Welcome to the official website of the author Kate Ellis

Welcome to the official website of Kate Ellis

Kate Ellis is the author of two exciting series of crime novels, two historical novels and many short stories.

May 2021

I apologise for neglecting this diary over the past couple of months. I’ve been keeping my head down in my brand new office (a replacement for my old writing shed that had seen better days) working on Wesley Peterson’s next case (the only clue I’m going to give you is that it involves the Roman occupation of the South West of England. It has always been thought that they never ventured much beyond Exeter . . . but what if they did?) Anyway, it’s been great fun conducting the research and planning out the twisty and devious plot and I’m currently working on the third draft.

KatesOffice

Last weekend I was delighted to take part in a panel for Bodies from the Library (a British Library conference on classic crime fiction) discussing the latest Detection Club publication Howdunit. The event was online, of course, but it was good to talk about Howdunit. It is a comprehensive book about the art and craft of crime writing from past and present members of the exclusive club, all of whom are (or were) leading crime writers. There are sections from Agatha Christie, Reginald Hill, Ruth Rendell, PD James, Len Deighton, Ann Cleeves, Ian Rankin and Peter James (to name but a few) and I have contributed a section on plotting. It is certainly an impressive book and a must have for all aspiring crime writers. Click here to access a recording of the event.

My main news is that the third book in my Albert Lincoln trilogy, The House of the Hanged Woman, is out in paperback (and cheaper ebook) on Thursday May 27th! The story begins when Scotland Yard detective, Albert is called up to Wenfield in Derbyshire in 1921 to investigate the disappearance of a Member of Parliament. But this isn’t his first visit to the village because he solved a case there two years before at great personal cost.

houseofthehangedwoman

The House of the Hanged Woman begins when a man’s disfigured and naked body is found by an ancient stone circle called the Devil’s Dancers. The local police assume this is the missing MP but when they’re proved wrong and there are more strange deaths, Albert realises the case is far more complex than he first imagined. Ghosts from the past are reawakened as he tries to solve the mystery surrounding Wenfield once and for all – but will there be a happy ending after all the tragedy he’s had to face since his return from the Great War?

I do hope my readers enjoy this latest (and final) case for Albert. I’ve grown fond of him over the three books in the trilogy (the other two being A High Mortality of Doves and The Boy who lived with the Dead) and in a way I’m sad to leave him behind.

I’m looking forward to talking about my work at the (online) Crediton Literary Festival on Saturday 5th June at 3.30pm where I’ll be the headline speaker. Tickets are available (free) here. Hope to ‘see’ you there.

Fans of Wesley Peterson will be glad to know that his next case The Stone Chamber is out on 5th August. Watch this space for more details.

Happy reading and I really hope I’ll be able to get out and about to meet readers at bookshops and libraries in the not too distant future.

February 2021

Wishing everyone a very happy, if very belated, New Year! Let’s all hope that 2021 will be a great improvement on 2020.

Christmas is now a distant memory of course and, inevitably, it was a lot more subdued than usual. I have, however, been able to go out on some lovely, if chilly, walks. Here I am on a local walk in the grounds of the home of Agatha Christie’s sister, Madge. Agatha was a frequent visitor to the house, Abney Hall, and it was the inspiration for many of the country houses in her books. Since lockdown it’s been one of my favourite local walks, made even more attractive by its crime fiction connections.

Abney

The writing’s going well but I’m not finding it easy in the present circumstances. I was really pleased to hear Anthony Horowitz (a writer I greatly admire) being interviewed on the BBC. His experience of the present situation exactly mirrored my own. Even though everyone assumes you’ll have more time for writing, the reality is that you feel unsettled and distracted so things that used to take a day to do now take a week.  

Having said that, I have managed to write. I’ve completed the first draft of a stand alone book but this has been put on the back burner for a while to allow me to begin Wesley’s next enquiry (and conduct a lot of research into Roman Devon). Once I’ve completed Wesley’s twenty sixth case (I can’t believe I’ve written so many) I’ll pick up the stand alone again but I won’t say anything about it yet. It’s good to do something completely different from time to time as it keeps your writing fresh.

Talking of writing something different, I love to write short stories and I’ve just had one accepted for the prestigious Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in the States (entitled ‘Next Door’) although I don’t yet know when this will appear in print.

I’m delighted to say that the third and final book in my historical Albert Lincoln trilogy, THE HOUSE OF THE HANGED WOMAN, has been really well received and I’m looking forward to the paperback publication in May – only three months to go!

houseofthehangedwoman

The other big news is that the lovely and atmospheric cover for THE STONE CHAMBER, Wesley Peterson’s brand new case (his twenty fifth) has been revealed by my publisher. The publication date is in August – and here’s the cover! Great isn’t it!

The Stone Chamber LoRes

 Happy reading!

December 2020

I do hope everyone’s keeping well in these difficult times. With a severely restricted Christmas on the horizon the only bright spot is the thought of settling down with a good book and I must say I’ve enjoyed being transported into another (pre-lockdown) world by reading crime novels (and writing them of course).

The good news is that the third book in my Albert Lincoln trilogy, set in the north of England in the aftermath of WW1, is now out in hardback and ebook. THE HOUSE OF THE HANGED WOMAN begins in 1921 when a Member of Parliament goes missing in a Derbyshire village and DI Albert Lincoln from Scotland Yard is sent to investigate. Does the naked body discovered at an ancient stone circle belong to the missing MP – or is the case more strange and complex than Albert could ever have predicted? This is the final book in the trilogy and I’ll be very sad to leave Albert behind (you’ll have to read the book to find out how his dramatic story ends!)

houseofthehangedwoman

However, since finishing THE HOUSE OF THE HANGED WOMAN I haven’t been idle. I’ve recently embarked on a brand new crime fiction venture, although I don’t want to say too much about this yet – more news to follow, hopefully! I’ve also completed my next Wesley Peterson mystery (entitled THE STONE CHAMBER). My editor loved it and it will be published in the middle of next year. I can’t believe it’ll be Wesley’s 25th case – and, as I keep getting new ideas for the series, it definitely won’t be his last.

Lockdown has been such a challenging time. Not only have I missed meeting up with friends and family but not being able to get out and about talking to readers at libraries and bookshops has been horrible. All events for 2020 were cancelled, of course, as well as some I had booked for early 2021, but with the vaccine imminent (I have my sleeve rolled up already – can’t wait to get back to normal!!!) hopefully things will improve soon.

On a more cheerful note, I’m not sure how many people will realize that Wesley Peterson’s latest case THE BURIAL CIRCLE has a decidedly seasonal flavour! It’s set in the run up to Christmas in a small Devon village – and it even features a Santa’s grotto!

the burial circle

Very best wishes for Festive Season – and Happy Reading.

October 2020

Just when we thought things were getting better, the Covid crisis has worsened again. I was really looking forward to resuming normal life (and even meeting readers at libraries and festivals again) but now it seems those hopes have been dashed.

In early September, when things looked as though they were improving, we managed to get to Devon. We’d booked to go there back in January when the events of 2020 couldn’t possibly have been predicted and I consider myself lucky to have got there at all. It was lovely to be back in South Devon and, even though three planned library events had to be cancelled, I managed to do a lot of walking and research. I also walked the five miles from Kingswear (over the river from Dartmouth) to Agatha Christie’s home at Greenway and I even managed to visit some lovely independent bookshops in Dartmouth, Totnes and Kingswear to sign some stock.

KateGreenway2020

 

The rest of the time I’ve been busy working on Wesley’s next case. My publisher wanted to change the title from The Butterfly Cage to THE STONE CHAMBER and I agreed. My editor loved it and I’ve now finished the changes she suggested. It will be published next August.

The big news is that the paperback of THE BURIAL CIRCLE is out on Thursday 15th October and should be available in all good bookshops or on Amazon

the burial circle

There’s also good news for fans of A HIGH MORTALITY OF DOVES and THE BOY WHO LIVED WITH THE DEAD. Albert Lincoln returns for the third and final instalment of the trilogy – THE HOUSE OF THE HANGED WOMAN – which will be published in hardback in late November (just in time for Christmas). THE HOUSE OF THE HANGED WOMAN sees Albert returning up North to investigate the disappearance of a Member of Parliament. Does the unidentified corpse found near an ancient stone circle belong to the missing man? And could the brutal murder of a clerk from a nearby mill be connected to other sinister events? There’s also the question many people will have been asking after reading the first two books - will Albert ever find happiness? You’ll have to wait until November to find out.

Last week I was delighted to be interviewed on Liverpool 247 Radio by Pauline Daniels and Chris High. If you’d like to listen to the interview just click here.

July 2020

Oh dear – I’ve just realised that I haven’t written this diary since May. My only excuse is that I’ve been working hard on Wesley Peterson’s next investigation, The Butterfly Cage, so I haven’t been idle. At last I’ve managed to send the book off to my editor at Little, Brown and while I’m waiting for her verdict, I’m thinking of an exciting new project – although I’m saying nothing about it yet. As I said in my last diary entry, inspiration has been rather thin on the ground during the current crisis but I’m hoping things will improve as life slowly gets back to normal.

I was tidying my desk (something I always do when I’ve just finished a book) when I came across last year’s appointments diary. 2019 was a wonderful year and the highlights included a fantastic weekend with Murder Squad at The Word in South Shields, Slaughter in Southwold and a lovely crime weekend in Beverley where my murder mystery was performed by brilliant actors who could give most Oscar winners a run for their money. Then, to top it all, there was the Daggers Dinner where I was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library. It was certainly a year I’ll never forget.

All the memories of those happy times reminded me of the plans I had for 2020. Having won the Dagger in the Library, my diary was full of library talks, murder mysteries I was going to present, and festivals such as CrimeFest and Newcastle Noir. But of course those diary entries have now been scribbled out – cancelled or postponed.

One of the main pleasures of a writer’s life (in my case at least) is coming out of the self-imposed isolation needed to create a book to meet the people who read those books and share an enthusiasm for crime fiction. Over lockdown many writers have missed meeting readers and library staff and have found it difficult to concentrate on writing without this contact with the outside world. I’ve been really touched and encouraged by emails from readers telling me how much my books have helped them through lockdown and entertained them in isolation. This has meant an awful lot. In the current situation it’s easy to feel that you’re working in a vacuum and it’s so good to know that your efforts might have been of some use to people in difficult times. It’s wonderful to see that libraries and book shops have now started to reopen. Hope it won’t be long before we can meet again.

KateGrasmere

Last week we decided to get away for a few nights so, wanting to support the hospitality industry which has been going through such a difficult time, we booked a hotel in the Lakes. It was a lovely break and I’m so glad we went because the people in the hotel and restaurants were so welcoming and relieved to be getting back to work again. When we were on a long walk around Grasmere we met an elderly gentleman, obviously a local, who thanked us for visiting. We said it was a pleasure – thank you for having us. Getting out amongst nature is so good for the mental health and even though this country can’t promise a Mediterranean climate, there’s such a lot to see. Happy Staycation (and don’t forget to take some good crime novels with you!)

May 2020

It’s been just over a month since I last wrote this diary and the truth is, there’s not very much to write about. Apart from being allowed to leave the house once a day for a spot of exercise, I’ve been inside trying to write. However, my spirits were lifted a little when I watched Robert Harris being interviewed on TV this morning and his feelings about the situation mirror mine. Yes, as writers we spend a lot of time hunched over a laptop making up stories on our own. BUT the thing that keeps us sane and motivated is the knowledge that life is happening around us and is just waiting for us to leave our desks and join in. Perhaps that’s why writers enjoy socialising so much (something confirmed by the atmosphere at the bar during crime festivals). I’m really missing meeting readers at libraries and book shops.

Something else that occurred to me is that writers need to get out and about for inspiration. Gone are the overheard conversations, the interesting tales attached to places we visit. It’s a good job I began Wesley Peterson’s next case before all this happened. However, it’s rather uncanny that the book I’m working on at the moment (started in January) features someone who is locked away from the world (and there is also a revelation about Wesley himself that some of you might find surprising). I’d been toying with the theme of someone forced into isolation for some time – how was I to know that it would happen in the real world? Hopefully, by the time this book (working title The Butterfly Cage) is published in August 2021 Covid 19 will be a distant memory. I just hope nobody thinks I’ve jumped on a lockdown bandwagon – honestly, the idea came to me long before it was even heard of.

The Burial Circle is still doing well and it’s lovely to hear how many people have enjoyed it. I’ve just completed the copy edit of the third book in my Albert Lincoln Trilogy, The House of the Hanged woman, which is out in November – just in time for Christmas. The other bit of good news is that my first three Wesley books, The Merchant’s House, The Armada Boy and An Unhallowed Grave are being reissued this summer with lovely new covers. Do watch this space for more details.

Shed

Recently I recorded a short video for the Crime Readers’ Association about my writing place. I’m not sure when it will be issued yet but do look out for it. It not only features my office but my writing shed – with the lovely weather we’ve been having recently I’ve been in my shed a lot, enjoying the scent of lilac as I ‘commute’ down the garden.

Take care everyone and happy reading!

March 2020

We are living in very strange times. Just a few weeks ago I was looking forward to a year of events and conferences where I could meet readers (not to mention a couple of holidays) but things haven’t turned out quite as planned. The events have all been cancelled and the entire population is on lockdown.

I expected this to be a time when I could really focus on writing but instead I’m finding it hard to concentrate. Perhaps it’s the constant worry that family and friends will fall victim to the dreaded virus or perhaps it’s the disruption of routine and lack of leisure time to look forward to. I’m not really sure but I know that other writers I’ve been in touch with are feeling the same. It just shows that uncertainty doesn’t help the creative process.

In the meantime I’m trying to rewrite the 70,000 words of the rough partial draft I’m working on (the next Wesley Peterson book) and trying to stay cheerful.

KateHome

My main writing news is that THE BURIAL CIRCLE was published last month. It was inspired by a talk given to the archaeology group I belong to about industrial archaeology. Also my husband volunteers at a nearby National Trust property, Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire (run by the National Trust) so I was able to do some first hand research (especially about the possibility of a body being caught up in a water wheel). My research also threw up a lot of fascinating facts about Victorian ‘burial clubs’ and their murderous possibilities. Here’s a quick precis of what to expect:

On a stormy night in December a tree is blown down on a Devon Farm. When the tree is dragged away, a distinctive red rucksack is found caught up in its roots – and next to it is a human skeleton. 

The discovery revives memories for DI Wesley Peterson, memories of a young hitchhiker who went missing twelve years before. The missing girl had been carrying a red rucksack so suddenly the cold case becomes red hot.

 Meanwhile in a nearby village of Petherham, a famous TV psychic is found dead in suspicious circumstances. Wesley’s friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, is studying Petherham’s ancient mill and uncovering the village’s surprisingly sinister history. Neil’s revelations make Wesley wonder whether a string of mysterious deaths in Petherham over a hundred years ago could be linked to the more recent killings.

 When Wesley digs deeper into the case it seems that dark whisperings of a burial circle in the village might not be merely legend after all. And as he tracks down a ruthless killer he finds that deadly danger lurks in the most unexpected places! 

the burial circle

I do hope you enjoy reading THE BURIAL CIRCLE (and that it helps to take your minds off the current crisis!)

Take good care of yourselves. We can only look forward to this being over so life can get back to normal!

January 2020

A month has gone by since Christmas (it doesn’t seem that long) and I’ve been working hard (I’m afraid Dry January would never work for me – I look forward to my glass of red wine at the end of the working day!) Not only have I made a start on Wesley Peterson’s next case but I’ve finished my editor’s revisions on The House of the Hanged Woman, the final mystery in the Albert Lincoln trilogy set in the aftermath of the First World War. The House of the Hanged Woman sees Albert return to Wenfield in Derbyshire to investigate the disappearance of a Member of Parliament. An unrecognisable body has been found in a cave in the Peak District but is it the absent politician – or is something more sinister going on? I’ve really loved writing about Albert and that fascinating period of history and I confess that I’ll miss him. The House of the Hanged Woman will be due out in time for next Christmas.

VineyardS

One of my presents this Christmas was a trip to a vineyard for a wine tasting. To my surprise that vineyard was in Holmfirth (on the Yorkshire side of the Pennines). Holmfirth was made famous by being the setting for the long running TV comedy ‘The Last of the Summer Wine’ and (in spite of the programme’s title) it was the last place you’d expect to find a vineyard because that area is hardly renowned for its sunny climate. However, it turns out that certain varieties of grape grow very well there (I shouldn’t really have doubted because I believe the Romans used to have vineyards in the north of England). The whole trip was a very pleasant surprise (and, incidentally, the wine was very good). While I was in Holmfirth I couldn’t resist calling into the library there to say hello to the staff there. It was lovely to meet everyone!

HolmfirthLibys

At the moment I’m looking forward to the publication of Wesley’s twenty fourth case The Burial Circle, at the beginning of February. The story begins when Wesley’s brother-in-law receives a disturbing visit from an anonymous stranger. Then a tree is blown down in a storm, revealing a skeleton tangled in its roots, and when the skeleton turns out to be that of a hitchhiker who vanished a decade earlier, Wesley and Gerry face one of their most puzzling cases yet. I do hope all my readers enjoy The Burial Circle with its intertwined mysteries and its links to the Victorian cult of death.

the burial circle

Final Day of December 2019

I do hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

I can’t believe that another year has almost gone and a new one stretches ahead. My pristine 2020 diary is already filling up fast and it looks as though the coming year is going to be a busy one. My publisher has just given me a contract for two new Wesley Peterson mysteries and also wants me to write a stand-alone crime novel. I’m looking forward to the challenge of beginning work as soon as the Festive Season is out of the way but beginning a new book from scratch is always a little daunting.

Just before Christmas I finished the third book in my Albert Lincoln trilogy (The House of the Hanged Woman) and sent it off to my editor. It was good to get it all done and out of the way so I could concentrate on family and the festivities. I just hope my editor likes it!

The week before Christmas also saw me celebrating with readers at my local library where the fantastic staff had recreated a Poirot-style drawing room and the audience sat with mulled wine and mince pies while I read out my Christmas short story The Christmas Card List. I also sang new words I’d made up to the tune of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. My own little tribute to Agatha Christie!

YOU’D BETTER THINK UP A GOOD ALIBI

IT BETTER BE CONVINCING, I’M TELLING YOU WHY

HERCULE POIROT’S COMING TO TOWN

HE’S MAKING A LIST

HE’S CHECKING IT TWICE

THOSE LITTLE GREY CELLS WILL WORK IN A TRICE

HERCULE POIROT’S COMING TO TOWN

HE KNOWS WHEN YOU’VE BEEN LYING

HE KNOWS WHO DID THE CRIME

HE KNOWS IF YOU’VE BEEN BAD OR GOOD

AND WHO DESERVES TO BE DOING TIME

SO YOU’D BETTER THINK UP A GOOD ALIBI

IT BETTER BE CONVINCING, I’M TELLING YOU WHY

HERCULE POIROT’S COMING TO TOWN

I’m delighted to say that everyone enjoyed it and joined in with the chorus!

One good thing about Christmas is that normal working life is put on hold and once your guests have left you can slump in front of the telly with a (almost) clear conscience. I was very much looking forward to the new adaptation of A Christmas Carol but I’m afraid I was disappointed and gave up half way through the second instalment. All Dickens’s warmth, wit and rich characterisation was cut out and replaced by darkness, abuse and abject misery. Oh dear – I never thought an encounter with Scrooge and co would prove so utterly depressing (when you could hear what they were saying). I confess I had to watch Alastair Sim’s version straight afterwards to get remind myself what the book was really like. Dickens managed to get his message over perfectly well with a light and entertaining touch. Perhaps this is something all writers should remember.

I’m still mulling over my New Year resolutions but I reckon that a complete ban on stollen and mince pies after January would be a good start.

Here’s wishing all my readers a really happy New Year. All the best for 2020 and happy reading!

October 2019

Well, it’s been a busy (and rather wonderful) couple of months!

In early September I was in Devon where I did a couple of books signings (of my latest Wesley Peterson paperback Dead Man’s Lane) and presented The Case of the Late Cook at Dartmouth Library (next year I’ve promised to present it at Kingsbridge in Devon so keep an eye on my events page).

In early October I enjoyed a wonderful evening at Bebington Library on the Wirral doing an ‘in conversation’ event with my friend and fellow Murder Squad member, Margaret Murphy (who writes as Ashley Dyer). It was a great evening and, as it wasn’t a million miles from Liverpool where I grew up, I was delighted to see two of my school friends in the audience! My friend, Janet reminded me of the time when, as teenagers, we were asked to leave our local library for making too much noise while doing our homework. She later became a librarian and I became a writer so we had to laugh!

The Murder Squad were reunited in the lovely town of Beverley on the 19th October for a day of talks and panels, culminating in a fantastic performance of my Murder Mystery Death at the Dig in the evening. It was performed by the superb Chameleon Players who gave a wonderfully professional performance (even adding a new role – that of Scotland Yard detective DI Adio). The mystery was solved over a delicious meal of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and a great time was had by all.

ChameleonPlayersS

Then it was back to work on the third in my Albert Lincoln trilogy (called The House of the Hanged Woman) but my writing was to be interrupted when, on 24th October, I travelled to London because I’d been shortlisted for the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library Award.

It was a glittering occasion and with my fellow shortlisted authors being so distinguished - M C Beaton, Mark Billingham, C J Sansom, John Connolly and Cath Staincliffe, I wasn’t expecting to win. However, when the announcement was made, I heard my name. I’d won and when I went to the stage to receive the award I felt I was walking on air, hardly able to believe the wonderful news!

Here are a couple of pictures of that exciting night. On the right is me with Gold Dagger winner Mike Craven (we share a publisher)

KateDaggerS KateMCravenS

I’d been told that the winners should keep the acceptance speeches short (to avoid the event ending too late . . . and any embarrassing Oscar moments) so I thanked my publisher and the library staff who voted for me. However, what I’d really have liked to say was that I love libraries and have the scar to prove it: when I was five I was coming out of my local library with an armful of books and I fell, cutting my knee really badly (I bear the scar to this day). But this didn’t put me off reading and my trips to the library became more frequent over the years. In my opinion, public libraries are wonderful, valuable institutions and I was so honoured to be chosen for this award. I love supporting libraries and I’ll do my best to do so for many years to come. So join me in raising a glass to libraries. I don’t know where we’d be without them!

August 2019

When I last wrote this diary I was looking forward to my first visit to Suffolk to take part in Slaughter in Southwold. I had a wonderful time there and really enjoyed meeting the lovely crime readers in the large and enthusiastic audience there. A huge thank you to Charlotte Clark from Suffolk Libraries and her team for organising such a wonderful event.

Southwold

July has been an eventful month. I presented my new murder mystery The Case of the Late Cook at Norton Priory in Cheshire (with the setting changed from Northumberland to Cheshire!). The undercroft of the medieval abbey was a fantastic and atmospheric location (and gratifyingly cool on one of the hottest days of the year), the acting was superb and a good time was had by all. Many thanks to all involved.

NortonPriory

July wasn’t only eventful on the writing front. The month saw the arrival of my grandson, Alexander, and it was fun looking after his big sister while he and his mum were in hospital (she loves books and libraries!)

My latest paperback DEAD MAN’S LANE was published on 1st August and I’ve been signing copies in local bookshops. On Friday and Saturday (9th & 10th Aug) I'll be at Stockport and Wilmslow. Do check my events page for details https://www.kateellis.co.uk/events

I’ve written a short piece about the inspiration for DEAD MAN’S LANE (including a chance meeting on a quayside and the discovery of a pair of skulls).

https://www.thecrimevault.com/exclusives/kate-ellis-discusses-her-new-wesley-peterson-mystery-dead-mans-lane/

On the 16th August I’ll be at the Crime and Mystery Weekend at St Hilda’s College, Oxford and I’m in the process of arranging some events in Devon in early September. More about that next time.

Happy reading.