‘an intriguing read . . . keeps the reader guessing . . . a lot to enjoy in this romp through the Cambridge Commons . . . a strong sense of place and a narrative style that is both energetic and engaging.’ [Dead Letters]

- Margaret Murphy, SHERLOCK

Sarah Ward, also writing as Rhiannon Ward, is my guest

Posted on Dec 7, 2020 in Sarah Ward | 8 Comments

I loved Sarah’s first four novels which were police procedurals set in the Peak District where we both live. Her most recent novel, The Quickening, is a gripping and atmospheric Gothic tale, published under the name Rhiannon Ward. It’s a pleasure to interview her.

Your most recent novel, The Quickening, is a new departure. Where did the idea for it come from?
I wanted to write a historical thriller. All my contemporary crime novels had an element of the past in them and I really wanted to write a book set completely in the past. I was attracted to a story where all the plot took place inside a single location i.e. Clewer Hall, a decaying gothic mansion, and I’m attracted by the 1920s period. I also wanted to introduce a supernatural element which hadn’t been present in my crime novels. I’ve deliberately left the ghostly element open ended though. People can believe in ghosts or not!
What comes first for you, a theme, plot, characters, a location?
​For me, I decide what I want to write about and see if I can construct a crime narrative from it. This is the part which takes the longest to gestate. Plot and character go hand in hand and often develop as I write. Location can take a while to settle on but once I’ve decided on a setting, I tend to embrace it. It’s a pretty organic process and I’m starting to think about what I’d like to write next.
Who are your writing heroes? Whose books do you like to read, and why?
​Crime novelists I adore include Ruth Rendell, PD James, Sara Paretsky, Elly Griffiths. I love a darkly plotted thriller. I also love ghost stories and my favourite writers include Sarah Waters, MR James, Robert Aickman and  F G Cottam. 
A favourite bookshop?
​That’s too hard. There are so many great places. I love Lindum Books in Lincoln, Warwick Books and Bookcase at Lowdham. There are some really lovely bookshops near me. They’ve all had a difficult year and I really feel for them.
What single thing would most improve your writing life?
I’d love a writing shed in the garden but I live in the Peak District so there’s no chance of getting permission for that. But one day…
What are you writing now?
​I’ve just delivered my next book called The Angelmaker. It’s set in the late 1830s and the action is split between Bristol and Nottingham. It’s a Rhiannon Ward book so very gothic and my protagonist is a Quaker.
Thank you, Sarah!
Before Sarah starting writing fiction of her own, she was a well-established blogger and reviewer of crime fiction. Do visit her excellent web-site at


  1. Margot Kinberg
    December 7, 2020

    What a great interview! Thanks, both! And how exciting that a new book is coming out. That’s great news. Much success!

    • Christine Poulson
      December 8, 2020

      Thanks, Margot! Sarah is such an interesting writer. She certainly deserves to succeed.

  2. Crysta Winter
    December 9, 2020

    Thanks for sharing this, Christine.
    “Plot and character go hand in hand and often develop as I write.”
    A sentence that encourages me to continue on exactly this path. I am occasionally criticized for writing “in free flight”. But what is more beautiful than flying? And at the right moment to plunge down in a nosedive and spread fear …

    • Christine Poulson
      December 10, 2020

      I like to have in outline – and publishers often ask for one – but once I start writing, anything can happen!

  3. tracybham
    December 9, 2020

    Very nice interview. I have Sarah’s book, The Quickening, and I am looking forward to read it soon.

  4. Moira@Clothes in Books
    December 15, 2020

    Lovely to have two of my favourite writers together! The Quickening is a marvellous book – and what a beautiful cover that is.
    I know Warwick Books too, and in fact saw Sarah at an author event she did there. I have been buying books from them during lockdown, and they are so efficient and nice and personal – it has been a pleasure receiving parcels from them.

    • Christine Poulson
      December 21, 2020

      Thanks, Moira, Yes, terrific cover, isn’t it? I too have been buying books from a favourite independent book shop. I do still prefer print books to e-books and love getting them through the post. BTW, I have only just seen your comment – I think it must have gone into junk mail.


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