Crime Writers in Residence – at home with GJ Minett

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with GJ Minett

Hi! My name is GJ Minett and my fourth novel, which will be published on July 9 by Bonnier Zaffre, is called The Syndicate.


The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write. 

For several years I taught in an 11-18 comprehensive. I’ve always written so I decided to do a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. My dissertation for that course won a national competition and ultimately became the Prologue for my debut novel, The Hidden Legacy. I’ve been a full-time novelist ever since and live in Pagham on the south coast.

I write psychological suspense novels built around a strong lead character. For me the storyline comes from knowing the characters well enough to be able to identify the Achilles heel and then put that weakness to the test. I enjoy reading novels that provide me with a puzzle and do not short-change me with some unlikely coincidence or contrived ending, so I try to offer the same courtesy to my own readers and respect their intelligence.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing? 

Pretty much what I’d have been doing under normal circumstances, with a book a few months away from publication. There’s a need for greater planning maybe when it comes to getting the book out there and attracting the attention of readers who haven’t come across my novels so far. Oh . . . I’m also working my way through the Harry Potter books, re-reading them over the phone to my two grandsons every day. Otherwise . . . not a lot has changed.

The CRA: How does the above differ from your usual routine?

Not much. I’m maybe exercising more, finding it harder to come up with plausible reasons why I don’t have time to do some gardening but I’m incredibly fortunate not to be affected as badly as many others.

The CRA: Tell us about your forthcoming book. 

Jon Kavanagh has, for the past 20 years, been leading a quiet and uneventful life, running a bookshop in Wareham, Dorset and exercising every morning up over Durdle Door. It’s in marked contrast to the life he used to lead as an enforcer for an organised crime group in London. He’s been able to walk away from it all thanks to an agreement he’s hammered out with Maurice Hayes, the head of the syndicate. But twenty years on, Maurice has died and others who see Kavanagh’s defection as a dangerous precedent are now calling the shots. Haunted by ghosts of his own, Kavanagh realises his past is about to catch up with him . . . and with a vengeance.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction? 

It is a redemption novel, the story of a man with a conscience and his determination to right the wrongs of the past.

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM? 

Several. In recent weeks I’ve read novels by Chris Whitaker, Lisa Hall, Simon Brett, CJ Carver, Gilly MacMillan, David Jackson . . . all great writers.

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over? 

First chance we get, my wife and I will meet up with our two daughters and son, whom we haven’t seen other than online since March, take them for a meal somewhere and give them the biggest hug imaginable. It’s been too long.


The Syndicate is available for review now on NetGalley and can be pre-ordered from Amazon:

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with JG Harlond

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with JG Harlond

The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write. 

After many years living and working in different parts of Europe I am now settled in a rural Andalucía with my Spanish husband. Ten years ago I gave up a safe and successful career in international education to become a full-time author. It was a big risk but I also write school textbooks, which cushioned the blow.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing?

The lockdown in Spain has been pretty drastic, we may not leave the house except for essential shopping or to walk the dog. I have a horse that needs feeding and grooming so I am able to get out into the fields every day, but nobody is riding out. To be honest, the routine is not so different to my normal daily life: writing keeps me very busy. I do miss occasional trips to Málaga to meet up with author friends for a gossipy lunch, though.

The CRA: Tell us about your most recent book.

Private Lives is the second story in the Bob Robbins Home Front Mystery series, although it can also be read as a stand-alone. During World War Two, retired policemen were called back to replace younger men who had joined up. Dumpy, grumpy Bob Robbins is one such man. In this story he is enjoying a few days’ leave in North Devon when he becomes involved in a murder on a derelict farm. An elderly farmer lies injured then a young man is shot in the chest. Bob rushes to help, but the farmer has vanished, and there is no weapon in sight.

Bob reports the incident at Bideford police station then learns he must investigate the crime himself. Not being as young and fit as he was, Bob asks for the assistance of a bright young police recruit, Laurie Oliver. They stay at Peony Villas, an odd sort of guest house run by an ex-West End diva named Jessamyn Flowers. A group of travelling players are also in residence, and Bob and Laurie soon find themselves caught up in a web of scandals, secrets and homicide.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction?

This is cosy crime with a sinister twist and a dash of dark humour. Most families have secrets, and as Noel Coward says in his 1933 play ‘Private Lives’ “very few people are completely normal really, deep down in their private lives”. Small rural communities are aware of, or share, many family secrets, which they may discuss among themselves but not with outsiders. Sometimes there are dark, unpleasant things going on behind closed doors that nobody is aware of at all.

Crime fiction readers enjoy identifying clues, trying to solve the mystery or crime before the detective. In this story, almost everyone has a secret, but who is guilty of what exactly, and why?

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM?

I’m reading Matthew Booth’s excellent book When Anthony Rathe Investigates. I love the way the separate short stories connect, and his atmospheric settings and sharp dialogue.

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over?

A big family get-together outdoors.

Find out more about JG Harlond and her books on the CRA website.

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with Dougie Brimson

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with Dougie Brimson

The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write.

My name is Dougie Brimson and I’m a former serviceman who fell into writing largely by accident. As a full time author and screenwriter, I’ve produced all kinds of books and movies from non-fiction through to comedy. However, having enjoyed a great deal of success with my previous two thrillers, and with the third book in that trilogy heading for publication, I thought the time was right to join the CWA.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing?

Working! I write full time from home.

The CRA: How does the above differ from your usual routine?

In truth, my routine has been little different as my working day veers from promoting In The Know and working on my next novel to developing various film and TV projects.

The CRA: Tell us about your most recent/forthcoming book.

In The Know is the third in a trilogy that began with the publication of the first book in 2000. In all honesty, there was only going to be the one but readers kept asking what happened to my central character and so it led up to this point. Much of the thinking behind this book was driven by current events and especially the increasing lack of faith in the law. It was exactly the kind of thing my central character would exploit and so once I had the time, I let him off the leash. It was actually quite an exciting process.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction?

That’s not for me to say although the previous two books have sold almost 400,000 between them so I must be doing something right. What I will say is that whilst In The Know works as a standalone book in its own right -and I was very careful to make sure of that- it works better if you read the other two first. However, be prepared to enter a very grubby world. My central character isn’t your average villain. Far from it.

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM?

I’m ashamed to say that the only things I’m reading at the moment are technical aviation books as I’m busily researching a new thriller about the RAF. However, I do have a copy of Lockdown by Peter May shouting at me for attention. It looks awesome.

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over?

Predicable, but visit my daughter and grandchildren in Lincolnshire.

You can find out more about Dougie Brimson and his books on the CRA website.

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with PJ Quinn

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with PJ Quinn

The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write.

As half of PJ Quinn I (Pauline Kirk) write the DI Ambrose mysteries with my daughter, Jo Summers. To date, we’ve collaborated on four novels: Foul Play, Poison Pen, Close Disharmony and Poetic Justice. All are set in the late 1950’s, a fascinating period, and though they feature the same central characters, stand alone. The setting is a fictional small town, Chalk Heath, which is still recovering from the war but changing rapidly. We like to create intriguing plots and believable characters, and readers tell us they can’t put the books down! Jo is a solicitor, who writes for the legal press. I have had three novels and eleven poetry collections published under my own name. People sometimes ask how we avoid arguments, but we have great fun writing together.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing?

We’re beginning research for our next novel. As Editor of Fighting Cock Press I’ve also been editing an autobiography by a York writer and going on walks near my home – I think best when I’m walking! Jo is a key worker, so she has been working from home while schooling her children, walking the dogs, feeding the hens and ducks and squeezing writing into her occasional free time.

The CRA: How does the above differ from your usual routine?

Jo lives in Surrey and I live in York, so we’re used to collaborating by email and telephone, with occasional intensive periods together. The lock-down hasn’t stopped us being PJ Quinn. We’re looking forward to working together again however. And we enjoy each other’s company.

The CRA: Tell us about your most recent/forthcoming book.

Foul Play was the first DI Ambrose Mystery and shorter than the others. After the first edition sold out, our publishers suggested we extend it before republication. We’ve explored existing themes, added new material and provided ‘back stories’ for the central characters. In particular we’ve developed the role of the young WPC, Pauline Meadows, as she aroused a lot of interest among our readers.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction?

Foul Play begins during a rehearsal in the partly rebuilt Chalk Heath Theatre, when one of the leading actors is attacked. It develops an intriguing plot revealing the tensions that could have driven one of the cast to commit the crime. DI Ambrose and his colleague, DS Winters, must uncover these before suspects are allowed to disperse, then follow up their leads in the town. They are also coping with their own wartime memories and family demands. Two newcomers to their team: PC Sutton and WPC Meadows, are trying to prove themselves while encountering prejudice from older officers.

Jo and I write from experience of the theatre. I’ve taken part in many amateur productions and Jo’s husband is a professional musician with stories of life ‘in the pit’. We have also inherited photos and mementos which help recreate the atmosphere of the late 1950’s.

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM?

Ann Cleeves, Raven Black.

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over?

To get together and enjoy planning our next DI Ambrose mystery.

For more information about Pauline Kirk, Jo Summers and their books, visit the PJ Quinn page on the CRA website.

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with John Dean

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with John Dean

The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write.

A journalist by trade, I worked as a crime reporter on newspapers for part of my career, which gave me ample material for my crime novels. I ran my own business for 21 years, specialising in magazine journalism, and branched out into creative writing courses. The business closed in March 2020 and I now focus on my writing and writing-related projects.

I have had 19 novels published and am with The Book Folks. I am the creator of the DCI John Blizzard and DCI Jack Harris series and, as John Stanley, wrote two books in the DCI Danny Radford series. They are all police procedurals, with the Harris books set in a rural location and the other two series taking place in fictional northern cities.

I have been a Crime Writers’ Association member for sixteen years and am the CWA Libraries Champion in Scotland, speaking up for our libraries and putting writers in touch with them where required.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing?

I live on a hillside in south-west Scotland and the nearest neighbour is a quarter of a mile away so social distancing and lockdown has been relatively easy for myself and the family. However, as someone with underlying health issues which make me vulnerable to the coronavirus, all of us have been exceptionally careful. My thoughts go out to all those who have been afflicted by the disease and to all those who have been working so hard to support our society.

The CRA: How does the above differ from your usual routine?

I would still be writing (four hours a day on average) but the lockdown means that we only leave our hillside for essential activities, which has had the effect of wiping out our social contact, other than via phone and digitally.

The CRA: Tell us about your most recent book.

The Killing Line (The Book Folks) came out in March 2020. A schoolgirl is found dead from a drugs overdose, the second in a few weeks. DCI Jack Harris suspects there is more to the tragedy in the small Pennine town of Levton Bridge. The locals are campaigning for a young offender centre to be closed down and there may be links to the death of the girls. With the townsfolk putting increasing pressure on the authorities, Harris must get results. This is the seventh book in the series but can be enjoyed entirely on its own.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction?

The Harris books are set in a remote North Pennines valley which creates a strong sense of claustrophobia, which makes for good crime fiction, I think.

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM?

Peter May – a master when it comes to creating sense of place. I appreciate that because, as a writer, I am inspired by a sense of place. Whether it be a gloomy city or a stunning hillside, a glass-strewn council estate or a majestic waterfall, something about my surroundings repeatedly triggers ideas.

I always contend that despite the many elements of fiction, it comes down to a triangle, three things that come together to make the story work right from the off – plot, people and place. Get them right and pace, economy of words, themes, emotions, the lot, fall into line. I know writers who would say it all starts with the story. Others would put characters at the top, but I usually start with the place.

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over?

Go to our local café for a cheese scone!

For more information about John Dean and his books, visit the CRA website.

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with Helen Sedgwick

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with Helen Sedgwick

The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write. 

I am a research physicist turned author and I live in the Scottish highlands. I’ve recently moved to crime writing after publishing two novels that could be called literary speculative fiction with elements of ghosts stories and sci-fi thriller (The Comet Seekers and The Growing Season). My first crime book, When The Dead Come Calling, is characteristically genre-bending with elements of police procedural, folk horror, history, and supernatural crime.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing? 

At the moment I am doing a lot of childcare due to nursery closures (!) and juggling that with moving a couple of my cancelled live events online and editing my second crime book, Where The Missing Gather. I also grow my own vegetables, keep rescue chickens, and spend as much time as I can out in the garden.

The CRA: How does the above differ from your usual routine?

In normal circumstances my daughter is at nursery and I would spend several hours a day writing, which is simply not possible at the moment. I also do a lot of live events, and I’m missing the buzz of meeting audiences and chatting about my books face to face. It’s been devastating watching book festival after book festival cancel this year – I was so looking forward to them all! And then there’s the need for headspace that comes with writing. With all the anxiety around a global pandemic it is very hard to find the mental peace to just sit and think.

The CRA: Tell us about your most recent/forthcoming book. 

My most recent book is When The Dead Come Calling, in which a series of murders in a small, isolated coastal village seem inexplicable until the police, led by DI Georgie Strachan, look to the distant past. Meanwhile, someone – or something – is hiding in the haunted cave beneath the cliffs…

It is a book that looks at the urban rural divide, at class inequalities, internalised racism and sexism, and at how our past is never truly buried.

My forthcoming book is the next in my Burrowhead Mysteries series, Where The Missing Gather, and will continue to explore how this isolated rural community is fracturing. A skeleton is uncovered in a local field from decades ago, and DI Strachan has to piece together a terrible scandal in the village while those still alive to remember it close ranks.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction? 

When The Dead Come Calling is full of hidden secrets and festering suspicions, in an isolated village where no one is really who they seem. It is a police investigation full of unexpected twists and hidden histories, with an atmosphere that will chill you to the bone.

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM? 

My to-be-read pile includes Chris Whitaker, Margaret Kirk, Susi Holliday, Will Dean and Syd Moore.

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over?

I’m going to go to my local café, order a coffee and my favourite brunch of avocado and poached egg on sourdough, and write without interruption!

To find out more about Helen Sedgwick and her books, visit the CRA website.

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with Katherine Stansfield

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with Katherine Stansfield

The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write.

I’m originally from Cornwall and now live in Cardiff. Cornwall inspires much of my writing – I’m a bit obsessed with its history and folk tales. I write the historical crime series Cornish Mysteries, published by Allison & Busby. The series is set in the 1840s and features unorthodox detective duo Anna Drake and Shilly. The pair investigate crimes which are based on real events in Cornish history and involve a good dash of Cornish folklore. Think ‘Sherlock Holmes meets the X Files meets Daphne du Maurier’. There are three books in the series so far: Falling Creatures, The Magpie Tree, and The Mermaid’s Call. All are available in print and as ebooks. I also co-write a fantasy crime trilogy with my partner David Towsey. We publish under the name D. K. Fields. Widow’s Welcome, the first in the trilogy, is out now in print, audio and ebook with Head of Zeus.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing?

I’m doing a lot of reading! It’s really helping me manage anxiety and avoid the news. It can take me a few minutes to settle my thoughts so that I can concentrate, which never used to be a problem, but once I’ve relaxed and I’ve given my mind over to the story, I’m immersed in the world of the book and can switch off the buzz of worry. I’m also attending lots of book events online, via Zoom and Crowd Cast which has been fantastic. I’ve attended webinars on historical subjects as well as author panels and poetry readings.

The CRA: How does the above differ from your usual routine?

It’s easy to let work take over evenings and weekends so I hadn’t been reading as much as I used to. Since lockdown began, I’ve spent far more time with books and making inroads into my TBR pile.

The CRA: Tell us about your most recent/forthcoming book.

The Mermaid’s Call is the third outing for my detective duo Shilly and Anna. Having had no luck joining the newly-formed detective forced at Scotland Yard, Anna wants to open an agency for private cases in north Cornwall but work has been slow. Until news comes of a man found dead beneath the cliff in the isolated parish of Morwenstow, his body mutilated. Local people believe the man was killed by a vengeful mermaid who has stepped out of her folk tale and gained flesh. Shilly hears the mermaid’s call on the wind, but Anna believes something more worldly might be at the heart of the case: is the corpse another victim of deliberate wrecking in a parish notorious for maritime disaster? The pair turn to Parson Robert Stephen Hawker for aid – a real figure, known for his belief in mermaids – who has his own problems he needs to hide.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction?

It’s twisty and Gothic and based on real events.

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM?

I’m looking forward to reading Alis Hawkins’ new historical crime novel, The Black and the White, a mystery set during the Black Death so very timely! I love her Teifi Valley Coroner books and have been looking forward to this new historical crime novel.

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over?

Visit my parents in Cornwall asap – I haven’t seen them in months!

To find out more about Katherine Stansfield and her books, visit the CRA website.

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with Marissa De Luna

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with Marissa De Luna

The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write.

I grew up in Goa and moved to England when I was a teenager. I now live in Oxford with my husband and two children and work as a Development Manager for a housing association in West Oxfordshire. I started writing in 2008 during a career break when I spent a few months in Goa. After writing a couple of suspense novels and a psychological thriller I turned my hand to cosy crime. The Chupplejeep Mysteries are light-hearted detective novels set in rural Goa inspired by a visit to my father’s ancestral home. By using rural Goa as the setting the reader gets to explore the local cultural nuances and the behaviours of people going back to a more simpler way of living.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing?

I’m currently (trying!) to work on Murder in the  Monsoon the next book in the Chupplejeep Mystery series. I’m also working on a new cosy crime series set in Devon. I am currently on maternity leave so I don’t have to worry about juggling childcare with working and writing!

The CRA: How does the above differ from your usual routine?

My toddler usually goes to nursery so any time I had to myself while the baby napped has now gone out the window. Writing is now confined to a snatched hour here and there after the children have gone to bed or when by some miracle both children nap at the same time during the day.

The CRA: Tell us about your most recent/forthcoming book.

Jackpot Jetty is the third book in the Chupplejeep Mystery series but can be read as a standalone novel. In Jackpot Jetty Detective Chupplejeep is enjoying a lake-side summer holiday when Jackpot, a local boatman, is found dead in his craft. As details of Jackpot’s life are slowly exposed, development plans for the lake are revealed and the enigmatic owner of the local yoga retreat is implicated. Detective Chupplejeep is roped into helping solve the mystery but he has his own problems: His love life is in tatters and he has recently discovered that his biological parents, presumed dead, are very much alive. He shouldn’t get involved with the case, but he cannot turn a blind eye to an obvious injustice.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction?

Jackpot Jetty explores the local culture of Goa through a whole host of enigmatic and intriguing characters. The crime is simple but there are a number of possibilities as to who could have killed the boatman. Personal relationships are exposed and motives are slowly revealed keeping the reader constantly guessing as to who the murderer is.

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM?

The Silent House by Nell Pattison. It tells the story of a deaf family waking up to a heinous crime committed in their own house while they are asleep. It’s a new release and I’ve been looking forward to reading it.

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over?

Travel! I’m planning to head down to Devon for a break with the family as soon as I can – a research trip under the guise of a holiday!

For more information about Marissa De Luna and her books visit the CRA website.

 

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with Sarah Linley

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with Sarah Linley

The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write. 

The Beach is my debut novel. It is a psychological suspense set in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Yorkshire Dales. I like to travel and the places I have visited provide inspiration for my writing. I have a travel blog where I have also posted short stories set in Italy and Vietnam, and my second novel, which I am currently writing, includes scenes set in Bangkok and Tokyo.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing? 

I am working on my second novel and just about to start the fourth draft. I’ve found it quite difficult to write creatively during lockdown, but I have been doing some internet research and editing. I work as a Communications Manager for a housing association in Yorkshire, so work is extremely busy at the moment. I am working from home. It’s not ideal and I really miss the interaction with my colleagues.

Just before lockdown, we got our first puppy, a Miniature Schnauzer, and I am enjoying taking her out for a daily walk. I am trying to be quite mindful during our walks looking at flowers, street names and old buildings; things I perhaps wouldn’t normally notice.

The CRA: How does the above differ from your usual routine?

I normally have a two hour commute every day, so it’s quite nice to have a lie in! Usually, I don’t have much time to write during the week and I tend to take myself off to the library or a café to write at weekends.  Although I have more time now, I don’t feel like I am being more productive, and it’s quite frustrating not being able to visit places for research and relying on the internet. That said, there is a lot of support from the writing community on social media.

The CRA: Tell us about your most recent/forthcoming book. 

The Beach is a psychological thriller. It’s the story of a primary school teacher living and working in the Yorkshire Dales. Five years earlier, she went backpacking around South-East Asia with her friends from University. But among the sun, sea and sand, something went horribly wrong… Holly starts receiving anonymous messages, showing photos that she was sure she destroyed years ago. Someone clearly knows the truth about what really happened. The only question is, how far will they go to get revenge?

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction? 

This is a fast-paced thriller with plenty of action and exotic scenery. Hopefully it will offer a bit of escapism while we’re stuck at home. We might not be able to travel in real life, but we can go anywhere with our imagination!

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM? 

I have just read an advance copy of Roz Watkins’ forthcoming novel, Cut to the Bone, which was excellent. If you haven’t read her earlier books, I would highly recommend them. I also recently read Nell Pattison’s debut novel, The Silent House, which has an intriguing plot involving the death of a child in a Deaf household. It is set within the Deaf community and a lot of the characters use British Sign Language which adds a whole new dimension to the police procedural novel. I’m looking forward to the sequel. I have quite a few books on my TBR pile so I might eventually get to the bottom of it during lockdown!

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over? 

See my friends and family! I am desperate to see them and give them a hug. I really miss them. And go to Caffe Nero for a flat white coffee. My attempts to recreate them at home have been dreadful!

You can find out more about Sarah Linley and her books on the CRA website.

 

 

 

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with SM Hardy

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with SM Hardy

The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write.

I live in Torquay with my husband and spent twenty-eight years working for a major bank. After taking voluntary redundancy in 2001 I spent another fourteen or so years working as a practice manager for an arboricultural consultancy. I now write full time. I have had a series of paranormal fantasy novels published under my real name, Sue Tingey, and I am now writing supernatural crime under the pen name SM Hardy.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing?

What does any writer do? I have been writing my socks off. Though I did do a little wine making – just in case!

The CRA: How does the above differ from your usual routine?

Not a lot to be quite truthful. We used to walk to the local store everyday to buy the newspaper and get a bit of exercise, but we’ve stopped doing that and only shop once or, at most, twice a week. Seven trips to the supermarket are five or six additional chances of getting sick.

The CRA: Tell us about your most recent/forthcoming book.

My latest novel came out on the 19th March, hence all publicity events have been put on hold until the autumn when the paperback edition and the second book in the series comes out. Hopefully by then the country will be back to normal. The Evil Within is a supernatural crime novel set in the fictional village of Slyford St James, somewhere in the Torbay area. It focuses on Jim Hawkes, a deeply troubled man with a highly pressurised job, which is turning him into someone he doesn’t want to be. On the brink of a breakdown, two years after the death of his fiancée, he quits his high powered job in the City to rent a cottage in the Devonshire countryside. But Slyford St James is far from the peaceful haven Jim was hoping for. Almost immediately he is plagued by strange occurrences: a combination lock that won’t open, loud noises in the attic of his new home and the figure of a little girl always just out of sight. His new village friends are convinced Jim has found his way to the village to solve the mystery surrounding the suspicious death of a child. But as Jim is haunted by the ghosts of his past and endangered by a real-world threat in the present, it soon becomes apparent that true evil never dies.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction?

It isn’t your usual crime novel, although it is a murder mystery, and I’m hoping the supernatural element will tempt readers to give it a try because it is a little different.

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM?

I’ve just started A Mermaid’s Call by Katherine Stansfield and I’m hooked!

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over?

Go out for a meal. Possibly re-home a rescue dog and take a long walk along the seafront.

You can find out more about SM Hardy books on the Crime Readers’ Association website.