Susi Holliday’s second book, Willow Walk, was officially launched last night at Waterstones, Piccadilly and she was interviewed by fellow author, David Mark (Dead Pretty). David asked Susi how her criminally good imagination had started. She told us a great story from her childhood when at the age of 12, she was left in charge of her younger siblings while their parents popped out. Her younger brother, aged 5, came to tell her that there was blood all over the kitchen – on the floor, the walls – everywhere. Susi’s first thought was that she wasn’t going to go and investigate. Scared that her parents had returned and been murdered in the kitchen, she called the police. It was with a mixture of relief and probably some embarrassment, that they told her it was a flood, not blood. And so a vivid imagination was born!
Susi grew up in a small town in Scotland so it’s not surprising that she has set her books in a fictional small town. She puts that down to laziness on her part (she didn’t want to have to do loads of research) and as small towns often don’t change that much, she used her memories for her background. Likewise, she didn’t look up too much about police procedural for her books. A small station only open for three hours a day – she figured the police officers could do what they like!
Susi claims that she can’t write literature (some of us might disagree with her on that!) but she has an incredible knack for getting into people’s heads. In order to keep those voices clear, she wrote a few chapters at a time in one voice before switching. There is a group of letters, from one character to another, that she wrote in one go. And she then sent them out to bloggers as a teaser.. She’s writing the third book in the trilogy at the moment but has plenty of ideas to keep her going for future books.
One of the loveliest things that I’ve noticed about crime writers, and David Mark reiterated this, is how incredibly supportive they are of one another. So it was no surprise to see plenty of other crime authors, bloggers and publishers in the room, as well as friends and family. And those who couldn’t make the actual launch, turned up at the pub afterwards to carry on the celebrations. It was a great night – thanks for inviting me, Susi!
Willow Walk is the second in a trilogy of books written by SJI Holliday, set in the fictional, sleepy town of Banktoun in Scotland. The first book, Black Wood, was released last year and introduced us to Sergeant Davie Grey. Policing Banktoun isn’t too taxing for Davie. In fact, he’s a bit worried that the station may be closed down and he’ll have to decide his future.
But in the meantime, it’s summer and the fair has come to town. It’s normally harmless fun but Davie likes to keep an eye on things, especially as there’s been some incidents of young people taking a new legal (or not so legal anymore) high and becoming very ill. And his old friend DI Malkie Reid is dealing with an attack on a woman so Davie lends a hand. So there’s a bit of work to do but it still leaves time for his new girlfriend, Marie. Except Marie, suddenly, isn’t so keen anymore. But then, Davie doesn’t know about Graeme.
SJI Holliday has a wonderful way of capturing her protagonists’ voices. Clear and distinct, we’re drawn into each of their own little worlds – Laura, 16, who has her first proper boyfriend; Marie, who’s secret past is about to catch up with her; Davie who’s unsure what the future holds for him and then there’s Graeme. I’m not going to say too much about him but SJI Holliday has written, quite possibly, the creepiest set of letters ever. And after reading them, you’ll never name your child, Graeme.
A fabulous creepy read and absolutely five stars from me.
If you want to know more about Susi Holliday then you can follow her on Twitter on @SJIHolliday
And thank you for the chocolate too. It helped me to write this post!