In a way, I’m sort of a product of World War Two! My mother is a Birmingham lass, born and bred, but when she was 18, just after the end of the war, she wanted to ‘do her bit’ and so signed up to join the woman’s air force. She was then promptly posted to a RAF base in deepest rural England, (or the “middle of nowhere” as she put it) where she met my Dad — a village lad, born and bred, who was also working on the base. How he persuaded a city girl to stay on in the country is the stuff of family legend!
When I was still a teenager, I began to learn the art of calligraphy. A next door neighbour was a serious practitioner of this ancient and fascinating art, and — very selflessly! — taught me how to pen a variation of Old English. Alas, over the years, (and with the growing advent of computers!) I’ve got out of the habit of beautiful handwriting. But it just goes to show that, even at an early age, ‘writing’ was always important to me.
By the time I was sixteen, I must have read everything Agatha Christie had ever written (including her little-known romances under a different name), and through her, discovered the other ‘golden age of crime’ authors. But it never occurred to me then, that I would one day write such novels myself.
I trained as a secretary, and worked for over five years as the Assistant College Secretary at Somerville College in Oxford. By a remarkable coincidence, the same college where Dorothy L Sayers studied!
I love the city of Oxford, its architecture, history and ambience. And when I decided to start writing my DI Hillary Greene series, the only place I could possibly set them was in this city. Of course, Morse — and later Lewis — cast a long shadow! But Oxford has long been a city of ‘fictional murder’. Those who’ve read Edmund Crispin, for instance, will never forget the mystery of The Moving Toyshop.
I’ve always lived in the countryside and love it, and from an early age my dad would teach me the names of the local fauna and flora, and a fair bit of country lore. So when I decided that Hillary Greene should live on a narrowboat, I named it the Mollern. Which is the old English country word for Heron — (as a Brock is a badger, or Reynard is a fox.) And peppered throughout my novels, you’ll find references to wildlife and the joys of country living.
When I’m not writing crime or reading my fellow authors’ crime novels, I’m probably out walking my dog. I enjoy walking — or, to be more accurate, meandering along — in all weathers. I also have a large garden that I (without trying to blush) like to call a ‘wildlife’ garden. And it does indeed have a lot of wildlife in it. Largely because I don’t do much to it! As much as I love flowers, alas, my thumbs are not green. So I think the kindest thing I can do to my own private patch, is mow the lawn, trim the hedge, and leave the bushes and flowers to sort themselves out!
Although my amateur sleuth Jenny Starling is a cook par excellence, my own culinary powers are rather woeful. I love watching the Great British Bake Off (most people do!) but as for attempting to do any of their bakes myself? Forget it!
I do like reading a book that has an element of humour in it. As far as I’m concerned, being able to see the funny side of life now and then is a prerequisite for survival! And so I do like to sprinkle humorous touches throughout my writing, where appropriate. (I can only hope my readers either have a sense of humour themselves, or are willing to indulge me!)
Unlike many of my fellow authors, I don’t tend to travel widely — and have been only very infrequently abroad. So perhaps it’s just as well that I find plenty to occupy and fascinate me on my own back doorstep — be it wildlife, people, weather or the antics of the politicians in Westminster!
Faith Martin’s MURDER OF THE BRIDE is released today by Joffe Books in paperback and ebook. It features DI Hillary Greene, a policewoman with a nose for the truth and a talent for trouble.