In this feature, we ask our Crime Cymru authors to name six things that influenced their life and shaped them as a writer. This week Ripley Hayes gives us a fascinating selection of items.
The 1999 Pedro Almodovar film All About My Mother has to take this one. It wins on so many fronts for me. Firstly, Almodovar is brilliant, and I’d be happy to nominate any of his films for this slot. But AAMM is the movie I keep coming back to. It takes the viewer to the heart of an excluded community, and shows both the horrors and joys of being part of a group outside mainstream society. Growing up gay in the 1980s was like that. Incredible humour, warmth and solidarity as part of the group, in the midst of the AIDS crisis and Clause 28.
One TV series
This was a struggle, but I’ve decided on the Netflix show Sex Education. Yup, there’s a gay theme again, with a fantastic romance plot between Eric (Ncuti Gatwa, soon to be Dr Who) and Adam. It’s also filmed in Wales, and the Welsh landscape, lush and green, the mixture of stunning forestry and static caravans providing the perfect backdrop to the stories. The image of a character struggling with life events in a static caravan park in the forest must have stuck with me, because it is the opening to my book Badly Served.
A Swedish ‘folkapella’ group called Kongero. I saw them live in the beforetimes, and have been obsessively listening to their CDs ever since. They are a group of four women, who sing Swedish folk songs without accompaniment, and the sounds are simply stunning. My Swedish is non-existent, but you don’t need to understand the words to know when they are singing about summer, or love, or heartbreak. Books about crime are going to be books about loss, and life changing events, which engender some ‘big’ emotions. Music has the power to bring emotion to the surface, and I endeavour to communicate those emotions … one day I hope to succeed …
Has to be Peanuts. What’s not to love? There’s a dog. All my books have a dog. I have two dogs (The Author Support Team). The characters find life confusing and contradictory. Life is confusing and contradictory. Enough said.
Not so much a writer as a single book: All This I Will Give To You by Delores Redondo, translated by Michael Meigs (2018). This is a stunning novel about loss, love, family, greed, homophobia, all set in the beautifully realised landscape of northern Spain. It has all the elements of a solid murder mystery, including the cynical police officer and the secretive aristocratic family, but it is so much more. And if you don’t cry buckets at the end, well, that’s probably because you are sitting on a train, surrounded by strangers.
I was the uncoordinated kid always picked last for sports teams, but as an adult, I discovered that I love exercise (as long as it doesn’t involve a ball). In an effort to stave off the worst symptoms of my MS, I learned to run. A few years later, I ran a marathon. It took a long time, and wasn’t fun. I can’t run now, but that’s OK because the characters in my books can and do. I include running as my experience because it has a lot in common with writing. You have to practice. You have to be consistent. It gives you time to think and let your imagination run riot. It takes you to new places with new and interesting people. It’s always better in the woods … and with a dog!
Canny readers will be seeing some themes here. If they are themes that resonate with you, then have a look at my books.
You can read more about Ripley Hayes and her novels on the following link :-