Susi Qs – Week 35 – Elly Griffiths

This week I’m delighted to be talking to actual crime royalty – the most excellent Elly Griffiths! Elly wrote four novels under her own name (Domenica de Rosa) before turning to crime with The Crossing Places, the first novel featuring forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway. The Crossing Places won the Mary Higgins Clark award and three novels in the series have been shortlisted for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year. The Night Hawks (Ruth #13, published in February 2021) was number two in the  Sunday Times Top Ten Bestsellers list. Elly also writes the Brighton Mysteries, set in the theatrical world of the 1950s. In 2016 Elly was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library for her body of work. Her first standalone mystery, The Stranger Diaries, won the 2020 Edgar award for Best Crime Novel. The second, The Postscript Murders, has recently been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. Elly also writes A Girl Called Justice, a mystery series for children.

Welcome, Elly! Please tell us everything

Sum yourself up in one word

Curious.

Who was your first crush?

Christopher Lee in the Dracula films. I genuinely didn’t realise that he was meant to be scary.

Have you ever been punched in the face?

I’ve never even been near to being in a fight but a horse did give me a black eye once.

Do you worry about swallowing spiders in your sleep?

I love spiders. I think they’re beautiful, interesting and useful. I can’t say I’d like to swallow one but they come low on my list of fears (and it’s quite a long list).

Which actor do you fancy most?

I have a crush on John Krasinski in The Office.

What’s your favourite joke?

My Dad used to tell a long Italian joke. The punchline was ‘no, but my brother does’. I think it probably sounds better in the original Neapolitan.

Would you rather have no forks or no plates?

The Florentines invented the fork so, in honour of my Tuscan grandmother, I would say that I couldn’t do without this essential utensil.

When is the last time you were arrested?

I have led a disappointingly law-abiding life. Though I did do several CND ‘die-ins’ in the 80s.

What’s your most unrealistic ambition?

To play Lady Macbeth.

What are you having for lunch tomorrow?

Sushi.

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If you want to know more about Elly, you can find her on twitter @ellygriffiths. Her books can be purchased HERE.

 

Susi Qs – Week 34 – Sara Sheridan

Today’s very exciting guest has one of the prettiest book covers I have ever seen (scroll down to the bottom to find it immediately!) Sara Sheridan is a writer and activist interested in history. She has written more than 20 books including remapping Scotland to memorialize our forgotten foremothers. In 2014 she was named one of the Saltire Society’s 365 Most Influential Scottish Women past and present. This year she has two novels out, both set in Edinburgh, where she spent lockdown: The Fair Botanists (1822) and a 1950s murder mystery, Celtic Cross.

So, Sara… what have you got to say for yourself?

Do you empty your own hoover bag?
Every. Single. Day. I got an automatic hoover over lockdown cos I am no domestic goddess and I either had to get a machine to take over the housework or turn into Miss Haversham. The hoover only has a small dust compartment and the dust, it turns out, is legion.

Do you worry about swallowing spiders in your sleep?
I have much more important stuff to worry about in my sleep. As someone who has periodic night terrors, the dark creature that might emerge from the mirror is more on my mind. The evil ghost in the hallway. The ravening dog that has got in through the back gate. I laugh at your spider snacks. Ha!

Which actor do you fancy the most?
When I was a teenager it was Keanu Reeves. l I booked into a hotel one time cos he was staying there. I didn’t see him once. These days I only fancy people I know so I don’t fancy any big, famous actors. No siree.

Would you rather have four arms or four legs?
Four arms and I don’t know why. Maybe cos knitting.

Have you ever been punched in the face?
No but I am 100% sure people have wanted to.

Are you any good at potato sculptures?
No. Most of my creative food energy goes into drawing wee faces and writing on eggs. ‘Eat me first’ ‘Do anything with me but not an omelet please.’ I know you think I’m making this up, but it’s true. It started as a fun thing to do with kids and now it’s a habit though the kids have grown up and left. Occasionally I come up with something new for an egg to say and that, my friend, is a very good day.

What is your most unrealistic ambition?
I would love to be able to sing or play a musical instrument. I believe that I could do this if I had lessons but I am tone deaf and I definitely can’t. I am v jelly of all the writers who are also in bands.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A very rich late-Georgian heiress please.

Have you ever had your fortune told?
I used to read tarot cards and do the I-ching so yes. I think of it as tuning in… One of my pals has visions and occasionally when I’m telling her what I’ve got planned she gets a far away look in her eye and I know my future is going to shit.

What were you in a previous life?
I’m positive I had a previous life. I have no idea what I was but I would like to have been a very rich late-Georgian heiress. Fuck’s sake. How many times do I have to say it?

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If you want to know more about Sara, you can find her on twitter @sarasheridan. Her books can be purchased HERE.

 

Susi Qs – Week 33 – David Jackson

This week I’m probing the very lovely David Jackson, who was one of the first crime writers I got to know, and met in person at Harrogate in 2012 – which seems like a very long time ago! David’s debut novel, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Awards. He has written a string of internationally published crime thrillers since then, including the bestseller Cry Baby, nominated by Amazon as one of their Best Books of the Year. The Guardian newspaper said of his work: ‘Recalls Harlan Coben – though for my money Jackson is the better writer’.

Take it away, Dave!

What is your most unrealistic ambition?

Winning a three-legged race on my own.

Have you ever been punched in the face?

Yes. Boxing at school. I refused to take part, so the teacher hit me. It was a tough school.

What would you cook on Come Dine With Me?

The guests. With fava beans and a nice Chianti.

What’s your secret party piece?

Invisibility. Nobody ever knows I’m there. (Expressions of sympathy in cash to the usual address, please)

Do you pair your socks?

My socks are all in triplets (I like to carry a spare in case of foot-based accidents)

Have you ever had your fortune told?

Yes. She told me that my life line was so short I must already be dead. We argued the toss for a good ten minutes.

What was your first gig?

My first author gig was at a library. As an ice-breaker, the small audience had to attach names to the author photographs on the wall. Even though I was the invited speaker, they decided that my own photo was of Douglas Henshall from the Shetland series. Later, someone asked how I could possibly continue my police series when the protagonist had suffered such catastrophic injuries. Turned out she’d read the wrong book.

Do you worry about swallowing spiders in your sleep?

No, but I spend much of my day ensuring they worry about swallowing me.

Would you rather give up washing, smiling or reading?

This question required research, so I’ve given up washing and smiling. Nobody comes near me now, so I’m getting lots of reading done.

What’s your most treasured possession?

My ring. My precious ring. Nasty hobbitses wants to steal it, so I only wears it at parties (see above).

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If you want to know more about Dave, you can find him on twitter @Author_Dave. His books can be purchased HERE.

 

Susi Qs – Week 32 – Tammy Cohen

Today’s guest is the wonderful Tammy Cohen! Tammy has written ten novels under her own name, including seven psychological thrillers, the latest of which is The Wedding Party. She has also written three historical novels under the pseudonym of Rachel Rhys including the Richard and Judy pick Dangerous Crossing. She is 5’2” and worried she might be shrinking.

So…Tammy?

Are you any good at potato sculptures?

A lady doesn’t like to boast BUT let’s just say I visited the Rodin exhibition at the Tate last week and you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a perfectly scaled copy of The Thinker carved out of an extra-large Maris Piper.

Would you rather have four arms or four legs?

Arms for sure. We’re living temporarily in a rented house with a hand-held shower, and it’d be lovely not to have to grip the shower head between my knees while unscrewing the shampoo bottle and spraying the ceiling in the process.

What is the most annoying thing?

Questions where the list of answers is so infinite you can’t think of a single one.

Who would you rather play golf with? Michael McKintyre, Take That, or The Queen?

The Queen – I might actually win.

What are you wearing?

Oh, my usual Barbara Cartland style writing garb – white mink, diamond tiara, pink fluffy mules, dog stuffed under arm…

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Tall – It’d be nice to be able to reach the ‘good’ glasses down from the kitchen cupboards without precariously balancing on a stool.

Would you rather have no forks or no plates?

You can fashion a plate out of anything but forks are impossible as I found out a couple of weeks ago when I bought a superfood humus salad from M&S for the train and forgot the little wooden fork. If you’re ever tempted to eat a gloopy salad using a rolled up train ticket in place of cutlery, just don’t.

What’s your secret party piece?

I can sit on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me and then bend them both at the knee into right angles so it appears as if I have two broken legs. As party tricks go, it’s not the coolest.

Do you worry about swallowing spiders in your sleep?

Only when I’m camping when I have to zip my whole head up inside my sleeping bag just to be on the safe side.

Have you ever been punched in the face?

No, I run a mile at the first hint of confrontation. But my partner, Michael, once knocked himself out by opening a bottle of champagne under his own chin, if that’s any use…

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If you want to know more about Tammy, you can find her on twitter @MsTamarCohen. Her books can be purchased HERE.

 

Susi Qs – Week 31 – Doug Johnstone

Photo credit: Duncan McGlynn

This week I’m grilling one of my favourite countrymen, the very cool and ridiculously multi-talented Doug Johnstone. Doug is the author of thirteen novels, three of which have been shortlisted for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. He’s a songwriter and musician with five albums and three solo EPs, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers.

Let’s hear it, Doug…

What would you cook on Come Dine with me?

Steak and chips, keep it simple. They’re all gonna get smashed and slag it anyway, so it might as well be something I like that’s easy.

Which actor do you fancy the most?

Amy Adams. I think it’s her ability to talk to aliens in Arrival.

Which dead celebrity do you wish was still alive?

Jimmy Savile, so he could finally fix it for me to be a drummer in Adam and the Ants. Then I’d kill him again for being the worst person of all time.

Do you find it hard to take criticism?

Not really. Opinions are like arseholes, everyone’s got one. Folk are entitled to criticise me, and I’m entitled to ignore them.

Who do you love?

Family, friends, the guys in the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers. Amy Adams in Arrival.

What are you wearing?

Joggers, hoody. Also a T-shirt for obscure podcast How Did This Get Made, which is hilarious about shit films.

What’s your most unrealistic ambition?

To score the winning goal for Scotland in the World Cup Final. To be the first person on Mars. To make first contact with aliens. Take your pick.

Have you ever heard voices in your head?

Only my own voice, telling me that my first draft is shit.

Do you empty your own hoover bag?

Well it doesn’t have a bag cos it’s a Dyson (fuck that guy, Brexit twat). But yes, I empty it.

When was the last time you were arrested?

As a student. Urinating in a public place. Up against the wall of a church.

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If you want to know more about Doug, you can find him on twitter @Doug_Johnstone. His books can be purchased HERE.

 

Susi Qs – Week 30 – Susi Holliday

It’s here – it’s happening!! It’s only taken 30 gruelling weeks, but I am finally answering my own questions. OK, so I *may* have scheduled myself in to coincide with the release of my new book. OK, yes I did. SUBSTITUTE is out now. Please buy it. Right, back to the questions…

(Go on then…)

Do you empty your own hoover bag?

It’s not a bag, it’s a plastic cylinder and no, Mr H performs almost all household cleaning duties including this one. He empties it then cleans it out in the bath (not when he’s in it.)

Have you ever written a fan letter?

Several. I wrote to Wham to tell them I loved them, ditto Bros. More recently, Mr H wrote to the Monster Munch fan club to try and get me a t-shirt after collecting tokens from packets and hiding them (It was meant to be a surprise). The heartless bastards said the expiry date for t-shirts had passed. I am no longer a member.

What’s the first gig you ever went to?

Shakin’ Stevens at the Edinburgh Playhouse. My mum’s friend took me. I think I was about…8? But I was already obsessed with him. He drove me cray-ay-zee, in fact.

What is the worst thing?

Mushy peas.

What’s your favourite household appliance?

Mr H. JOKE!! I’m a woman of simple tastes. All I need is a kettle and a toaster, and if I had to choose, it’d be the toaster. When Jesus said ‘man cannot live on bread alone’ that’s because he didn’t have a toaster, a tub of Lurpak lighter and a packet of Cathedral City cheddar. He probably didn’t even have a butter knife, to be fair.

How many pairs of shoes do you have?

A ridiculous amount. Most of them are stored in a laundry bin. Heels, sandals, wedges, trainers, boots… and yet I actually only wear about 3 pairs that are left by the front door. I periodically open the laundry bin and take a pair or two out, think about giving them to charity, then decide I might need the one day, so I put them back and forget about them for another year.

Where’s the worst place you’ve been sick?

Picture this horrifying yet inevitable chain of events: a wedding atop a hill, only accessible via bus and winding road… a delectable array of food, much dancing, a free bar full of all the wines, beers and spirits on earth, and some cigars… and later, a pair of shoes – wrapped in a carrier bag and discarded in an airport bin before leaving the country. I’ll let you piece all that together.

Do you have a secret party piece?

I can eat an entire loaf of toasted bread in under 30 minutes. JOKE!! It’s more like an hour.

How many times have you seen Top Gun?

I can’t really talk about this until Tom lifts the restraining order.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?

Probably that time a builder saw a ghost in my house and then ran away and left me in there on my own.

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If you want to know more about me, you can read stuff on this website, like here. You can also find me on twitter @sjiholliday. My books can be purchased HERE.

 

Susi Qs – Week 29 – Laura Marshall

Today I’m delighted to be chatting to the wonderful Laura Marshall, who I last saw on a platform at Harrogate train station as I ran away to find my abandoned suitcase. Anyhoo… Laura is the Sunday Times bestselling author of the psychological thrillers Friend Request and Three Little Lies. Her latest (very brilliant) novel The Anniversary is out NOW!!! Laura lives in Kent with her family.

Let’s hear it, Laura…

Do you worry about swallowing spiders in your sleep?

Nah. Bit of extra protein never hurts.

When was the last time you were arrested?

The LAST time? I would like it known that I have never been arrested, although it may have been a close-run thing a few times during my brief career as a teenage shoplifter.

How often do you change your sheets?

Oh God, I knew this one would come up. Think of an interval that you would consider skanky, and then double it. At least.

Would you rather have four arms or four legs?

Oh arms, definitely. Think of the multi-tasking.

Tequila Sunrise or Pina Colada?

Neither. I haven’t been able to drink tequila since an unfortunate incident in my youth, and I recently had my first pina colada and it was disgusting, like drinking cream. I’ll take a French Martini.

Are you any good at potato sculptures?

I am not good at any kind of sculptures, or drawing, or anything in that area. I am bad at everything connected with art in fact, including going round art galleries. I always find myself standing anxiously in front of the pictures, not knowing how long I’m supposed to stand there, or what I’m meant to say.

What is the most annoying thing?

When people have a little saucer or bowl into which they put all the used teabags of the day. JUST PUT THEM STRAIGHT IN THE BIN.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I’d like to be one of those super-confident, glowing, vivacious but not annoying people who others are drawn to like flies round a honey pot. I fear it’s too late for this now.

Have you ever written a fan letter?

As a child I wrote to the actor Bill Owen, who played Compo in Last of the Sumer Wine, to ask him what was in his infamous matchbox.

Which actor do you fancy the most?

Bill Owen, the actor who played Compo in Last of the Summer Wine. NOT REALLY! Hugh Grant. Phwoarggh.

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If you want to know more about Laura, you can find her on twitter @laurajm8. Her books can be purchased HERE.

 

Susi Qs – Week 28 – Rachael Blok

This week’s guest – the very lovely Rachael Blok – grew up in Durham and studied Literature at Warwick University. She taught English at a London comprehensive and is now a full-time writer, living in Hertfordshire with her husband and children. She is the author of the DCI Maarten Jansen novels: Under the Ice, The Scorched Earth and Into the Fire – which can all be read as standalones.

So, what have you got for us, Rachael?

Who was your first crush?

He-Man. I was obsessed with the 80’s cartoon. I still think he’s got it.

Where was your best holiday?

Holidays! I think all of them right now, it’s been so long. But in particular, Oman. We used to go and visit my dad who worked over there when I was about six. It was partly seeing him again, and also all the swimming, deserts and ice cream.

Have you ever broken a bone?

I broke a small bone in my leg when I was kicked by a horse as a child. I didn’t know for ages!

When did you last sleepwalk?

Erm… Not sure! I’d have to ask my mum.

What is your most unrealistic ambition?

I’ve picked out the dress I’d wear to the Oscars, when the book I’ve written is adapted for screenplay, wins, and I have to go on stage to collect.

Are you any good at potato sculptures?

I’d say no. Not tried, but I’m rubbish at play-doh.

Do you have any weird habits?

I avoid walking under signs. An old boyfriend told me this was very unlucky and now I always walk round them, often heading into traffic to do so.

Have you ever heard voices in your head?

Only my own, telling me all the things I still haven’t done that day.

How many pairs of shoes do you have?

No idea! Not as many as my husband, who has a pair of trainers for every sport he plays.

Would you rather give up washing, smiling or reading?

Definitely washing.

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If you want to know more about Rachael, you can find her on twitter @MsRachaelBlok. Her books can be purchased HERE.

 

Susi Qs – Week 27 – Alex Shaw

A big welcome this week to Alex Shaw – the author of the AIDAN SNOW, JACK TATE and SOPHIE RACINE thrillers. He is published by Harper Collins in English and Luzifer Verlag in German. TOTAL BLACKOUT has been Shortlisted for the 2021 WILBUR SMITH ADVENTURE WRITING PRIZE. Alex and his family divide their time between Kyiv, Doha and West Sussex.

Take it away, Alex…

What’s your most treasured possession?

Apart from my family, I would say this has to be my grandfather’s WWII medals.

Which dead celebrity do you wish was still alive?

Sid James, Kenneth Williams or Frankie Howerd.

Do you have any weird habits?

I rarely listen to music, and I haven’t bought any this millennium. Don’t get me wrong, I listened to music as a teen and I have been to concerts, but I’ve never had the urge or even thought to listen to music on other occasions. Even when I drive, I usually have the radio off or switched to Radio 4. Is this weird?

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

My all-time top pick is Barbados. We’ve had some great family holidays there and will hopefully get to go again if not in late 2021 then in 2022.

What’s your favourite kitchen appliance?

It’s a three-way tie between my huge frying pan, which is voluminous enough to fry an entire pack of bacon, my waffle maker and my Nespresso machine. Actually, the coffee maker just gets it on the line.

Are you any good at potato sculptures?

Very much so. My preferred medium is mashed potatoes. I once created a huge sculpture of past US leaders, I called it ‘Mount Mashmore’.

What would you cook on Come Dine With Me?

I’d cook up a storm and then serve a liquid lunch.

Would you rather have no forks or no plates?

I can do without forks but only if I’m allowed to wear gloves. I hate eating with my hands, finger food is my idea of torture.

Why are coconuts so difficult to open?

If one uses a machete, they are quite easy to open, but do not attempt the same with a butter knife.

If you were a kangaroo, what would you keep in your pouch?

My dignity.

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If you want to know more about Alex, you can find him on twitter @alexshawhetman His books can be purchased HERE.

 

Susi Qs – Week 26 – Neil Lancaster

This week’s guest is Neil Lancaster – the No.1 Audible bestselling author of the Tom Novak series. He has worked for the Metropolitan Police as a Detective, investigating serious crimes in the capital and beyond. His new series, featuring DS Max Craigie begins with The McIlvanney longlisted Dead Man’s Grave on July 16th (which is… today!! Happy Publication Day, Neil!)

He now lives in the Scottish Highlands, writes crime and thriller novels and works as a broadcaster and commentator on true crime documentaries. He is a key expert on two Sky Crime TV series: Meet, Marry, Murder & Made for Murder.

So, what have you got for us, Neil? (btw, it has been noted that you have chosen more than 10 questions, however, as it’s your publication day, I will allow it. Also, they were too good to cut.)

Why are coconuts so difficult to open?

Simply because coconuts are utterly bogging. If I had a choice between eating a bounty bar and slow and painful death, then death it is. However produce some yummy coconut milk to add to a spicy curry and I’m there !!! But bitty, desiccated coconut can get in the bloody sea. In fact, make them harder to get into… I reckon that any food that needs a machete to get into is trying to tell us something.

Which dead celebrity do you wish was alive?

Brucie… I bloody loved Brucie. I wrote to him as a kid and he sent back a signed photo with a nice letter saying how good my handwriting was. A lovely chap.

Do you empty your own hoover bag?

We don’t have a hoover bag. We have some really heavy Dyson thing with no bag, but if it needs emptying, I’ll empty it. Unless there are spiders in it, in which case it can empty itself.

Who do you love?

Peggy the Cocker, obviously.  (I wonder if my wife is concerned that I put Peggy before her, but have you SEEN my #binday tweets?)

What are you having for lunch tomorrow?

Soup, always soup. I make awesome soup. I can turn sludgy veg sat at the dimmest recesses of my fridge into a lovely lunch.

How many times have you seen Top Gun?

Are you joking? I was in the RAF Police when this came out.  Fourteen or fifteen thousand, I would say. When I was in the Falkland Islands, we used to have TG general knowledge quizzes.

What’s your favourite joke?

This is my 10 year old son’s favourite joke. I also think it’s timelessly funny.

“knock knock”

“Who’s there?”

“Europe”

“Europe-who”

“No I’m not.”

(you have to say it out loud… Okay, I’ll get my coat)

How many pairs of shoes do you have?

What are we counting as shoes? Like lace up leather things? In that case, one. If I’m counting walking boots, approach trainers, trainers, flip-flops, converse, wellies, slippers? I need specifics… More than my dog, less than my wife.

Have you ever heard voices in your head?

Hmmmmmm… Not ones that I don’t create myself. I do have a well developed internal monologue, but thankfully no intruders. I always have music on all the time, I don’t trust silence.

Would you rather have four arms or four legs?

How about four of each, then I could be a spider… (Why the hell didn’t you answer the spiders question, it was clearly made for you?)

Whats your most treasured possession?

Peggy? Do I possess Peggy, or do we just co-exist. I don’t believe in possessions. I use stuff, break it and then move on. I do have a certificate of my Granddad’s where he saved a life in Egypt… I like that a lot.

Tequila Sunrise or Pina Colada?

Neither. Both honking. Pina Colada is full of coconut (see question 1) and I once got so steaming on Tequila Sunrise that even the thought of it is troubling. To me the closest to a cocktail I will go is a G&T.

Whats’ your most unrealistic ambition?

Playing Rugby for England. Winning the CWA dagger? Getting out of bed without wincing at the pain in my back?

What’s the scariest thing that’s happened to you?

Probably when someone pointed a shotgun at me. It wasn’t so hot when someone tried to stab me, either. Ooh, no. I watched The Exorcist when I was 15. Still haven’t recovered.

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If you want to know more about Neil, you can find him on twitter @neillancaster66. His books can be purchased HERE.