Clive Woolliscroft releases historical fiction based on the story of Mary Blandy

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Partly based in Edinburgh, 'One False Step' is the second novel by Clive Woolliscroft. It is a reimagined story of Mary Blandy, ‘the fair parricide’ who was hanged for poisoning her father on April 6, 1752.

William Dunbar, the younger son of a Scottish nobleman, craves wealth, and marriage seems to be his simplest way to achieve it.

His pursuit eventually leads him to Mercy Grundy, an old maid in the eyes of mid-1740s society who fears lifelong spinsterhood. Her father has offered a substantial dowry to the man who will take her hand in marriage.

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For William, marriage to Mercy would be a match made in heaven. But for Mercy, who has succumbed to William’s charms, would marrying him necessitate her taking one false step?

One False Step book cover.One False Step book cover.
One False Step book cover.

Before retiring, Clive Woolliscroft served as an Army Officer in Germany, worked as an International Money Market Trader in London, was a Management Consultant in Prague and Riga and practised as a Solicitor in London, Hertfordshire and Staffordshire. Now more than halfway through his eighth decade, he lives in Cheshire with his wife, Sue, and cocker spaniel, Bonnie. One False Step is his second novel.

Clive explains: “I happened upon Mary Blandy's story more or less by chance. I was searching for ideas for a second novel - a follow-up to 'Less Dreadful With Every Step' or something entirely different, perhaps. Then I thought of going down the crime route, and while exploring this possibility, I came across Mary Blandy.

"I felt her story would form the basis for a novel comprising a reimagining of the events leading to her execution for murder in April 1752. I lived near Henley and Oxford in the 1970s and 1980s and often visited both, so I was familiar with the area where Mary lived.

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"I have a general interest in history, but not necessarily the mid-1700s. A greater motivation for me is the opportunity for research. I like to look at real people when considering any writing - and that it is essential that I do. Unlike some, I do not subscribe to the notion that reality frequently outsmarts fiction because the human imagination struggles to come to terms with its weirdness - rather; I see reality's weirdness as the foundation for human imagination.”

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