Job:- Author and activist
Sara Sheridan is a Scottish writer over over 20 books which the include cosy crime Mirabelle Bevan noir series. The first book n the Mirabelle Bevan series is Brighton Belle (2012) subsequently followed by London Calling (2012), England Expects (2014), British Bulldog (2015), Operation Goodwood (2016), Russian Roulette(2017) and Indian Summer (2019). The most recent book is Highland Fling (2020). In 2017 she wrote the companion guide to the ITV series, Victoria and in 2019 she also wrote the companion guide to Andrew Davies’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s final, unfinished novel, Sanditon.
Literally finished last night: Tough Jews by Rich Cohen, which is non-fiction about 1940s Jewish gangsters in New York.
This is like picking a favourite kid. I mean HOW? I’m going to reply by saying books that resonate with me are Eva Ibbotson’s adult fiction, Lorna Moon’s brilliant short stories, The Green Mile by Ann Enright, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Which two characters would you invite to dinner and why?
If you mean fictional characters: - Jane Marple because she is my lifelong favourite character (even though someone might get murdered while she was visiting cos that happens a lot) and Johnathan Strange because of the magic.
How do you relax?
I’m not very good at relaxing but I deep breathe several times a day and that helps me to pace myself. I also love walking and swimming. Plus if things get really stressful I knit. (I know – I’m a granny, basically)
What book do you wish you had written and why? Oh gosh – well you wanted 2 of my favourite historical novels and why and these tie in with this question so….
Water Music by TC Boyle, which is about Mungo Park’s doomed trips down the Niger in the late 1700s/early 1800s – absolutely the best historical novel I ever read. I seethe with jealousy over the way Boyle captures the rambunctious late Georgian era.
Next – Poor Things by Alasdair Gray, which I love for its wit. Alasdair was a very funny man and this book set in Victorian Glasgow is a riot.
Now this is tricky cos neither of those are historical crime. I mean – I don’t consider Christie historical crime cos she wrote contemporary crime – it’s just that time passed. This is further complicated because the two genres tell their stories in different ways. So if I’m picking 2 historical crime books ie crime stories written in a past era by a writer not living in that era, it would be:
Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. The medieval fascinates me and there is an inescapable tension to this book that I LOVE.
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters which is clever but still manages to engage the heart. I also enjoy Waters’s female characters a lot – they feel real.
What would you say to your younger self if you were just starting out as a writer.
I’d say keep going! I never meant to be a writer so I think the younger me would reply ‘what are you talking about?’ I was always an enthusiastic reader, and then I had to take some time off work and decided to write a novel (really so I could say I was doing something….) It sold 3 weeks after I sent off the first draft and went into the top 50 when it was published and that was that.
How would you describe your series character?
Mirabelle is an evolving character – we first meet her in the early 1950s when she is grieving and in post-war traumatic shock. Today we’d recognise her as being mildly depressed. The whole country was, pretty much. Over the series, she cheers up (in fact, the series in a way is that story, about how Britain cheered up after WWII). She’s resourceful, moral, clear-sighted and sexy. She also dresses very well. Nothing like me.
Highland Fling by Sara Sheridan.
Scottish Highlands, 1958, Britain is awash in Cold War anxiety as Mirabelle Bevan heads for the Highlands on a holiday to visit Superintendent Alan McGregor's family. More glamorous than she expected, the Robertsons welcome her with open arms and an array of cocktails, but she has scarcely arrived when the body of an American fashion buyer turns up brutally murdered, plunging the local village into disarray and sending shockwaves around the close, Highland community. Mirabelle can't resist investigating, but what she finds lays the limitations of her feelings for McGregor bare and calls into question the loyalties of all those around her from the Robertson's housekeeper Mrs Gillies to the family of the dead woman. What started as a relaxing break in scenic surroundings soon spirals into a week fraught with danger. As the press descend on the Robertson's Highland estate, it rapidly becomes clear that things are not as black and as they first appeared and Mirabelle can't count on anyone . . .