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Author Angela Story, Welford on Avon

PUBLISHED: 18:25 01 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:54 20 February 2013

Angela Story

Angela Story

'You who lie under cover of the spreading beech-tree,<br/><br/>are practising your pastoral music On A Thin Stalk.' <br/><br/><br/><br/>Welford on Avon author, Angela Story, tells how her friendship with a <br/><br/>remarkable district councillor led to this debut novel.

What made you write about a local councillor?


The character of Amos Cotswold was inspired by a friend of mine who has been the district councillor in our village for over 20 years - available at all hours for his constituents, he's always ready to help. I realised that someone with his qualities and wealth of local knowledge would make an excellent fictional detective. When it comes to unearthing country secrets, a district councillor can frequently be better placed than the police... though his motives might differ.


Hence I created Amos Cotswold as a 60-year-old jobbing farmer whose very name is rooted in the English countryside. An elected official with a desire to preserve what's best in traditional village life, he accepts that communities can't stand still. Oh, and he has a pet pig.



So your book isn't about committee meetings and council processes?


Far from it. It's a fast-paced mystery story with an unusual hero.



Is this a true story?


No... but it could be. Other ideas came from the WW2 People's War website - Stratford Oral History; information I gleaned on the British Resistance; and my next door neighbour's memory of enemy captives used on local farms. Set in the area around Stratford upon Avon and laced with tantalisingly familiar scenes, today's issues of village viability form the backdrop to On A Thin Stalk. But the story brings to light how seemingly ordinary places can be haunted by their past - and how reminders of our predecessors lurk inches from our everyday surroundings.


At three in the morning by a disused airfield, Amos Cotswold leaps for his life when Spitfires strafe the road. He lands in a ditch atop the corpse of a German prisoner of war. The year - 2006. Ghostly repetition? A restless, unburied soul re-enacting its own demise... or powerful interests determined to prevent the redevelopment of the adjacent army camp? Hampered from fully confiding in the police by his inherited obligation to the wartime underground movement, Amos is forced to mount his own investigation. Led along a trail of phantom aircraft, fine art, a gangmaster's exploitation of immigrant labour and the renovation of an old steam railway, he finally uncovers the dark reality of what the Second World War bequeathed the country.



Where does the title come from?


Virgil penned this warning about the fragility of village life over two thousand years ago - realising, even then, how precarious was the balance between economic necessity and that rural idyll to which we still aspire. In On A Thin Stalk, Amos Cotswold battles against local prejudice and crooked entrepreneurs to promote projects which will sustain his village - little suspecting what really drives the opposition.


Have you always wanted to write?


When I was eight, my primary school teacher sent for my mother... worried I was reading too much Enid Blyton. Relieved it wasn't Lolita or Lady Chatterley my parents wisely ignored her concern. Soon after, on learning that Johanna Spyri had written Heidi at nine years old, I rushed to produce my first book, submitted it to GIRL magazine for serialization - and received my first rejection.


Reduced to earning my living through more certain means, I nevertheless harboured the ambition to fulfill my family's destiny; reasoning that Story by name must surely indicate some intrinsic ability!



So are there other writers in your family?


I haven't found one yet. Back as far as 1725 I am descended from a long line of farmers and publicans... that's my excuse anyway! Surprisingly, I don't think there's ever been another author called Story with that spelling.



Is this a one-off or will you keep writing?


A second Amos Cotswold novel, Shrouded Legacy, will be published on New Year's Eve. Based on a medieval legend from Weston on Avon, it reveals more of Amos Cotswold's early life. A third novel is finished and the seeds of more adventures are busy germinating. And yes, Amos has the same pet pig in all of them.




ON A THIN STALK by A M Story is published in hardback by Robert Hale at 18.99 from bookstores, Amazon, or direct from the Robert Hale website www.halebooks.com . Available to COTSWOLD LIFE readers at 15.99 including postage & packing - ring Carol Earl at CBS on 01892 837171 quoting the magazine.


What made you write about a local councillor?


The character of Amos Cotswold was inspired by a friend of mine who has been the district councillor in our village for over 20 years - available at all hours for his constituents, he's always ready to help. I realised that someone with his qualities and wealth of local knowledge would make an excellent fictional detective. When it comes to unearthing country secrets, a district councillor can frequently be better placed than the police... though his motives might differ.


Hence I created Amos Cotswold as a 60-year-old jobbing farmer whose very name is rooted in the English countryside. An elected official with a desire to preserve what's best in traditional village life, he accepts that communities can't stand still. Oh, and he has a pet pig.



So your book isn't about committee meetings and council processes?


Far from it. It's a fast-paced mystery story with an unusual hero.



Is this a true story?


No... but it could be. Other ideas came from the WW2 People's War website - Stratford Oral History; information I gleaned on the British Resistance; and my next door neighbour's memory of enemy captives used on local farms. Set in the area around Stratford upon Avon and laced with tantalisingly familiar scenes, today's issues of village viability form the backdrop to On A Thin Stalk. But the story brings to light how seemingly ordinary places can be haunted by their past - and how reminders of our predecessors lurk inches from our everyday surroundings.


At three in the morning by a disused airfield, Amos Cotswold leaps for his life when Spitfires strafe the road. He lands in a ditch atop the corpse of a German prisoner of war. The year - 2006. Ghostly repetition? A restless, unburied soul re-enacting its own demise... or powerful interests determined to prevent the redevelopment of the adjacent army camp? Hampered from fully confiding in the police by his inherited obligation to the wartime underground movement, Amos is forced to mount his own investigation. Led along a trail of phantom aircraft, fine art, a gangmaster's exploitation of immigrant labour and the renovation of an old steam railway, he finally uncovers the dark reality of what the Second World War bequeathed the country.



Where does the title come from?


Virgil penned this warning about the fragility of village life over two thousand years ago - realising, even then, how precarious was the balance between economic necessity and that rural idyll to which we still aspire. In On A Thin Stalk, Amos Cotswold battles against local prejudice and crooked entrepreneurs to promote projects which will sustain his village - little suspecting what really drives the opposition.


Have you always wanted to write?


When I was eight, my primary school teacher sent for my mother... worried I was reading too much Enid Blyton. Relieved it wasn't Lolita or Lady Chatterley my parents wisely ignored her concern. Soon after, on learning that Johanna Spyri had written Heidi at nine years old, I rushed to produce my first book, submitted it to GIRL magazine for serialization - and received my first rejection.


Reduced to earning my living through more certain means, I nevertheless harboured the ambition to fulfill my family's destiny; reasoning that Story by name must surely indicate some intrinsic ability!



So are there other writers in your family?


I haven't found one yet. Back as far as 1725 I am descended from a long line of farmers and publicans... that's my excuse anyway! Surprisingly, I don't think there's ever been another author called Story with that spelling.



Is this a one-off or will you keep writing?


A second Amos Cotswold novel, Shrouded Legacy, will be published on New Year's Eve. Based on a medieval legend from Weston on Avon, it reveals more of Amos Cotswold's early life. A third novel is finished and the seeds of more adventures are busy germinating. And yes, Amos has the same pet pig in all of them.




ON A THIN STALK by A M Story is published in hardback by Robert Hale at 18.99 from bookstores, Amazon, or direct from the Robert Hale website www.halebooks.com . Available to COTSWOLD LIFE readers at 15.99 including postage & packing - ring Carol Earl at CBS on 01892 837171 quoting the magazine.

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