Interview With Author Aline Templeton
Here is a mystery series interview with author Aline Templeton on her latest procedural mystery novel, The Darkness and the Deep.
Can you tell us about The Darkness and the Deep?
This book it very close to my heart. I grew up in a fishing-village just like Knockhaven, where thanks to over-fishing under the EU rules, the fishing has gone. It has a terrible effect on the community; the fishing families go back generations and they are famously wild – you can’t survive a Force 10 in the North Sea if you’re a wimp – and they’re not suited to stacking shelves meekly in the supermarket. As a result, there are big problems with unemployment, crime, and drugs.
It’s against this background that The Darkness and the Deep is set. For anyone in a village like mine, the idea of deliberately wrecking a lifeboat is totally obscene; we all know what risks the lifeboatmen take and how brave they are. I can remember going to watch a launch one stormy night when because of the tide the boat was having to be launched at the harbor bar and was thrown back on to the mud four time by the force of the waves. Yet they launched it again and went off to save lives.
When the Knockhaven lifeboat is wrecked, it’s, of course, a challenge for DI Marjory Fleming to find the killer, but first, she has to establish which of the three crew is the intended victim.
Can you give us some insight into DI Marjory Fleming?
When I was thinking about starting a series, I knew what I didn’t want my detective to be. I didn’t want her to be a loner with a drink problem, a totally dysfunctional personal life, and an aggressive attitude to her superiors and the rule of law. I’d been a lay justice for ten years and knew a lot of women police officers and they seemed perfectly normal to me – just working women with husbands, kids, elderly parents, doing a difficult, demanding but very rewarding job.
I could see Marjory quite clearly: a tall, athletic-looking woman (Big Marge to her officers) at breakfast-time trying to get to work and her kids out to school. Just at that time I went to do an event in Wigtown in Galloway, the Scottish Book Town. It ‘s farming country and it was at the time of the dreadful foot-and-mouth epidemic when sheep and cattle were being slaughtered, the fields were eerily empty and you could smell the smoke of funeral pyres. I was thinking how hard it would be to be a police officer in a community like this where the farmers you were forcing to allow the killing squads on to their land were probably people you knew, ha grown up with. It came to me then that if that was hard, how much more difficult it would be if you were also a farmer’s wife and your job pitted you against not only your friends but your husband as well. So Marjory became a farmer’s wife and that has been the background to her family life.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
It is the second section in Chapter 15. I always try to play fair with my readers and give them the clues they need to solve the mystery – though of course I will try to mislead them with as many red herrings as I can manage to trail. At this point in the story there is a vital clue that my readers have to have. I wrote, then re-wrote this section five times before I was satisfied that attention was redirected so that the clue would be missed. So far I haven’t had a reader say they spotted it until afterwards!
What research did you have to do in order write this police procedural mystery?
I have had a lot of legal experience and contact with police officers though of course it’s important to keep up to date with changes to the system. I’m lucky enough to have a son who is a solicitor-advocate at the criminal bar so he can always keep me straight.
I knew quite a lot about lifeboats since there was a station in the village where I grew up but I went to various stations and read Royal Lifeboat Institution publications for operational detail – and was delighted to get a good review in their magazine. I also spent a lot of time studying tide tables and sailing protocols.
What would DI Marjory Fleming think of Aline Templeton?
She’d think I was a couch potato. She’s very active and doesn’t spend time reading and hates time spent at her desk; she’d certainly be mystified by my interest in cooking I think she’d reckon we shared a sense of humor and would be pleased that I agree with her views on Robert Burns rather than Tam MacNee’s (great poet, bad man) and that I understand that criminal law is about proof not about abstract justice.
If you could describe the DI Fleming series in 3 words what would they be?
Compelling, character-driven, believable (All words used in reviews)
Why did you pick a small coastal town in Scotland as you setting?
Write what you know – I write from the heart about the sort of community I grew up in.
About the Author
Aline Templeton grew up in the fishing village of Anstruther, in the East Neuk of Fife. She has worked in education and broadcasting and was a Justice of the Peace for ten years.
Married, with two grown-up children and three grandchildren, she now lives in a house with a view of Edinburgh Castle. When not writing, she enjoys cooking, choral singing, and traveling the back roads of France.