Today I’m thrilled to be welcoming the lovely Anita Waller to A Knight’s Reads as she tells us about where her latest book Malignant came from.
Many thanks to Emma Welton of Bloodhound Books for arranging this post!
What if someone set you limits?
Claudia and Heather have been friends and neighbours for many years and both women decide it is the right time for them to leave their husbands. Together they get a flat but their peace is short lived when Claudia is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Being a good friend, Heather takes on caring for Claudia but a lethal meeting with James, Claudia’s ex-husband, results in someone dying.
As life for Claudia and Heather begins to unravel, the answer to their problems becomes clear… it’s murder.
The Guest Post – The Creation of Malignant
Although Malignant is a book of my imagination, it is also a book of my life in 2004. I was going through a really bad period following the diagnosis of bowel and liver cancer in my brother, and although we had been told he had a life expectancy of maybe eighteen months from diagnosis, it was very clear by April of that year that we would lose him before that. It felt wrong; he was my younger brother for a start, and we had been a twosome for ever – our mum died when I was eight and Alan was five, and we had supported each other through all our lives.
And then, on 20th April, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Alan and I cried together. I didn’t want to tell him, but my diagnosis involved major surgery, and I knew he might guess something was wrong when I turned up to visit him with my right arm and shoulder strapped up, and a whacking great bandage around my leg!
I had my surgery on 28th April, and I lost Alan on 12th May. He was just fourteen months into his eighteen months.
So this book is for him; his dedication is at the beginning of the book, and on the launch date, 10th October 2018, it would, should, have been his seventieth birthday.
That bit of knowledge is where Malignant started. I needed no research to cover the trials and tribulations of Claudia Bell as she finds out what malignant melanoma means, and that while it can, and usually is, treated successfully, it’s not always the case.
And that’s the point where the story becomes Claudia’s story and not mine. Thankfully.
I tried to put myself in Claudia’s shoes, when it came to making a decision whether to have treatment or not, and that was hard. I cried several times during the writing of this book, but I totally and absolutely agree with her statement that a terminal diagnosis can be liberating. It gave her clarity, and she knew what she wanted to do with the rest of her shortened life.
Her best friend Heather helped her through it, and together they are a formidable team in more ways than one. It was easy to write about a strong friendship, not so easy towards the end.
Many topics are covered in this book ranging from cancer through to murder, from deep friendship to homosexual love, and yet the relationships form a cohesive bond that has lasted several years.
When Claudia and Heather decide enough is enough with their marriages, they move into a flat together. The flat is real, and my daughter and her two children live in it. It is indeed a happy flat, exactly as I describe it in the book with really large rooms and the patio balcony overlooking the grassed area that is never cut by the council workmen.
Yesterday I went to the flat, stepped out on to the patio and saw to my horror that the council had been around with scythes and mowers, and all the long grass had gone. My daughter reassured me that no bodies had been found.
Malignant may be a difficult read for you; it was certainly a difficult book to write and at times I had to put it to one side and work on something else to give me a break. My hope is that it will alert people to malignant melanoma, the most curable of all the cancers. I am a fourteen year survivor to prove that. If you notice anything suspicious, any changes to your skin, please get them checked out.
To finish on a lighter note, I enjoyed taking Claudia and Heather to Paris. Our trip there the year before was put to good use. I have been to the French capital three times, but won’t be going again. I love the city, but too many guns are in evidence now, so Claudia and Heather joined me in saying goodbye to this beautiful place. Au revoir, Paris!
Who Is Anita Waller?
Anita Waller was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire in 1946. She married Dave in 1967 and they have three adult children.
She began writing when she was around 8 years of age, writing ‘compositions’ at junior school that became books with chapters.
In 1995 she sent Beautiful to a publisher and as they reached the contract stage, the publisher went into liquidation. As a result, the book was consigned to the attic in dejected disgust but in 2013 it was dragged out again for an enforced complete re-type. The original was written on an Amstrad 8256 and the only thing that remained was one hard copy.
Anita is not a typist and it was painfully reworked over two years, submitted to Bloodhound Books who, within three days of reading it, offered her a contract. 31 August 2015 saw its release into the wide world.
Following the outstanding success of Beautiful, she began a sequel on 27 December 2015, finishing it on 19 March 2016. The new novel, Angel, was launched on 7 May 2016.
34 Days followed with its launch in October 2016. This was a huge success, particularly in the United States. While this, her third book in the psychological thriller genre, was flying out in all directions, she began work on her fourth book.
Winterscroft was a change in genre. It is a supernatural tale, set in Castleton, Derbyshire, and its release date was February 2017.
While she was writing Winterscroft, it became very clear from reading reviews that a sequel to 34 Days was needed, and she began work on that. Bloodhound Books launched Strategy, on 10 August 2017.
Her next book, launched February 2018 and entitled Captor, is a psychological thriller, set exclusively in Sheffield. It was an instant success, both in the UK and the US.
Then along came Game Players… once more set in Sheffield, the story involves a group of six children who have each other’s backs to a remarkable extent. The darker, criminal side of Sheffield is explored, with the book launching 18 May 2018.
Malignant arrived in the world on 10 October 2018, her eighth book in three years.
In her life away from the computer in the corner of her kitchen, she is a Sheffield Wednesday supporter with blue blood in her veins! The club was particularly helpful during the writing of 34 Days, as a couple of matches feature in the novel, along with Ross Wallace. Information was needed, and they provided it.
Her genre is murder – necessary murder.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/anitawaller2015/ @anitawaller2015
Amazon page: www.amazon.co.uk/Anita-Waller/e/B014RQFCRS/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/anitamayw @anitamayw
34 Days, 2016
Game Players, May 2018
Malignant, October 2018
Current work in progress, Murder Unsolved, launches December 2018