Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with Mary Grand which was first posted in April 2019. It’s been brought up to date to include Mary’s latest books.
Mary’s first books dealt with families and relationships but more recently she has discovered her darker side and is writing murder mysteries.
Over to Mary:
I am a Welsh author. I was born in Cardiff and have retained a deep love for my Welsh roots. I have published four novels, ‘Free to Be Tegan,’ ‘Hidden Chapters,’ ‘Behind the Smile,’ and ‘The House Party’. I have also published two short books of short stories, ‘Catching the Light’ and ‘Making Changes’. ‘The House Party’ and ‘Catching the Light’ are also available as audio books. My latest novel ‘The Island’, another whodunnit, was published by Boldwood Books in June 2020 as an ebook, paperback and audiobook. It is available here.
I previously worked as a nursery teacher in London and taught Deaf children in Croydon and Hastings. I now live on the beautiful Isle of Wight with my husband, where I walk my cocker spaniel Pepper and write. I have two grown up children.
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
At Seventeen by Janis Ian. Janis Ian said this song was terrifying write; she was completely honest and spoke from her heart. I am so grateful she found the courage to write it. This song puts into words the insecurities I experienced in my teens and made me feel I wasn’t alone.
Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. I went to college having had a very sheltered upbringing in a religious sect. I had never been to a disco and so dancing on a Friday night to Stayin’ Alive had to be one of my highlights…of course with all the John Travolta moves!
Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves by Annie Lennox [Ft. Aretha Franklin]. In my late twenties and early thirties, I slowly grew in confidence. Dancing to this in my bedsit was just the best.
Days by Kirsty MacColl. I am sixty years this year, it sounds a lot older than I feel. My children are now in their twenties and I treasure every memory of them growing up. I feel very grateful that we all get on well, and still enjoy being together.
Look What They’ve Done To My Song by Melanie. There is a line in this song about longing to find a good book to live in. I didn’t come to writing until my fifties but the fact this song and this line in particular has been with me since my early teens, may explain why, now I am writing, I finally feel like I have come home.
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Pepper, my cocker spaniel. Working days start with a walk together, breakfast, and then he sits next to me while I write. When he thinks it’s time for a break, he puts his head on my laptop (I have learned to save my work frequently!).
Walks on Mottistone downs. Whatever the weather, most mornings I am lucky enough to walk up there with Pepper. I am usually thinking about writing or what I shall eat for lunch.
Coffee. Many cups a day.
Reading. I read different books depending on my mood. Recently I have been reading a lot of very good and gripping psychological dramas but felt in need of a brief change. So, at the moment, I am reading a very funny book by James Acaster which I kept embarrassingly laughing out loud to on the plane.
Television. I enjoy crime series like Vera and Happy Valley, also psychological dramas like Doctor Foster and Killing Eve. I also love to laugh and enjoy programmes like Veep, Modern Family, and Outnumbered.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
No one has the right to bully and frighten you.
Being chatty, laughing loudly and having opinions is fine.
It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s ok not be the best.
Stop worrying all the time about how you look.
Learn to say no.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Cardiff Castle (my uncle was a gatekeeper) and I used to play hide and seek in the gold room on rainy days.
When I taught in London, I lived in a council flat that was broken in to. The council put up a thin wooden plank for a door which stayed there for weeks, oh the things you don’t tell you parents in your early twenties!
I taught Deaf children and have passed my initial exams in British Sign Language.
I saw a therapist for help with my anxiety and hypervigilance.
My father had tea with Agatha Christie. I owned about thirty of her books, gave them away and have now replaced them.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
Go on a tutored writing retreat.
Go to a small but exclusive hotel in France for Christmas.
Go to New Zealand.
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It was meant to be a safe place to start again…
In need of an escape from her failing marriage, Nia agrees to house-sit her aunt’s cottage on the Isle of Wight. She feels sure the cosy close in a quaint harbour town will be a safe place to hide and figure out what to do next.
But things are not all as they seem in the close, and the neighbours who welcome her with open arms, are keeping secrets. When Nia finds the body of one of her new friends lying on the beach, she feels sickeningly sure that the killer is dangerously near to home.
Who killed her friend and why did she have to die? And if Nia discovers the answers she’s looking for, is she next on their hit list? Good neighbours may become good friends, but they can also make deadly enemies…
The Island – where everyone knows everyone, and secrets are impossible to keep…
‘Be careful, you don’t know them as well as you think. Remember – anyone can kill.’
Juliet has returned to the Isle of Wight from years abroad to visit her sick father and to be reunited with her three sisters – Cassie, a professional musician who seems to have lost her way in life, Mira, who is profoundly deaf, is married to the local vicar but their relationship is falling apart, and Rosalind, glamorous and charming but now deeply unhappy and secretive about her life.
As Juliet’s father lies dying, he issues her with a warning. There is a killer on the loose, and they may be closer than she can ever imagine. He anxiously tells Juliet that he confided a family secret in son-in-law Rhys, and now regrets ever saying a word.
Days later, as the clock strikes one in the morning, a man comes out of Rhys’s church, walks along the path and is run down by a car driven by an unidentified person. When the finger of suspicion points to Juliet, she realises the only way to clear her name is to uncover the secrets her family has been keeping from her for years. But with a killer on the loose, danger is getting closer all the time…
The House Party
Someone is about to die… Someone is about to lie…
At the intimate house-warming party for her glorious ‘grand design’, Kathleen confides in her best friend Beth that she is terrified of one of their close friends, but daren’t reveal which one. The guests are a tight-knit group, but Kathleen is convinced one of them is dangerous.
The next day Kathleen’s body is found at the foot of a cliff and Beth must face the sickening truth that she may have been killed by one of their trusted friends. With little help from the police, Beth’s decides to seek answers.
All the friends have secrets they are desperate to hide, but only one of them is ready to kill to keep theirs safe…
Behind the Smile
Lowri is pregnant, looking forward to a new life with her lover, Simon. But her plans are shattered. She finds herself alone, her face scarred, her future uncertain. Her estranged husband, Jack, proposes they “settle” for each other, and raise Lowri’s unborn child on the Isle of Wight, in the idyllic village of Elmstone. Lowri is befriended by Carina, the beautiful Italian woman living in Elmstone Manor, and Heather, the popular local café proprietor. However, she soon discovers that no-one is the person they appear. What dark secrets is Heather hiding from her family and from the village? Why is Carina desperate for Lowri to fail in her new life and prepared to go to increasingly desperate lengths to destroy her?As she confronts her own insecurities, and faces another devastating loss, will Lowri find the courage to be proud of the person she is hiding behind the smile? Will she find true love amid the confusion and intrigue?
Catrin survives by denying her past. Her marriage is in crisis. She has devoted herself for eighteen years to bringing up her adopted Deaf daughter, Bethan. She is unaware that her life is about to be shattered by the appearance of the woman she has been told is dead, Bethan’s birth mother, Elizabeth. Catrin is devastated. How will Bethan react? Why has Elizabeth hidden away all these years? Slowly and painfully, Catrin is forced to examine the web of lies and secrets from her past, the unexplained death of her ‘golden brother’, the truths about her alcoholic mother and the relationships she has now with her father and husband. Hidden Chapters is an optimistic novel about the hope and the courage each of us can find within ourselves to own our past and take control of the next chapter of our lives.
Free to be Tegan
Tegan, aged twenty seven, is cast out of the cult, rejected by her family and from the only life she has known. She is vulnerable and naïve but she also has courage and the will to survive. She travels to Wales, to previously unknown relations in the wild Cambrian Mountains. This is the uplifting story of her journey from life in a cult to find herself and flourish in a world she has been taught to fear and abhor. Guilt and shadows from her past haunt her in flashbacks, panic attacks and a fear of the dark. However she also finds a world full of colour, love and happiness she has never known before. The wild beauty of the hills, the people she meets and the secrets slowly revealed by the cottage all provide an intriguing backdrop to Tegan’s drama.
Give and Take
Days before her wedding, hairdresser Lisa has a huge row with her fiancé. He tells her she is over-reacting, so why does Lisa feel devastated? As Lisa listens to the two sides of a couple’s marital problems in the salon, she begins to find answers.
Looking at the remains of the fire in her beautiful new kitchen, Ruth is very frightened and confused. Since moving with her new husband to Worthing nothing in her life makes sense. What is happening to her?
The Right Shoes
After a devastating family tragedy, Emma moved with her minister husband and daughter to the run down seaside resort of Ruxton. She refuses to talk to anyone about it: no-one will understand. Can a new friendship and a new puppy help Emma and her family heal and make a fresh start?
Holly’s Perfect Christmas?
Holly plans her dream Christmas at an idyllic cottage in Snowdonia. However her partner’s difficult teenage daughter, ex-wife and new husband join them and then the spiteful anonymous texts start to arrive. Can Holly still have her perfect Christmas?
Catching the Light
The New Arrival
Rachel has moved to the Isle of Wight determined to become invisible. Hiding a shameful secret she cultivates a ‘cold polite smile as effective as an electric fence.’ However, unexpectedly, into her life comes a loving, crazy, individual: Lottie the cocker spaniel. Everything is about to change.
Catching the Light
Erin thinks she has found her fairytale prince. However, the honeymoon in a remote cottage in Wales shatters the dream. For the first time in her life Erin discovers the mystical world of fairies.
Megan works in a Theatre for the Deaf. She is Deaf. Her language is British Sign Language. One evening she meets John, who is hearing, and two worlds collide. This is the story of the struggles, joys and tears of their remarkable relationship.
This was to be the most important day of Kay’s life. However her mission to be free from years of guilt reveals so much more than she could possibly imagine.
So interesting. I have a mute cousin living in Canada who is a professor of linguistics specialising in sign language and lectures all over the world. I have relatives on the Isle of Wight, you are right, it is lovely. I’d loved to have had lunch with Agatha Christie, or breakfast or tea. Good luck with your books, I shall look them out. x
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