An Introduction to Susan Hill
Susan Hill has been a professional writer for over fifty years. Her bibliography is impressive, encompassing chilling ghost stories, acclaimed literary novels, children’s books, memoirs and fiendish detective novels. But what is it about The Woman in Black author Susan Hill that makes her writing so special?
At Dead Good we’re passionate about recommending brilliant books, so you never have to pick up a bad book again. What better way to provide some insight into these authors than to ask those who work with them, on making their books the best they can be, what it is that makes them so special. Together we can discover new voices.
We asked Susannah Otter who works in the editorial department at Chatto & Windus what makes Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailler detective novels so special:
‘Though I was familiar with Susan’s masterful novellas and ghost stories before I started working at Chatto a year ago, I had no idea about how great her Simon Serrailler crime series was. In all honesty (please don’t hate me, Dead Gooders!), I had no real idea how great any crime series was. That’s the joy of working on in books, I suppose – You get to read things you’d never have picked up usually, and discover a whole new genre to love.
The Serrailler crime series is particularly perfect for someone not-quite-sure about crime. There’s suspense, there’s atmosphere, there’s mystery and above all, there’s Simon Serrailler. A fallible, loveable man with a real passion for solving crimes, who, like all of us, has domestic dramas which frequently impinge on his day job. I was drawn to him and his family immediately. As a real wimp unable to cope with much suspense (I always have to sleep with the light on when I read a new Serrailler draft…), I love the mix of domestic and criminal that the series offers. Though, of course, this also makes it far more scary and plausible.
Lafferton also feels like a very real place to me. You get such a wonderful sense of background – a sleepy English town with humdrum concerns – not particularly posh, not particularly down-at-heel – but rather resolutely ordinary. It takes real skill to craft terrifying suspense supported by this believable, relatable setting, but, of course, Susan does it perfectly.
I didn’t start the series at the beginning – the first book I worked on was A Question of Identity, the seventh in the series, and I then pottered my way through the rest. Going back to The Various Haunts of Men having started so far in was really rewarding because I got to see Simon as he was before, well, 6 horribly fiendish murder cases, and see how he’d grown as a character, and how Lafferton had grown as a place.’
A big thank you to Susannah for giving us a glimpse into Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailler series and what makes the books so unique.
For more information check out Susan Hill’s Website.
The First Simon Serrailler novel: