Sunday, May 08, 2011

Scene of the Crime with Author Ann Purser

No one does an English village cozy quite like Ann Purser. Since I am a fan of her Lois Meade series featuring the feisty owner of a house-cleaning service, I was delighted when Ann agreed to be interviewed on Scene of the Crime.

Ann Purser was born in Market Harborough in Leicestershire, and has lived most of her life in villages. She has turned her hand to many things, including journalism (as a columnist in She magazine), keeping hens and donkeys, running an art gallery, clerical assistant in a village school, Open University graduate, novelist, mother of three, and grandmother of three.

Ann writes two mystery series. The first series, featuring businesswoman Lois Meade, begins with Murder on Monday and contains ten books. 

She now has begun a "spin-off" series with Lois Meade character Ivy Beasley. The cover of the first book in the series, The Hangman's Row Enquiry is shown to the right. The second book, The Measby Murder Enquiry was just published on May 3. I know that book cover art devotees will love the cover to the right, but the stories and characterizations are every bit as good as the art!

Let's not delay and get right to the interview!

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

The very first book I read and loved (not Rupert and the Greedy Princess, which terrified me) was Robert Browning`s “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”.   My father worked in the Midland Bank, and his Manager was a very kind, child-loving man.   He used to give us all kinds of gifts, my brother and I, and this one was a first edition of the Kate Greenaway illustrated Pied Piper.   I used to read it over and over again, loving the descriptions, rhythms and wonderful build up of tension, as the Piper leads the children out of town and disappears into the side of the hill.   I could quote great wodges of the poem, and still do (as bored family will testify).

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

I don`t really like free time, but `hobbies` include tapestry, gardening, keeping bantams (lovely little eggs), singing in church choir, playing recorder with friends, and, of course, reading.

If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.)

Canons Ashby
I live in a small village in Northamptonshire, in the East Midlands.   Things to do in the village are limited!   But nearby we have a very beautiful mansion, once lived in by the Dryden family (including the poet) and owned by the National Trust.   The gardens are lovely, the house fascinating, and in the old buttery, there is a cafe and shop.   A very pleasant outing.   It is called Canons Ashby, and before Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, an order of Black Canons lived there – and, according to legend, got up to lots of no good.

You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?

Thora Hird

Oh goodness, what a terrible question!   I suppose the current me would be well played by an English actress, now sadly deceased, called Thora Hird – tough as old boots!

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

I read all the Simenon books, and really loved his Inspector Maigret – a real life character, warts and all.

Before your very first published mystery, what else had you written (short stories, articles, unpublished manuscripts)?

Before I started writing mystery stories, I had written six straight village life novels – the Round Ringford series.   I had worked as a journalist, writing profiles of celebs, and sundry other bits and pieces.   Probably the most useful piece of work was a book for parents of disabled children.   This was based on our own family life, and my daughter Harriet, who was born with cerebral palsy.   She is doing well, and getting married next year.

What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore? How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published?

So long ago, I can`t remember how I celebrated – probably a glass of champagne with my husband, who loves any excuse to open a bottle!   I do remember seeing one of the Lois Meade books at the back of a shelf in a major bookshop in London, so when no one was looking, I moved it to the front .....

I love the covers of your books! How much control do you have over the art?

No control!   But I love the covers so much, there is no need for me to worry.

I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?

Ann Purser
Book signings are not my favourite thing, but the most dramatic author moment was when I was talking to a group of local women – I was their speaker for the evening – and was saying cheerfully that nobody had ever sued me for writing about them in a recognisable way.   Up popped a lady at the back of the hall, and said “I know who Ivy Beasley is,” and sat down again.   I gulped and asked her who it was.   “Ethel Butler,” she replied.   And she was absolutely right!   I had used aspects of this lady in building the character of Ivy Beasley.   I spluttered a bit, and then she said, “Oh, don`t worry.   She`s dead."

The way some people talk, the only way to read now or in the future is with some sort of electronic device, like my husband's Nook. What is your opinion of eBooks, and how will they affect you as a published author? 

I do have a Kindle reader, and find it very handy when travelling around on trains, etc.   But there`s nothing like the feel of a real book in your hands.

Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Ann. I love your sense of humor-- and your books!

Stop by next Monday when my guest on Scene of the Crime will be Kwei Quartey, author of the Darko Dawson mysteries set in the country of Ghana in Africa.

1 comment:

  1. She sounds like a delightful person, sort of like chatting with a neighbor. I haven't read her books but will watch for them.


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