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Holiday Book Giveaway, Day 2: Rory Clements/'The Man in the Snow' (Q&A)

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On this, the second day of our annual Holiday Book Giveaway Extravaganza, Hartford Books Examiner and HarperCollins Publishers will be giving away a digital copy of Rory Clements’s new novella, The Man in the Snow. For your chance to win, simply email HBE at by no later than this evening, December 19th, at 11:59 PM EST and include “Giveaway” in the subject line. One recipient will be selected at random.


Today, Hartford Books Examiner offers good tidings to Rory Clements.

Clements is the author of the recently published digital novella The Man in the Snow (HarperCollins Publishers, $0.99), featuring John Shakespeare. He has also written five internationally bestselling full-length novels featuring the same protagonist, all to be published in the U.S. by Witness Impulse, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Clements first had a career in national newspapers, and now lives in a seventeenth-century farmhouse in Norfolk where he writes full time.

The John Shakespeare Elizabethan mysteries have been shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award (Martyr) and the Ellis Peters Historical Fiction Award (Prince); Revenger won the latter award in 2010. Other series entries include Traitor and The Heretics; The Queen’s Man is forthcoming. A TV series based on the books is currently in development.

From the publisher:

A riveting novella set in Elizabethan England—perfect for fans of C. J. Sansom and The Tudors.

Just a few days before Christmas, a reluctant John Shakespeare—brother of a rising playwright—answers a plea for help from Joshua Peace, Searcher of the Dead, but he has no idea the kind of menace he will face. A naked man has been found in a snowdrift, a wreath of holly crowning his head and a bullet in his back.

As all around him prepare for the festive season, Shakespeare must unravel a complex plot of passion and treachery and confront a cold-blooded murderer who will not hesitate to kill again.

Now, Rory Clements talks yuletide murder, mayhem and mischief …

1) What inspired you to write “The Man in the Snow” – and how do you feel that using the holidays as a backdrop enhanced the story?

I started writing this novella in midsummer, so perhaps I just needed to cool off. Think of it as a sort of ice cream for the soul.

Actually, I love Christmas and we have just had a couple of wonderfully snowy winters here in Norfolk, England. I suppose I was attracted to the idea of going back four hundred years to a Tudor holiday of wassailing and feasting and carols - a long way from the non-stop TV and commercialization of the modern world.

2) Speaking of the holidays, what about this season lends itself so well to the mystery genre? Also, do you find that the historical context is influential, or are people still more or less the same in contemporary times?

Christmas is a great setting for a mystery story. It’s the time everyone’s at home - and so a lot of the action can be contained in one house. As for the historical context, I do think people are much the same from generation to generation. People in the 16th century had to get up in the morning, look after their children, go to work to put food on the table. And we know from Will Shakespeare’s plays that they shared all the emotions we have today - from low comedy to thrilling action and high tragedy.

3) How did you find the process of writing a novella to compare to that of composing a full-length book? Were there any particular challenges or liberties that took you by surprise?

Funnily enough, it wasn’t that much quicker. The Man in the Snow still needed lots of research and meticulous planning. And then it all had to be condensed in a way that left the reader satisfied that they weren’t being unduly rushed.

4) In looking ahead to the New Year, what comes next – both for you and for John Shakespeare?

I am working on Number 7 in the series and thoroughly enjoying it. All being well, it should be finished just as the first bluebells are poking up their heads.

5) What’s on your list of essential holiday reading – and do you have any recommendations for those intrepid warriors who are looking to give the gift of books this year?

Most of the year I read history books and other reference volumes. Holiday time is when I try to catch up with a few novels, which is a real treat. I have a pile of thrillers at my side by writers who are well established but new to me: Kathy Reichs, Tess Gerritsen, Mark Billingham and Michael Connelly. I can’t wait to get stuck in!

As for Christmas presents, I would heartily recommend The Time Traveler's Guide To Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer. It's an intriguing and easy-to-read history of the period that I love so much.


With thanks to Rory Clements for his generosity of time and thought and to Danielle Bartlett, Publicity Director at HarperCollins Publishers, for facilitating this interview/giveaway.

Don’t forget: For your chance to win a digital copy of Rory Clements’s The Man in the Snow, simply email HBE at by no later than this evening, December 19th, at 11:59 PM EST and include “Giveaway” in the subject line.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for HBE’s next holiday giveaway. In the meantime, you can “like” us on Facebook.


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