So much for Welsh Wednesday this week: I’m house and dogsitting in rural SW France at the moment, where internet is patchy at the best of times, and have data only, no wifi. Last night we had impressive storms which knocked that about. There wasn’t even much rain with them so I’m still having to water the garden. Never mind, it’s Things I Love Thursday now and Welsh crime fiction is that, too.
A CWA Gold Dagger Winner, and I’m willing to bet a packet of Bonne Maman biscuits that you’ve never heard of her. Barbara Margaret Gill was born in Holyhead, Anglesey, in 1921. The daughter of an Irish sea captain and his Welsh wife, with her father’s encouragement she began writing Famous Five-type mystery stories at the age of eight. She left school at just fifteen, was married at twenty-one, and was divorced and a single parent of a son named Roger soon afterwards. Because she needed to be flexible for the child, Barbara trained and worked first as a chiropodist, then as a Somerset nursery school teacher.
Barbara began her writing career while still a teacher, at first for literary magazines then, as ‘Margaret Blake’, producing romantic suspense novels. She gradually got more crime-y, and had her greatest successes in the 1980s writing as B. M. Gill. Nursery Crimes is a deliciously cheesy title, no? I’m particularly fond of her Seminar for Murder as her protagonist makes errors and owns up to them; still a fairly rare choice for crime writers. My own DS Seren Parry is a bit of a fuck-up at times and I enjoy the humanity and arc this gives her.
Barbara Gill just sort of ... vanished, as far as I can tell. Shame as her books got better and better. Rather like book covers since the 1980s.
It’s been a wonderful day for the launch of Back in 5, knackered but happy. The first 50 purchasers will get the second book in the Serenity series of crime novels for free. Gone for Good is due out on 1 March 2020, and will look very much like this. Cover designs for both by Rachel Morris.
A shop without a shopkeeper.
A quarry with more lying broken in it than stones.
A detective, half-belonging to a place, trying to put its pieces back together.
Women of Wales, a land of mystery in more ways than one.
RaRa Avis Press is beyond delighted to announce the publication of Back in 5 by Ruby Mathias. This Wales-set crime novel will be for sale on Apple Books and perhaps other stores in the coming weeks (but not Amazon, because we hates them, precious). For now this website is your one wonderful source for this wonderful book. Thank you for supporting independent authors and publishers in this brave new world. Available in ebook only for the time being - perhaps we’ll launch a physical book and audiobook when this story becomes a show on the teevee! - but available in both .epub and .mobi for all your e-reader needs, nicely priced at £5.99. You can buy it for yourself or, by simply entering someone else’s email address when processing your shopping cart, you can give it to someone you love! (They will be emailed a code they can use to claim the download). We use Selz as our online store, and their checkout is SSL secure, using industry-standard encryption to keep your credit card safe and well.
Back in 5 is the first in a series of seven books, the series being called Serenity after the main character, DS Seren Parry. We hope to publish one book a year, every 1 March (St David’s Day, the national day of Wales). We are proud that this book is set in the excellent and beautiful nation of Wales, adding to the growing wave of Welshy noir. Now go and buy Ruby’s good book so that she can keep writing more instead of having to go and work in the Saudi desert or something, like before.
This book is very sweary so maybe it’s best that you don’t buy it if you object to strong language.