Alex Reeve – The House on Half Moon Street – Guest Post
I am delighted to welcome to my blog author Alex Reeve whose debut novel is a Victorian crime thriller called The House on Half Moon Street is released on 3rd May (Raven Books) an exciting new historical series. Leo Stanhope is a transgender coroner’s assistant who must uncover a killer without risking his own future.
A body is found in the River Thames it is London in 1880. Was it suicide, accidental or something more sinister. Introducing Leo Stanhope who is hiding one hell of a secret. He was born Charlotte, and his father was heavily involved in the church. When Leo left home at the age of fifteen he left his family home never to return or to see his mother and father again. He knew that life as Charlotte was not the life and he knew from an early age he wanted to be a man. Leo is in love with Maria but can his love survive this secret? At this moment in time he is hiding this secret from the world and it must not come out. Leo’s fear of being found out pours out of the pages of this historical thriller.
Now he is heavily involved in a mystery involving the body of a man washed up by the Thames. A superbly written thriller that is written with so much warmth for our protagonist Leo. Reeve’s describes Victorian London perfectly that you can almost feel the smog around you and also smells and noise of 1880 London. This is a novel that has been carefully thought out and the characters that Reeve brings to the reader are just so incredibly real. At times I was reading this while travelling on a bus and was totally lost in a bygone age. I feared for Leo as every page was turned wondering if his secret would be exposed and what fate would befall him. At times I was so involved in this intricate thriller that time just passed me by. There is so much in this stunning debut novel by Alex Reeve that touches so many subjects including gender. it is atmospheric and dark yet intricate. I cannot recommend The House on Half Moon Street highly enough and I congratulate Alex Reeve on a fantastic debut novel. I am already looking forward to book two.
Alex has been kind enough to write a little Guest Post for my blog and here he talks about his debut novel The House on Half Moon Street.
The story of the story
The first inklings of an idea for The House on Half Moon Street came during a train journey I took with a transgender co-worker. I felt great compassion and anger about the way she was treated. It wasn’t anything overtly aggressive, but it was persistent: glances, stares, whispers and sighs. And she had to deal with it every single day! All she’d done was make a choice about her identity. What more fundamental human right could there be?
Surely, I thought, things must be getting better?
I love historical crime novels, so I started doing some research. I found lots of examples of transgender men and women, and of course there must be lots more, people who lived and died in happy obscurity. However, I also found they suffered many of the same issues as today: societal disapproval, legal uncertainty and health issues, among other things.
At some point, Leo Stanhope took up residence in my head and wouldn’t leave. I knew everything about him almost immediately. I could hear his voice, both amused and exasperated, and sense his romantic nature. I knew I had to write about him and, after a few false starts, I did.
From the very start I decided this wouldn’t be a novel about being transgender; it would be about a man who happened to be transgender. That distinction steered the story; Leo suffers a tragedy that could happen to anyone, and he sets off to solve the crime. It’s neither caused by, nor solved by, his being transgender. His perspective might be unique, but so is everyone’s.
I’ve been asked before how it feels to write about a transgender experience, but actually I found writing the women much harder. After all, Leo is a man and almost all the time people treat him as a man. His personality is very different from mine though. In fact, one of things that most attracts me to this peculiar profession is the chance to live as someone else for a while, someone who’s quite different from me. If I only ever wrote versions of myself, trust me, the result would be very boring indeed.
And now I get to do it all again! The second in the Leo Stanhope series is nearing completion, and the plot of the third is taking shape. Soon there’ll be even more characters for me to live as, for a little while.
My thanks to Alex for giving his time ahead of publication for writing a Guest Post.
The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve (Raven Books)
Thank you to Amber Mears-Brown (Bloomsbury) for the advanced review copy of The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve.
Published by Raven Books on 3rd May and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.