Meet Helen E Field, author of The Mystery Shopper & The Hot Tub

How did you come to publish your first novel, The Mystery Shopper & The Hot Tub?
I have had many years and experience in the world of mystery shopping and have designed and implemented programmes all over the UK for some of the most well-known hospitality venues: restaurants, hotels, bars and pubs etc. Some of the things that go on when conducting a mystery visit are extremely funny and after one particular assessment, I remember thinking, I really should write a book about this! That was the beginning of the idea.

Give us a brief synopsis of the story
Brooke and Dean are a stereotypical, working-class couple from Essex, with dreams and aspirations but not the income to match. The stunning and socially ambitious Brooke wants a hot tub and Dean wants to make her happy. Brooke’s bored at home and craves financial independence, but Dean is old fashioned and doesn’t want her to work. Brooke ends up secretly employed by the incorrigible Lady Townsend, who introduces her to the English upper classes. Dean takes on a side hustle as a mystery shopper assessing posh hotels, but keeps it a secret from Brooke so he can get some time away from his baby daughter and demanding wife. They spend all their time concocting lies to hide the secret lives they’re both living, which culminates in numerous, stressful, ridiculous but comical situations.

Why did you choose Essex as the setting? 
I live and was born in Essex and grew up with the most amazing melting pot of characters in my life. I think the people and the county are vastly underrated and while there are many things which one can poke fun at (and I do!) it’s a very special place to me.

What are you hoping readers will enjoy most from your book?
The juxtaposition of working class people alongside the upper class is very funny. We all need a laugh right now after the most miserable year.

 How would you describe your writing process and where do your best ideas come from?
I don’t really have a process as such. I really do just go with the flow. If I don’t feel like writing I don’t. If I do, I can write 8,000 words in one day without any problems. I have led a pretty interesting life, met some fascinating people and been to some fabulous places. My ideas all stem from personal experience or things I am interested in and find funny.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to have a novel published?
If you want to go down the traditional publishing route, be prepared to hand the destiny of your manuscript over to other people. If you chose the more profitable and quicker route of self-publishing, don’t be fooled by anyone who says it’s easy. It most certainly isn’t. 

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
My husband and I had embarked on a round the world trip before the pandemic. We will pick up where we left off as soon as we are allowed.

What’s next for you?
The Mystery Shopper & The Hot Tub is the first book in a series called The De’Ath Family Antics. I am just finishing the first draft of the second book which continues to follow the crazy life of Brooke and Dean. I will have that out later this year.