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Travel to St Andrews with Marion Todd

  • Submitted: 30th October 2022

Travel to St Andrews with Marion Todd

The second author to grace the hallowed halls of BookTrail Towers is Marion Todd. She sets her novels in the wonderful city of St Andrews and today, Marion is your personal guide…..

BookTrail the books of Marion Todd

Marion Todd

There is a dark, brooding presence in the grey sandstone of the centuries-old buildings in Saint Andrews. A presence that harks back to the days of the Reformation, to John Knox and even to Mary Queen of Scots who is said to have planted a thorn tree in the chapel grounds. Martyrs were burned at the stake and ghosts are said to wander the ruins of the ancient cathedral.

Travel to St Andrews with Marion Todd

(c) Marion Todd

BookTrail the books of Marion Todd

And yet the town is no backward-looking museum piece, forever recalling the grisly events of its past. Today it is home to Scotland’s oldest university and the town swells each year to absorb an eclectic mix of some nine thousand students. Widely acknowledged, also, as the home of golf, the iconic Old Course acts as a mecca for tourists and golfers alike.

The mix of town and gown, of tourist and tradesman is a rich one. To quote Burgess, All human life is here. And where we have life, we have death.

Travel to St Andrews with Marion Todd

(c) Marion Todd

BookTrail the books of Marion Todd

I first conceived the idea of a crime series set in St Andrews when I was watching a boxed set of Inspector Morse DVDs. The beauty of Oxford was exploited to the full, such that the city itself became a character in the narrative. And while Saint Andrews is much smaller, I wondered if I could do the same with the town.

The Caledonian Crime Collective

The Caledonian Crime Collective

But I had reckoned without the formation in 2013 of a unified police force, Police Scotland. Prior to its creation, Scotland had eight regional forces, each responsible for investigating their own crimes. When these forces merged, Major Investigation Teams were formed, operating locally but capable of being deployed anywhere in Scotland, if required. Clearly the days of the local Detective Inspector investigating all crimes in the area had passed into history – not ideal for continuity in a crime fiction series. Saint Andrews, I learned, did not even have its own DI.

Travel to St Andrews with Marion Todd

(c) Marion Todd

BookTrail the books of Marion Todd

So I bent the rules. I created a Detective Inspector where there is none and I gave her a team of officers who I hoped readers would enjoy meeting, book after book. In short, I wrote my own version of Police Scotland.

BookTrail the books of Marion Todd

I added a Tech Support office, just twenty miles away in Glenrothes so that laptops and mobile phones seized from victims could be analysed speedily, and I sent my dead bodies to the mortuary in Dundee.

Inevitably, some investigations require extra officers, as in my second novel, In Plain Sight where a baby is snatched from its pram. In such cases Clare calls on her contacts in other regions and they willingly send reinforcements to lend a hand.

Marion Todd books

Marion Todd books

BookTrail the books of Marion Todd

Clearly I am fudging reality here but this is what writers do. We create worlds into which our readers can escape. Any serving police officer will tell you that crime investigation is, to borrow a well-worn phrase, ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration. This would not make for riveting reading so a healthy dose of drama is necessarily injected.

St Andrew, Scotland

BookTrail the books of Marion Todd

There have been many successful book and TV crime series set in larger cities and I decided at an early stage not to try and turn Saint Andrews into a mini Glasgow or Edinburgh, with their seedy underworlds of organised crime. Equally, I wasn’t writing cosy crime. My aim, from the outset, was to portray ordinary people, living ordinary lives, driven, by circumstances, to extreme actions; because crime is about people — their lives and loves, their devices and desires.

The Caledonian Crime Collective

The Caledonian Crime Collective

BookTrail the books of Marion Todd

The area surrounding St Andrews is quite different too from the sprawling urban settings found in other, grittier novels. Rich farmland is peppered with small villages and market towns, some with royal connections. Rather than apologise for this lack of grittiness, and try to sex the area up, I decided to embrace the setting — to capitalise on the gentler way of life.

The Caledonian Crime Collective

The Caledonian Crime Collective

BookTrail the books of Marion Todd

And perhaps it is the very tranquillity of north-east Fife that makes the crimes in my novels all the more shocking. Yet, St Andrews, with its diverse mix of people and cultures is like the world in miniature. Examine it through the microscope and you will find all the elements which make up the human condition. And that is where every story begins.

 

Thank you Marion! Lovely to spend time at St Andrews with you.

 

BookTrail Boarding Pass: Books of Marion Todd

Twitter:     @MarionETodd  Web: www.mariontodd.com/

 

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