Si Sapsford, an artist and University art teacher who has recently moved to Henley has just published her first book, a teenage fiction Murder at Meadowfields under her partner’s surname, Si Harvey.
She is new to fiction writing but has written for art magazines on artists and art techniques over many years. She’s recently had an article published on an innovative technique of using clay with 3D clay printers. Si is a sculpture and painter and has had work featured in the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal College of Art Summer Show last year. She has also been on Sky TV’s Portrait Artist of the Year getting to the semi-finals.
Murder at Meadowfields is about an amateur sleuth and bored teenager, Lewis who hears about the mysterious death of the reclusive owner of Meadowfields Hall and decides this is his chance to investigate. But things start to get out of hand when he teams up with the mysterious Gracie, a treasure hunter, with her own secrets to hide. This gripping adventure, where nothing is as it seems, sees Lewis and Gracie hunting down a criminal gang, who seem to be trafficking more than just stolen goods across Europe. But why have they chosen Gracie’s isolated home, as their base?
Si said, “I decided to write this book as my friend’s husband had written an adult murder mystery, which I’d read, and then I decided to have a go myself. I’d been thinking about refugees and people smuggling as an idea, but the theme developed slightly differently over time.”
Si starting writing the book in lockdown in 2020 but then left it for several months as she didn’t have access to her computer. She explains,”I’d written 18 pages and when I reread it I decided to carry on. The biggest challenge was editing the book. I had many pauses but found after a break it was easier to pick up on mistakes. I enjoyed thinking about the plot and how to develop and resolve it. It was a great distraction during lockdown and dog walks.”
Many ideas come to writers when writing a book from friends, acquaintances and experiences. Si explains “I work with someone who is a mudlarker (people who have a licence to find treasure on the shores of the River Thames in London) which I find fascinating. My colleague is very experienced in finding fragments and working out what they are from e.g a vase, pipe, token/coin. In the book Gracie’s interest is mudlarking and part of the story revolves around lost artefacts from medieval times that had been in someone else’s possession before being lost again.”
Si thinks the characters in the book will relate to many teenagers. She comments, “Both the characters find that they are drawn together because of their family situations, Lewis’ father left when he was a baby, and Gracie’s parents are in the process of separating. There is also the beginnings of a coming of age as Lewis starts to realise that he has feelings for Gracie.”
Before Si’s art career, she worked as a sailor for 7 years, crossing the Atlantic 6 times and the Pacific once, visiting many countries along the way and participating in many races. Afterwards she decided to return to England to spend time with her family when her grandfather became sick and got a job working at Bechtel co-ordinating sea and airfreight to Kuwait during the Kuwait war. In 1995, Si decided she wanted to go back to college and do an art degree. She graduated from the RCA in Sculpture in 2000 after which she began teaching at the University of East London.
Si added, “I’d like to carry on writing, and have made a start, but I’m combining that with teaching fine art as well. I think it will be another murder mystery, but I keep thinking I should draw on my sailing experience as well.”
The book is available to purchase via Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Murder-Meadowfields-enthralling-mystery-adults and is priced £6.50. or at The Bell Bookshop.