The Crime Writers’ Association

Crime Writers in Residence: at home with Holly Watt

Crime Writers in Residence>Q&A

The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write.

My name is Holly Watt, and I write novels about a journalist called Casey Benedict who investigates stories that take her all over the world. The first one – To The Lions, which won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger – came out last year. My second one, The Dead Line, came out on April 16. I am currently working on my third one, which is as yet untitled. I was a journalist for fifteen years, working on the investigation teams at the Telegraph and the Guardian (I know – all over the place politically!) before quitting to write full-time. As a journalist, I did a lot of undercover work, which features in my novels.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing?

I have to get my third book done by June, so I am quite up against it. I live in the middle of Devon, in the Dartmoor National Park, so I am pretty isolated at the best of times. I write until about 4 o’clock in the afternoon and then I go for a walk with my nine month old daughter, Izzie, and our dim-witted dog. One thing I am finding weird about writing at the moment is that my characters are meeting up with friends! And having dinner together! And getting on planes! And all these things suddenly seem completely alien. It’s quite hard to write several paragraphs without interjecting “and then he washed his hands while singing Happy Birthday.” But I have to assume that by the time Book 3 comes out, all this will be over. Right?

The CRA: How does the above differ from your usual routine?

Before all this, I would usually go for a walk with a friend in the afternoon, and maybe even pop to the pub in the evening (imagine such adventures). We are still allowed to walk together under the current rules, but one of my closest friends down here has asthma and has to isolate, another is a doctor at the local hospital, so is flat out busy, and other trusty walking buddies have children and are stuck at home in the darkest depths of homeschooling (homeschooling sounds challenging…)

The CRA: Tell us about your most recent/forthcoming book.

The Dead Line is about the international surrogacy trade, focusing particularly on the refugee camps in Bangladesh. I was a journalist until eighteen months ago, working at the Sunday Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian. While I was at the Guardian, I travelled out to the Rohingya refugee camps and the state of the camps was truly shocking. To The Lions was also partly based on some of my journalistic tasks, with the characters travelling to Libya, Jordan and Lebanon.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction?

Hopefully, it is a fast-paced novel which takes readers on adventures all over the world.

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM?

I am lucky enough to be reading MW Craven’s new book, The Curator, and just finished fellow Devonian Jane Corry’s brilliant My Husband’s Wife.

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over?

I’m just going to go around hugging people. Hug, hug, hug.

You can find out more about Holly Watt and her books on the CRA website.

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