I first met Sarah Ward through her blog Crimepieces, which you should check right now if you are a fan of Scandi crime. And though she knows her nordic noir perfectly her knowledge about crime fiction goes beyond borders. When I heard that she was publishing her debut crime fiction novel with Faber a few years ago I was ecstatic and my anticipation was not wrong. In Bitter Chill – the first installment in the DC Connie Child series – was a masterpiece. Back then I described it as ‘Kate Morton meets contemporary crime fiction’ because the book exuded that coziness that I love from Morton’s books while being a strong modern procedural. So, I was sold.
I was lucky to meet Sarah in person at Crimefest15 through Mrs. Peabody, and this past May we got to see each other again after she masterfully chaired a panel. Remember my surprise when I raised my hand to ask a question and she remembered me! So, I took this opportunity to buy the second book in her Connie Child series and have her signed it for me right here. Crimefest17 happened while I was living in Bristol, and although I bought some books – OK, maybe more than just ‘some’- my signed copy of A Deadly Thaw was the most precious of all of them. I knew I had to save it for a special time, and as things got a bit busy these past weeks I realised I needed a good crime read to curl up in bed with at the end of the day. Again, I was not disappointed. The third installment in the series, A Patient Fury, was named Thriller of the Month by the Sunday’s Observer back in October, and earned terrific reviews by other newspapers like The Guardian.
Today I am really happy that Sarah Ward agreed to join the She Writes series when I first contacted her a few months ago. So, welcome Sarah and thank you!
Currently on your nightstand?
Not crime fiction. I tend not to read crime novels in bed as I have a such a short attention span when I’m about to drop off to sleep. I’m reading Roger Deakin’s Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, as it’s short passages from notebooks he kept over the years. I’m interested in reading of other people’s lives in the countryside and his insight into the landscape he lived in is fascinating.
Favourite book by a woman writer?
That’s really hard and I’m trying to think of the books that I return to time after time. I’m a big fan of Agatha Christie so I’d have to choose one of hers. What about Crooked House? It’s a very clever story and completely unsentimental which is what I love about Christie.
Where do you find inspiration to write?
The landscape around me inspires my writing and often brings possible stories to mind. For example, my fourth book which I’m just finishing involves a murder on one of the old railway lines that runs through the Peaks. I tend to weave into stories details of what I’m interested at the time of writing. So for A Patient Fury, I wanted to write about what motivates people to kill their entire family and why the crime is so gendered: i.e. it is predominantly committed by men.
What is your routine for writing?
Because I do a fair few events I don’t have a particular routine. I tend to write my first drafts in the winter months when the weather means travelling is difficult and I just hunker down in my house. My favourite time for writing are when I have nothing else on that day and I can devote myself to the manuscript that I’m working on. Then I tend to write all day and into the evening. Otherwise, I write when I can and try to do something every day although that’s not always possible.
Name three things you can’t live without when writing:
Spotify for background music
What are you reading next?
I’m reading Henning Mankell’s final novel, After the Fire. I’ve held off starting it as I know it’s going to be a poignant read given it was his last book.
What does being ‘a woman writer’ mean to you?
It feels great to follow in the footsteps of other women crime writers who I love to read: Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, PD James. I’m lucky to be doing the job I love although it took me time to get there as I think it’s my third career.
Words of wisdom about writing for your younger self:
The story will come when you’re ready. Wait for the moment when you have something to say and then write it. (There’s plenty more I’d say to my younger self but it’s not for public consumption!)