Something that I didn’t expect when I started writing crime fiction was that other crime writers would be such good fun and so convivial. I’ve made some excellent friends and Martin Edwards is one of them. He knows a huge amount about Golden Age crime fiction – an interest we share – as well as being a terrific writer and it’s a pleasure to interview him for my blog. I began by asking to tell us something about his new novel, The Frozen Shroud.
This is a contemporary whodunit set in a remote part of the Lake District, a small community on the east side of Ullswater called Ravenbank. A hundred years ago, a horrific murder was committed there on Hallowe’en, and five years ago, a woman was killed, again on Hallowe’en, in a crime that had strange similarities to the earlier tragedy. Everyone thought the murdererwas dead – but now, again on Hallowe’en, a third woman becomes a murder victim. DCI Hannah Scarlett, of the Cold Case Review Team, is personally enmeshed in the latest tragedy, and the killing of someone close to her means she has more than one reason to solve the puzzle of the Frozen Shroud…
How do you carve out time to write? What’s your writing routine?
I’ve been a partner in a law firm for thirty years, so time has always been
short, and I got into the habit of writing in the evening, sometimes into
the small hours (plus week-ends and holidays). A few weeks ago, I finally
took the step of becoming a part-time consultant, and I’m hoping that having
more time will give me more opportunities to write at more civilised times
of day. But whether the habit of writing in the evening will be easy to
break – or even whether it would be a good idea to break it – only time will
What comes first for you: theme, plot, characters, setting?
It can vary, especially with short stories. With my Lake District Mysteries,
though, I usually begin with an interesting motive for murder – an element
in someone’s psychological make-up which drives them to commit the ultimate
crime. So character is central – I know, from an early stage, who has killed
whom and why. The Lakes setting is a given in this series, of course, but I
do move the action around from one part of the area to another – Ambleside,
Coniston, Keswick and now (in the book I’m currently writing) Ravenglass.
There are themes in both the individual books and the series as a whole, but
these tend to be implicit.
Who are your writing heroes? Whose books do you like to read, and why?
I’ve a long list of writing heroes, but an edited version would include
Joseph Heller, P.G. Wodehouse, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth
Gaskell. In the crime field, I’m a huge fan of Golden Age detective fiction,
most notably Christie, Sayers and Anthony Berkeley. Modern crime writers I
love include Ruth Rendell, the late Reginald Hill, Peter Lovesey and…well,
A favourite bookshop?
Several in the UK, of course, but if I have to pick one, it might just be
The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona, a marvellous specialist crime
bookstore run by Barbara Peters and Rob Rosenwald, who also run the
excellent Poisoned Pen Press – which just happens to publish some of my
books in the US!
What are you writing now?
I’m working on two books, one fiction and one non-fiction. The novel is the
seventh Lake District Mystery (set in and around Ravenglass, as I mentioned
– a fascinating part of the world.) The other book is a history of Golden
Age detective fiction written between the wars; this one is a labour of love
that I’ve been working on for years.
You can find out more about Martin at his website, MartinEdwardsbooks.com, where you can also find his splendid blog: ‘DoYouWriteUnderYourOwnName.’