Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with crime author Anita Waller which was first posted in September 2019. It’s been brought up to date to include Anita’s latest titles. Anita intriguingly describes her genre as ‘murder – necessary murder’.
Anita Waller was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire in 1946. She married Dave in 1967 and they have three adult children.
With many books to her name, she feels she has finally realised her dream, a dream offered to her in July 2015 when Bloodhound Books accepted her first novel, Beautiful. She writes mainly psychological thrillers, but was commissioned in 2018 to write a cosy mystery series, the Kat and Mouse trilogy.
She is now seventy-seven 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.
As of March 2022 the total number of books published by Bloodhound Books will be twenty. Anita’s personal favourite? Winterscroft, her only supernatural thriller.
In November 2021 she made the decision to move from Bloodhound Books to Boldwood Books, and August 2022 saw the launch of her first book (One Hot Summer) with them. She signed a five book deal, and is currently working on the fifth one.
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!
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!
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you 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.
Give five pieces of advice 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 most 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.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
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…
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The Family at No.12
When Janette answers the door to a potential customer looking to board his dog, she never imagines he has nefarious plans.
But minutes later he’s dead and in her cellar.
Weeks later she realises she’s pregnant.
And so she becomes Mother and the baby Child, and a hidden life begins.
But all secrets come out eventually . . .
One Hot Summer
A city on fire. A killer who can’t be stopped. Who will be next?
When two teenagers are found dead in a fire, DI Laura Henshall and DS Will Peters are called in to investigate. They believe it was a revenge attack gone wrong.
But soon fires are cropping up everywhere, and the police suspect they’re dealing with something much bigger . . . something that could bring the city to its knees.
With time running out, can the detectives find the arsonists before the city goes up in flames?
Will this killer ever run out of luck? When DI Erica Cheetham and DS Beth Machin are called to investigate the murder of a young woman, whose naked body is discovered in a river, they realise an old foe is killing again.
The police realise this new death is linked to a spate of cold case murders and the killer is back.
Five years earlier, four young women were found murdered, their bodies left in woody areas, and the new victim shares similar hallmarks.
But why did the killer stop killing for all that time and what has inspired them to start again?
As more young women fall victim to a vicious and calculating murderer, Erica and Beth find themselves chasing their tails.
But when a witness is identified the case takes an unexpected and macabre turn.
Can Erica and Beth bring the killer to justice, or will this case prove too much?
Doris Lester has taken a well-deserved break from work. She’s planned a holiday with her best friend Wendy on a journey across the Yorkshire and Derbyshire Dales. But before they depart, a letter arrives that stirs up trouble and memories of the past. Soon Doris and Wendy are drawn into the mystery surrounding a troubled family, a missing person and gruesome murder.
When Doris and Wendy join the investigation, intriguing revelations about Doris’s life come to the surface, which shock even those closest to her. Step by step they uncover secrets that could tear a family even further apart. Can Wendy and Doris solve the mystery? And if they do, will their lives ever be the same again?
Would you risk everything to protect your family? Carla Andrews and Lorraine West are work colleagues and best friends. They socialise together, they work in the same bookmakers and they support each other as only best friends can.
Then they are murdered together.
When DI Tom Fowler is handed the case, he discovers a journal that Carla has left and must unpick the secrets Lorraine has kept hidden.
Soon Carla’s and Lorraine’s husbands become the main suspects. It’s usually the spouse who is responsible, isn’t it?
The investigation progresses until Lorraine’s sixteen-year-old son disappears. Will the truth ever emerge? And is knowing the truth always worth the sacrifice?
Liars (with Patricia Dixon)
Best friends since childhood, Wendy and Nell know each other better than anyone—or so they think. When someone threatens to reveal a secret that would destroy their bond, it alters the course of both their lives. Nell leaves for France while Wendy embarks on marriage and motherhood. They keep in touch with letters . . . yet hide the lonely and violent truth of their lives.Then a twisted, deceitful face from the past turns up to wreak havoc on both of them. Someone is seeking revenge. And that someone is a killer. It’s time for Wendy and Nell to face their demons—no matter the cost.
Claudia and Heather have been friends and neighbors for years. Having commiserated for so long about their unhappy marriages, both women have decided it’s finally time to leave their husbands. Renting an apartment together is the beginning of a new chapter for both of them—until Claudia is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Heather is more than willing to care for Claudia through it all. But when a meeting with Claudia’s ex-husband results in someone dying, the two women’s new life begins to unravel even further. The solution to their problem becomes frighteningly clear . . . and Claudia has nothing to lose.
When a group 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 supply, 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 stash . . .
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 harboring 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. 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 the captor so determined on revenge?
Wedding plans at an English manor stir melancholy memories—and angry spirits—in this contemporary gothic thriller.
When Lavender Paulson dies in a tragic car accident, her family and fiancé Matt are left devastated. As the year’s pass and wounds heal, Matt remains close with the Paulson family, visiting them often at their beautiful home, Winterscroft, in Derbyshire.
When Matt falls in love again, the Paulsons are happy for him. But when he and his new love Beth announce their engagement, it sets off a series of bizarre and disturbing events.
As Matt and Beth make plans to wed at Winterscroft, the frightening truth becomes apparent. Lavender is back. And she is not happy.
The Forrester Series
Nothing is more important than family . . .
Matt Forrester has followed in his dad’s footsteps, climbing the police ranks to become a DI. But when he receives an urgent call for help, Matt has to rethink his career. His dad has been murdered, and Matt’s not going to let this case go. It doesn’t help that his current boss is sleeping with his ex-wife.
Hermia Forrester didn’t follow her brother into the police force, instead she works in research at the university. But, she’s not going to let that stop her from helping her brother find out what happened to their dad.
But the siblings soon find themselves surrounded by more danger than they ever imagined. Can they both survive this case or will there be more of their family in the morgue?
The thrilling first instalment in the Forrester Detective Agency Mystery series.
The Kat & Mouse series
Murder Undeniable (1)
As a Deacon at St. Lawrence parish Katerina Rowe enjoys a quiet life in the village of Eyam. But everything changes when she discovers the body of a man and a badly beaten woman in the alleyway behind her husband’s pharmacy. Kat is immediately drawn to Beth, the young woman she saved. But in order to keep her safe, 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. Soon the pair begin investigating the murder, with some help from Beth’s feisty grandmother, Doris. Neither the police, nor Kat’s husband, want Kat and Beth looking into their affairs. But as they keep digging, the pair of sleuths discover what kind of nightmares reside in their sleepy village . . .
Murder Unexpected 92)
Deacon Katerina Rowe had a quiet life before she discovered her husband’s criminal activities. Now Leon is on the run, and Kat has started a private investigation business with her good friend Beth, who goes by Mouse. It’s plenty for any Deacon to handle—let alone one who’s heavily pregnant.
When a widow asks Kat and Mouse for help, the sleuthing duo 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, Leon is back in Eyam and out for revenge. Can Kat solve the case and escape her dangerous husband?
Murder Unearthed (3)
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 . . .
Murder Untimely (4)
Early one morning, in the grounds of Chatsworth, a body is discovered by one of the estate groundsmen. DI Marsden and DS Granger battle through snow-covered roads to begin their investigation.
Meanwhile, at the Connection Investigation Agency, Doris, Kat and Mouse are busy juggling their caseloads, while trying to show their new trainee receptionist the ropes.
When the police learn that the body belongs to Nicola Armstrong, a resident of the nearby village of Baslow, it soon transpires that Nicola was the mother of a child who disappeared ten years prior to her murder.
Soon, the Connection investigators are brought in to help but when a second body is found at Chatsworth, the case takes a disturbing turn.
Can the police and the female sleuths get to the truth before more life is lost? Or is the fate of those involved already sealed?
Murder Unjoyful (5)
The lead up to Christmas sees the Connection private investigation team planning their festive season. Until a new case arrives . . .
Catapulted into their biggest mystery yet, they are tasked with finding a killer who has been released on parole, and subsequently disappeared. Has he returned to finish the murder he tried to commit before his capture nineteen years earlier?
As he targets his intended victim, his attention is also focused on the private investigators and their police colleagues with devastating effect.
With families torn apart, Doris must seek assistance from a colleague from her past to give Connection the best chance of bringing a psychopath to justice.
How will it end? Is this the last we will see of Kat, Mouse, Doris and Luke? And can Connection continue?
Connection Trilogy (spin off from Kat & Mouse)
Blood Red (1)
The Connection Investigation Agency has seen big changes. New partners, Tessa, Luke, and Beth, have taken over and members of the old team have moved on to pastures new.
On the first day of reopening, a body is discovered in the outhouse at the back of the office and their first case begins with bones that have lain undiscovered for twenty-five years.
Can Luke take on his first solo case and solve it?
Will Tessa prove to be as good an investigator as she was a DI? Will she solve the mystery of the threatening notes sent to two women, who become murder victims?
As the agency digs deeper into the past and a link between the two cases is revealed, will this help or hinder?
Code Blue (2)
Five years ago, John and Caroline Coates were happily expecting the birth of twin girls, until an intruder ended their hopes and dreams.
Now, John has come to the Connection Agency, asking for their help in tracking down the man who caused them such grief.
Back then, Tessa’s involvement was cut short when the cold case department quickly took over. This is the chance for her and Luke to follow the facts and finally lay this case to rest. With the rest of the Connection team busy with other jobs, Tessa and Luke, alongside DI Eileen Haughton, an old colleague of Tessa’s from her police days, steadily follow the clues to an ending they could never have imagined—revealing a truth that could either bring the Coateses the peace they crave or take them to further depths of despair . . .
Mortal Green (3)
An author arrives in Eyam and moves into Leaf Cottage for a month-long research break. One morning, she sets off on a long walk around the village, but disappears while on her way back. Presumed to be working in solitude on her novel, she is not missed until her husband tries to contact her with news that their daughter has gone into early labour.
Arriving in Eyam, he contacts the Connection Agency and asks for their help. When Leaf Cottage is found deserted, so begins the hunt for the missing woman. Soon DI Carl Heaton is on the case and bodies start turning up in rapid succession.
Meanwhile, another investigator is working on a heartbreaking missing person case. But before everyone’s work is done, there will be many twists and turns in this riveting detective novel by the author of Blood Red and Code Blue.
34 Days Saga
An abused woman decides to escape her marriage—and learns how much a life can change in just thirty-four days—in this taut psychological thriller.
Anna and Ray have been married for thirty-five years. Their three children are grown; they have grandkids; and to outsiders they 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. But as she browses online for a place of her own in Sheffield, England, she doesn’t know that she isn’t the only one who has suffered—and by leaving Ray, she will spark a series of events so awful that they might just end in murder…
A serial killer has some loose ends to tie up in this riveting psychological thriller—a follow-up to the international bestseller, 34 Days.
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 his 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 . . .
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 . . .
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. She doesn’t know if she’ll ever get her daughter back, or if Treverick will triumph and destroy her family—one person at a time . . .