1. How did you get started writing?
I’ve always written and I’ve always wanted to be a writer – my dad has a contract he drew up when I was about seven, promising him 50% of my future royalties, so my family definitely believed in me. I’ve been reassured it has no legal standing though – sorry, Dad!
2. What drew you to write a novel
THE WAGES OF SIN is actually the fourth novel I’ve written – the first two will stay buried on my hard drive forever where they belong, but the third might be salvageable. I’ve always wanted to write a crime novel about the first female doctors and the plot was percolating in my brain for a few years before the opening paragraph came to me in one burst and I broke off whatever else I was doing to scribble it down and then didn’t stop.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
Wilkie Collins, definitely. I read THE WOMAN IN WHITE when I was about 14 and I try and revisit it every year or so. He captures all levels of Victorian society so perfectly, and his plots are so intricate but really worthwhile.
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
I’ve been really lucky – my amazing agent, Laura Macdougall, approached me after reading the first two chapters on my website and worked with me for a year after she signed me to get it shipshape and ready to submit to publishers. Once we did, I got a couple of offers within the first week and Headline won me over with their incredibly enthusiastic response. I still have to pinch myself!
5. There are many interesting characters in your novel, do you have a particular favourite one?
Sarah is definitely my favourite – I spend so long in her head that she has to be. I love writing Merchiston, though. That sardonic, dry wit is exactly what I’d like to have in real life, although I think he would be terrifying as a lecturer! Elisabeth, Sarah’s friend and sidekick, is really lovely to write – she’s sweet and caring, but there’s a biting intelligence hiding under all that demure Victorian propriety.
6. What kind of research have you have to undertake for your novel?
The best kind – pouring over books for hours at a time! Research just means reading the kind of stuff I love – I’m a total nerd for history, especially the history of medicine and women’s history.
7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
Not specifically, but I’ve found reading about the lives of female students in the 19th century incredibly inspiring – there are so many novels I could write about them!
8. How do you feel about being on being on the list for the not so booker prize
I didn’t realise I was! Funnily enough, although I’ve been on the other side of things as a prize judge I try not to engage too much with prizes or ‘best of’ lists – I think I’d just obsess about them. Individual responses from readers mean the most, and I’m lucky enough to have had some really wonderful ones.
9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
Sarah and I definitely have the same stubbornness! And we both have a best friend who’s willing to bail us out of trouble – or get right in it with us. I’ve yet to try and solve a murder, though…
10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might planned.
I’m just editing THE UNQUIET HEART, the second Sarah Gilchrist novel, at the moment – that should be out in August 2018. I’m also in the first draft of the third book in the series, THE FATE OF EMPIRES, which is due out in 2019. Beyond that, I’m busy with my journalism career and doodling ideas for a non-fiction book I really want to write…
11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any crime writer alive or dead, who would it be and why
Deanna Raybourn! Not only does she also write terrific historical mysteries, she’s an absolute hoot on social media – I have a suspicion that if we sat down together, though, we’d have too much fun talking (and drinking cocktails) to write!
12. Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is interested in writing a novel
Stick at it! But write for you, not for anyone else. Especially with your first book, you get to write 100% what you want – there’ll be time for other people’s input later.
Sarah Gilchrist has fled London and a troubled past to join the University of Edinburgh’s medical school in 1892, the first year it admits women. She is determined to become a doctor despite the misgivings of her family and society, but Sarah quickly finds plenty of barriers at school itself: professors who refuse to teach their new pupils, male students determined to force out their female counterparts, and—perhaps worst of all—her female peers who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman.
Desperate for a proper education, Sarah turns to one of the city’s ramshackle charitable hospitals for additional training. The St Giles’ Infirmary for Women ministers to the downtrodden and drunk, the thieves and whores with nowhere else to go. In this environment, alongside a group of smart and tough teachers, Sarah gets quite an education. But when Lucy, one of Sarah’s patients, turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into a murky underworld of bribery, brothels, and body snatchers.
Painfully aware of just how little separates her own life from that of her former patient’s, Sarah is determined to find out what happened to Lucy and bring those responsible for her death to justice. But as she searches for answers in Edinburgh’s dank alleyways, bawdy houses and fight clubs, Sarah comes closer and closer to uncovering one of Edinburgh’s most lucrative trades, and, in doing so, puts her own life at risk…
Subscribe to Kaite Welsh Newsletter
Amazon Author Page