Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and read English at Dundee University. She then did teacher training in Craiglockhart’s final year, and moved to Shetland in 1981 as a very green probationer teacher. Her writing career began with the inevitable highbrow novel (mercifully unpublished) and plays for her school pupils to perform in the local Festival. Two of these were published by FairPlay Press as Two Shetland Plays, and others have been published by DramaWorks.
She wrote articles for the monthly magazine Shetland Life for a number of years, and is a former regular columnist and reviewer for the e-zine Mystery People.
She learned to sail in a Graduate dinghy at Cramond, and has capsized all over the Forth. She’s now a qualified dinghy instructor, and enjoys sailing Shetland waters in her 8m keelboat, Karima S. She is a columnist and reviewer for Practical Boat Owner, which gets her wonderful fan mail beginning, ‘Dear Marsali, with regard to the leak you mentioned in your starboard window …’
Her first Shetland-set crime novel starring quick-witted, practical sailor Cass Lynch and Inverness DI Gavin Macrae was published in 2013, and there are now seven in the series, with two more in the pipeline. Reviewers have praised their clever plotting, lively characters and vividly-evoked setting.
Marsali’s interest in history is shown in her self-published Women’s Suffrage in Shetland, and Norse-set crime novella, Footsteps in the Dew. She also transcribed the diaries of Ysabel Birkbeck, a WWI ambulance driver with the Scottish Women’s Hospital on the Romanian Front, and self-published them as Forgotten Heroines.
After a bout of ill-health she’s looking forward to getting back to crime conferences. Previous enjoyable attendances include being the murderer in a play by Dame Alanna Knight at Bloody Scotland, being involved in the 2015 Shetland Noir festival, a wonderful stay in Reykjavik for Iceland Noir, and equally amazing visits to Toronto for Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime in Vancouver, which now rivals Paris as her favourite city (but not so easy to get to).
Marsali lives on the west side of Shetland with her musician husband, Philip and three cats. They’re also nominally the owner of a bolshie Shetland pony who’s now living with a herd and forgetting any manners she was ever willing to acquire – she’s much happier with friends, but we miss her dreadfully. Marsali has one daughter, a London-living actor, who was involved in the TV Shetland series, as the love interest of the younger policeman.
Books by Marsali Taylor
- Death on a Longship
- The Trowie Mound Murders
- A Handful of Ash
- A Case Full of Crime
- Wishing on a Star
- Women's Suffrage in Shetland
- The Story of Busta House
- The Body in the Bracken
- Ghosts of the Vikings
- Footsteps in the Dew
- Death in Shetland Waters
- Forgotten Heroines: the Diaries of Ysabel Birkbeck
- Death on a Shetland Isle
- Death from a Shetland cliff