'The Hidden Bones', launch of a new crime novel by Nicola Ford
Launched in Marlborough on Thursday evening (14 June) at The White Horse Bookshop, Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust Archaelogist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, has just published her first book, a crime novel called The Hidden Bones, under the pen name of Nicola Ford.
Combining her love of storytelling and crime fiction with her day job of archaelogy, Nick has created the first in a series of novels set against the backdrop of the local ancient chalk uplands of the Marlborough Downs.
Nick has always been fascinated by the past – hooked as a child with her first book voucher for a Noel Streatfield classic, The Boy Pharaoh: Tutankhamen and later going on her first archaeological dig aged 16 years old. Originally brought up in Kent surrounded by Iron Age and Roman excavations, she has now been working as a National Trust Archaelogist for Avebury World Heritage Site for the past 14 years and involved in Stonehenge for the last seven years and is a specialist in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. “I have the two best jobs in the world: I work as an archaeologist at two of the most amazing sites in the country and I get to go home at night and write.”
Having enjoyed writing as a child at school for pleasure, Nick said: “I especially loved reading crime writing that’s soaked in location and landscape”. She regularly writes academic papers but came to the realisation she wanted to write creatively too, so the natural thing was to write what she loved to read especially using the background she knows so well in terms of location and the world of archaelogy to situate her book in. “Archaelogy is similar to fiction writing as it’s about storytelling and weaving stories about what you discover from the past. I just had to find the confidence to use my own voice,” she said.
The Hidden Bones was sparked from one initial scene Nick had in mind in relation to museum archives – where she herself spends many hours when not on archaeological digs. Archives throw up a sense of multiple layers of the past as not only artefacts are uncovered but also “some wonderful things that connect you with the people that did the excavations as well. So you unearth things packaged up in the packaging of the day like the 1930s – cigar packets and sweet packets which take you back to another time.”
The novel is set mostly in the Marlborough Downs in a fictitious village called Hungerbourne, as well as featuring the Museum of Devizes and a fictitious University of Salisbury. Nick has already finished the first draft of the second novel in the series so we can watch this space for further progress of her characters…
The Hidden Bones is published on June 21 and is available from The White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough, price £19.99.
(Pics by Mike Robinson)