Tuesday, September 23, 2014
A Conversation with British Novelist Martin Edwards
Martin Edwards is a Liverpool attorney (soliticitor) who writes English crime novels. He's a member of the Murder Squad and is chairman of the nominations sub-committee for the most prestigious crime novel award, the CWA Diamond Dagger. He's also the archivist for the Crime Writers Association.
Martin will be featured in the forthcoming book, The Mystery Writers, along with Sue Grafton, Lawrence Block and many others.
Martin, what does membership in the Murder Squad entail?
It’s a group of six Northern crime writers, set up by Margaret Murphy. Members include Ann Cleeves and Cath Staincliffe, who have both had their books televised in recent years. We do events either jointly, in duos, or singly, all around the UK. We’ve produced an anthology, ingeniously entitled Murder Squad, and a CD sampler of our work. We have a website, www.murdersquad.co.uk I’m proud to be part of such a super gang.
How do crime novels in the UK differ from those written in the US?
Difficult to generalise, I think. We have plenty in common,, and I am certainly delighted with feedback on my books from the US. Americans like Deborah Crombie write very good crime novels set in the UK. Lee Child is a Brit who sets his bestsellers in the States. I suppose that there are fewer good private eye novels in the UK, and perhaps not quite as many serial killers – though we are catching up!
What was it like growing up in Knutsford, Cheshire, England, and did you write as a child?
I was born in Knutsford, famous as Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford (a Victorian era novelist and short story writer], though in fact I grew up a few miles away in Northwich. I still live close by. It’s a terrifically attractive market town, packed with history and there’s plenty of culture too. I’ve featured the town briefly in one novel, and more extensively in a short story featuring Mrs. Gaskell. I did write as a child. I think my first detective story was written when I was about 10, heavily influenced by the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films.
Are you still practicing law in Liverpool and how has your legal background influenced your novels?
Yep, I still have the day job. My first series, featuring Harry Devlin, also a lawyer, was set in Liverpool, a truly unique and fascinating city which everyone should visit! The most recent book, Waterloo Sunset, is a personal favourite. My legal background also influenced a stand alone novel of psychological suspense, Take My Breath Away, but it is less relevant to the Lake District Mysteries, although sad to say, a lawyer does meet a very unpleasant fate in The Serpent Pool.
You’re involved in a number of crime writer organizations. Tell us about them.
I was elected to the Detection Club a couple of years ago, which was gratifying, because of its fantastic history and the fact that almost all the members except me are superstars of the genre.
I’ve been a member of the Crime Writers’ Association for over twenty years, and I edit their annual anthology. I’m also chair of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger nominations committee. It was via the Northern Chapter of the CWA that the members of Murder Squad first met. It’s a very good social organisation.
You have an interesting, informative blog site titled, “Do You Write Under Your Own Name?” How did the name come about and has blogging helped sales of your books?
Glad you like the blog! When people – such as clients – meet me and learn that I write books, they often ask if I write under my own name. A polite way of saying they have never heard of my novels! I’m sure blogging has been good for my profile. Since it started I have won a Dagger and been elected to the Detection Club, but I’m not sure it’s cause and effect...
Tell us about your series and your latest novel?
My main current series is the Lake District Mysteries. The first book in the series, The Coffin Trail, was shortlisted for the Theakston’s prize for best crime novel of 2006. The series features cold case cop DCI Hannah Scarlett and the historian Daniel Kind. The developing relationship between them is a key element in the series, and so are the landscape, history and literature of the Lakes. The fourth and latest book in the series is The Serpent Pool, which draws on Thomas De Quincey’s years in the Lakes and above all on his fascination with murder as a fine art, has received terrific reviews since publication earlier this year.
What’s the most important ingredient in a crime novel?
Tricky question, but I’m tempted to say the key ingredient is making the reader want to keep turning the pages.
What’s your writing schedule like?
Overloaded! Because I work full time, I tend to write whenever I can snatch a few minutes in the evening and at weekends.
Advice to fledgling crime writers?
Keep at it, and don’t be disheartened too much by rejection.
Thanks, Martin. You can visit Martin Edwards at his website:
http://www.martinedwardsbooks.com/ and his blog blogsite: www.doyouwriteunderyourownname.blogspot.com/