A Life in Books - Mari Hannah

PUBLISHED: 01:16 10 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:20 20 February 2013

A Life in Books - Mari Hannah

A Life in Books - Mari Hannah

Jo Haywood talks to Corbridge author Mari Hannah about her chances of going straight (to the top)

Talk to virtually anyone in the North East writing fraternity and the name Mari Hannah soon crops up. Which comes as something of a surprise - even to the author herself - as her first novel is not due to hit the shelves in the UK until spring 2012.

The rights to The Murder Wall and Settled Blood, the first two books in her series of Newcastle-based DCI Kate Daniels crime novels, were sold to German publisher Goldmann in October 2009 after a heated auction, with her translated publishing debut due for publication this September.

The British and Commonwealth rights were snapped up in October 2010 - shortly after Mari scooped the Northern Writers Time to Write Award - by Pan Macmillan as part of a three-book deal. The Murder Wall, due out in April next year, will be swiftly followed by Settled Blood next September and The Last Deception, which the author has already finished, in spring 2013.

Mari is currently writing the fourth instalment - Monument to Murder - and is hopeful that a TV or film production company might pick up the filming rights for the whole series (manuscripts have already been sent out to the great and the good, including Ridley Scott).

Id be interested to see what a scriptwriter would make of it, said Mari. Ive done scriptwriting myself in the past, but I think it would be best to
pass my manuscript on to someone else. A fresh pair of eyes could take it up another level.

Scriptwriting was just one small step towards her chosen career. She was a probation officer for ten years, giving her a good working knowledge of the ins and outs of the criminal justice system, but was forced to leave after being assaulted on duty.

After surgery for a complete wrist reconstruction she found it too painful to write with a pen, so bought herself a computer - and the freedom to let her ideas take shape on the page.

Id always written for myself in the past, said Mari. Id given friends silly odes for their birthdays, but I was mortified at the idea of anyone else reading my work. But after my surgery, I felt strangely liberated and, for the first time, I wasnt embarrassed to show people my writing.

Since then she has written scripts for TV and film, plays for theatre and radio and has been mentored by County Durham writer/producer Michael Chaplin, who created Monarch of the Glen for the BBC.

Although Mari was born in Westminster, London, and only moved to the North East as a teenager, she credits the region and its writers with inspiring her own undeniable success.

There really is nowhere else like it, she said. Its so diverse. The landscape - whether in the city, the country or on the coast - and the people provide a constant flow of inspiration. In terms of the arts, the North East is really up for it.

But will the region be up for her depiction of it in her gritty new series of books? And what will her lead character DCI Kate Daniels add to its already bulging portfolio of characters.

I cant reveal too much at the moment, but I will say that these are not books for the faint-hearted, said Mari. And as for Kate, well, lets just say shes got a unique selling point that has to be read to be believed.

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