The Felicity Paradise series has been created by Debby Fowler.

 Debby is a very experienced author with numerous publications to her credit (see biographical details). About seven years ago she was chatting to her publishers about ideas for books and it was suggested that we might have a crime/detective series set in Cornwall.

Obviously it had been done before; but a few days later Debby came back and said ‘I want to create someone a little bit different, not a detective, a woman with insight and tremendous personality; someone with lots of experience of life and a natural gift for communication - someone far from perfect, with lots of flaws, just like all of us ......someone believable.’

‘Felicity's natural gift for communication doesn't alas extend to her daughter. But that's another story. The crime or detective story will run alongside the story of her new life - the life after her husband dies and she has to re-invent herself’.

So after much discussion the series was born - the books are written in chronological order in real time - so that in the first book ‘Letting Go’ the action takes place from May 2002 to May 2003 and the second book ‘Intensive Care’ from September 2003 to June 2004. The third book ‘The Silver Sea’ takes place between March and November 2005. The fourth book ‘Smoke Damage’ starts in May 2006.

The sixth Felicity Paradise crime novel ‘In a Small Town’ is now published.

photo montage of St Ives
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JUST PUBLISHED:

'Just Before Dawn'
photo of the front cover of Just Before Dawn No 8 in the Felicity Paradise crime series

Ex-Chief Inspector Keith Penrose is now retired and not entirely sure he is enjoying his new-found freedom. Felicity Paradise meanwhile is pursuing her illustration work and delighted to land a well-paid contract. At the same time she has demons of her own to confront when she is forced to face the truth about her mother's past. Keith is called in by his old boss George Staple to investigate a cold case; a possible murder six years before. Felicity is delighted for him, but the new case means they are not only separated by distance but by a growing lack of emotional understanding. Tensions run high. As always Debby Fowler skilfully balances the personal life of her characters with a well thought-through crime story.

The eighth title in the Felicity Paradise crime series 'Just Before Dawn' is set in Cornwall.

£6.99
ISBN 978 185022 247 7
178x110mm - 358 pages
AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

'Letting Go'
photo of the front cover of Letting Go The first book in the Felicity paradise crime novel series.

Letting Go was published in the summer of 2006 and was an immediate success. Set initially in Oxford and then in Cornwall we follow Felicity in her battle to overcome her sense of loss and bewilderment after the death of her husband. The coroner's verdict is unlawful killing but Fizzy is not convinced.

She goes back to Oxford and standing on the pavement on Woodstock Road she sees the whole ‘accident’ played out in her ‘mind's eye’

‘.....and looked up the road to the already speeding car. As it came towards her, she was dazzled by the headlamps and could see no detail of the car or its occupant. Biting her lip in concentration, she kept her eyes firmly on the car as it accelerated towards its hideous impact with Charlie. As the car flew past her, the interior was lit by a streetlamp from across the road. The features of the driver were blurred and shadowed but there was no mistaking the white streak of hair that stood out in stark contrast to the darkness surrounding the figure at the wheel.’

Later the driver is found dead in a burnt out car park in St Ives. This is the beginning of an intense battle to keep her reason - to convince her friends and family that she isn't ‘going mad’. She is fortunately befriended by Martin Tregonning who's had his own share of problems, but nevertheless believes Fizzy's story and between them they unravel a desperate and dangerous plot that nearly costs them their lives. Their ultimate saviour is Inspector Keith Penrose - a justifiably jaundiced and weary man who's seen it all before, but his natural patience and kindness allows him to see beyond his prejudices and come to Fizzy and Martin's rescue.
AVAILABLE ON KINDLE
photo of St'Ives
REVIEWS:

Jackie Butler in the Western Morning News reviewing ‘Letting Go’ said it was -
‘....meticulously plotted, well crafted and easily digested tale with all the loose ends revisited and tied up to the reader's satisfaction. Felicity is an attractive, mature character and easy to identify with - fiercely independent, self willed and opinionated at times, insecure and terrified at others.’

Michael Williams in the Cornish Guardian -
‘Debby Fowler knows how to hook the reader from the opening pages, and like all gifted storytellers, she knows too the importance of dialogue - how it drives the story forward and illuminates the characters.’
 

'Intensive Care'
The second title in the series.

Set in St Ives and Zennor Intensive Care finds Felicity struggling to cope with her grown-up daughter staying with her in tiny Jericho cottage. There's hardly room for Mel's suitcase let alone her ego. Fortunately the redoubtable Annie comes to rescue persuading Mel that painting her bed and breakfast is the ideal therapy for out of work high flying city lawyers!

photo of front cover of Intensive Care Fizzy has got a commission to illustrate a locally written children's book and during her wanderings around St Ives to sketch she encounters a small boy. His image haunts her - where has she seen him before? After a frantic dash to Oxford to look at some old school photos she has him placed and Felicity is off on another chase. A reluctant Inspector Penrose is dragged in, gradually convinced that the chase isn't solely after wild geese and the two of them discover the truth - a complicated tangle of wrecked lives bringing Felicity to face up to another tragedy in her past.

‘Felicity looked down at the boy. The white blond hair was plastered to his head and he was clearly soaking, poor child, but what struck her with force was his obvious misery - his eyes were red ringed and it looked as though tears as well as rain were pouring down his cheeks’.
AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

photo of Cornish countryside
'The Silver Sea'
cover photo of The Silver Sea The third title in the series.

A highly successful business man with a holiday home in St Ives goes missing. His clothes are left on the beach. Has he drowned whilst surfing or has his disappearance been carefully staged

Months later Felicity thinks she seems him on Tresco, but it can't be! The missing man is pronounced officially dead, but the case, if there is a case takes an unexpected and tragic turn.

Keith Penrose, newly appointed chief inspector, gently unravels the layers of deceit and deception only to find he's left with a mystery at both ends of the investigation. Assistance comes as usual from Felicity, and from a very unlikely source, his wife Barbara. ‘Your precious Mrs Paradise didn't think of that!’ And she hadn't.

The story unfolds against the glorious settings of Tresco and St Michael's Mount and of course Fizzie's hometown of St Ives.

July 10th was another warm and sunny day on Tresco but mercifully the breeze was back. Mel, Felicity's daughter, arrived on the first helicopter and by eleven o'clock, the family were assembled for Bucks Fizz and croissants on the terrace of their rented cottage overlooking Old Grimsby. The table was piled high with presents and cards. A great effort clearly had been made to make Felicity feel special, and she did. Before starting on her presents, she opened her cards. There was a surprising number - from old friends and work colleagues in Oxford and from her new friends in St Ives. The last card she opened was a breathtaking photograph of Porthminster beach at dawn, the blues, greens and apricots, exquisite, the white sand tinged by a reddened sky. Entranced she opened the card.

‘To Felicity Paradise, very best wishes on your special day. Keith Penrose, (Chief Inspector)’
‘Goodness,’ said Felicity, ‘promotion. He'll be far too smart to talk to me now.’

 

I think I became the victim. I felt terrified as soon as I was in the hall, it's why I asked you to go, I needed to hang on to the emotion and not be sidetracked. In my head I went to answer the front door, somebody had rung the bell. I opened the door and there was a man standing there.’

‘Did you see what he looked like?’ Keith asked.
‘Yes, I did,’ said Felicity. As she spoke she felt the fear again. ‘He was a tall man, well-built, not dark skinned - but sallow, with a beard...
‘What happened then?’
‘I was terrified and I screamed - sorry, it all sounds rather pathetic.’
AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

photo of Cornish cottage
'Smoke Damage'
cover photo of Smoke Damage The fourth book in the series

Chief Inspector Keith Penrose is hunting a serial arsonist - the investigation is going nowhere and his boss is hounding him. His son Will has left the army in unexplained circumstances, drinking hard and causing a good deal of grief at home. His wife Barbara blames Keith for everything - ‘if only you'd spent more time at home...’

Felicity delighted with her new granddaughter finds herself being bullied by her ever reliably self-centred daughter into babysitting whilst Mel pursues her career. Felicity has a ‘red hot date’ with a very eligible widower and acquires a more permanent male companion - very small on four legs.

Despite all these anxieties Felicity and Keith do get to the bottom of this complicated affair which stretches from way back in the past. In the process they learn more about themselves and their relationship.
AVAILABLE ON KINDLE
'Beach Break'
photo of the front cover of Beach Break The fifth book in the series

Felicity's Cornish idyll is shattered by the turmoil in her personal life. A small banking crisis in the late 80s rises to the surface two decades later; its ripples spilling over into Oxford and St Ives.

As ever Annie remains a fixed point in an alarmingly tumultuous world. Fizzie is torn between the demands of her friends and relations - especially daughter Mel with the birth of her second child.

And of course Chief Inspector Keith Penrose is another problem.
AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

'In A Small Town'
cover photo of In A Small Town The sixth book in the series

A year has passed since the banking crisis in Beach Break. Felicity and Chief Inspector Keith Penrose have deliberately not met. Overnight Keith's domestic life is turned upside down; but some things never change, Mel has a rage at her mother. Retirement looms ahead for the Chief Inspector. Felicity is delighted to be selling her paintings, but inevitably all is not as it seems.

Something nasty is discovered in a vegetable plot at St Erth and Felicity, self-willed and heedless as ever, rushes headlong into trouble. Fortunately Harvey 'the wonder dog' takes charge.

This is the sixth in the Felicity Paradise series. Though the books are written and published in chronological order, In a Small Town is a self- contained story and can be enjoyed without having read the previous titles.
'Swings and Roundabouts'
photo of the front cover of Swings and Roundabouts The seventh book in the series

‘Chief Inspector Keith Penrose is a good man in a crisis - except when the crisis is a personal one. And crises are plenty - both personal and professional. His world has been turned upside down and the only person likely to be able to help him is Felicity Paradise. Or can she? So much is at stake for them both - can they find their way through the problems which threaten to engulf them? Can Keith solve the crime which has haunted him all his working life..and is Felicity really being stalked, and if so, by whom?’

£6.99
ISBN 978 185022 241 5
178x110mm about 300 pages
AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

‘The stories all are marked by a delightful warmth and humanity, the poignancy and sensitivity, along with lots of gentle joys, counterpointing the tragedies of murders and hatreds’.
Ewan W. Wilson - Crime buyer - Waterstones Glasgow
AVAILABLE ON KINDLE
A little bit about Debby Fowler the author ....

DEBBY SAYS -

photo of Debby FowlerMy writing career began with a rather undignified fall down some steep stone steps in the Corn Exchange, just around the corner from the Tower of London.

I was 17, had just moved to the big city and landed my first job. Now, suddenly, I appeared to have done an immense amount of damage to my right knee which required bed rest for at least four weeks. My new boss, Tom, was not amused but being a basically decent sort, he visited the tiresome patient with the obligatory bunch of grapes and a selection of magazines.

"I hate women's magazines, the articles are so patronizing and as for the ridiculous so called romantic fiction..." I moaned. This was the sixties and women's magazines did tend to be terrible but such an outburst showed a truly appalling lack of gratitude, I am sure you agree.

"I bet you couldn't write one - I tell you what, I'll keep your job open for you and give you a fiver if you can get a story published."

It wasn't so much the excitement of the challenge, more a question of paying the rent - four weeks later Woman's Own accepted my first short story.

From then on, my writing career was based around my financial circumstances. Looking back on it, I cannot believe I was so lucky and equally, so unaware of it. When I spent too much one month and ran out of funds, I simply wrote a short story and took a step back from the abyss of impecuniousness...until the next time. All I can offer as defence is that I was only a teenager.

Sometime over the next five years, I started to realise that writing was much more fun and rewarding than being PA to a marketing director, even a kind one who had given me my first break. So I started writing full time and did so right through my 20s and 30s and into my early 40s. I wasn't a star, but my books sold well and the life fitted in with being married and raising a young family...and I loved it.

The watershed came when I was 42. Having already raised three children, my husband and I embarked on a second family (some people never learn) with one last child by birth and two adopted children. We felt in need of a change, felt the younger children would benefit from life in Cornwall, so we moved from Oxford to Cornwall, a place where we felt at home - my mother's family are Cornish.

Years of child rearing followed, the launch of a business and then at last I was back to writing...and the result is Felicity Paradise.

No, Felicity is not me nor really anything like me. We share the Oxford/St Ives connection. She is younger than me, more confident than me and as the books develop, we somehow grow further apart, in a good way. We share a love of family life, we are both devoted to our children but she is more of a dare devil than me and more resourceful.

And as for Keith? In some respects he reminds me of my old boss, Tom, who died many years ago. A man of integrity, who is naturally good with people, someone who doesn't suffer fools gladly but has a great deal of compassion for his fellow men and their frailties, who instinctively understands what makes them tick. He wants young people to get on, do well and has a natural empathy with them. He is a good man.

HOW DO I WRITE AND WHERE DO I DO IT

It sounds messy, but I use three methods of writing. I write by hand in a special sort of ballpoint on an ordinary lined pad. I type, badly, on my laptop, living in terror all the time that I will lose what I have written, giving myself nightmares that I have not saved it properly. Where dialogue is concerned, I tend to dictate and type up afterwards, believing that this gives conversation a more natural flow.

Years ago, we lived by the River Cherwell in Oxford. My two main characters at the time were locked into a fearsome argument and I strode up and down the river bank shouting into my Dictaphone. Inevitably, as the row reached its climax, I fell into the river, holding my Dictaphone above my head as I sunk below the surface. The family have never let me forget it!

I used to write in a hut but now I write in a friend's flat, right in the heart of St Ives at the beginning of Fore Street, close to the harbour. It is brilliant - if I need to check anything, I simply walk outside and there it is. I love St Ives - in my view, there is nowhere quite like it, something else Felicity and I share.

I start writing the new Felicity Paradise book each year as soon as the holiday main season ends as I also run a shop in St Ives. The books take me about 6 months to write so I normally finish at the end of February. However, as soon as a book has landed with the publisher, I immediately start thinking about the next one. I feel in order to maintain continuity; I need to keep the characters and their lives in my mind all year round, which of course is not difficult as I spend every day in St Ives.

IN A SMALL TOWN

In the case of IN A SMALL TOWN, I felt the story I began in THE SILVER SEA was unfinished and that it was particularly unresolved from the point of view of the son, Miles Irving. We also left Keith Penrose in a state of frustration at the end of THE SILVER SEA because he was forbidden by his boss from taking the case any further. This new book aims to bring closure to the Irving family and their problems.

I also felt that we have never really explored Felicity's ambitions as an artist and in the second of the three plots running through IN A SMALL TOWN, I wanted to touch on the frustrations and disappointments of trying to make it as an artist in a town overrun with art and artists.

The third plot highlights a crime which like many, the police find hard to deal with in a black and white way - who is the true victim, who the true villain? This is where Keith, with his unique ability to understand how bad things can happen to good people, comes into his own.

Through it all, runs the increasingly complex relationship between Felicity and Keith. Can it continue, must it end? I want to know the answer too.

On a very personal note, the character of Miles is very loosely based on my son, Michael, who was also adopted from Romania - from Orphanage Number 4 in Bucharest in 1990, shortly after the revolution. Miles is not like Michael in character, nor mercifully has Michael suffered any of Miles's appalling experiences, particularly losing a sister. Michael does have two sisters, adopted by two different Sicilian families, and this does give me an understanding as to how close the sibling bond remains even when the children concerned are brought up in different families and countries. Michael gave away his sister at her wedding a few years ago, deputising for their dead father - it was incredibly moving. Unlike the Irvings, Alan my husband and I tried to keep the sibling group together by adopting all three but sadly we were too late to adopt the girls. The story which Miles tells Keith Penrose about the starving children in the orphanage garden is a true story. I know because it happened to me.

Talking of publishers, I am always in a state of terror when I hand over the text of each book to them, kind and reassuring though they are. To be honest, the waiting period while they read the manuscript is a complete nightmare. It doesn't matter how many books you have written during your career, each new one takes you straight back to all the insecurities you felt when you wrote your first - at least it does for me. The fact is, you are only as good as your latest book - at least in your own eyes. Sleeping, eating... everything is affected until you receive the verdict. Mercifully, I am blessed with publishers who understand this and they do make a huge effort to come back to me quickly.

It is an odd thing this creative process. In my shop in St Ives, I feel confident about selling the merchandise on sale within it. However, when someone comes in to buy one of my books, I suddenly do feel quite shy. I am afraid to offer to sign the book in case this is not what the customer wants, or in case it looks a trifle pompous. I have one son who is a musician and one who is an artist. Both of them experience serious panic when meeting someone interested in their work - so maybe I am not so weird! The enthusiasm of readers who visit my shop means a very great deal to me - it's vital really. Forgive me if I sometimes appear a bit tongue-tied and please, please keep coming.

THE PUBLISHERS SAY -

While Debby is nervously waiting our reaction to the latest book we are eagerly looking forward to reading the next instalment of the Paradise saga. It usually takes us a week or so for both of us to read the text twice - once at a canter, quickly grasping the plot, getting a feel of it. And then a second time round much more slowly, marking the text for spelling errors, factual queries, grammatical and continuity errors.

We then sit down and work our way through the text for a third time, discussing each point page by page - on average say a hundred queries. They range from the trivial 'Do we need to have an upper case 'Summer' - surely 'summer' will do'?- to the much more serious - why is Keith Penrose driving from up-country through Truro to get to Treliske Hospital when any local would drive onto Chiverton roundabout on the A30?' Debby wanted him to be stuck in traffic and arrive late at Treliske - you can get stuck at Chiverton far more conveniently!

Anyway we're down to 30/40 points to discuss and we meet up with Debby, who is always busy. We've laid the text out roughly in the page form that's printed - give Debby a copy - vital as we need to have the same page numbers; so obvious but easily overlooked. The three of us working our way painstakingly through the text perhaps takes two hours or so. Small rewrites are done on screen as we go; others have to be done by Debby at home.

By which time we all need lunch - Debby flies off to another appointment - shouting out of the car window as she leaves- 'I'll try and get these re-writes done by Friday'. And being the professional she is she keeps to her deadline even if it means getting up at five o'clock.

Somewhere in this process the text is sent to our proof-reader who always checks for continuity as well. In the past we thought we could do this ourselves, but we've found having a third (fourth?) party looking at the text with a shrewd objective eye has paid dividends - incredibly easy to get people's ages wrong - 'how come Mel is now 35 when eighteen months ago she was 32?'

The text is agreed - and all we need to do is to send it to the printers - get the finished books into the shops and hope our readers are as enthusiastic as we are. In the end it's you our readers who have the ultimate say - author and publishers wait with bated breath to hear what you say - we've had comments within 24 hours of publication - wonderful devotion!

Thanks for reading - Ivan & Heather Corbett - publishers of the Felicity Paradise series.

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