She has recently embarked on a new series featuring Claire Roget, a forensic psychiatrist.
Priscilla worked as a nurse from the age of sixteen until her retirement two years ago and many of her novels are set in a hospital/medical environment.
Carol: You’ve got two long-standing series already well underway and hopefully just started another. When you wrote Winding up the Serpent, the first DI Joanna Piercy novel, in 1995, did you think of it in terms of the first in a series? And are there things you would have altered if you had realised Jo Piercy was going to be with you for so long?
series using my medical background rather than a police procedural. It took me a while to get to know Martha. I found her more complicated – perhaps an older version of myself. Being a widow gave her a bit of baggage I was unfamiliar with as was the experience of being a single parent mum - to twins! Her job – dealing with the aftermath of death was more familiar but I wondered, as she was in the serious role of coroner, from never knowing the person whose death was featuring in her court and how could I stop her from being a sad person. I solved that by giving her mad red hair and encouraging her to step outside the coroner’s role – get a bit nosey. And I didn’t want to tip her straight into a love affair but keep her single which I thought would underline her independent role.
Carol: Dangerous Minds is billed as the first book in a new series. When is the next one due?
Carol: The roles of police detective, coroner and forensic psychiatrist are all different branches of the justice system. How much research do you have to do for the different books and how did you go about it?
Priscilla: Working as a nurse for almost fifty years has been a wonderful experience giving me insight into people’s minds at a time of crisis. Also people confide in nurses. I choose my friends very very carefully, almost vetting them as I go along, my antennae rising if I hear the word detective, psychiatrist or anyone else connected with the criminal justice system. One of my patients was a very friendly coroner’s assistant, another friend had been an undercover detective. I listen to psychiatrists and people’s stories then distort and tweak them until I have the plot for a novel. At parties I mix and ask questions. Drop into the pond the fact that I write crime novels which frequently bears fruit. And then there’s always the internet to check facts.
Carol: What sort of books did you read when you were a child? Did they help to shape your adult writing and interests?
Catch the Fallen Sparrow (1996) A Wreath For My Sister (1997)
Scaring Crows (1999)
Embroidering Shrouds (2001)
Wings Over the Watcher (2005)
Grave Stones (2009
Slip Knot (2007)
Frozen Charlotte (2011)
Night Visit (1988)
A Fatal Cut (2000)
Disturbing Ground (2002)
A Plea of Insanity (2005)
The Watchful Eye (2008)
Buried in Clay (2008)Dying For Perfection (2015