.

  10. not a lot of old buildings here

  11. My maternal grandfather always had bees so I remember visiting him around Christmas and driving around with bottles of honey to sneak up and deliver to his friends for the holidays. :)

    I live in a Victorian home that's over 100 years old.

    Marcy Shuler

  12. When I first moved out to the area where I live there were a lot of antique stores most of them have closed. :(

  13. Hi Anonymous ... what a wonderful memory. Do you remember seeing him make the honey (I'm not even sure what they do for that ... shows my ignorance!)
    Danielle ... so many antique stores have closed ... I suppose we now have e-bay...
    Thanks for stopping by!

  14. I do love old buildings. Having lived in NYS and now in Texas, I get to see a lot of them, although the styles are a bit different. I love antiques, too, and have managed to acquire a few over the years. The one I love the most is a purple glass Lady's spittoon.

  15. We have some nice old buildings in the small town where I live and one of the nicer things about it is that since it is such a small town, it is easy to speak to people to find out the history of these buildings. Facebook has become a good resource for our town to reminisce about the local history and find out who originally built what and when they did it.

  16. It's always interesting to visit old buildings. I went to the Huntington Garden in LA recently and toured the old home (mansion) they have on the property. Very interesting.

  17. I love Manuka honey which is from NZ.

  18. Our neighborhood bulletin recently announced the decision not to try to regulate beekeeping, which evidently has proliferated. Who knew. Lemonade and honey stands soon?

  19. I am a lover of all three things :-)
    More specifically, there is an old building in my town that people are working hard to save-- I am so, so hoping it gets to continue to stand.

  20. Love antiques, thanks

  21. I drink my tea with honey in it every morning.

  22. I can't eat a lot of honey as it gives me a migraine, but I do love looking at old buildings as well and antiques. I love the history in them and like to think of times past and what the people were like. Thank you for the chance to win. griperang at embarqmail dot com

  23. i see some 'old buildings' & i love their details!!!
    they are certainly not built like that anymore!!!!

    thank you for the giveaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com