Today it's my pleasure to welcome author LJ Ross to tell us a little bit about her debut novel Holy Island, which was published earlier this year, before book 2 in her DCI Ryan series Sycamore Gap is published later this month.
After the birth of her son, she wrote the first draft of Holy Island, having been inspired by the atmospheric beauty of the real island of Lindisfarne, a place she knew well from childhood. Following its success in reaching the coveted #1 spot, she now writes full-time. The second book in her series of DCI Ryan novels, Sycamore Gap, showcases another part of the region: this time, Hadrian's Wall country.
She lives with her husband and son in the South of England, but visits Northumberland regularly, where she enjoys walking and building sandcastles on the beach with her son and reading other people's books! She likes to travel and spend time with good friends and family, dancing to 80's music (singing, badly...), watching old black-and-white movies, drinking coffee and eating cake.
Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory.
When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation.
Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set on the spectacular Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne, cut off from the English mainland by a tidal causeway.
Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel Holy Island?
Holy Island is a suspense mystery with a sprinkling of romance and humour, set off the spectacular coastline of Northumberland on the real life island of Lindisfarne. The island is cut off from the mainland twice a day, which creates an atmospheric feeling of being wrapped up in the island’s small community, where everyone is truly a suspect. The main protagonist, DCI Ryan, is spending his sabbatical on the island after a recent traumatic event but is called to duty again when a young local woman is found dead up at the nearby priory ruins. Ritual practices muddy the waters of his investigation, but with the help of his team of police staff and Doctor Anna Taylor – former local girl and expert consultant – they uncover the truth behind the veil.
What three words would you use to describe DCI Ryan?
Dedicated, complex and a little bit sexy.
What attracted you to writing in the crime/mystery genre?
Without a doubt, the beauty of my home county of Northumberland inspired me to write a mystery novel. The countryside up there is so dramatic and beautiful; it simply lends itself to all manner of dark deeds!
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished the sequel, Sycamore Gap, (out 12th Sept on e-book) and have started planning the third book alongside several other ideas for a separate series of books.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I’ve always loved reading, but I can’t say I always wanted to be a writer. I was a lawyer before, and I spent years training and working in that field. Only since the birth of my son (now aged 2), did I consider a different path. I’m so glad that I did because I’ve never enjoyed anything more than I do writing stories and having people enjoy them.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Write what you enjoy to read and you will inevitably find your own ‘voice’. Alternatively, pour a glass of vino tinto and the words tend to flow!
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
Having a toddler means that our household is usually up with the larks, so I usually do most of my writing in the mornings or early afternoon while my son is at nursery. If things aren’t flowing, I’ll spend time replying to social media messages, e-mails or other admin jobs. Usually, I try to do another couple of hours in the evening, too.
What three essentials do you need nearby when you're writing?
Coffee, cake and a computer.
Did you treat yourself to something nice to celebrate the publication of your debut novel?
Sleep! That, and a little mini-break with my husband or the family. It’s nice to read other people’s books and take a breather between my own stories.