Describe your latest project.
Careless in Red brings Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley back to the world of crime. He's on the South West Coast Path in Cornwall, on the 43rd day of a walk he's taking in order to escape at least some of the grief he feels after his wife's murder in London. On this day, he comes upon the body of a teenage boy who has fallen during a climb on one of the great sea cliffs. This fall soon proves to be a murder, and Lynley's presence on the scene involves him in the case in ways he would not have anticipated, setting out on his walk. The case brings Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers back into Lynley's life as he explores the rocky relationships that fathers often have with their sons.
What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
There is only one possible answer to this question, and every woman who has ever met him in Pride and Prejudice would probably weigh in with Mr. Darcy, of course. While Mr. Collins would provide some amusement, that amusement would soon fade. Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, would offer a lifetime of what Jane herself would call "diversion." Good looks, intelligence, good manners, and a man who does not talk endlessly about himself. What more can a girl ask for?
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
I picked up No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy because I was reluctant to see the film, having heard how violent it is. But I'd also heard that the novel bursts out of the starting gate and never lets up, and I wanted to see that for myself. Indeed, it's brilliant, yet another reason why McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize.
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Heavens, yes. Let me count the ways. I've been to Corfu and to Skye because years ago I was swept away by the Mary Stewart books set in those places. I've been to Prince Edward Island solely because of L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables books. I've been to Box Hill, to the Assembly and the Pump rooms at Bath because of Jane Austen. I've walked on the Cobb at Lyme Regis because of John Fowles, but I jumped off Granny's Teeth because of Jane Austen. I've visited Dickens's house in London and Carlyle's house, which is just down the street from where my character Simon St. James lives in Chelsea. I've been to Haworth to walk in the steps of the Bronte sisters. I've visited the birthplace of Harry Hotspur, not to mention every possible location associated with the life of William Shakespeare. I've been to Dove Cottage and to Tintern Abbey.... I could go on forever, but you probably get the point.
What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
A 90-minute massage. I once had a two-hour massage, which was a birthday present from my husband. That was the ultimate.
Why do you write?
Aside from the fact that I've written since I was seven years old, it's part of my mental health regime. It helps me silence the voices and keep the crazies at bay.
Name the best television series of all time, and explain why it's the best.
For me, it is indisputably The West Wing, but that might be because I'm a lifelong Democrat. It's definitely also because my husband and I watched the entire series night after night over about 10 months this past year. It is intelligently written, beautifully acted, and brilliantly directed. There is not a weak link in the entire cast. People are in character from season one right through to season seven, and that's no mean feat. Plus, it's an education in the political process.
Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
Dogs, obviously. I have two. I adore them.
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five Books Demonstrating a Writer's Mastery of the Art and the Craft of Novel Writing:
Possession by A. S. Byatt
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy