Monday, December 26, 2011

Scene of the Crime with Author Elly Griffiths!

I fell in love with the character of Dr. Ruth Galloway as I read Elly Griffiths' first book, The Crossing Places. Ruth practically lives and breathes her profession (forensic archaeology) and enjoys the solitude of living in a small cottage on the Saltmarsh in Norfolk, England. The words "Choo", "Blahnik", and "Prada" may as well be the names of satellites in space as far as she's concerned, and for an intelligent woman, she's prone to make a mistake or two-- probably because living alone can make any person vulnerable from time to time.

Ruth also has an interesting group of friends that includes a Druid named Cathbad, and she's solved a crime or two with the help of Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson. Part of the attraction in reading these books is watching Nelson-- a man married to a beautiful woman familiar with Choo and Blahnik-- become more and more fascinated with a woman like Ruth.

As soon as I finish one Ruth Galloway book, I'm dying to start the next, so you can bet I was thrilled when Elly Griffiths, the creator of one of my favorite characters, said yes to my request for an interview.

Elly Griffiths

Here are a few links if you'd like to learn more about Elly and her books:

Let's get started with the good stuff, shall we?

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

Alice in Wonderland. I remember lying under the table all day reading it when I was about five. It was a revelation to me that you could just spend all day reading and I still can’t think of a better way of spending time. I loved the weirdness of Alice, curiouser and curiouser, getting bigger and smaller, playing cards painting rose trees. I know Alice in Wonderland has been a big influence on my writing and it’s no coincidence that it’s also Cathbad’s favourite book.

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

I love to swim in the sea. I usually swim from April to September but I’d really like to swim all year round. My mum was one of a group of hardy elderly women who swam all through the year and it’s my ambition to be like them. I have even bought a flowery bathing cap...

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.)

There is so much to see and do in Brighton that you would be spoilt for choice! I would recommend shopping in the North Laines – much less gentrified than the better-known Laines – and rock-pooling at Rottingdean. Rottingdean also has a lovely village green, an interesting old museum and an abundance of tea shops.

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

Catherine Tate
Catherine Tate. I’m assuming it will be a comedy! Actually, Catherine Tate is a terrific serious actress too.

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

I think Matthew Shardlake from CJ Sansom’s Tudor novels. He’s such a likeable, believable character.

Name one book that you've read that you wish you had written. What is it about that book that made it come to mind?

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. It has everything – wonderful heroine, terrific story and the best villain in English fiction. And it’s long – I’d love to write a really long book.

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?

My first four books were written under my own name, Domenica de Rosa, and, though I know they were published, I never saw them for sale anywhere! My first book The Italian Quarter was loosely based on my dad’s life and, when I saw it, I was terrified. I hadn’t told my family that I’d written it and I was afraid that they wouldn’t approve. And I was right - they didn’t.

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?

I was doing a talk at King’s Lynn library when the police burst in. I thought it was Nelson and Co for a moment. Apparently they had been having some trouble with local youths but it’s a beautiful library and they made me feel really welcome.

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 don’t have an eReader myself but I can see the attraction. I’m always terrified of running out of books on holiday, for example, and a Kindle would solve that problem. My theory is that printed books will fight back by becoming more of an artefact in themselves, more beautiful and ornate, maybe with illustrations. After all, Dickens’ books were illustrated. Why shouldn’t adult books be illustrated? Imagine the buzz of, say, a new book by Martin Amis illustrated by Damian Hirst....

On Sale in the US January 10!
Elly, I have to admit that I was able to obtain an advance reader's copy of The House at Sea's End, and-- once again-- I'm eagerly awaiting your next book. Thanks to you, I know that the fourth Dr. Ruth Galloway book is titled A Room Full of Bones, and it will be available in the UK on January 5. In fact, Amazon UK says they have it in stock now!

Thank you for giving us this opportunity to get to know you a little better. May your book sales do nothing but increase!


  1. Lovely interview! I really enjoyed reading this. I'm going to link to it on my blog, as some of my blogging friends love Elly Griffiths also.

  2. Susan-- I'm glad you enjoyed the interview and have linked to it. I'm afraid most of my readers are off enjoying the sales!

  3. I'm a day late and a dollar short, but I really enjoyed this interview. She is new to me but won't be for long. Besides, Elly was my beloved mother-in-law's name. How could I resist? Loved it that the police burst in while she was giving a talk in a library. Maybe that scene will make it into one of her future books?

  4. Came here via Susan's blog and thoroughly enjoyed the interview with one of my favourite crime writers. So thrilled the new Ruth Galloway book is out soon.

  5. Barbara-- I can see where that could be used in a future book! I think Ruth is your type of character, and I hope you can give this series a try.

    Cath-- Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you liked the interview. I'm very tempted to order a UK copy of A Room Full of Bones, but then I'd be faced with an even longer wait for the next one! :-(

  6. I loved The Crossing Places and The Janus Stone..oh, I have to get my hands on The House at Sea's End!

    it's US publication date is my birthday,1/12, so maybe I need to treat myself to a gift.

  7. Caite-- Having read the book myself, I'd say you definitely need to treat yourself!


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