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Why you must read Kay Leitch’s Treasure This


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Treasure This is a murder mystery… whodunit… thriller kind of novel, for anyone over 10 who enjoys fast-paced stories that make you think.

I sat down at the computer one day, as you do, and an interesting first line popped onto the screen:

I swear I saw a dead body in Aunt Ellie’s garden shed…

I wrote a few pages and submitted them to my then writing group, who all said “Wow – keep it going!” So I did. I had no ideas WHERE the story was going until well into the second half, but I loved the character enough to want to know what happened to her and how she solved so many murders. I kept on writing, and I ended up with Treasure This.

Tell us about it.
Treasure This is about 12-year-old Addison, who finds a dead body one morning in her aunt and uncle’s garden shed. But by the time she drags her elder sister Caitlin and little brother Leaf down to see it, the body has disappeared and Uncle Harry and Aunt Ellie are cleaning the shed after a spill of red paint… then Harry starts burning everything.

Addy is determined to find out what’s going on in Aunt Ellie and Uncle Harry’s old Cotswold mansion. She discovers there’s another body buried under the lilac bush… and another under the holly tree… and who are the two horrible men watching the house?

Addy’s emotional journey teaches her the difference between good secrets and bad secrets, that people aren’t all bad or all good, but somewhere in between. More than anything, though, she learns to trust her instincts.

Sounds really interesting.
It’s fast-paced, so people who prefer a story to move along quickly should like it. Also, anyone who likes a bit of depth to their stories, something that’s multi-layered. The moral issues at the heart of Treasure This are meant to make you think – what would you have done?

What’s Addy like?
Addy is brave but vulnerable. Her dad is ill in hospital, and her mum is with him, which is why Addy, Caitlin and Leaf are all staying with their aunt and uncle at Roseleigh Manor.

They don’t sound very nice.
Addy loves Aunt Ellie and Uncle Harry. That’s why it’s all so awful for her. She can’t believe they’re murderers. And if they are, what will that mean to the family? When she meets the two thugs in the woods – two men who’re watching Roseleigh Mannor – she has another dilemma. Should she tell the police? What if the police dig deeper (literally!)? That would be the worst thing that could happen.

Addy is sassy and forthright and isn’t afraid of standing her ground. But she’s got a lot to worry about, between dead bodies, thugs in the woods, a much-loved aunt and uncle who seem to be lying about everything, a sick Dad… and exams.

Harry is a bit of an enigma. Imagine a kind of Michael Caine figure – you really like him but you’re not sure what the hell he’s been up to. Addy loves him and sweet Aunt Ellie; they’re right for each other. Harry is strong and dependable in a crisis. But he’s a man with secrets. And he intends keeping them.

Caitlin is a typical teenage girl, a bit obsessed about how she looks. She and Addy squabble a lot. Leaf is a little boy who plans to join the SAS when he grows up and so every day is a chance for him to practice is stalking/spying/soldiering skills. He does it well. Until…

Have you written any other books that we should read next?
No, but I’m already well into writing the next one.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I like creating things. Whether it’s artwork or novels, I like the process of sitting down with a blank canvas, page or screen, and creating something worthwhile. I get a real kick when people tell me how much they loved Treasure This but I’m realistic. I don’t expect to make a million from writing, but I do know it makes me happy so I’m going to keep on doing it for as long as I can. I love writing into the early hours of the morning – it’s magical – even though I feel like a wilted flower all the next day. There’s something about writing at midnight. Nothing beats it.

I spent twenty years in journalism and I enjoyed it. But I was always aware I was working hard for other people. Now I work for myself. Poorer, but happier.

At least you’ve got a boss you like. What more can you ask for?
I’d like to be able to afford a really comfortable office chair, so I can sit and write for hours at a time and not end up walking like a 100-year-old woman afterwards, as I do now.

Once I get that chair, I’ll produce a novel every year for the next five years – children’s, adult, fantasy, thriller, contemporary, historical. Hell, I might even do romance, so long as I can take the Micky out of my characters. These books will generate enough (modest) income to mean that by year three I can give up editing and go and live in Spain. In the mountains. With a lovely dog. Or three. Okay, I’ll take my husband too.

Lucky guy.
Do you have a website?

What about Twitter?
Sorry, I don’t tweet. I decided to put more effort into writing than into social media so I keep it manageable. Yes, I know it means fewer people will learn about Treasure This. But, you know, there are only twenty-four hours in every day. Twenty-four. And I have to work, too. So all in all, I’d rather write.

What’s next?
Next, I’ll be finishing the book I’m writing now. Would love to tell you about it but don’t want to jinx it. With luck, I’ll be back here next year telling you all about it.

We can’t wait.
How easily do new storylines come to you? If we give you four random words – Man, Woman, Mexico, Future – can you give us a brief storyline?
Red dust covers our planet: a legacy of the Cataclysms that have ravaged every part of our world. Survivors are rare. A woman stumbles out of what was once Mexico. She walks as far as she can. She buries her child under a cairn of stones, weeps, and carries on up into the mountain, searching for anything green. It’s all she can do. There’s no going back. The cities are derelict, diseased, dying. The future lies in the mountains.

Above her, a man waits. He plans to kill her. As she climbs towards him, she raises her face and he recognises something he had thought never to see again: hope.

He changes his mind.

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