Please welcome Elly Griffiths, author of the wonderful series featuring Ruth Galloway!
NMR: For those new to your novels, please tell us a bit about your series and your characters.
EG: The books are about a forensic archaeologist called Ruth Galloway. Ruth is first called in by police when human bones are found on the lonely marshland where she lives (The Crossing Places) and she is also on hand when a childís skeleton is discovered buried under a ruined house (The Janus Stone) and when coastal erosion uncovers bodies from the Second World War (The House at Seaís End). Ruth is not glamorous but she is clever, determined and often very brave. She has a rather complicated relationship with the Norfolk Chief of Police DCI Harry Nelson.
NMR: I have a feeling most authors would prefer not to be compared to other authors; however, you do remind me a bit of Louise Penny with your sense of place, imperfect heroes/heroines, and wonderful sense of sly humor Ė hopefully, a compliment in any form. Keeping that in mind, are there any particular authors who have inspired your writing in one way or another?
EG: I love Louise Penny so it is an honour to be compared to her! My favourite writer of all time, though, is Wilkie Collins. I would love to think that I have been influenced by him. Not only does he write wonderfully about places (think of the Shivering Sands in The Moonstone) but he has created some of the most brilliant characters in fiction, like Count Fosco in The Woman in White.
NMR: How to put this? Some of your characters seem to have some issues with organized religion. As this may be a part of some of your readers' lives, did you ever question some of your characters' viewpoints in this regard, with it possibly being a touchy subject to some of your readers?
EG: Well, Iím a Catholic and my husband is an atheist and we do quite often argue about religion. I suppose I have used this in the relationship between Ruth and Nelson (though Ruth is the atheist). I hope readers wonít be offended because I do try to show both sides of the question. Interestingly, though, people usually assume Iím an atheist because Ruth is.
NMR: Ruth is a strong and independent woman - facing an uphill battle just being a woman in a man's world. Why did you decide to put her in the even more possibly contentious position with her pregnancy; one that would be difficult to explain in the best of times in such a setting?
EG: I really wanted to write a book where the main character is pregnant! One of my favourite films is Fargo and I love the way that the detective just gets on with her job whilst heavily pregnant. Of course, this is what happens with most women but itís hardly ever shown in books or films.
NMR: Where does your love of archaeology come from?
EG: When I first met my husband, Andy, he was working in the city but he had always dreamt of becoming an archaeologist. About five years ago he took the plunge and retrained and, though it was hard to manage at times, it has been well worth it. Not least because he supplied the inspiration for the books!
NMR: Anyone reading your books will enjoy your irreverence towards many subjects, especially religion as mentioned aboveÖ.how much fun do you have with this, and has any editor tried to cut you off at any point?
EG: My editor, Jane Wood, is very good and never tries to change the tone of the books. She is very quick to point out, though, when the plot doesnít work or when Iíve used too many adverbs! I think the irreverence is part of Ruthís personality. Maybe part of mine tooÖ
NMR: Speaking of your humor, it's very sly (and personally, one of my favorite aspects of your book); do you ever feel that it is overlooked by those focusing instead on the setting and archeological aspects?
EG: Yes! You are the only reviewer who has ever mentioned the humour! I was delighted when you did so because I do try to make the books funny. As well as scary, dramatic and all the rest.
NMR: Many more books are making it across "the pond" and further these days. Knowing you have a world-wide audience, how does, or does it, affect your writing when taking into account the many different cultures that will be reading them?
EG: I donít think that you can write for a particular audience. I write the sort of books I would enjoy reading. I donít really know how to do it any other way.
NMR: You've created a world of characters that are very real. Do they follow you around even after you've finished your latest book?
EG: Yes, they do. I really feel that I know Ruth and that Iíd like to be her friend. There has been some interest from TV companies and, if Ruth ever makes it onto the screen, I think it will be difficult to see someone elseís interpretation of the character. Having said that, though, Iíd love to see the books on TV!
NMR: A question I always ask is why an author has chosen to go the series route as opposed to the stand-alone. Care to give any feedback on that?
EG: The first book The Crossing Places was originally intended as a standalone but people seemed to want to read more about Ruth. Writing the sequel was incredibly stressful.
NMR: And finally, what's next for Elly Griffiths?
EG: Iíve just finished Book 4. Itís set in a small (fictional) museum in Kingís Lynn which has some very unusual exhibitsÖ.
Thanks very much!