Wednesday, July 1, 2015

9mm: An interview with Sarah Ward

Welcome to another great edition of 9mm, Crime Watch's quickfire author interview series. Pull up a comfy seat, grab yourself a tasty drink, and get ready to learn a little more about another terrific storyteller who is bringing tales of murder, mayhem and more to the page (or screen, if you're an ebooklover).

Today I'm pleased to introduce Sarah Ward, a new British author from Derbyshire, whose much-anticipated debut crime novel, IN BITTER CHILL, is released this week (great book, by the way, go grab a copy). Ward is well-known in English literary circles for her crime fiction reviews for a number of outlets, including her own popular blog, Crimepieces.

IN BITTER CHILL centres on historic and contemporary tragedies: two girls are abducted in the late 1970s, one is found. More than 30 years later, the mother of the missing girl commits suicide, upturning the life of the now-adult girl who returned. As Ward's agent said when a two-book deal with Faber was announced last year, "This is a story that gets to the heart of a community and the legacy of a tragedy like this. It’s a story about loss and secrets – those we tell ourselves and those we tell each other."

As I noted at the start of 2015, this is a book I'm very much looking forward to reading. Ward wrote the novel, set in her home county of Derbyshire, while living and working in Greece, and missing home. I imagine you'll be hearing a lot more about Ward over the next few weeks, given her outstanding debut, but for now, she becomes the latest author to stare down the barrel of 9mm.


Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
This is a really hard question for me to answer as I've read so much crime fiction over the years. I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan and I'm so tempted to mention one of her characters or perhaps P D James's Adam Dalgliesh. However I'm going to concentrate on contemporary crime fiction and my favourite detective is Fred Vargas's Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg. He's innovative, reflective and completely original.

What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
I can't remember the very first book I read myself as learning to read is such an organic experience. My mother read to me a huge amount when I was a child. I'm sure one the early books I read on my own would have been a Ladybird fairytale. I used to love them all.

Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
Before IN BITTER CHILL, I wrote a book featuring the same police characters but I wasn't happy with the story so I didn't do much with it. I'd like to revisit it some day and resurrect one the characters that didn't make it into the finished book. We'll see.

Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
Well I'm a huge reader still, even though my reading has taken a hit by my writing. I'm not sure my blog, Crimepieces, counts as leisure as I spend so much time on it, but reading and reviewing crime novels is a passion. I also sing in the Manchester Cathedral Voluntary Choir. This is a great group of people. As I learnt to speak Greek while I was living in Athens I also practise this with a friend.

What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
I live in the countryside in Derbyshire Peak District which receives lots of tourists who use the national park for outdoor activities. I'm interested in the industrial landscape of the area. Former mines, mills and so on are worth a visit because our industrial heritage is fascinating.

If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
There's absolutely no way I want my life made into a movie.

Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?
I'm currently writing my second book which I'm completely absorbed in. But I suspect your debut novel always holds a  special place in your heart.

What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
I was having a tea break in a Language School when I saw the e-mail from my agent to say Faber had offered for the book. I replied 'hooray' and went back into the classroom.

What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
These are yet to come, I suspect.

Thank you Sarah, we appreciate you taking the time to chat with Crime Watch. 


You can read more about Sarah Ward and her writing here: 


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