I haven’t written this diary for a while because there’s been a lot happening, good and very bad.
Ruth Smith 1954 - 2017
I’ll begin with the very bad. My close friend, Ruth Smith tragically died of pancreatic cancer shortly before I was due to set off for Devon. Ruth was a wonderful, talented person, loved by all who knew her (the crowds at her funeral bore witness to that). She always read through all my manuscripts and at the start of my writing career she was the person who encouraged me to carry on even when I was on the verge of giving up. I happen to be a bell ringer and, as Ruth was a great crime fiction fan I rang ‘the nine tailors’ before her funeral (as in Dorothy L Sayers’ famous novel) - six tolls of the bell plus one for each year of her age - in her honour. I’ll miss her wisdom and her friendship so much and the book I’m writing at the moment with be dedicated to her memory.
As a result of this my subsequent visit to Devon was rather clouded by sadness. However if was lovely to meet the staff and readers at Waterstones Plymouth and the new Waterstones Torquay as well as speaking to a great audience from the WI at Cornworthy (although there were some gentlemen there too). I’ve used a thinly disguised Cornworthy (blended with a couple of nearby villages) in a few of my books so it was good to meet everyone and spend some time there.
Once home I took part in a wonderful panel in my home city of Liverpool discussing the role of women in crime fiction with Sarah Ward, Cath Staincliffe and Margaret Murphy (aka AD Garratt). Our panel was called ‘Deadlier than the male’ and we enjoyed a lively discussion about our influences and favourite authors as well as the role of women in our own books. I’m glad that my own personal favourite, Josephine Tey, got a good mention.
With recent events I’ve found it quite hard to concentrate on writing but I’m pleased to say that The Boy Who Lived with the Dead is on its fifth draft now and coming on nicely. Watch this space.