Tour: HATE BALE by Stephanie Dagg

HateBale CoverHate Bale

Grumbling guests and escaping piglets are precisely what Martha doesn’t need. She’s already struggling to run a holiday cottage and a rather large smallholding single-handedly. Since her husband Mark died, three years ago, her rural property in France, beautiful as it is, has become an increasingly heavy millstone around her neck.

So whilst she’s horrified to stumble across a corpse at the local farm supplies shop, it does at least distract her from her own woes. Best friend Lottie, the cheese to Martha’s chalk, swoops in to offer moral support, and encourages Martha to join her in some unofficial sleuthing. Meanwhile, police officer Philippe Prudhomme, a former fellow chess-player of Mark’s, undertakes a rather more professional investigation.

However, despite everyone’s efforts the killer remains at large. And when more bodies (one and a bit, to be precise) come Martha’s way, it definitely feels like he’s closing in on her…

There’s suspense, humour and excitement in this entertaining cosy mystery set in the French countryside.

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Author Bio –
I’m an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie of animals, has made for exciting times. The current array of creatures ranges from alpacas to zebra finches, with pretty much everything in-between! Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it’s been a steep learning curve.

I’m married to Chris and we have three bilingual TCKs (third culture kids) who are resilient and resourceful and generally wonderful.
I’m a traditionally-published author of many children’s books, and am now self-publishing too. As well as being an author, I’m also a part-time editor and, with Chris, manager of three carp fishing lakes. My hobbies are cycling, geocaching, knitting and sewing.

Social Media Links – @llamamum


Hate Bale*

Questions & Answers from Stephanie

1) What got you into farming?
Moving to France! Our plan was to run carp fishing lakes and holiday accommodation, and the only suitable venue we came across also came with 75 acres. We had to do something with all that land, so we decided to fill some of it with llamas, sheep, goats, pigs and a lot of poultry. The rest of the land was for growing hay to feed all the livestock. It was a shock at first to have such a big chunk of the Earth for ourselves but we very quickly got used to it. It’s such a privilege to be the custodian of woodland, fields, streams and lakes. We’ve left sections of the land wild for animals, insects and birds and we generally treat the environment with great respect. It deserves it. In return we get endless birdsong, glimpses of deer, badgers, foxes, weasels, wild boar, buzzards, red kites, falcons, hen harriers and owls, and we’re surrounded by a huge variety of flowers, trees and amazing insects. We’re totally in touch with the seasons, and it’s wonderful.

2) What got you into Independent Publishing after going the traditional route?
Impatience mainly. It’s a slow process going the trad publishing route – six months to hear back from a publisher, and if it’s a rejection then starting the process all over again. If you’re successful, it can be up to another eighteen months or even longer before the book appears. I’m no longer a spring chicken so I don’t want to waste time sitting and waiting! Besides, I enjoy having all the control that self-publishing gives you. In the past I haven’t been very happy with covers and illustrations that were foisted on me by the publishing company. Now I can get exactly what I want!

3) If you could spend a month anywhere in the world to research a book, all expenses paid, where would you go and what book would you write?

Australia, no question. I visited this incredible country two years ago to see my daughter, who was spending a year working in Sydney. I could only manage a week’s holiday as we were so busy on the farm. However, short as it was I had an amazing time. Australia is just so completely different from Europe – the trees, flowers, birds and insects all appear so exotic and fascinating. I’d travel around as much as I could, and do lots of bushwalking. As for what I’d write, I think a non-fiction account of adventures there, and also a cozy mystery or two featuring some of the interesting wildlife.

4) Do alpacas spit?
They do, but only at each other, and only when extremely annoyed. I’ve never been spat at by one in the twelve years that I’ve owned them, and I’ve unstuck babies from their rear ends, and cut toenails, and given injections and done other necessary but unpleasant things to them. They’re generally very easy-going animals, although not quite as laid back as llamas. Alpacas are definitely more feisty but still very agreeable on the whole. If you get caught in the crossfire during a spitting session, which does happen from time to time, it’s not nice. The stuff stinks! It’s straight to the shower and all clothes into the washing machine, pronto.

5) Do you knit mittens from their fur?
I should do. I went on a spinning course with the intention of spinning my own yarn from alpaca fibres, but I sucked. I just couldn’t the hang of it at all! I was disappointed as usually I’m good with my hands – I’ve knitted and sewed since I was a child, and I do lots of crafts. Sadly, the skill of spinning has eluded me. So the various sacks of wool I harvested from my animals are still languishing in the barn!

Thanks for your fun questions!
Every good wish,