Name:- Anna Bailey
Tall Bones is Anna Bailey's debut novel which was inspired by her experience of small town America. It has been shortlisted for the Goldsboro Glass Bell Award. Tall Bones was published in the US under the title Where he Truth Lies. Anna Bailey was a Theakston's New Blood author in 2021. It was also longlisted for the Theakston Crime novel of the Year Award in 2021. it was also a Sunday Time's Bestseller.
Current book? (This can either be the current book that you are reading or writing)
I’m currently reading Dalva by American author Jim Harrison, which follows a woman returning home to rural Nebraska in search of the son she once gave up for adoption. I only recently discovered his work, but he’s already become a favourite – there’s so much passion and fondness in the way he writes about the wild landscapes of the US.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has been one of my firm favourites ever since I reread it as an adult several years ago. I don’t have anything very clever to say about it, except that I think it’s the loveliest book I’ve ever read. But in terms of books I can just jump back into and reread bits and pieces of over and over again, Annie Proulx’s collection of short stories, Close Range, is one I’m always returning to. Her writing is just astounding, her sense of humour brutal and brilliant, and much like Jim Harrison, I love the way she writes about landscapes.
Which two characters would you invite to dinner and why?
Lady Catherine de Bourgh from Pride and Prejudice and Dorian Gray. I’d like to see them eviscerate each other.
How do you relax?
I watch the most awful, low budget 2000s-era horror films and drink cheap prosecco.
Which book do you wish you had written and why?
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It’s like a perfect crisp autumn day condensed into a novella, and I love it when female characters get to be genuinely, delightfully unhinged.
What would you say to your younger self if you were just starting out as a writer.
“Stock up on toilet paper, there’s going to be a global pandemic next year.” I don’t know actually, I feel very disconnected from myself in the past – I think I’d just tell them to keep going, and that the feeling of holding their completed novel in their hands is absolutely worth all the blood, sweat and tears they poured into it.
How would you describe your latest published book?
When a teenage girl disappears from a small town deep in the Rocky Mountains, the ensuing investigation unearths terrible secrets about her very religious, very isolated community.
With Town and Country: Green Lanes to Mean Streets being the theme at St Hilda's this year, Where is your favourite town and where is your favourite country? Why have you chosen these?
There’s a little town called Mont Dore in the mountains of central France which I want to say is my favourite. My partner is French and for the past three years we’ve taken our vacation there every summer – we hike and read and write and eat well, it’s so relaxing, and the surrounding country is my favourite kind: great forests of pine trees and waterfalls and rugged mountains, on one of which my partner proposed to me, so it has a very special place in my heart.
What are you looking forward to at St Hilda's?
It’s a genuine honour to have been invited to St Hilda’s and I’m really looking forward to meeting the other brilliant speakers, as well as getting to spend time in Oxford, which I haven’t visited post-lockdown, so it’ll be lovely to be back.
Tall Bones by Anna Bailey (Transworld) Out Now
When Emma leaves her friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, beneath the stark beauty of the stars, but Emma will never see her friend again. But what happens next in Whistling Ridge is so much more than the story of a missing girl. It's a spellbinding story that will keep you guessing, a story of surprises and secrets, regrets and rage, love and lies. Abi's disappearance cracks open the façade of this small town, peeling away the layers of its past. Even within Abi's own family there are questions to be asked - of the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of the shining younger sibling who hides his wounds, of her mother and her father - both in thrall to the fiery preacher who has an unsettling grasp on the whole town. And then there is Rat, the outsider, whose exciting presence is a catalyst for change. Anything could happen in a tinder-box like Whistling Ridge. All it will take is just one spark...the truth of what happened that night at the Tall Bones.
Information about 2022 St Hilda's College Crime Fiction Weekend and how to book tickets can be found here.