First up, please tell us about your connection to Wales.
My family are Welsh. My parents grew up in Cardiff: my father in Llandaff North and my mother in St Fagans. My mother’s first language was Welsh and she grew up inside the Welsh Folk Museum. Her father was a stonemason who took down traditional houses and buildings that were due to be demolished and rebuilt them inside the museum to enable future generations to enjoy and appreciate Welsh architecture.
I spent five years living in Neath and then my family moved to England, eventually settling in south Manchester where I spent my teenage years. I visited my grandparents regularly in Cardiff and am amazed how the city has changed over the years.
My mother’s family were originally from West Wales and I have close family in Newcastle Emlyn, Llandeilo and Llandovery. I’ve just come back from a reunion at the Cawdor Hotel in Llandeilo.
(I harbour a fantasy of one day coming to West Wales to live but I’m not sure that will ever happen).
Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.
I didn’t start writing fiction until I turned forty. I’d been avid reader of crime novels since I was a child: Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven books, Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew series. As a teenager, I read Agatha Christie and the writers of Golden Age fiction. I’d always wanted to write a book but it wasn’t until I’d moved to Athens, Greece and I had more time on my hands that I decided to have a go. My debut novel, In Bitter Chill was the result.
Tell us about the concept behind your book(s).
I based my first book, In Bitter Chill, on an experience that happened to me when I was on my way to school. I woman stopped her car and asked me to post a letter for her. She then tried to get me into her car. I never told anyone about the incident but, when it came to write my first book, I used that as the basis of my story. What would have happened if I’d got in that car? In Bitter Chill isn’t about attacks on children, though. It’s about how a missing child can impact on a small town and how closed communities can allow secrets to fester.
My second novel, A Deadly Thaw, also looks at family secrets but this time within a marriage and also between sisters.
What is your life like outside of writing?
Because I’m a crime fiction reviewer too, my life basically revolves around writing and books. I do, however, also sing choral music and this can be a great relaxation. I live in the middle of the countryside in Derbyshire so I also spend lots of time in the garden.
Difficult one! Do they have to be living? I’d like to have met Clough Williams-Ellis so I could ask him about the building of Portmerion. In terms of what I’d serve, this is a difficult one as I’m a rubbish cook. I’d ask him to cook or we could get a take-out.
Who is your favourite Welsh author?
I love reading poetry and I’m a huge admirer of the poems of R S Thomas.
What is the best thing about Wales?
The countryside is just stunning. I love the Breacon Beacons and have fond memories of swimming in the rivers as a child.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently writing my third book set in the series. It’s called A Patient Fury and is about a family obliterated in a house fire and the motives behind this act of revenge.
What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?
I love editing my writing. Although it can be quite complicated, it’s where the magic happens. I dpn’t much like first drafts. Getting the story down on the page can be difficult and I often don’t know where I’m going.
What is your advice to new writers?
My advice would be to finish what you start. Finished pieces can be polished or discarded depending on how you feel about it. It can be hard to make a judgement on something unfinished.
What is your favourite book?
It’s an impossible question but I do love Bleak House by Charles Dickens.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I’m currently reading a book described as a ‘Finnish Miss Marple’. It’s called ‘Death in Sunset Grove’ by Minna Lindgren.
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