Today I’m delighted to introduce crime author Anita Waller, she intriguingly describes her genre as ‘murder – necessary murder’. I was lucky to meet Anita at Harrogate albeit briefly so it has been lovely to find out more about her. I wish I’d known then she was also a Rod Stewart fan, that could have kept us chatting for hours!
Anita Waller was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire in 1946. She married Dave in 1967 and they have three adult children.
She has written and taught creative writing for most of her life, and at the age of sixty nine sent a manuscript to Bloodhound Books which was immediately accepted.
In total she has written seven psychological thrillers and one supernatural novel, and uses the areas of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire as her preferred locations in her books. Sheffield features prominently.
And now Anita is working on her first series, the Kat and Mouse quartet, set in the beautiful Derbyshire village of Eyam. The first in the series, Murder Undeniable, launched 10 December 2018, and the second in the series, Murder Unexpected, launched 11 February 2019.
Book three, Murder Unearthed, launched 2 July 2019, and book four, Murder Untimely will appear on 15 October 2019. This will be the final book in the series.
She is now seventy-three years of age, happily writing most days and would dearly love to plan a novel, but has accepted that isn’t the way of her mind. Every novel starts with a sentence and she waits to see where that sentence will take her, and her characters.
In her life away from the computer in the corner of her kitchen, she is a Sheffield Wednesday supporter with blue blood in her veins! The club was particularly helpful during the writing of 34 Days, as a couple of matches feature in the novel, along with Ross Wallace. Information was needed, and they provided it.
So over to Anita:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life, and why?
I was born in 1946 and as a result I was musically aware in the second half of the fifties and all through the glorious sixties. The first 45 rpm record I bought was A Thousand Stars by Billy Fury. He will be forever my favourite artist, and I subsequently bought all his records. His death at such a young age knocked me for six.
I soon discovered others, not least of which is Rod Stewart. Oh my word, this man could write as well as sing, and I have every album. If I had to choose the single that means the most to me for all sorts of reasons, it is a little known track called If loving you is wrong (I don’t wanna be right). His gravelly voice makes my toes curl.
The Beach Boys rendition of God only Knows is a track that makes me shiver. I was given a copy of this once, and told to listen, really listen, to the words. I did. That’s why I shiver.
I love crooners. Listening to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Frankie Laine, Bing Crosby, Brook Benton, Andy Williams, and Tony Bennett to name a few; my favourite of all the crooners was Jack Jones. I have seen him in concert several times, mainly at the Fiesta in Sheffield during my twenties. It’s difficult to pick a favourite track – he’s never made a bad one – but maybe The Impossible Dream would merit the title.
And now we come to my final choice. I have written eleven (and Bloodhound have published all eleven) novels, with a twelfth scheduled for 15 October 2019. Every one of these books has been written to the vocal strains of Barry Manilow. It’s not his voice, it’s not his looks (for sure!) but it is his lyrics. I tell Alexa to play Barry Manilow every time I sit down to write, and she obliges. Of all the tracks she plays for me, and there are many, I love Even Now. It won’t surprise you to hear that I know all the words to all the songs. I owe my career to Barry – he’s been there every step of the way!
Highlight five things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
The first thing that sprang to mind was a teddy bear. He was bought from a Build-a-Bear Workshop seventeen years ago, and when you press the little round thing in his tummy he says “’ave appy Christmas. Wuv you, Nanny”. Dominic, my grandson, bought him for me for Christmas 2002, and the bear is now dressed in a Sheffield Wednesday kit, complete with boots, shin pads, and carries a football on a piece of elastic. He is very precious, as is the grandson.
The second thing I would hate to live without is my computer, my DESKTOP computer. I can’t work on a laptop. The keyboard is in the wrong place, its mouse lives behind a rectangular piece of glass (what’s that all about, then?) and I can’t bash the keys in the way I can on my desktop. The monitor is white, as is the keyboard and mouse, and it eases my soul when I sit at my desk. I have a second monitor on a shelf above the main one, where, according to the grandson from answer one, I can use the internet easily for research, while writing on the main one. He says he has brought me into the twenty first century, and all authors have two screens. I don’t know how he knows that, I am the only author he knows…
Number three is my outside office. It was built by Dave, my husband, entirely from scraps we already had, and it is an amazing little place. The intention was that I would use it for writing, but because I write on the desktop it isn’t practical. It’s in the garden and not secure enough. I use it for storing files, all my five hundred or so patchwork and quilting books are in there, and it’s a storehouse for every bit of writing I have ever done over the last fifty years or so. What’s more impressive is that because I don’t work in it, it’s tidy!
Number four is my Kindle. Books are very much my world, and as I do additional things in the literary world other than writing novels, my Kindle is an important and invaluable necessity. It also means I can read late into the night/morning without disturbing Dave. Our bedroom is a no light reading zone!
Number five, and possibly the most important out of the five, is my bullet journal. It contains my life; my published books, my reviews, my daily word count, books I have read, my TBR books, appointments, birthdays, mood tracker, goals, brain dump… and my monthly, weekly and daily forward planning. I would be lost without it. I started it in February this year, watched a million hours of bullet journaling on YouTube, and it keeps me sane. I love my half hour every night where I fill in my day’s actions (or not!), and for the start of 2020 I will be putting certain aspects into journals of their own. Doing this has changed me; I am now an organised person, after seventy-two years of disorganisation! And it soothes my creative soul.
Can you offer five pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self.
In the early nineties I wrote Beautiful. It was accepted by a publisher immediately, and we arranged to meet to sign a contract. The day before we met they went into liquidation. I got the manuscript back (hard copy, no emails in the early nineties) and I put it away. The disappointment was huge. I didn’t get it out again until 2013 when I began to retype it into Word, and in 2015 Bloodhound accepted it. My piece of advice to that younger self back in the nineties would be don’t be such an idiot. If one publisher wanted it, then another one would. I wasted twenty years.
One piece of advice that I didn’t consciously give myself but I adopted anyway, was to neither drink nor smoke. If I had to speak to my younger self about it I would give that advice. I am now seventy three years old, in remarkably good health, look fifteen years younger than I am, and it’s not through exercise! I drink very rarely because I don’t like the taste, and I tried a cigarette once. I thought it was a singularly ridiculous thing to do, and I’ve never felt the need since.
I would tell my sixteen year old self to fight for my rights. I went to a grammar school for girls in Sheffield and did extremely well. I am one of life’s learners. I had five good O levels (98% in Maths, English Lit, English Lang and French, a measly 79% in German and a pathetic 26% in Geography in the days when exam results weren’t governed by letters of the alphabet) and I wanted to stay on to sixth form, take A levels and possibly head off to university. My father said no, I had to leave and go to work. With no mum to fight my corner (she died when I was eight) I had to give in. I wasn’t allowed to argue, and I left school. That one action by my dad changed me. Nobody tells me what to do now.
I would tell my forty-one year old self to ignore the doctor, ignore the nurse, and go for it. The pregnancy. The pregnancy that became my beautiful daughter, Kirsty. I went for my first doctor visit once I realised I was indeed pregnant and not sick with some virus or another, and both the doctor and the practise nurse assumed I was there to book an abortion! So, forty-one year old ‘elderly mother’, stuff them.
My fifth bit of advice would be to my eight year old little self. Love your younger brother, because it will be you two against the world always. And one day he will tell you he has terminal cancer, and love won’t be able to save him.
Tell us five things that people don’t know about you.
I have two phobias – moths and feathers. Two nights ago I was laid in bed reading my Kindle. Dave was already asleep, and it was past midnight. A moth, a big one, landed on the light glowing from my Kindle. I’ll leave you all to imagine the furore. Dave didn’t stay asleep.
A little snippet of information is that although I have only been a published author of novels since 2015, I have actually written all of my life. I have had lots of poetry in assorted magazines and on the radio, and several short stories have been published in magazines. Added to that I won the Mike Haywood trophy (organised by Rotherham Libraries) for a short story entitled Moonbeams and Shooting Stars; so many manuscripts of mine have floated around over a period of many years. I have NEVER had a rejection slip!
I once sat on Ken Dodd’s knee in the back yard of the boarding house he was staying in while performing in pantomime at the Empire Theatre in Sheffield. He found out my name was Anita – that was also his girlfriend’s name – and he sang to me.
I read dictionaries. As a result I’m pretty good at Countdown lol.
I have watched the entire seven seasons of The West Wing seven times, and I’m getting itchy to watch it again. I know more about the American political system than President Trump. I will make no further comment about that last sentence.
What are the first five things you’d have on your bucket list.
I have an odd sort of craving for all things Scandinavian. I need to go there, I need to see Copenhagen, Reykjavik, Stockholm, Oslo, and all points in between. I love Scandi writers, and my favourite book of all time is The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell.
I would like a blue plaque on my outside wall that says “Anita Waller, 1946-2046, lived here. Writer of books”. The current blue plaque on the outside wall says Sheffield Wednesday supporter lives here.
I would like to go back to Florida for one last visit, I love the place.
I desperately want to meet J K Rowling, and have her sign all my new copies of the Harry Potter series. Most of my original copies, queued for at midnight on release day for the last five, are starting to look a little well-worn, so I asked for a new set for last Christmas. Now I want them signing!
And my fifth wish on my bucket list is to see Lionel Messi wearing a blue and white shirt, and on the pitch at Hillsborough. If anybody knows him, and can have a friendly chat with him…
Thank you so much for joining us today Anita, you have been so open and honest I’m sure we all feel we know you much better. Reading your advice to your younger self was very emotive and poignant. It’s such a shame we have to wait until we grow up before we gain the wisdom knowledge that might change our lives. Fingers crossed you get to achieve those bucket list items and who knows re Lionel Messi – miracles do happen!
Katerina Rowe, a Deacon at the church in the sleepy village of Eyam, has a fulfilled life. She is happily married to Leon and her work is rewarding.
But everything changes when she discovers the body of a man and a badly beaten woman, Beth, in the alleyway behind her husband’s pharmacy.
Drawn to the young woman she saved, Kat finds herself embroiled in a baffling mystery.
When Beth’s house is set on fire, Kat offers the young woman sanctuary in her home and soon the pair begin investigating the murder, with some help from Beth’s feisty grandmother, Doris. But neither the police, nor Leon, nor the criminals want Kat and Beth looking into their affairs and the sleuths quickly find themselves out of their depth…
Can Kat and Beth solve the mystery and walk away unscathed?
Church Deacon Kat and her friend Beth, known as Mouse, have started a private investigation business in the sleepy village of Eyam.
Kat, whose estranged criminal husband, Leon, is on the run, has a lot on her plate running the new business whilst heavily pregnant.
When a widow asks the sleuths for help, Kat and Mouse find themselves searching for the birth mother of the widow’s husband. But when it becomes clear that the widow isn’t telling the whole truth, Kat and Mouse are drawn into a deadly chase where nothing is what it seems.
Meanwhile, Kat’s husband has come back to Eyam and has Kat in his sights.
Can Kat and Mouse solve the case and escape the dangerous Leon?
This time they might just be out of their depth…
When DI Tessa Marsden is called to a road traffic accident, she is disturbed by the crime scene she must investigate. She now has a double murder to contend with; two dead girls from the same village.
Realising the murders aren’t linked, Marsden summons the help of the Connection Investigation Agency, run by Kat, a church Deacon, Beth, (known affectionately as Mouse), a computer expert, and Doris, Beth’s feisty grandmother.
When it is discovered that one of the murdered girls was pregnant the case takes an unexpected turn.
Can DI Marsden, with the input of Kat and Mouse, solve the case before another body appears?
Meanwhile, the agency has been asked to track down the long lost son of Ewan Barker. Will Kat, Mouse and Doris find him and reunite him with his father?
This might just be their toughest investigation yet…
Book 4 in the Kat and Mouse series Murder Untimely will be published on 15th October
What if a death sentence meant you could get away with murder?
Claudia and Heather have been friends and neighbours for many years and both women decide it is the right time for them to leave their husbands. Together they get a flat but their peace is short-lived when Claudia is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Being a good friend, Heather takes on caring for Claudia but a lethal meeting with James, Claudia’s ex-husband, results in someone dying.
As life for Claudia and Heather begins to unravel, the answer to their problems becomes clear… it’s murder.
When a gang of six children playing in their den in the woods spot a man burying drugs nearby, it marks the beginning of the end of their childhoods.
Unsure what to do, the children dig up the drugs and take them away. But when the dealer, who they watched bury the stash, shows up dead, the youngsters are thrown into turmoil.
Scared of what might happen, the children tell the police about the body they have discovered.
Meanwhile, a group of gangsters start searching for their missing drugs.
Soon the children and their families become the target of the vicious criminals who will stop at nothing to retrieve their narcotics…
Liz Chambers is a devoted mother who works for a successful law firm. She has two children, a husband and a blossoming career. But behind closed doors, Liz is harbouring a secret that could destroy her life.
Then the unthinkable happens, and in a frenzied attack, her young son is snatched from the home of the childminder charged with looking after him.
As Liz’s life unfolds, it becomes clear that someone is out for revenge.
Desperate to get her baby boy back, Liz must work out who is responsible for his kidnap, and why.
But as the body count begins to mount, Liz’s concern grows for the safety of her child.
Who has taken her baby?
And why is Captor so determined on revenge?
When the beautiful Lavender is killed in a tragic car accident her family and fiancé Matt are left devastated.
As the year’s pass and wounds begin to heal, Matt, who has remained close to Lavender’s family, meets Beth and falls in love again.
When the happy couple announce their engagement, it sparks a series of bizarre and disturbing events.
Then when Matt and Beth make plans to wed at Lavender’s family home, Winterscroft, the frightening truth becomes apparent.
Lavender is back. And she is not happy.
How much can one family take?
Jenny Carbrook murdered three people to make it look as though there was a serial killer at work in Lincoln, when the only person she wanted to kill was Ray Carbrook, her father-in-law, who had raped her the week before her marriage to Mark, Ray’s son.
Jenny wrote letters detailing her crimes in order to protect everyone she loved, but was forced to go into hiding before retrieving the evidence against her. Not only did she leave the letters behind but also her young daughter, Grace.
Now Jenny has a plan, a strategy, to get the letters back. But it’s not only the letters that Jenny has in her sights…
Strategy is the follow up to the international best-seller 34 Days, it can be read as a sequel or an unmissable stand-alone.
How much can your life change in just 34 days?
Anna and Ray have been married for thirty-five years. They are parents and grandparents and appear to be a normal couple. But behind closed doors something isn’t right.
On the day of their wedding anniversary Anna makes a decision that changes everything and throws her family into turmoil. Anna will discover that she is not the only one who has suffered and by leaving Ray she sparks a series of events so awful that it might just end in murder…
What if your mother was murdered?
And what if the man who murdered her took your daughter from you the day she was born?
This is Lauren’s life. A life plagued by the existence of one man.
For as long as she can remember, the shadow of Ronald Treverick has cast over everything Lauren holds dear.
Will she get her daughter back?
Or will Treverick triumph and destroy her family, one person at a time…
Angel is the stunning sequel to international best-seller Beautiful and also a brilliant read as a stand-alone novel.
What happens when your innocence is taken away?
Amelia is a happy six years old. Then a chance encounter with a bad man, in the park changes everything
Can she ever recover from the trauma in her childhood?
This is Amelia’s story. Follow her as she discovers that life, love and loss can be a killer. And sometimes revenge can be beautiful…
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