With her third novel, MEAT IS MURDER, soon to be published, we talk to author Anne Crosse about her background. Having worked in the publishing industry in London and had plays performed on national radio, she is no stranger to the business of entertaining.
TBF: What was Fleet Street like in the 1960s? Was it all long boozy lunches?
AC: London in the sixties was a very exciting place to be and you could say that’s where I got my education in the university of life. Robert Maxwell was the boss of the Daily Mirror, and we never saw him, he apparently had his own entrance. The famous Christine Keeler story – the Profumo Affair – had been the Mirror’s biggest scoop and they were still talking about it when I joined the paper. I would have loved that, I always loved a bit of drama.
TBF: Can you name some of your literary influences? What books are currently on your bedside table?
AC: I love Alan Bennett. I have read all his books, and watched all his monologues. I like his wry wit, maybe because I can identify with it. I am told my writing reflects dry humour bordering on the sarcastic.
TBF: You’ve written some plays. Can you tell us a little about them?
I had a few plays broadcast by RTE Ireland’s national radio which came from my love of drama. A Season in Farmleigh was the first one. It was about a young girl who lived in Manchester and arrived at her aunt’s home for a holiday. She was in fact suffering with a disease of the lungs which was quite common in the fifties. The aunt was very bitter, and the young girl eventually works her magic on the woman, changing her for the better.
TBF: What makes writing for stage/radio different to writing novels?
AC: Writing for the stage and radio involves a lot of direction, and when you write a novel you have to watch yourself not to be giving too many stage directions, as novel writing is a different kettle of fish. One must “show, not tell”!
TBF: Your main character Robert Carroll is a bit of a grump, to say the least. What made you pick such a character as your protagonist?
AC: My character Robert in Death in Magnerstown is grumpy and unhappy, but that’s why I put James Sayder in there with him, I seem to be following that same pattern in the Farmleigh play.
TBF: Magnerstown is a small town with lots of secrets and intrigue. Do you imagine it all as a theatre before putting it in the story?
AC: Magnerstown is a place in my head. It was born first, then the characters, and the great thing about a town is you have infinite characters to draw on. You are never short of one.
TBF: Do you find yourself shaping your plot as you write, or are the stories devised beforehand?
AC: I start off with an idea for the plot. I start working on the basic story, mindful of bringing in red herrings which I think the reader might like. As a result of this, sometimes a character that I hadn’t planned on makes an appearance.
TBF: You’ve now had two murder mysteries published about events in Magnerstown. What’s next in store for readers?
AC: I am not finished with Magnerstown yet. I would love to live there myself but, in a way, I suppose I do. I have a new plot worked out for the inhabitants whether they like it or not.
TBF: What do you get up to when you are not writing?
AC: I love travelling, especially cruises. I have one booked for after Christmas, and I will be bringing a very large notebook with me just in case we have murder on the high seas.
TBF: If you were to write about a place outside of the British Isles, where would that be?
AC: I like Australia, it has a similar culture to Ireland. There are a lot of English and Irish people living there, including relatives of mine who keep me up to date on what’s going on. I think it could do with more crime writers, so who knows.