Mari Hannah talks hanging, murder and more
Mari Hannah is the special guest on the booktrail today. A favourite here and indeed with many many readers – Mari always brings cake and chocolate when she visits too. The Gallows Drop is out this week and it’s an honour to help Mari celebrate. There’s TV news and more in this chat, so pull up a chair and listen closely…Mari Hannah talks hanging, murder and more
Kate Daniels has come a long way since your debut, The Murder Wall. She really has a hard time in this book. Was it important to show her past and explain her turmoil?
We’re all shaped by our experiences and Kate is no different in that respect. It was always my intention to go back in time and show why she’s so secretive when it comes to her private life. I wasn’t entirely sure where it would come in the series; it was just a question of waiting until the right story came along. In Gallows Drop she meets someone she hasn’t come across for many years and it’s through this encounter that readers will travel into her past.
You’ve shown Kate’s difficulties over the series. Do you think her private life is improving?
Her on-off relationship with criminal profiler (Jo Soulsby) is what it is. Gallows Drop will shed light on this. Over the course of five books, soon to be six, I hope that readers have seen that beneath the surface there is real affection between the two. Many are calling for a happy ending but you’ll have to keep reading to find out if their relationship develops or not.
What about the support she has from the rest of her team?
Kate is clever but some might say difficult to love. A bit of a maverick, she doesn’t always play by the rules but she has a solid and cohesive team behind her and a brilliant DS in the form of Hank Gormley. As Senior Investigating Officer, she is firm but always fair in her dealings with detectives in the Murder Investigation Team. Consequently, there is a great deal of mutual respect and loyalty around. Where she leads those who work for her invariably follow.
You portray the internal struggles of a police force well. How do you research the various issues – through your own experiences or by consulting police officers?
Both. As a former probation officer, I’m not new to the world in which criminals operate. It was once my job to get inside the heads of offenders and work out what makes them tick. During the course of my career, I worked with many criminal justice agency staff: lawyers, court clerks, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, police and prison officers among them. Closer to home, I happen to live with someone who enjoyed thirty years in the police force, many of them as a murder detective. I’ve seen first hand how police officers relate to one another, in and out of work, how they use humour to deflect some of the awful things they have to deal with on a daily basis. These are all people I can go to if I need a particular question answered, although most of my research requires little more than a chat over coffee at home, a phone call or an email to a foreign force if a book goes international.
Why is the North East a great location for your novels?
First and foremost, I love the area. I live in the Tyne Valley but the city of Newcastle upon Tyne isn’t far away, nor is the sweeping Northumberland coastline and I have the most dramatic countryside right here on my doorstep. The diversity of locations provides a constant flow of ideas, inspiration, change of pace and mood. What writer wouldn’t want that?
Any news you can share regarding Kate Daniels series coming to TV?
I’m now ‘in development’ with Sprout Pictures as opposed to ‘under option’ which is a great place to be. I’m working hard with them to make this dream happen but I’m unable to say more at this stage.
Would you like a walk on part in your own drama?
Hell yes! I’d love that. If it’s good enough for Hitchcock . . .
Is there anything you’d like to do with the series you haven’t already done?
Kate was handpicked by the now head of Northumbria CID, Detective Chief Superintendent Bright. They are two formidable detectives. I’d love to go back in time and see how they met, what made them gel, why he chose her as his protégé and how easy or difficult it was for her to accept him as her mentor. Hmm . . . another book maybe?
Where do you write and how does your partner help when you’re writing?
I write in my office. Mo makes a great cup of tea! Seriously . . . she does everything to make my life easier. I couldn’t have done any of this without her. From start to finish, she’s involved in the process. When I have an idea, she’s first to hear it. We sit down and discuss how the story might pan out, themes it might explore, usually starting with motive. We work out who the villain is. She’s my only reader before the book goes to my agent. She checks authenticity and procedural details too. In other words, she makes me look good. But most of all she’s my cheerleader, the one who offers support when my head goes down. Before I was published, there were times when I was on the edge of giving up. Without Mo, Mari Hannah the author would not exist.
Which fictional detective would you like to be?
The one I just made up. I know her name but not much else. I’ll know her better before she makes it to the page.
Thanks for inviting me to the Book Trail website!
You’re very welcome Mari!
Booktrail Boarding Pass Information: Gallows Drop (6)
Author/Guide: Mari Hannah Destination: Northumberland, Alwinton, Elsdon Departure Time: 2000s