She may not know this, but our latest author signing, Rachel Sargeant, witnessed the birth of Hobeck Books.
It was an early autumnal day, the sea breezes whipping against the Art Deco windows, an expectant audience shuffling into their seats, rubber-soled shoes squeaking on the glistening parquet floor. The Midland Hotel on Morecambe's seafront stood proudly, reminding visitors of the golden age of steam, dressing for dinner, and of between the war glamour and manners.
A panel of four authors took to the stage to discuss the impact that winning awards had made on their careers. Despite fears that the discussion would slide into a vortex of petty jealousy, one upmanship and ego clashes, the quartet were surprisingly harmonious and supportive of each other. This was not what the audience expected, here, in this temple of murder mysteries and Poirot TV adaptations. Certainly, the Hobeck duo, sat on the back row, assumed this was how crime authors would behave in each other's company.
Despite their confusion, the directors of the newly named and be-logoed Hobeck Books were struck by the contribution of one of the panelists, Rachel Sargeant. Her words rang true, and the story of her path to publication appealed too - of how winning a short story competition in Writing Magazine had changed her life and gave her the confidence to pursue a writing career.
They bought one of her books from the stall at the back of the Morecambe and Vice auditorium. They both read and loved it - wishing that one day they could attract writers of such talent and calibre. The date was September 28th 2019.
Two years later, and Adrian and Rebecca, the erstwhile directors of Hobeck gathered in their twin pink armchairs, Hobeck mugs in hand, and took stock of the slew of manuscript submissions in front of them. They looked up at each other, open mouthed.
'It can't be the same Rachel Sargeant, can it? You know, the one that wrote The Perfect Neighbours?' asked Rebecca. 'I loved that book.'
'I don't know, but it might be,' Adrian replied, searching his phone for clues to the identity the mystery author. 'After all, how many Rachel Sargeants are there writing crime and mystery fiction?'
Adrian was the first to read the submission. 'We need the full manuscript. This is brilliant.'
It is. My Deadly Friend, the first in a new police procedural series set in Gloucester. A series of murders brings DI Steph Lewis back in contact with an old rival and memories she'd rather forget.
This is crime fiction at its best. It has you guessing until the final pages. It's full of vibrant and memorable characters and is at times, wickedly funny. So six months after we first received the manuscript, and two and half years since our paths first crossed, we're delighted to welcome Rachel, writing as Rae Sargeant for this new series, to the Hobeck family. It almost feels as if it was meant to be ...