Good morning everyone I’m on the blog tour for Haircuts, Hens and Homicide by Stephanie Dagg today and I have a great guest post to share with you.
Haircuts, Hens and Homicide is available in ebook now and you can purchase your copy here.
Before I share my guest post with you here is a little bit about the book.
Megan finds mayhem when she arrives in France to bury her Gran and sort out her affairs. She expected difficult encounters with civil servants and red tape but not with wandering chickens, an imperious policeman and a dead body. Together with her unlikely new friend, the elderly and grumpy Alphonse and his canine equivalent, Monsieur Moustache, Megan becomes involved in investigating the fowl-related foul play that’s at work in this sleepy part of rural France.
She’s helped but mainly hindered by the people she comes across. These include the local mayor, who wants Megan to stay and set up a hair salon in his village to help keep it alive. There are the cousins Romain, the gendarme, and Nico, the clumsy but hunky farmer. They have always clashed, but do so constantly now that Megan is on the scene. Michelle, Romain’s terrifying ex who wants him back, appears along the way, as does Claudette, a wheelchair-bound old lady, and Kayla, Megan’s best friend, who is hugely pregnant but not above taking on the forces of French law and order when Megan finds herself the prime suspect after Alphonse is stabbed.
There’s excitement, humour and lots of ruffled feathers in this rom-com slash cosy mystery, the first in a projected series.
I’m a bit of a crazy bird lady, as you might guess from my having written a book with ‘hens’ in the title. I have a lot of poultry, currently geese, ducks, quail, three different breeds of turkeys and, of course, chickens.
It’s fifteen years since I got my first chickens. We’d just moved to our new house in the wilds of County Cork in Ireland with a lovely big garden that would be perfect for hens to free-range in. But of course they’d need somewhere fox-resistant to sleep in. I did some research into chicken coops, which come in all different shapes and sizes and prices, and settled on a space-age Eglu from a company called Omlet. The Eglu consisted of a brightly coloured, tough plastic bunker with an adjoining run. It wasn’t too expensive, even with the cost of getting it sent over from England, and it’s proved to be a very sound investment. It’s still going strong, although it’s a little faded and dented, and over the intervening years it has housed not only hen and turkey chicks, but goslings and ducklings, guinea-pigs, rabbits and kittens. But I digress.
Our farmer neighbour gave me the address of her chicken supplier and so my youngest son and I, equipped with a cardboard box, headed off into the even wilder wilds of County Cork to find her. The lady in question led us out to a barn, opened the door and, in one swift movement, grabbed two of its occupants by the legs. These indignant, upside-down birds were now mine.
Back home, and the right way up, they soon settled in. We named them, rather wittily we thought, Lady Egg and Princess Layla. I’d hoped for eggs within a week or two but these two eager-to-please young chickens provided us with some during their inaugural night in the Eglu. We were thrilled.
We all became very fond of Lady and Princess. They roamed our garden by day and slept safely in the Eglu by night. When we went on holiday, they moved in with our neighbour’s chickens for the duration. We identified them with leg rings to be on the safe side, but I could have distinguished my girls even in a flock of a million brown chickens.
Shows are a big thing in rural Ireland. Many towns organise one each year where there are produce and craft stalls and competitions, show-jumping, cattle, pig and sheep judging, and various displays in the main ring. I always enthusiastically took part in the show, entering the cooking and knitting classes and the children entered the craft classes for their age group. There was a hen’s egg competition too. Over ten days I carefully collected my girls’ eggs. These were quite distinctive, Lady’s being smaller and rounder than those of Princess. Usually we’d eat them or cook with them immediately, but we restrained ourselves. I hadn’t realised before, but Princess’s eggs varied quite a lot in size and speckledness. They weren’t uniform at all. However, Lady’s were. I choose the six most identical, popped them in a decorated egg-box and delivered these to the wooden trestle table allocated to this class. There were many, many other entries but I was quietly optimistic. And that optimism was rewarded with first prize. I could hardly believe it. Our little brown chicken was now a prize-winner. It didn’t go to her head, although it definitely went to mine!
Three years after becoming chicken owners, circumstances took us to France to start new lives there. It would have meant complicated paperwork to bring the chickens with us, and heaven knows it was stressful enough just moving ourselves, plus a miserable journey there for them, so we reluctantly made the decision to rehome them with another kind neighbour. We were sad to part with our baptismal chickens, who were firm favourites with us all, but they were in good hands. Princess and Lady never looked back once as we released them into their new coop, where they immediately set up on the insect life with ruthless determination. Chickens are like that, I’m afraid.
Now that I’d had chickens, I couldn’t be without them again, so we very soon bought our first French chickens and then ducks, then turkeys, then geese, then quail… Princess Layla’s and Lady Egg’s legacy lives on to this day in my large feathery flock here in France.
About The Author:
I’m an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. I now consider myself a European rather than ‘belonging’ to any particular country. The last ten years have been interesting, to put it mildly. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie, makes for exciting times.
The current array of animals includes alpacas, llamas, huarizos (alpaca-llama crossbreds, unintended in our case and all of them thanks to one very determined alpaca male), sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys, not forgetting our pets of dogs, cats, zebra finches, budgies , canaries, lovebirds and Chinese quail. Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it’s been a steep learning curve. I recount these experiences in my book Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France and the sequel to that, Total Immersion: Ten Years in France. I also blog regularly at http://www.bloginfrance.com.
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. I have worked part-time as a freelance editor for thirty years after starting out as a desk editor for Hodder & Stoughton. Find me at http://www.editing.zone. The rest of the time I’m running carp fishing lakes with Chris and inevitably cleaning up some or other animal’s poop.
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