The Mystery of the Lost Husbands

Is murdering husbands an addiction or merely a bad habit?

This is the question facing Private Investigator Cat Harrington when rich builder, Tom Drayton, dies shortly after his wedding night. Suspicion falls on his widow, Anastasia Rodriguez, the survivor of three previous ‘lost’ husbands.

Two years later, Anastasia is engaged again, to Cat’s friend Angelo, an Italian snail collector.

Angelo’s sister, Gia, employs Cat and the SeeMs Detective Agency to discover if her brother’s financé is a killer.

The search for Anastasia’s lost husbands takes Cat and her team from Scotland to the South of Spain and on to Argentina.

They have just a few weeks before the wedding to discover if Anastasia is a murderer and save their friend from becoming victim number five.

For fans of Arsenic and Old Lace and The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency


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Author Q&A
1.     What would you consider to be your Kryptonite as an author?

I don’t write funny books, but I do love books that have an ironic humorous twist in them for the reader. I try and achieve that in my stories.


2.    If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Unless you are very lucky or get published very quickly (and sometimes even then) the chances are that you will have another career beside your writing. Don’t worry; it will give you confidence and characters. I spent most of my working life in a world where few people read, and I was still able to write, and later sell, my books. Don’t give up. Very few people walk a path straight to where they want to go, most of us have many detours.


3.    What book do you feel is under-appreciated? How about overrated?
Night and Day by Virginia Woolf
I love that book but judged in a present day it has lost its power to shock. It is now seen more as a history-of-the-time book rather than a story with a unique perspective. Judged from the standards of the day it is wonderful.


4. Favorite childhood memory involving books?
Reading Tintin with my mother. My mother spoke excellent French and wanted us all to be multilingual, so she would read us Tintin in many different languages, most of which she could not speak herself. She would imagine how it should sound and make up the accents. It was hilarious and in my memory we both laughed a lot of the time.


5. If you could dine with any literary character, who would it be and why?
Oscar Wilde. He was witty and clever even before his fall, but after his time in prison, for nothing more than being himself and falling in love, his depth of understanding of the human condition led to some of his best writing. Sometimes portrayed as an egotistical fop, he was in fact bitingly incisive and had a real insight into the world he lived in, able to laugh at its foibles while subtly suggesting ways of change.
I imagine having dinner with him in France. I would let him choose wine and food for us both, and he would have a reason for each choice. After dinner we would sit by the fire and read his poetry and discuss his choice of words. Perhaps I would read him some of my work and hope he would be amused.


6. What fantastical fictional world would you want to live in (if any) given the chance?
The world of PG Wodehouse. Full of humour and silliness, and even when things go completely wrong and everyone is getting cross, you know there will be resolution and it will all end happily. Crazy but wonderful.


7. Did you want to be an author when you grew up?
Yes, always. I thought being an author would give me freedom so I could go where I wanted, do what I wanted and write what I wanted. Of course, that is not correct as a writer is as circumscribed by events and reality as the rest of the world, but writers still have that special ability to look at life with a critical eye and find humour in areas that would otherwise be too painful to live with.


 8. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Think before acting
It is a bit more of a suggestion to me than a description, but it is my biggest problem, jumping in before thinking things through.


9. What is your most unusual writing quirk?
I’m not sure if it is unusual or not, but I like to write my chapters out of order. I usually write the end first and then the beginning and finally fill in the rest of the story. I do have an overall plan in mind, but if often changes during the writing.


10. What’s one movie you like recommending to others?
The Crying Game, because it deals with unusual people in a period when both the main characters were looked on as aberrant. He because he is a volunteer in the IRA and she because she is transgender. The film shows their personal story, their integrity, and their ability to deal with things when everything goes wrong. I think it is one of the best films I have ever seen and showed me how important it is for people on both sides of a disagreement to listen to the other side and put themselves in their opponent’s position before making a judgement.


11. If you could own any animal as a pet, what would it be?
A flying dog. I once wrote a children’s story for friends called Biscuit and Oscar Learn to Fly because all the dogs I know chase birds and squirrels and can’t catch them. They stop at the base of trees and stare into the branches, and I imagine they are wishing they could fly up and continue the chase amongst the leaves.


12. Have you ever met anyone famous?
In my other life as a flying instructor, I met quite a few semi-famous people like Eric Fellner of Working Title and Colin Cowdray, but my favourite was a group of rappers who decided to give one of their band a surprise flying lesson.
The rappers arrived with their friend in the boot of the car because they didn’t want him to see where they were going. He got out of the boot and threw up. He had just spent an hour and a half whizzing around in a dark boot smelling of petrol and felt awful.
Despite that, he agreed to have a flight, but he didn’t speak much and mostly looked out of the window. He did have a go at the controls, but he said he would much rather have known about it in advance.
When we landed, he made out he’d had a brilliant time and had done the take off and everything, so his friends were really happy about the present. I thought he was so kind and cool; he really deserved a medal for being so brave.

1.     What is the first book that made you cry?
A children’s book about wild horses. The stallion was a wonderful brave horse who defended his mare against all comers, until an escapee from a farm turned up. The new challenger was shod and the metal in his shoes tore the stallion to pieces. I was devastated and could not stop crying. Since then, I have avoided any books with possible animal pain and suffering.

2.    How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
About a year. I rewrite so much that sometimes the whole appearance of the book changes. Then I read about people who write a book in a couple of months, and I think, how do they do it?

3.    How do you select the names of your characters?
I like clues from inanimate objects. For example, I have a character called Phil Tank because our coffee machine exhorts us to FILL TANK.

4.    What creature do you consider your "spirit animal" to be?
My Chinese year is the dog and I think that is right: loyal, tenacious, and loving but my spirit animal would be a dog who flies, who moves beyond the normal doggish things of sniffing and eating and into the world of dancing in the air, slipping between clouds and diving at the ground, just to pull up into a wild loop.


What are your top 5 favorite movies?
The Crying Game
Cat Ballou
St Trinian’s both versions. I love Rupert Everad’s characters. Brilliant.
All About my Mother by Pedro Almodóvar
High Society, original version


5.    If you were the last person on Earth, what would you do?
Spend my last moments with animals and try and help them for a future without humans, although I expect they’d manage very well, but the domestic animals might miss us.

6.    What fictional character would you want to be friends with in real life?
Tintin, not only does he have the best adventures he also speak 100s of languages so you would always understand the people around you; at least linguistically!

7.    Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Enjoy your writing. Even when you are published and running around helping promote the books, that part is not as much fun as the actual act of writing where you are totally involved and at one with the story. It is important to remember how much you enjoy writing because there are many times when you think you are hopeless, that you can no longer understand how grammar works, you have too many POVs and you cannot distinguish between show and tell. Don’t give up. We all get to that state. Keep remembering you love writing will help you get through the bad times.


9. What book do you wish you had written?
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie


12. What is your favorite genre to read?
I like reading across genres, what I am really interested in is stories that make me think about our world, so something like the Colour of Bee Larkin’s Murder or Burnt Shadows, or anything with characters out of place who are trying to find a way to come to terms with the world they live in.


1.     When did you write your first book?
When I was at university. I had a holiday job in a big company. I had written a comic book called The Twerple with Two Many Brains, which was loosely based on my clever and incapable friends. I couldn’t afford to publish it and the one person I showed it to in publishing seemed to think it was a treatise about Mrs Thatcher’s England (her words).
So, I sneaked into the company at night and used their photocopier to make 100 or so copies. I was going to distribute these myself.
I would have got away with it, but I accidentally left one copy behind and got caught.
The girl who found it promised not to give me away on one condition: I invited her to my wedding. Luckily, she assumed I’d have only one!


2.    What sparks your creativity/how do you get your ideas?
Anything can. The Mystery of the Lost Husbands was inspired by a builder in our village talking about a friend who had lost half his company when his brother and co-owner died on his wedding night and hadn’t made a will. I asked what happened to the wife and the builder said, ‘Long gone, he was her fourth.’
I was so intrigued I wrote the possible story of her life.


3.    What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Either flying or something else totally different from writing and something that requires concentration so that I cannot think about the novel I am writing. Alternatively, I like to walk in the woods and allow my mind to drift around playing with thoughts inspired by the novel.


4.    What’s a typical writing day like for you?
I try not to have typical days as for me that stifles my creativity, which I why I like writing in different locations and places: trains, planes, in a field, at a table or on my lap. I do, though, attempt to write at least two hours a day.


5.    Do you listen to music when writing?
Normally I wouldn’t listen to music but sometime, when I want to be put into the mood of an era, I listen to music relevant to the script. For example, in Murder in the Cards it starts in the 1960s and I wanted to absorb myself into life in the 1960s, so I played lots of music from that period.


6. If you could have a dinner party with 3 other authors, who would they be?
Kamila Shamsie

P.G Wodehouse

Oscar Wilde

I paused for a moment because it is important that the guests like each other, but I think Kamila Shamsie and Oscar Wilde would have a natural rapport while PG Wodehouse would listen and then find points of humour and finally be able to understand the other two.

Writers make wonderful guests because they are interested in other human beings and what goes on behind the façade we all portray.


 8.    If you had to pick a celebrity to cast for your main character, who would it be?
Cecilia Roth

9.    If you could travel anywhere in the world to write, where would you go?
Everywhere. I like writing on the move. I am happy writing on planes, trains, and I draw inspiration from being in different places.


10. Would you ever write under a pseudonym?
I already do, Gina Cheyne is not my real name, and I do it because I wanted to separate my life as a pilot from my life as a writer.


11. How do you choose your book covers?
I love choosing book covers and I spend almost as long as I do writing the book. Right from the beginning I am thinking about what I would like on the cover and how to express the themes in the book. Then I spend hours looking on Pinterest, Instagram and so forth. Finally, I talk to a professional designer, and she gives suggestions based on what I have written. Great fun.


12. What’s one thing you’d like to say to your readers?
Do you feel drawn into the book, The Mystery of the Lost Husbands do you feel that you and I are sharing a world? That is my ambition, to try and get you the reader to see the characters in a satisfying way and to understand their motivation. My characters are very often uncomfortable in their world, and they may do or say the wrong thing without meaning to upset others, but they, like us, are trying to make sense of the world into which they were born. Do you think it works?


Author Bio –

Gina has worked as a physiotherapist, a pilot, freelance writer and a dog breeder.

As a child, Gina's parents hated travelling and never went further than Jersey. As a result she became travel-addicted and spent the year after university bumming around SE Asia, China and Australia, where she worked in a racing stables in Pinjarra, South of Perth. After getting stuck in black sand in the Ute one time too many (and getting a tractor and trailer caught in a tree) she was relegated to horse-riding work only. After her horse bolted down the sand, straining a fetlock and falling in the sea, she was further relegated to swimming the horses only in the pool. It was with some relief the racehorse stables posted her off on the train into eastern Australia to work in a vineyard... after all what could go wrong there?

In the north of Thailand, she took a boat into the Golden Triangle and got shot at by bandits. Her group escaped into the undergrowth and hid in a hill tribe whisky still where they shared the 'bathroom' with a group of pigs. Getting a lift on a motorbike they hurried back to Chiang Rai, where life seemed calmer.

After nearly being downed in a fiesta in Ko Pha Ngan, and cursed by a witch in Malaysia, she decided to go to Singapore and then to China where she only had to battle with the language and regulations.

Since marrying the first time, she has lived and worked in many countries including Spain and the USA.

For a few years Gina was a Wingwalking pilot, flying, amongst others, her 64-year-old mother standing on the wing to raise money for a cancer charity. She was also a helicopter instructor and examiner and took part in the World Helicopter Championships in Russia and the USA.

She became a writer because her first love was always telling a good yarn!

Under the name Georgina Hunter-Jones she has written illustrated children's books such as The Twerple who had Too Many Brains, and Nola the Rhinoceros loves Mathematics.

She now lives in Sussex with her husband and dogs, one of who inspired the Biscuit and Pugwash Detective Series about naughty dogs who solve crimes.

The Mystery of the Lost Husbands is the first in the SeeMS Detective Agency series and Gina's first crime novel for adults.

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