The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths
What led you into writing?
I’ve always written stories. I wrote my first full-length mystery when I was 11 (it was called The Hair of the Dog – which must have been something my parents talked about!). At secondary school I wrote stories for my friends, including imagined episodes of Starsky and Hutch. I remember writing an episode where Starsky (my favourite) died. Some of my friends cried when they read it. That’s when I first realised that words could make you cry, or laugh. It felt like as if I had discovered a secret power.
How does a typical day look?
Everything is different now – in lockdown – but, in many days, my routine stays the same. I like to write from about 8am to midday. Then I go for a walk or a swim (I live on the south coast, very near the sea), then I tackle admin and teaching work in the afternoon.
In what ways do your characters test your abilities?
It’s a different challenge writing about someone like Ruth, who comes from a similar background to me, and characters like Max and Harbinder, who are very different. I like the contrast though.
What’s your setup?
I write in a shed in the garden
What lasting effects have your favourite authors had on your writing and style?
I’m a big fan of Wilkie Collins and I think I have been influenced by his description of landscape, especially the shivering sands in The Moonstone.
What do you do for inspiration?
I go for a walk by the sea.
What repeating themes do you find yourself pulling into your stories?
I keep coming back to the power of landscape. I’m particularly drawn to marshland and always remember something my archaeologist husband told me. Prehistoric people thought that marshland was sacred because it’s neither land nor sea. They saw it as a link to the afterlife: neither land nor sea, neither life nor death. This is a recurring theme in my books.
How do you wind down?
Walking, swimming, chatting to friends. I love a meal with family and friends with good food and wine and lots of laughter.
What sort of challenges do you regularly overcome while world-building?
It’s the prosaic details – remembering what day it is and who did what when!
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m currently reading Grave’s End by William Shaw, a fantastic crime novel, partly written from the point of view of a badger…
What’s the most useful advice you could give to an aspiring author?
Don’t wait for inspiration. Start writing today.
Tell us about the book you’re promoting.
The Postscript Murders (October 2020) – When an elderly woman dies in her seaside home, it looks like natural causes. But why did Peggy Smith have business cards describing her as a murder consultant and how did she know so many crime writers? The resulting case takes an unlikely group of investigators – including DS Harbinder Kaur – on a road trip of Britain that encompasses murder, literary festivals and international espionage.