Today I’m delighted to feature author Sarah Ward. I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah last November at an RNA, CWA and Historical Novelists Association meet up in Birmingham. As a fan of her DC Childs novels, I certainly felt a little star-struck but hopefully I managed to have a coherent conversation. As we’ve kept in touch since I assume I did!
About Sarah :
Sarah is the author of four DC Childs novels set in the Derbyshire Peak District where she lives. Sarah was a 2015 Amazon Rising Star, A Patient Fury was The Observer’s Thriller of the Month in 2017 and The Shrouded Path an Amazon kindle top ten bestseller. Her new gothic thriller, The Quickening, written under the name of Rhiannon Ward is out on the 20th August.
Over to Sarah
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Planet Earth by Duran Duran. The first pop group I loved was Duran Duran. Yes I was a Duranie and a friend recently gave me some badges from that period that I also used to own. It’s just a time when I was in my early teens and the opportunities seemed endless.
Dream A Little Dream by Mama Cass. Love Mama Cass’s voice and attitude. The song I sing in the shower!
Ave Verum Corpus by William Byrd. I’ve sung in choirs for years. It’s hard to choose my favourite choral music as there’s so much I like but Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus is a piece I always enjoy singing.
Metal Guru by T-Rex. My husband, Andy, is a huge glam rock fan and music from this period is often on the turntable. When this song comes on I always have a dance to it as it’s infectious.
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (Vaughan Williams). Vaughan Williams is my favourite composer. This piece of music is sublime and is fresh every time I listen to it.
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
Books of course. I’m a huge reader and usually have a few things on the go.
My cats. The two I have came with my husband and they’ve brought so much joy. One sits next to me as I write (hogging the comfy chair).
My garden. I’ve spent more time in it during lockdown than I have for years and absolutely loved it.
My laptop. Let’s be honest – it’s not just writing either. Facebook, emailing friends, looking at the internet. What would I do without it?
Tea. I have a morning coffee but tea fuels my day. It’s the one thing I could never give up for Lent.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Don’t get married too young. No further explanation needed.
Why don’t you try writing a novel? You never know what might happen? I didn’t start writing until I was forty. What was I thinking of?
Ask your mother and grandparents about their family history and write it down! My cousin Gareth and I are trying to piece it all together now.
You’re never going to be thin so stop trying.
Try living in the countryside. A big surprise was how much I love it.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
I used to sing with the voluntary choir at Manchester cathedral.
I lived in Athens, Greece for four years. It’s where I wrote my first book, In Bitter Chill.
I’m a killer knitter and try to challenge myself with projects.
I collect the classic green penguin crime novels. I have about 300 books and take the list of missing numbers with me everywhere. You never know when you might spot one.
I’ve written two audio dramas for Doctor Who. Love Doctor Who.
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
I don’t have a bucket list and have no intention of keeping one. I’m living exactly the life I want to and have no grand plans. That said I’d love to do the following things in the next five years:
Find out a bit more about my family history.
Go to Elvis’s mansion in Gracelands. My husband and I talked about it during lockdown and if we get the time/money that’s what we’re going to do.
Drive all the way around Iceland. It’s where we got married and we’d love to return sometime in the summer.
Finish my collection of green penguin books.
Learn to make a skirt so my sewing machine gets more use.
Many thanks for sharing with us today Sarah. I love your music choices, I’m with Andy on the Glam Rock front, I was a teenager in the 70’s so that was definitely my ‘thing’. My love of Marc Bolan was enhanced by the fact my mother was appalled by him (she would deny this now). Books and tea are always a winner with me. Sage advice about asking family members to write down their family history. I started mine later in life with no-one to answer all my questions. You’ll need to reveal your missing ‘Penguin Crime’ numbers I’m sure we’d all be happy to help find them for you – unless half the thrill is in the chase? Apologies for the phrasing of question five. I managed to send you an earlier version as it has been changed. As I also don’t have a bucket list, I not sure why I ever phrased the question that way in the first place. However it’s phrased, the gist is the same and I sincerely hope you get to tick them off.
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The DC Child novels
In Bitter Chill
Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins’s mother commits suicide.
Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.
This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.
A Deadly Thaw
Every secret has consequences.
In Bampton, Derbyshire, Lena Fisher is arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew.
A year after Lena’s release from prison, Andrew is found dead in a disused mortuary.
Who was the man Lena killed twelve years ago, and who committed the second murder? When Lena disappears, her sister, Kat, sets out to follow a trail of clues delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. Kat must uncover the truth – before there’s another death . . .
A Patient Fury
When Detective Constable Connie Childs is dragged from her bed to the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane she knows as she steps from the car that this house contains death.
Three bodies discovered – a family obliterated – their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: One mother, one murderer.
But D.C. Childs, determined as ever to discover the truth behind the tragedy, realises it is the fourth body – the one they cannot find – that holds the key to the mystery at Cross Farm Lane.
What Connie Childs fails to spot is that her determination to unmask the real murderer might cost her more than her health – this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career.
The Shrouded Path
The past won’t stay buried forever.
November, 1957: Six teenage girls walk in the churning Derbyshire mists, the first chills of winter in the air. Their voices carrying across the fields, they follow the old train tracks into the dark tunnel of the Cutting. Only five appear on the other side.
October, 2014: a dying mother, feverishly fixated on a friend from her childhood, makes a plea: ‘Find Valerie.’ Mina’s elderly mother had never discussed her childhood with her daughter before. So who was Valerie? Where does her obsession spring from?
DC Connie Childs, off balance after her last big case, is partnered up with new arrival to Bampton, Peter Dahl. Following up on what seems like a simple natural death, DC Childs’ old instincts kick in, pointing her right back to one cold evening in 1957. As Connie starts to broaden her enquiries, the investigation begins to spiral increasingly close to home.
Writing as Rhiannon Ward
The Quickening (available to pre-order due on 20th)
Feminist gothic fiction set between the late 19th century and the early 20th century – an era of burgeoning spiritualism and the suffragette movement – that couldn’t be more relevant today.
England, 1925. Louisa Drew lost her husband in the First World War and her six-year-old twin sons in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Newly re-married to a war-traumatised husband and seven months pregnant, Louisa is asked by her employer to travel to Clewer Hall in Sussex where she is to photograph the contents of the house for auction.
She learns Clewer Hall was host to an infamous séance in 1896, and that the lady of the house has asked those who gathered back then to come together once more to recreate the evening. When a mysterious child appears on the grounds, Louisa finds herself compelled to investigate and becomes embroiled in the strange happenings of the house. Gradually, she unravels the long-held secrets of the inhabitants and what really happened thirty years before… and discovers her own fate is entwined with that of Clewer Hall’s.
You can follow Sarah via