Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Book Blog Tour Stop With Author Guest Post: The Custard Corpses by M.J. Porter


The Inspiration for writing The Custard Corpses

I think most writers will admit to having had a ‘lockdown’ book. The Custard Corpses was mine. But even so, the inspiration behind The Custard Corpses was a bit weird. It was based on a series of advertisements that ran in the Picture Post magazines in the 1940s and 1950s for Birds Custard.

The advertisements are bright, inviting, they are, to put it bluntly, before their time. They have lovely catchphrases, such as ‘every little helps’ which a well-known supermarket chain in the UK uses now. The black and white images on the coloured background ensure the readers eye is drawn to the happy child, and they do make you want to eat custard. I wanted to share them with as many people as possible so that they could catch a glimpse of these old campaigns. But how could I share them?

Well, my mind works in strange ways, and I began to consider a mystery that would somehow be relevant to the advertisements, so it needed to be set during the period the Picture Post magazine was produced from 1938 to the 1950s. And so, The Custard Corpses.

I set The Custard Corpses during the Second World War, but that was really because it fit with the adverts I’d seen, the added bonus that I could then use the well-known events of the war was a secondary consideration.

Where I set the book was entirely based on the fact that I had family members who’d lived in Erdington at the time. I was able to pick the brains of my Dad for the little details that I didn’t know or couldn’t remember, not that he was born in 1943, but not long after.

It was all quite random, in the end, and there was a swell of little details that I uncovered that just, through pure happenstance, fitted together. It helped that I wanted to try my hand at something more modern than the eleventh century, but still historical. But I’m not an expert on any other time period, so I suppose it was an easy choice to decide on a setting that was just within living memory of some. I couldn’t visit anywhere due to Lockdown, so familiar was best, and using maps of the time period really helped me get a feeling for the location.

I asked my cover designer to create something that was similar to the adverts, but also different because I didn’t want to get into copyright issues. I also decided to use yellow for the main cover image so that it was like custard.

Is this the weirdest reason to have written a book? I am curious to know.

The Custard Corpses, a delicious 1940s mystery.


Birmingham, England, 1943.

While the whine of the air raid sirens might no longer be rousing him from bed every night, a two-decade-old unsolved murder case will ensure that Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is about to suffer more sleepless nights.

Young Robert McFarlane’s body was found outside the local church hall on 30th September 1923. But, his cause of death was drowning, and he’d been missing for three days before his body was found. No one was ever arrested for the crime. No answers could ever be given to the grieving family. The unsolved case has haunted Mason ever since.

But, the chance discovery of another victim, with worrying parallels, sets Mason, and his constable, O’Rourke, on a journey that will take them back over twenty-five years, the chance to finally solve the case, while all around them the uncertainty of war continues, impossible to ignore.



I'm an author of historical fiction (Early English, Vikings and the British Isles as a whole before the Norman Conquest) and fantasy (Viking age/dragon-themed). I’ve recently written a relatively modern mystery novel set in 1943. I was born in the old Mercian kingdom at some point since 1066. Raised in the shadow of a strange little building, told from a very young age that it housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia and that our garden was littered with old pieces of pottery from a long-ago battle, it's little wonder that my curiosity in Early England ran riot. I can only blame my parents!

I write A LOT. You've been warned!

Find me at www.mjporterauthor.com and @coloursofunison on twitter.



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