Wednesday, March 3, 2021

A Chat with Elly Griffiths.

RHYS BOWEN: This is a fan-girl moment for me because Elly Griffith is a writer I admire. I blurbed her last year's The Stranger Diaries that won the Edgar best novel (deservedly so for once). And I was given this year's stand alone novel, The Postscript Murders, to read. Quite different in tone but still enchanting.

The book comes out this month so I had to have Elly as my guest.  We have only met once, at a loud boozy dinner at a Bouchercon, so I'm glad to reconnect by interviewing her today.  Welcome Elly:

 RHYS:  This book follows the incredibly successful The Stranger Diaries which won the Edgar award last year. It features some of the same characters, yet the tone is quite different. The Stranger Diaries had a brooding, gothic feel to it but this is more traditional cozy. Had you had enough of darkness for a while? 

ELLY: It's funny the way each book is different, isn’t it? I didn’t set out to write a lighter book but I suppose the subject matter – books, literary clues, writing festivals – did lend itself to a cozier, more traditional tone. As soon as I’d finished the book, the UK was locked down and everything became much grimmer. Certainly my next book, The Night Hawks, has a darker, more claustrophobic tone. I now look back to The Postscript Murders as a halcyon time of travel and adventure – even though it does include several murders!

 RHYS:  Your detective is again the young Sikh woman, Harbinder Kaur, whom we met in the Stranger Diaries. Are you intending this to be a long term relationship so that this may become another series for you? 

ELLY: I hadn’t originally intended Harbinder to be a series character but, after The Stranger Diaries, I kept thinking about her. So, when the characters in The Postscript Murders consulted a detective, I knew who it would be. I think there might be one more Harbinder book but not a long series.

RHYS:  What made you choose an Indian Sikh woman as your detective? Do you have connections and insight into the Sikh community? 

ELLY: Harbinder just suddenly appeared, the way characters do. I think it’s always a consideration, though, when you create a character whose cultural background is very different from your own. On one hand, I felt Harbinder deserved to be centre stage but I wanted to be sure that I was presenting her in an authentic way. I do have a good friend who is from a Punjabi Sikh background and she – and her mother – were invaluable advisors on the book.

RHYS:  This book features an ensemble casts with four points of view, each using their personal approach and experience to put together pieces of the puzzle. Was that something you wanted to try or did you find that you needed more than one person to tell the story? (And as an aside, it worked beautifully and I found it very refreshing) 

ELLY: Thank you! I have toyed with this structure before but this is the first time I have written each chapter from a different point of view. It was challenging, especially when I needed to drop in a clue that the narrator might not notice, but it was also a lot of fun. I liked describing the way the characters saw each other too – Edwin being irritated with Benedict’s slow eating, Natalka starting to see Benedict in a different light, Harbinder becoming increasingly irritated by the amateur sleuths. 

RHYS : Also you choose to use the present tense. Was that easy to do? Did you find limitations? 

ELLY: The Ruth books are also written in the present tense so I’ve had a bit of practice. I like the immediacy but it can sometimes feel a bit relentless – action following action without much respite. I did feel that it suited this book though, so that the reader could accompany the characters on their road trip.

RHYS: This is a story of the murder of an old woman who has made a career of helping writers to come up with brilliant, new ways to kill people. I loved it! Have you met such a person yourself? Have you used such a person? (Aside note: it may become my next career when I retire from writing!)

ELLY:  Hahaha. Peggy is based on my Auntie Marge (happily still with us) who often comes up with gruesome murder ideas for me. Like Peggy, Marge lives in a seaside apartment and seems to know everything that is going on around her. She even has a good friend who runs the nearby Coffee Shack…

RHYS: Brilliant!  You also write a successful series, featuring forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway. What did you find different about writing a stand-alone? Which do you now prefer? Are there more stand-alones in the works?

ELLY:  I find that the stand-alones help with the series and vice versa. I enjoy the freedom of creating a new world in each stand-alone book but I do miss the familiar world of Ruth or the Brighton Mysteries and go back to them with added vigour. I will certainly continue to mix the series with stand-alones.

RHYS : And lastly something more personal. How has the pandemic affected your writing? Have you found yourself more productive/less productive? 

ELLY: I consider myself very lucky. I have friends and family who are doctors, nurses and teachers and I have seen how tirelessly they have worked during the pandemic. Also, I’ve seen friends with young children struggling with home-schooling. I can work from home and my children are grown-up. All I have to do is walk a few yards to my garden shed and make stuff up! I’ve written three books in lockdown so I certainly haven’t been less productive. Having said that, I have struggled at times. I miss seeing friends and family. I miss Norfolk and Italy. I feel very lucky to be able to travel in my books. Th

RHYS: Oh travel to Italy! How I miss that too. And there have been times, cooped up with John, when I would love a garden shed, or as it is called these days A She Shack!  It was lovely having you come to visit, Elly. I'm sure the new book will be a great success

 and I have good news for our readers:

Elly's publisher will give a copy of the POSTSCRIPT MURDERS to a commenter Elly picks! 

113 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Elly, on your newest book . . . the story sounds quite interesting and it will be great to see Harbinder Kaur back again.

    Of all the stories you’ve written, do you have a favorite?

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    1. That’s such a hard question! I actually really enjoyed The Postscript Murders because of the road trip element. Otherwise I have a soft spot for The Ghost Fields 😊

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  2. Congratulations Elly on THE POSTSCRIPT MURDERS. Harbinder Kaur was a fave character for me in your previous book so I am glad you brought her back here.

    RHYS: I saw that comment you made about the Edgar winners. I must admit, I have not read (or even heard of) the Best Novel nominees in past years. I heard from Claire Booth there were over 500 books sent in for the Edgar best novel committee to read/select. Whereas the Anthony, Agatha and Lefty awards, which are nominated by conference participants including readers like me, have a much smaller selection.

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    1. I’m so glad you like Harbinder! She’s lots of fun to write and I think she’ll appear in at least one more book 😊

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  3. Congratulations Elly on your new release. Love this book and look forward to more adventures with Harbinder. And I can't wait for the next Ruth book.

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    1. Thanks so much, Dru. And thank you for all your support xx

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  4. Congratulations, Elly, and welcome to JRW. I love the premise of Postscript Murders and your affectionate description of Auntie Marge. I am intrigued by your 4 POV's. It sounds very different from anything I've read. Also, the lighter, cozy tone is just what I have looked for during the last year. This book is going straight onto my TBR list.

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    1. That’s great to hear! Do hope you enjoy it 😊

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  5. I am shocked I haven't read your books yet, Elly. And plan to remedy that ASAP. THe Postscript Murders sounds delightful.

    I tried out alternating two POVs for the first time last year, which was fun - and challenging. The first book I read that did that (after I was aware of such things) was the Poisonwood Bible, and I think Kingsolver pulled it off like the master she is.

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    1. I love The Poisonwood Bible! I also love the way Kate Atkinson uses POV. I did find having 4 pov characters challenging - especially for the crime elements - but also lots of fun

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  6. Congratulations on your new release, Elly. Three books written in lockdown. That is a stellar accomplishment. I'm looking forward to reading The Postscript Murders - four points of view, as a writer, I'm terrified, as a reader, I'm looking forward to it - it's wonderful to see the big picture though the eyes of multiple characters.

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    1. Thanks so much! I do enjoy seeing events through the eyes of different characters. I remember being blown away by the way Wilkie Collins does it in The Woman in White. The testimony of the gravestone! Genius!

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  7. Welcome Elly, we're so thrilled to have you here! I enjoyed the Stranger Diaries and look forward to this book too...I wonder how your writing will be affected when (if) life goes back to normal?

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    1. I’m thrilled to be here! I’ve been thinking a lot about what will happen when/if life is normal again. I think I will appreciate friends and travel more - also I will have a new affinity with incarcerated characters!

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  8. Congrats on this latest novel! It sounds great! I love the multiple POV concept for dropping clues. How did you tell Auntie Marge that’s you’ve honored her by basing a character after her? And how did she react?

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    1. She was very chuffed! I was a bit worried about telling her that ‘her’ character dies in the first chapter but she has convinced herself that she’s Harbinder too so that’s ok 😊

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  9. Elly, looking forward to The Postscript Murders--sounds like it will be a fun read!. As a former (but not reformed) archaeologist, I love that Ruth is a forensic archaeologist--not just a bone person!

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    1. I’m so glad you like the Ruth books. I’m always pleased - and slightly scared - when real archaeologists read the books 😊

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  10. Congratulations, Elly! The Postscript Murders is a recommendation from Mystery Lovers, so it'll be on my list.

    And I love the idea of an old woman who comes up with ways for other people to commit murder. Maybe that will be me some day.

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    1. I did think - as Rhys says - it might a good sideline for any of us! 😊

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  11. I've loved Ruth Galloway and Cadfael from your first book, and admit to cottage-envy for Ruth's little house next to the marsh. I'll have to catch up on your standalones.

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    1. So glad you like the Ruth books! I know what you mean about the cottage but it would be a little too isolated for me...

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  12. Congratulations on the new release Elly. Ruth is still my favorite although I do enjoy your other books. I’ve preordered Night Hawks but it will be a couple months before it comes ou in the US.

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    1. So glad you’re enjoying the books. I think the Night Hawks is out on 29th June so not TOO long to wait 😊

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  13. I am SUCH a huge fan! SUCH a HUGE fan! I adored The Stranger Diaries, and told everyone. Just..genius. And I already haveThe Postscript Murders--it's my treat for after I send in my new ms. And so funny--I am joining the Aunt Marge fan club.
    Oh, and I agree about multiple points of view. SO many opportunities for characters to make incorrect assumptions, and allow the reader to know more than the characters do. I love that.
    Elly, welcome! I know I'm gushing, forgive me. I do wish it could be in person!

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    1. Oh Hank this has made my day! I’m a huge fan of yours and I’m so grateful for your generosity. Rhys too and all the Reds. Hope it won’t be too long before we can all meet in real life. Thanks again xx

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  14. Will Ruth be bsck soon??

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    1. Yes! The Night Hawks (Ruth 13) is out in the US on 29th June 😊

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  15. I just requested "The Postscript Murders" from my library. Finished The Stranger Diaries last week and have the first of the Ruth series in my reading queue. I really enjoyed The Stranger Diaries and am so happy I found Elly though the Jungle Reds

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    1. Thank you! And another big thank you to the Jungle Reds 😊

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  16. Congratualtions, Elly! It is always a great pleasure to meet a new to me author! looking forward to reading your books.

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  17. Skidding in late here! Elly, like Edith, I don't know how I've missed reading your books. This sounds like a good one to start with.

    I'm wildly impressed that you, or anyone, could write through the pandemic.

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    1. (Karen, I also wrote multiple books last year - seriously, it was a welcome respite from the outside world. And what else was I going to do?)

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    2. I was thinking of you when I wrote "or anyone"! You have my enduring admiration, Edith.

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    3. I think lockdown has affected us all differently. As I said in the interview, I felt very lucky to be able to escape into imagined worlds

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  18. I am currently reading A Room Full of Bones and love your Ruth Galloway series, so I was serendipitous to see you on JRW this morning. I look forward to reading The Stranger Diaries and The Postscript Murders. Did Aunt Marge give you suggestions for your Ruth books as well?

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    1. She did! She used to live in Norfolk and had a boat on the Broads so was a great inspiration and support. So glad you're enjoying the Ruth books :)

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  19. "it" was serendipitous- not so sure about me!

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  20. OMG, Elly Griffiths! This is right up there with meeting the Reds, Louise Penny, Ann Cleeves and Catriona McPherson, all wrapped into one! I fell in love with Ruth when I read THE CROSSING PLACES, and I've never looked back. You are one of my very favorite writers, one I review on Amazon and Goodreads with large amounts of stars. I've read them all. Every Single One!

    Thank you for keeping an old broad happily reading and escaping from this plague-ridden world we inhabit.

    I look forward to reading all the books you will write. xo

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    1. What a lovely thing to say! Thank you. Thank you for reading - and reviewing! - the books :)

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    2. Can't wait. I have been binge reading all the Ruth books one after the other since I discovered them before xmas... (recommended by someone on Clare McIntosh's book club on of
      Fb). What a great series! The characters feel so much alive and I would love to be among their circle...

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    3. That's some speed reading! Thank you so much

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  21. Congratulations on your new release. I have read all of your Ruth Galloway novels which are captivating and unforgettable. Thank you for your wonderful writing, memorable books and I look forward to enjoying The Postscript Murders and the nest Ruth book.

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    1. Thank you so much. What a wonderful compliment

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  22. I have read the entire Ruth Galloway series. What fabulous writing, characters, setting and plots. They keep me riveted. Congratulations on The Postscript Murders which I have requested from the library and know I will love. How talented and creative to write such intriguing novels.

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    1. Thank you so much! So hope you enjoy Postscript Murders. And hooray for libraries :)

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  23. Love, love, love your books, Elly, as you know. Your Ruth and Nelson and Julia's Clare and Russ and Deborah's Duncan and Gemma have been my role models for my own Mercy and Troy. I've read them all multiple times. Love the standalones as well! Can't wait to read the Postcript Murders. Martinis on me when next we meet in person....

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    1. I want in on the martinis too, Paula:-)

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    2. What a lovely thing to say! Thank you for all your support. And yes please to martinis with you and Debs. Hope it won't be too long before we can enjoy such things again

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    3. Absolutely! Martini Bar Soiree for Elly and all the Reds! The very thought of it is enough to bring me to tears....

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  24. I too am a fan of all your books. I so enjoy both series, Ruth and the Max/DI Stephens books. In both series, you've surprised me with character development - well done. Of course, I've enjoyed your standalone books as well. In other words, I simply look forward to reading ANY book you've written. Thank you!

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  25. I love your books! My pandemic treat to myself has been to add audiobooks to my daily walks. I was all informative work related podcasts but that just felt like....work. As a audiobook newbie, I looked for options in beloved favorites. Ruth's stories have been narrating my walks for months. I was just looking for my next book last night - Stranger Diaries! So looking forward to getting to know Harbinder - and to have another waiting in the wings when I'm done.

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    1. I love audio books too. So glad Ruth has been keeping you company. Do hope you enjoy The Postscript Murders

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  26. Like Edith, I've never read your works but will add your name to the list authors that I need to check out. There are just so many good authors to keep up with out in the world. You've already been asked, and you answered, my question - what your aunt thought about being killed in the book. So I'll just say good luck with this book.

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  27. Congratulations, Elly! I was late to the party on The Stranger Diaries, picking it up just a few months ago, but I loved it and can’t wait to catch up on your new book and your series!

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed Stranger Diaries. Hope you like this one too :)

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  28. Congratulations, Elly! I was late to the party on The Stranger Diaries, picking it up just a few months ago, but I loved it and can’t wait to catch up on your new book and your series!

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  29. Anyone who knows me in the mystery/crime community knows how much I love Elly/Dom and her books. I first fell in live with the Ruth Galloway series, and Ruth is one of my favorite characters ever. For those of you who love the Ruth Galloway series like I do, the upcoming The Night Hawks will knock your socks off. The Brighton series appeals to my historical fiction interest. The stand-alone books, or Harbinder Kaur books, have been outstanding. And, Elly also has a children’s/YA series entitled A Girl Called Justice, and I love it, too. There are two books so far in that series. I always review Elly’s books, and you can bring up those reviews on The Reading Room blog by typing Elly’s name or the title of the book in the search feature.

    And, on a personal note, Elly, you know what a treasured friend you are. When we first met at the Albany Bouchercon, there was an immediate connection. You are as gracious and kind as you are talented, and you make everyone feel special. I was so disappointed we didn’t get to see one another at the cancelled Bouchercon last year for Sacramento. I can’t wait to see you again.

    Rhys, I think the dinner you’re referring to is the one I put together in Raleigh. While it was loud, with everyone talking and enjoying each other’s company, and there was some alcohol, I think I’d characterize it as a warm, lively dinner of great fun. Hahaha! I know having you and John there was fantastic. John was an absolute delight. The most recent dinner I put together was at the St. Pete Bouchercon, and it was in honor of Elly’s tenth anniversary of the Ruth Galloway series. That was such a blast.

    Thank you, Jungle Reds, for having this amazing author here today. It was a great interview, Rhys.

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    1. Dear Kathy, thank you so much for your support and friendship. It was a lucky day for me when we met in Albany. And I have such happy memories of the dinners in Raleigh and St Petes. I remember having a lovely conversation with Rhys and John at Raleigh. Can't wait to have those conversations again xoxo

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    2. You’re right, Kathy. It was a perfect dinner of witty conversation organized by you! John still talks about it years later!

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    3. Rhys, John became one of my favorite people at that dinner!

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    4. I’ll tell him. He remembers it so well

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  30. THE STRANGER DIARIES was one of my Christmas wished-for books, and I was delighted to get it. Perfect for a mid-winter read, when a little gothic feels just right.

    I have no clever questions; I just want to say I've been a fan since I read the first Ruth Galloway book.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad the book came at Christmas

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  31. Hi Elly/Dom!! I think you know I have been a huge fan since the first Ruth book! I ordered The Night Hawks from the UK, but have very selflessly given it to my daughter to read first, as she's also a huge Ruth fan. I adored Stranger Diaries, and The Postcript Murders is tempting me from my kitchen island right this minute! I have not, however, read the Brighton series, so those are going on my TBR list. Congratulations on the new release, and thanks for visiting Jungle Red!

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    1. Thank YOU. I'm so honoured to be visiting the Jungle Reds. Thank you for all your support, Debs. It means such a lot xoxo

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  32. Congratulations on your new release, Elly! You are a new author to me. Looking forward to reading your book.

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  33. I got to read The Postscript Murders through Netgalley and I loved it! A good mystery, wonderful characters, and a lot of laughs. Just picturing Benedict mindfully making a cup of coffee.... And the book conference absolutely had me in stitches! It was so enjoyable to watch friendships develop and flourish among the "Scooby" gang. It is a perfect mystery for stressful times.

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    1. Yikes. I must add I love the Ruth books and the Brighton magic men too! And Stranger Diaries was wonderfully creepy.

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    2. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I think we've all been to conferences like that! Yes - Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine. Perfect :)

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  34. Love the premise of a career of helping writers plot their fictional crimes. I'm also interested to see an archeologist featured, and a forensic one at that. A fascinating subject all the way around and one that's not highlighted enough!

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    1. I agree! My husband is an archaeologist and it's a fascinating world. Do hope you enjoy the Ruth books

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  35. Love the mix of archaeology and murder in the Ruth books! Just a delightful series. I plan to read Stranger Diaries. And can’t wait to read your newest. Thank you for creating such good characters. Intriguing and very human.

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    1. That's a great description! My husband is an archaeologist and it was a chance remark of his that led to The Crossing Places. So glad you're enjoying the books

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  36. Thanks for introducing me to a new author.
    When my son was young he had a Sikh classmate. I have a delightful picture of the two of them playing dreidel. To properly appreciate this you need to know that we are not Jewish and my son is from Korea!

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    1. What a lovely image! I have a friend from a Punjabi Sikh background and she was a valuable advisor on this book

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  37. My husband and I have read all of your Ruth Galloway books. I have also read the Brighton series and Stranger Diaries and recommend them frequently to others. Looking forward to this new one and the next Ruth.

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  38. I haven't been commenting here much lately because I am just overrun with work, but I had to stop in to tell Elly how much I love the Brighton series! I happened upon The Zig Zag Girl right after it came out, and have been enchanted by the series ever since. The Postscript Murders sounds like one I will enjoy very much, as well!

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  39. I have really enjoyed all of your books but my favorite id=s Ruth and friends, they are always exciting. Can't wait to read this new one.

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  40. Elly,

    Welcome to Jungle Reds! I look forward to reading your novel. I remember that several of my classmates in school were Sikh refugees.

    Travelling sounds wonderful! I look forward to travelling again.


    Diana

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    1. Me too! So glad we can travel in books. Do hope you enjoy this one :)

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  41. What a great idea for a victim!

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  42. I liked the way Harbinder Kaur grew on me as a character when I was reading in The Postscript Murders and maybe I was a little ahead of the curve - I remember pausing after a few chapters to text a fellow fan that a new series was coming! Looking forward to the new book, although I will admit I am someone who usually avoids books written in the present tense.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. You may have known about the new series before I did!

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  43. I love both the series. Am very glad to see Harbinder again. Stay safe and well.

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  44. I have absolutely loved everything you've written! And I've recommended your books to friends and family. You have such talent for evoking a mood for through setting. And you're able to create characters that are flawed yet compelling. Can't wait to read your latest!

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    1. Thank you so much! That's a wonderful compliment. For me, everything starts with the place...

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  45. I just finished a reread of all the Dr Ruth Galloway books. I am a huge fan and I find them very comforting; it’s like curling up with good friends. Who commit murders. Am looking forward to Night Hawks. And Postscript Murders!

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  46. Congratulations on your book! Thanks for the chance to win it!

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  47. Looking forward to reading this new book. Ruth is one of my favorite heroines - she's so human!

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  48. Last night, my sister recommended your books to me, Elly -- and this morning I woke up to this interview. It must be s Sign. :)

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    1. Cathbad would definitely say so! I'm so glad you're enjoying the books

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  49. I'm super excited for The Midnight Hour to come out. I will be starting Harbinder Kaur to tide me over!

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  51. I am reading and enjoying The Lantern Men right now! I have recently been binging on the whole series

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