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Frances Evelyn, author of The Changeling series, sets latest book, Bibliomancer, in Oakham

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A former academic turned author has chosen her home town of Oakham as the setting for her latest 'magical realism' novel.

Julie Coleman, who writes under the pen name of Frances Evelyn, last month released her fifth novel, Bibliomancer - Time To Choose Your Last Book.

It tells the story of fictional Oakham girl, Emily Brewster, who is questioned by police after a series of suspicious deaths among patients she has read to at a hospice.

Julie Coleman is known to readers under her pen name of Frances Evelyn
Julie Coleman is known to readers under her pen name of Frances Evelyn

Emily is released without charge but looks into this further when approached by a group of would-be sorcerers.

“It will appeal to people who love books and don’t mind a bit of magic,” Julie said.

“The book title has dark and scary connotations, but my main character lives with her best friend and they have a normal friendship so there's a lot of banter and fun as well.

Her fifth novel is the first she has set in her home town of Oakham
Her fifth novel is the first she has set in her home town of Oakham

“The thing that’s difficult for Emily is that she gets sucked into all of this dark stuff, not really understanding what it is, but alongside that she is doing normal things so there is light between the dark bits.

“It’s not a depressing book. it’s quite positive in some ways.”

Julie, a former English lecturer, took the plunge and left her job at the University of Leicester to become a full-time author three years ago.

She launched her career with the Leicester-based Changeling series and, with the fifth and final instalment - The Last Time - set for release next spring, she still cherishes her decision.

“It was always something I wanted to do and I love it,” she said.

“A lot of writers talk about writer’s block, stress and loneliness and I don’t know what they’re talking about - it’s lovely!

“I’m sitting there telling stories and get to share them with other people. I feel like I’m full of stories.”

Her pen name is a tribute to family - Frances was her grandfather's middle name, while Evelyn honours her grandmother's first name.

And she is keen to give Oakham the spotlight in her latest works. A series of ghost stories set in the town is also in the offing.

Readers will spot several local landmarks among the pages of Bibliomancer, including Normanton Church and the Buttercross, while Oakham Library has been re-purposed as the hospice, and a bookshop has been opened in Church Passage.

"It feels quite Dickensian and at one end is a graveyard so that's where I put the bookshop which is where most of the action takes place,” Julie explained.

“It is slightly sinister and seemed just the right place to base it.

"Oakham is quite a small town where people know each other and I wanted that sense of belonging, but also a sense of paranoia.

"It's just a lovely place. I'm so lucky that I moved here.”

Bibilomancer (Galdorbec) is available via Amazon as a paperback and e-book.

Julie is also available for question and answer sessions with book groups and can be contacted via the Frances Evelyn Author Facebook page.

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