I was touched to receive a letter last week about ‘Injured Parties’ from a gentleman who helped me with some of my research. In his long letter which almost brought me to tears, he wrote:
“Dr Davidson was a very important person in my formative years as a young man…and the shock of seeing the murder pictures in the wood are still with me to this day. I have carried her picture in my briefcase for the last 50 years. If I feel down about anything I still look at her smiley face and it still cheers me up no end. This has not been just a book, to me it’s been like a personal crusade and has been a very emotional journey…Finally can I thank you for all your brilliant research, your time, efforts and determination to get this book printed. It was long overdue. It has been a pleasure to correspond with you over the last 7 years and I do hope that sales continue at a good level and all your efforts have been worth it. I have not lost sight of the fact that there is a commercial aspect to the production of the book for you, but I do also hope you have learned a lot from the people you have been in contact with during the course of your research”.
On the subject of book sales I was interested to read this on Twitter this morning about Amazon reviews:
“After a book gets 20 reviews Amazon suggests books in ‘also bought’ and ‘think you might like this’ lists. This increases a book’s visibility which boosts sales. After 50 to 70 reviews Amazon highlights the book for spotlight positions and for its newsletter. This is a huge boost for an author. Reviews help sell more books. Even a bad review is better than no review. Please review books on Amazon even if you didn’t buy the book from Amazon”.
So far my book has received 14 reviews. A few more would be great. Thanks.
I was learning about hashtags (#) on Twitter last week, conjuring up words connected to INJURED PARTIES that could be used on my Tweets to highlight my book. Nouns like ‘murder’, ‘crime’, ‘forensics’ came to mind. Then early yesterday morning, a week after my self-imposed hashtag lesson, way before the pigeons began bellowing from the treetops outside the bedroom window, Dr Helen Davidson’s name jumped out at me…an obvious hashtag! I typed the three words into the Search Twitter box on Twitter’s homepage, tapped the magnifying glass and waited.
I’ve lived and breathed INJURED PARTIES for seven years. The curiosity side of me though is never satisfied. By sheer coincidence I was about to discover the background story of a photo by Joop Snijder, that’s on the front cover of my book. Joop Snijder’s Tweet [@Joopphoto] dated 16 August appeared at the top of the Dr Helen Davidson list. It read:
‘Discovered a book with my photo on cover. Injured Parties Solving the Murder of Dr Helen Davidson by Monica Weller’.
In all the time I’ve lived and breathed my book this was something new and exciting!
Most of yesterday I planned the little story of the atmospheric woodland picture on my book’s cover. Why? Because I’m nosy and because I’m a photographer. And it’s interesting to see what’s going on in another photographer’s mind when they’re taking a photograph.
I asked Joop in an email what he could tell me about the photograph. He said:
“First of all I like your idea about writing something about the photo on your book cover. Please feel free to improve my English writing, because it’s not my native language”. He said he took the photo during a walk in a forest in Arnhem, his hometown in The Netherlands. “My wife and I were walking our golden retriever in the forest. I always carry my photo camera with me [a Canon digital SLR ] and I liked the way the trees were disappearing in the mist. I asked my wife to keep walking until she almost disappeared as well.
“Most of the time I don’t include people in my landscape photos. But this time I thought it adds a sense of scale and sets a mysterious mood. And mood is what I’m searching for in my photography (www.joopsnijder.com). For me it’s always rewarding to see a photograph in action and being on the cover of a book is something special.
“After finishing the photo I upload my photos to a stock photo agency www.shutterstock.com. This is an online photo agency which sells photos for photographers all over the world. As a photographer I can see which photos sell, but don’t get feedback on the usage. So once every month I google for my own name, hoping to find new magazines, books or websites using my photos.
“The publisher of INJURED PARTIES was so kind to credit my photo in the book, so my name turned up with Google Search. After I tweeted about the photo and the book cover, you contacted me on Twitter.
“For me the real joy in photography is the process of photographing. But the icing on the cream is to see my photos in action and meet new people because of my photography.
“By the way, now my wife tells everyone she’s a cover model :)”
I believe in these small stories. Life is made up of stories. To me they’re like gifts. From a personal viewpoint, I find it fascinating that a photograph, described so beautifully by Joop, that he took during a perfect walk in a misty woodland in Holland, should so successfully represent the scene of a grisly murder in Buckinghamshire woodland 50 years ago, on the cover of my book INJURED PARTIES.
London School of Medicine for Women in London where Dr Helen Davidson trained to become a doctor in the 1930s
Below…a lay-by off the main Amersham to Beaconsfield road in Buckinghamshire where Dr Davidson parked her car on 9th November 1966. From here she walked into the woods with her dog. Dr Davidson’s body was found the next day.
Below…Amersham Police Station in the early 1960s
I appreciate it when a reader takes the time to contact me after reading my book. Here’s an excerpt from an email from Mrs M M.:
‘I might say I brought the book home on Saturday afternoon. I had read two thirds of it by bedtime. I finished it in the morning before I went to church. I kept having to remind myself that it was real and did really happen. I still remember where I was when I heard of Dr Davidson’s death on the news. It was so shocking. I kept thinking about all those people who had lost their doctor and how many people she could have helped in the rest of her life. Mum was one of her regular patients as she not only suffered from hayfever but also had what Mum called a wonky knee. We lived on the London Road just past Stanley Hill in Amersham from 1954 – 1961’.
Available on Amazon:
“My thought for today: Writing a letter to a friend today has helped clear a lot in my mind. It has taught me not to go on the defensive, instead to poke two fingers up to my critics who have no idea what restrictions there are when it comes to writing about a cold case”.
I was so lucky getting the chance to interview Professor David Bowen. He was the forensic pathologist who carried out the post-mortem on Dr Helen Davidson in 1966. He shared his secret documentation with me and introduced me to the world of the forensic pathologist.