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Ariana Franklin and the crime fiction community

Ariana Franklin was the author of the acclaimed, award-winning Mistress of the Art of Death series featuring medical examiner Adelia Aguilar. These novels have been critically acclaimed and praised by authors such as Joanne Harris and Tess Gerritsen. Ariana passed away in 2011 before she was able to deliver the manuscript for her standalone novel Winter Siege. Her daughter, Samantha Norman, decided to complete the novel on her mother’s behalf.

With the novel finally completed and published, Samantha has shared some of memories and experiences of the relationship between her mother and the crime fiction community – including fans, authors, journalists and bloggers.

‘Members of the crime fiction community are often considered to be rather strange; they may sit at their desks all day dreaming up cold-blooded mayhem but underneath it all – and I’m sorry to burst their bubble here – they’re actually an enormously kind and friendly bunch.

My mum, the historical thriller writer Ariana Franklin, talked about them with huge affection and gratitude because they’d been extraordinarily supportive of her. During her career she won, among other awards, both the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger and The Dagger in the Library and was proud of both – not only for the prestige they conferred on her work but also because they symbolised the validation and recognition of her peers, the people she admired most.

I remember how thrilled she was when she was asked to speak at the 2011 Harrogate Crime Writer’s Festival, and how much she was looking forward to meeting up with all her fellow crime writers, critics and fans to discuss all the things she loved. Unfortunately, she never got there, confounding everybody instead by dying suddenly and unexpectedly in the January of that year.

After her death, we, her family, were inundated with messages and letters of condolence from many of her crime fiction friends and when word spread that I was going to complete the novel she had left unfinished, they embraced me too. I was even invited to appear at the Bristol Crime Fest, an enormously hot ticket. I had no particular right to be there, and at that point I wasn’t part of the community – I hadn’t even finished the novel by then. Nevertheless I was fed and feted and enveloped into the fold in what was really a posthumous gesture of goodwill and affection to my Mum.

The novel’s finished now – published today in fact – but I won’t forget the support and encouragement of the crime fiction community. Mum would be delighted.’

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