'It was impossible for me to go into a stately home (a treat for a seven year old) and not enquire whether there had been any blood shed, or bones found in the priest hole. Becoming a crime journalist and then a crime novelist was always on the cards. '
'In a London-centric publishing industry that has long sidelined the North West in fiction, I’m making a name for myself, not only as a writer of wrongs in Manchester, but also as an author of historical saga, set in the NHS’s first hospital in Trafford. '
'The heron isn’t our only wildlife. There’s a badger set in the woods beyond the chip shop; muntjac deer in the cemetery. A few years back, two tiny red pandas escaped from our little zoo. I never saw them, but it was on the regional news.'
'The difference between the city and the countryside is that we tolerate imperfection, chaos and even ugliness in urban locations in a way we couldn’t in the countryside. The great poets celebrated the perfection of daffodils and honesty of rustic life.'
'Seventy-four years after Dickens’ night-walk, in the year 1930, Virginia Woolf sets out from Bloomsbury to the Strand. Her object is not to get through the night but to purchase a pencil. Under cover of this, she can indulge in the pleasure of rambling.'
'My early plays were all set in London. It was what I knew. London fascinated me. Who were these city dwellers? What was their life story? My first play, about two outsiders connected by the same woman, was set on Holloway Road. '
'Now we are in lockdown and the city has become a very different place. There's no hanging about with a coffee and earwigging, no note-taking of angry phone calls on the bus, no sneaking off for crafty matinees at the Duke of York's cinema.'
'At the last minute, a prison officer warns me that if my questions elicit further evidence, the prisoner will be tried again. Sweat trickles down my back as I lock eyes with him. I can almost hear the crew behind me hold their breath.'
'I see the City as a fascinating combination of a historical archive and a contemporary drama. If you go to a street corner, intending to write about the past, the present will invariably interject in some unforeseen way.'
'New York City was clearly where I ought to be, not stuck on a farm in rural Buckinghamshire! No, I should be strutting up Fifth Avenue, drinking cocktails in rooftop bars, and listening to jazz with the beautiful people at Elaine's.'