Name:- Mary Paulson-Ellis
Mary Paulson-Ellis is a Scottish author whose debut novel The other Mrs Walkerwas Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year in 2017. Her short stories and non-fiction have been published in a variety of anthologies and magazines including the Guardian Weekend Magazine, New Writing Scotland, Gutter and The Herald. Her next book is The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing(September 2019)
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker.
Impossible to choose! But two that have stayed with me over many years are Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Ali Smith’s Free Love and Other Stories.
Which two characters would you invite to dinner and why?
I wouldn’t mind sharing a drink with Val McDermid’s very first sleuth, Lindsay Gordon. A self-declared cynical socialist lesbian feminist journalist would ensure lively conversation. Also the contrary and passionate Sybylla Melvyn from My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin. Somehow I just know they’d get on.
How do you relax?
By reading, of course. Sometimes drinking wine. Also digging potatoes in the sun.
What book do you wish you had written and why?
Well, I don’t suppose it would have been the same book if I had written it, but I do read and read again When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson to try and understand just how she does it. Suspense, mystery and wit combined with startling moments of truth and dark, dark humour. This celebration of life, love and literature is crime fiction at its unorthodox best.
What would you say to your younger self if you were just starting out as a writer.
Work hard. Don’t despair. You will be amazed.
How would you describe your series character?
My series is as much about a world as it is about one specific character – what I call the territory of the dead in Edinburgh, all those who die without any next of kin to take them on. It is inhabited by a recurring ensemble cast that includes a finder of families for dead people, an heir hunter and an extreme cleaner, amongst others, all shepherding the abandoned and neglected (plus their money and belongings) to their final rest.
The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis (Published by Pan Macmillan)
Solomon knew that he had one advantage. A pawn ticket belonging to a dead man tucked into his top pocket - the only clue to the truth . . . An old soldier dies alone in his Edinburgh nursing home. No known relatives, and no Will to enact. Just a pawn ticket found amongst his belongings, and fifty thousand pounds in used notes sewn into the lining of his burial suit . . . Heir Hunter, Solomon Farthing - down on his luck, until, perhaps, now - is tipped off on this unexplained fortune. Armed with only the deceased's name and the crumpled pawn ticket, he must find the dead man's closest living relative if he is to get a cut of this much-needed cash. But in trawling through the deceased's family tree, Solomon uncovers a mystery that goes back to 1918 and a group of eleven soldiers abandoned in a farmhouse billet in France in the weeks leading up to the armistice. The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing is set between contemporary Edinburgh and the final brutal days of the First World War as the soldiers await their orders.
Information about 2019 St Hilda's College Crime Fiction Weekend and how to book tickets can be found here.