FEBRUARY 25, 2003

From all the books you have written, do you have a favorite?

If I have to chose one, Come Armageddon. But of the mysteries, it is always the latest!

At what point in time did you realize that writing was the "thing for you"?

I never thought otherwise!

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a writer?

Think of what you enjoy in what you read. Analyse it and try to write the same. Read aloud your work to a good, honest and constructive friend. Read
Writing the Breakout Novel by Don Maass. Don't give up your day job yet!!

What is the name of your favorite mystery movie?

I don't really have any. There are many that are good - I like those with a moral dilemma.

What other authors do you enjoy reading?

Those who write about a lifestyle or situation I am unfamiliar with, such as severe deafness or a different culture.

What other types of jobs have you had?

Secretarial, Insurance, Stewardess, Receptionist - nothing that mattered!

Is there anyone, in particular, who influenced you?

Friends, literary agents with excellent constructive advice.

What led you to write mysteries?

Being unable to sell straight historical stories. Mystery forces a good plot structure, and plotting is the most important part for every writer.

Do you read reviews of your books?

Yes, unless I have been warned in advance that it is lousy!

How would you like to be remembered?

As an honest voice, one who made readers both think and care.

What do you believe is the highlight of your career so far?

Seeing one of my books turned into a film. I hope there are more to come!

Do you write on a fixed schedule?

Yes, roughly 9 am to 8 or 9 pm, 6 days a week.

How did you get started in writing?

Do you mean published work? - with a good agent.

How do you come up with plots?

Think, read, imagine 'what if', watch people.

How do you spend your free time?

What free time? Actually not a lot of it. Talking to friends, gardening, watching TV, reading.

Do you have a message you would like to give to all your readers out there?

Thank you for reading, and writing to tell me your thoughts.

                                                ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I was born in Blackheath, London, England, in 1938 and spent the first years of my life there. My schooling was very interrupted, both by frequent moves and by ill-health. Due partially to this I read a great deal, and had parents who gave me time and attention. My parents also enjoyed reading, and so I had a lot of encouragement. I remember we had a good selection of books to choose from, covering a variety of topics in both fiction and non-fiction. In my early years, up until I was about 10 I enjoyed books by various authors including, Lewis Carroll and Charles Kingsley. I especially remember, and have a great fondness for a book of his called Hereward the Wake.

When I was a teenager (yes, I actually was one!) I went to my father with a particular problem hoping he could help me. However, instead of telling him the problem I stood there humming and hawing and became extremely frustrated as I was just not being able to get across what I wanted to say. At which point I said, ' I can't explain it very well, but I know what I mean.' And he said to me, 'No, you don't know what you mean. If you did, you would have the words to explain it.' And he was right. Words, the precise words, are important and they can only come once an idea has been grasped, fully.

My father was very good at getting to the essence of a problem, in his work as an astronomer, mathematician and nuclear physicist he was used to dealing with precise details and language. He was therefore able to explain things in a way that was exact and vivid. This lesson has stayed with me and has helped immensely.

Another trait I was taught as a child was trust. During the time when I was recovering from illness and staying with friends in the Bahamas, one of the instructions I received was, if told to do something, then do it immediately and without question. One day I was swimming in the sea and was told quite calmly to get out of the water. I obeyed because I respected and trusted the people who were looking after me. When I was on the jetty I discovered the cause of my friends concern, in the sea close to where I had been swimming a shark had appeared.

Although I had various jobs there was never anything I seriously wished to do except write. It was my father who was responsible for encouraging me to write my ideas down. However, I was in my very early twenties before I started putting together the first semblance of a book. I was living in the county of Northumberland, in a small town called Hexham, not far from Hadrian's Wall, when I started writing the first draft of Come Armageddon. When I did finally begin that book in earnest, earlier this year, I was able to use the original manuscript for reference. It took twenty years before my first book was accepted for publication, by which time I was in my late-thirties. During that time I had various jobs in order to earn an income: clerical, retail selling, fashion, air stewardess, ship and shore stewardess, limousine dispatcher in Beverly Hills and insurance underwriter.

I began writing mysteries set in Victorian London on a suggestion from my step- father as to who Jack the Ripper might have been. I found that I was totally absorbed by what happens to people under pressure of investigation, how old relationships and trusts are eroded, and new ones formed. The Cater Street Hangman, the first of my books to be accepted for publication, came out in 1979. I don't know how many books I wrote before that. I do remember being delighted that I finally had one in print!

A friend asked me why my second novel, Callander Square is set in 1883, almost a full two years after The Cater Street Hangman. When I first wrote them it caused me no concern as I had no idea that a series would develop. However, I soon realised that I would have to shorten the time gap otherwise Pitt would soon be a very old man! I wrote on a book to book basis until about ten years ago when I changed publishers and was first offered a multiple contract.

I began the 'Monk' series in order to explore a different , darker character, and to raise questions about responsibility, particularly that of a person for acts he cannot remember. How much of a person's identity is bound up in memory? All our reactions, decisions, etc spring from what we know, have experienced. We are in so many ways the sum of all we have been!

I have now very nearly finished the second and final volume involving Tathea, which I began when my agent said to me that I had a better book in me than I had written so far. After I had thought for a long time I realised that what I really wanted, was a quest, a search for truth. It has been my highest ambition to write something that would enrich and inspire others as I have been enriched and inspired by the writers of the past.