Corbridge crime writer Mari Hannah wins literary award

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CORBRIDGE writer, Mari Hannah, finds herself in a very good place right now.

For later this year she is set to receive the highest recognition as a mistress of murder and suspense - the 'Dagger in the Library' award, bestowed by the Crime Writers Association.

"I'm really thrilled because it's the one Dagger that is given out that is actually voted for by libraries and readers in libraries which is why it's really important to me," Mari says.

"I've only been published just over five years so to win one of these, it's like winning a BAFTA. It's an absolute honour."

It is indeed, particularly as one of the past winners of this particular accolade was literary luminary Alexander McCall Smith, he of the No1 Ladies Detective Agency and that this year Mari beat off competition from a shortlist of established authors including CJ Sansom; James Oswald; Kate Ellis; Tana French and Andrew Taylor.

Her DCI Kate Daniels books, set in the North East, are tremendously popular and eagerly devoured by library goers and book groups so it is appropriate that Mari has been chosen for this particular Dagger.

Mari has long been a lover and supporter of libraries - and it's an affection that is very much requited as Mari's 'library borrows' amount to around 50,000 a year.

"I grew up in a home that had few books so libraries were very important to me," she says.

Earlier this year she toured the North East and Yorkshire with the Big Read, which was a bittersweet experience due to library funding cuts across the country.

"It breaks my heart that we are losing so many, along with the expertise of professional librarians who can, and do, deliver so much more than books on shelves," she adds.

The CWA award is not for one book in particular, Mari explains, it is for a body of work, although this year the process was tweaked slightly so that the organisers asked the nominated authors to put forward a book that was then distributed around librarians and library readers' groups.

"I chose 'The Silent Room' because at the time it was my latest book out," she says.

October is set to be an exciting month for Mari, with the Dagger Awards at a swanky London hotel and another new novel hitting the bookstands which is a follow-up to The Silent Room.

Mari says: "It's called 'The Death Messenger' and it begins with a mysterious DVD being delivered to Northumbria Police HQ for DS Matthew Ryan and DS Eloise O'Neil and it shows the crime scene but no body.

"The only clues and the only lead they get is coming from an anonymous voice on the DVD. In The Silent Room these two characters were on opposing sides whilst in this book they have joined forces so I am very excited about it."

Fans of the DCI Kate Daniels series should also keep an eye on those TV schedules as the books have been optioned for TV by Stephen Fry's production company, Sprout Pictures.

"That's going well - it's moved into the 'development' stage so we have got a screen writer on board and he is scribbling away at the minute on it," Mari says.

So much success since April 2012 when Mari's first novel, The Murder Wall, was launched at Hexham Book Festival. Since then there have been six Kate Daniels novels.

This year she changed publisher from Pan Macmillan to Orion and another book, 'The Lost' is on its way in March 2018.

"I am always planning the next book whilst editing the one before - I've learned to do that - if I have a couple of hours to spare in a train station, or waiting for an aircraft, I can practically work anywhere now."

She travels far and wide to meet her readership. "That's always a treat for writers. After all they are the people who matter so I am always pleased to meet people. I get letters from all over the world and it's a thrill, it really is," she adds.

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