How does Spiked fit into the Valerie Series?
My forthcoming novel, Spiked, is set in the same universe as the Valerie Series. As I explained last week, that doesn’t mean you have to read the Valerie Series before reading Spiked. It works as a standalone - albeit one with some familiar characters for long-time readers.
Spiked follows journalist Stevie Lee in her quest to discover why a man fell to his death right in front of her. As things get more complicated, she enlists the support of her friend, Valerie Smythe MP. That’s where the crossover comes in and it also sees some other characters appear too.
Although Stevie Lee appeared in Book 3 of the Valerie Series (Max), she actually started life as an independent character. The first drafts of what would become Spiked had nothing to do with the Valerie Series until I was writing Max and Stevie just wandered into that story.
From an author’s perspective, it definitely makes sense that Valerie and Stevie exist in the same universe. The Valerie Series is a critique of modern politics as well as a romance, and Spiked hits some of those notes too.
It was also clear to me that, in the same way that Valerie is a Conservative MP who doesn’t always fit that mould, Stevie was someone who should be completely at ease with her life but isn’t. The daughter of a media mogul who wants her to be exactly like him, Stevie gets the confidence she needs from her friendship with Valerie - even if the two might not necessarily agree politically. A Tory MP being friends with a press baron’s daughter seems like a no-brainer, but it takes on a different dimension when the Tory MP is Valerie Smythe and the press baron’s daughter is Stevie Lee.
Part of being an author is implanting yourself into lives you wouldn’t want to experience yourself. It’s also about empathising with positions you don’t hold. Like Stevie, I might not agree with Valerie’s politics, yet her party affiliation is the best way to explore the issues I want to in my fiction.
As usual, though, there’s a fragment of me in every character. I dare you to figure out which fragments of Stevie and Valerie come from me.
If you haven’t read the Valerie Series, the first three novels are now available in a digital boxset at Amazon and will soon be available via other major online retailers. You can also purchase direct from me on Payhip.
Spiked will be released on 22 May 2023 and is available for pre-order now. Watch out for Book 4 in the Valerie Series later this year too!