Copyright/fotograf: Sara Reeve
Ibland, ganska ofta faktiskt, så längtar jag efter Ruth, ni vet, arkeologen som är huvudperson i Elly Griffiths deckarserie. Hon som har ett lite trassligt privatliv och ständigt anlitas av polisen för att undersöka brottsplatser och sedan länge döda människor. När jag öppnar en deckare skriven av Elly Griffiths så vet jag precis vad jag får, och det är så välbekant, så tryggt. Jag vilar och blir underhållen i bästa brittiska mysdeckarstil. I slutet av sommaren kom Griffiths sjunde bok om Ruth ut på svenska: De öde fälten. Smånyfiken som jag är så kontaktade jag Elly Griffiths för att ställa några frågor. Här kommer hennes svar:
This week we have a theme at our blog called “Everybody dies” – why are novels about crime and death so popular among the readers in your opinion?
I’ve read a theory that there are only three themes in literature: sex, death and the countryside. I suppose I write a lot about the second two. My personal theory is that crime novels offer both a puzzle and a solution. In detective fiction – unlike real life – justice is usually done and I think readers find this cathartic.
Are there any writers of crime, living or dead, which you feel inspired by or do you keep off reading crime novels altogether?
My favourite writer is Wilkie Collins, who has been called the father of detective fiction. I’m sure I’ve been influenced by Wilkie Collins, particularly his sense of place (think of the shivering sands in The Moonstone, for example). I do try not to read too much contemporary crime when I’m writing a book but I’m a big fan of C.J. Sansom’s Shardlake series.
In your very popular series about Ruth Galloway you have added archaeology to the traditional crime-novel. Why did you choose that? Have you got a background in that discipline?
No but my husband has! In fact, it was Andy’s career change from banking to archaeology that first gave me the idea for the Ruth books.
The victims in your books have one thing in common – they have all been dead for quite a long time. There must be an awful lot of research put into every victim/crime/crime-scene. Do you enjoy digging into the history of Britain?
I really enjoy the archaeological research. I find the modern, forensic stuff much more intimidating. I like the fact that with archaeology there are often more questions than answers.
I love walking museums, castles or churches and I make up stories about the people once living there. Are we two of a kind?
Your new novel The Ghost Fields – recently translated into Swedish – is the 7 th book about Ruth Galloway and she is a character easy to love. Sometimes though I get annoyed with the personal decisions she takes. Do you feel the same?
Well I suppose I am responsible for those decisions so I can’t really blame Ruth. I do think that I’ve invented a character who doesn’t really want a man in her life full-time and that gets in the way of any happy ending…
Ruth is a professional, and an unmarried single mother. Here in Sweden that is quite a common way to live your life but it is seldom described in crime novels. (If there are single mums they are more often victims not investigators.) Is it a deliberate plan of yours to create a different kind of female character? Have you had reader reactions to the way in which Ruth has chosen to live her life?
Yes it was deliberate. I wanted to show a woman who is, by and large, happy with her life. Ruth loves her child and her work and her cat in that order. The wonderful thing is that most readers really understand this. People write to me saying that they would love Ruth to get together with Nelson but they don’t think she really wants to share her life with a man. Of course, I do have people who write saying that they are praying for Ruth to mend her sinful ways. I always write back and say thank you.
The books nearly all take place in Norfolk, how come you choose that setting? Is placing your stories in quite a small geographical area something that limits or strengthens your storytelling?
I chose Norfolk because it’s an area that’s full of archeology. It has been inhabited for a very, very long time. It can be a risk setting a series in a confined area but the archeology element means that I can explore the land both vertically and horizontally. There are a lot of bodies buried in Norfolk; it’s just that some have been buried for hundreds – even thousands – of years.
Your books are about death and murders and still they feel cozy and warm. Is that important for you as a writer?
Well, it’s what I like in a book. I think that’s one of the beauties of a series character. Somehow you feel reassured when Poirot – or Rebus or Wallender or Sherlock Holmes – appears on the scene.
I often read your novels with a small smile on my face. I truly enjoy the witty and sometimes ironic dialogues built on understatements, that way of writing is very British to me. Do you consider your writing typical British? Is there even such a thing?
I don’t know but I love it when people see the humour in my books. I love writers like PG Wodehouse who have a particular way of looking at the world. I don’t think it’s just a British thing though. I’m half-Italian and find Italian humour very dark and understated sometimes.
I am already waiting for the next book about Ruth – is there going to be one?
Yes. I’ve just finished writing Number 8. It’s called The Woman in Blue and is set in Walsingham, a village in Norfolk famous for religious visitations…
Have you got a good read or maybe a good TV-series to recommend our readers to indulge in this autumn?
I love the Phil Rickman books about Merrily Watkins. Merrily is an Anglican vicar who is also an exorcist. The books combine crime and the supernatural – they can also be very funny.
/ Elly Griffiths