Bestselling author Elly Griffiths reveals why you should never kill a cat
PUBLISHED: 14:57 07 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:09 07 February 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
Elly Griffiths, real name Domenica de Rosa, is one of the best known crime writers in the UK and especially in Norfolk.
The author, who lives in Brighton, has based her Ruth Galloway novels in the county and came to Jarrold department store for a sold-out event to promote the latest instalment The Stone Circle.
The new book follows DCI Nelson who has been receiving threatening letters telling him to go to the stone circle and rescue a child who is buried there.
Meanwhile Ruth, who is a forensic archeologist and lives in a cottage near King’s Lynn, is excavating a stone circle on the north Norfolk coast where she discovers the bones of Margaret Lacey, a child who disappeared 30 years ago.
As The Stone Circle is released, Elly reveals her tips for aspiring writers, which involves staying away from cats, how she found inspiration in Norfolk for her books and whether she’d want a TV adaptation of the series.
How did Norfolk inspire your Ruth Galloway series?
My husband Andy used to be a lawyer then he trained to be an archaeologist so we started holidaying quite a lot in Norfolk.
My aunt also lived in Norwich and had a boat at Reedham when I was a child so we used to spend a lot of time on Auntie Marge’s boat and she was very good at telling ghost stories about Norfolk, like the haunted Acle bridge, so in my head the county was already linked with stories.
So we started having those holidays again with our young kids and it was one day when we were walking across Titchwell Marsh that Andy made a comment about prehistoric people thinking marshland was sacred and is linked to the afterlife so that is why they buried bodies there.
That gave me the idea for the first book which was The Crossing Places so it really began with the north Norfolk coastline and it sounds a bit pretentious but I did see Ruth walking out of a mist.
How did you make sure you had enough ideas for all the books in the series?
Norfolk is full of archaeology so I knew they would all be set here and that it would be good as there is so many eras to choose from.
The second book The Janus Stone is set in Norwich about an old house that has been knocked down but there was a Roman building on the site as well and it ends with a chase on the Broads.
That is the lovely thing about having an archaeologist character as they can roam through the centuries and millenia they can go from the Ice Age to 20th century.
What is The Stone Circle about?
So the book goes back in a way to the landscape of The Crossing Places so it starts when DCI Nelson is getting letters telling him to go to the stone circle and rescue the innocent that lies within it.
He is a little bit disturbed as they read like letters he got in The Crossing Places but the sender of those letters is dead, or so he thinks.
Then Ruth tells him he has found a second circle on the north Norfolk coast which has a grave in the middle with bones inside which are quite recent from child who disappeared 30 years ago.
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Why did you decide to write crime novels and where do you find the darkness from?
I do think in a way crime novels can be kind of satisfying and it is a particular form I like.
I wrote my first book when I was 11 and was a murder mystery.
There is a strange thing that we are fascinated with the juxtaposition of bad things happening in beautiful places and it probably goes back to the Garden of Eden.
It is one of the only genres where you can have a returning character - if it wasn’t crime I would have had to say goodbye to Ruth after the first book.
Would you like the Ruth Galloway series to be made into a TV drama?
I would and there is a TV company who are working on a script at the moment so it might happen but these things take a long time.
I think I would feel torn, on one hand of course it would be lovely but on the other it would mean in some ways they didn’t belong to me anymore.
But I think as long as the scriptwriter knows Norfolk well and get it right and Ruth and Nelson right that would be fine.
What would be your message to aspiring writers?
I guess I would say write everyday and be careful who you show your writing to as you can get too much feedback and you should trust your own instincts.
My third most important piece of advice is never kill a cat as I did in my first book and I’m still getting emails about it.
The Stone Circle is available at all good bookshops, including Jarrold in Norwich.
Elly Griffiths will also be at Waterstones in Ipswich fora book signing on February 14 from 11am to 12pm.