Interview with Sarah Ward, author of The Shrouded Path
The Shrouded Path by Derbyshire-based author Sarah Ward is out on 6 September. She talks to the CRA about her new book.
Q: This is the fourth novel in your DC Connie Childs series. Is it easier to the write the characters now that they’re more established?
A: My detective team is an ensemble so you get points of view from my DI, Francis Sadler, DC Connie Childs and a new police officer, Peter Dahl. It’s lovely to revisit my series characters as I tend to know how they’ll react to certain situations but I also like to introduce new faces into my books.
Q: Part of your narrative is set in the 1950s. Did you need to do much research?
A: It was the first time that I’d used a historical period that I don’t remember (my first three books had sections set in the 1970s and 1980s). However, it was a fascinating decade to research. I spoke to readers who were teenagers in the 1950s as I wanted to capture the feel of the period and they talked to me about female friendship, wonderful clothes after rationing ended including stiff petticoats under long skirts, and trips to coffee shops. I also dug out some of my mum’s photos taken on her box Brownie camera and it was fascinating to see the number of pictures she took of her cats. Not much has changed!
Q: This is the ‘autumn’ book in your series. Do the seasons play an important role in your books?
A: Where I live in the Peak District, the seasons are incredibly important. We have inclement winters and my village is often cut-off. In the summer, the hot days bring in the tourists which changes the dynamic of the national park. I try to include an element of the seasons in all my books. It not only helps set the scene but also influences the type of crime I’m writing about. In The Shrouded Path, it’s an act of violence that takes place one autumn in the 1950s which has consequences to the present day.
Q4: The Shrouded Path explores teenage friendship. Do you see it as a positive thing?
Largely, yes. My mother had a wide group of friends in the 1950s and I did in the 1980s. However, group dynamics are fascinating to write about. When one member of a group moves away from perceived norms, it can cause friction, bullying and ostracisation. All perfect for a crime novel, of course.