Aline Templeton grew up in the East Neuk of Fife and read English at Cambridge University. She has worked in education and broadcasting and has written numerous stories and articles for national newspapers and magazines. She was a bench Justice of the Peace for ten years and is a former Chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland, now living in Edinburgh. She is married with a grown up family. She is a member of the Crime Writer’s Association committee.
She has written fourteen crime novels and has been published in the United States as well as several European countries, including Germany. After writing six stand-alone books, she began a series set in Galloway and featuring DI Marjory Fleming, the first of which – Cold in the Earth – was an Ottakar’s Crime Novel of the Month and an Independent Best Summer Read. The Darkness and the Deep, Lying Dead, Lamb to the Slaughter, Dead in the Water ,Cradle to the Grave Evil for Evil and Bad Blood published in hardback last year.
1. How did you get started writing
I’ve always written, ever since I could hold a pencil. I can’t remember not having a story in my head that I wanted to tell.
2. What drew you to write a crime novel
I think you tend to choose to write what you enjoy reading. My father had a whole row in his bookshelf of green Penguins – the crime series – and I read my way through all the Golden Age crime fiction at a very early stage.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing
Golden Age writers, certainly, particularly Dorothy L Sayers, Marjorie Allingham, Ngaio Marsh. I have an enormous admiration and affection for PD James.
4. What was the inspiration for the Marjory Fleming Series when you first starting writing them
I had been thinking about starting a crime series and had a clear idea of what I wanted my heroine to be – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, what I didn’t want my heroine to be. I was tired of the detective who was a loner with a drink problem, a string of failed relationships and issues with authority. For ten years I was a Justice of the Peace and I knew lots of policewomen who all seemed remarkably normal so I wanted my DI to be the woman you’d meet down the local nick – a working mum with a husband, kids, elderly parents as well as a particularly difficult and demanding job.
5. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest
It took me some time to get the first novel published – I wish I’d kept all my rejection slips since I could have papered the downstairs loo with them. But I did have success with feature journalism and short stories, and to tell you the truth I think the editors were right and I needed time to mature. Indeed, my first published novel (now happily out of print and never to be seen again) should probably have been left in the drawer!
6. There are many interesting characters in your Novels, do you have a favourite one so far
I’m very fond of Tam MacNee, the wee Glasgow hard man who is DI Fleming’s sergeant. He more than anyone takes over when I’m writing a scene in which he features. I find myself thinking as I start to write it, ‘I wonder what Tam will say today?
7. You have written Standalone Novels and a Series, which one to you find easier to write
I don’t think I could say one is easier than the other, but certainly with the series I have characters who are already established and I don’t have to start them from scratch each time. The advantage of the stand-alone is that you can suit the setting to the plot, but then the area where the series is set gives great inspiration for the next book and quite often a thread that is trailed in one book suggests material for the next one.
8. Why did you decide to set your Marjory Fleming Novels in Galloway
Just at the time when I was developing the Marjory Fleming character I was asked to do an event at Wigtown, the Scottish Book Town. It was right at the height of the dreadful foot-and-mouth epidemic and I was thinking how awful it must be to be a policeman at that time, living in a small, close-knit community and having to go to people you knew well, friends even, and say, ‘I don’t care if this herd goes back for generations, I don’t care if your flock is a hefted flock, who know the hill where they live and don’t need fencing in, I don’t care if there’s nothing wrong with your beasts at all but they’re in the wrong place, I’m going to force you to let the killing squads on to your land to wipe them out.’ Then I thought, if that was bad, think how much worse it would be for a policewoman married to a farmer: she would find herself pitted against not only her friends but her husband as well – an ideal conflict situation! So Galloway was an obvious place for that and when I spent time in the area I could see how wonderfully varied it was and how much scope it offered for different types of settings.
9. What kind of research did you have to undertake for your books
Quite often it involves talking to people. I’m always amazed how kind someone with expertise or knowledge is about sharing it and usually how keen they are to tell you all about what interests them. Definitely my most fascinating research was when I spent time on location with Taggart – and even got paid as an extra. Unfortunately I never managed to see myself – I think I must have ended up on the cutting-room floor!
10. Are the characters in your books based on any real life people
Not in the sense that their characters appear, but I did make a character out of an elderly lady I saw one day standing on an Edinburgh street. She was hunched, very heavily wrinkled with the sort of nutcracker face that looks as if the nose and chin might meet one day and she was wearing a man’s tweed jacket and baggy trousers, very shabby. But on her head she had a purple crocheted hat, with a bunch of bright pink, purple and white flowers on it. I simply had to put her in a book, as Christina in Lamb to the Slaughter.
11. When you first starting writing did any well known authors given you any advice
Margaret Yorke was a wonderful friend and mentor. She gave me great support and helped me find my place in the crime writing world.
12. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa
I think Marjory and I share a passion for justice. I was always saying, ‘It’s not fair!’ to my mother when I was a child – though I always got the reply, ‘Whoever told you life would be fair?’ so it never did me much good. I have her attitude to Robert Burns (great poet, very unpleasant man) rather than Tam’s uncritical worship, but we have a lot of differences. Marjory can’t cook and cooking is my favourite hobby; she would definitely think I was a couch potato since I would much rather read a book than go for a run.
13. Out of all the Standalone Novels you have written if you were given the opportunity to revisit the characters, which one would you choose
It would be DS Tom Ward, from Shades of Death. I had an email the other day asking me when there would be another DS Ward but I’m afraid he left the Force at the end of the book and I don’t think I could persuade him to return!
14. If you can, could you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned
The next DI Fleming novel is in the early stages but it will be set on the Solway Coast this time and the main action starts with a car being washed up on a sandbank after a storm with the body of a man in it. He has been strangled, but the curious thing is he is on the police records as having committed suicide two years before.
15. As a Well known crime writer, do you have words of advice you can share
I’m always wary of giving people advice. As Somerset Maugham said, ‘There are three rules for writing a novel. The trouble is that no one knows what they are,’ and for every individual the rules for success are different. But what I can say with certainty is that if you want to write a novel, there is one piece of advice that works in every case – apply seat of pants to seat of chair.
Death is My Neighbour
• Last Act of All
• Past Praying For It
• The Trumpet Shall Sound
• Night and Silence
• Shades of Death
Detective Inspector Marjory Fleming
• Cold in the Earth
• The Darkness and the Deep
• Lying Dead
• Lamb to the Slaughter
• Dead in the Water
• Cradle to Grave
• Evil for Evil
• Bad Blood
Amazon Author Page