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.