An Introduction to Manda Scott
Manda Scott is a thriller writer with a talent for bringing iconic historical figures back to life, re-imagined and re-booted for the 21st century. If you love the literary stylings of Kate Mosse, Rosemary Sutcliff and Robert Harris, then we highly recommend Manda Scott as your next read.
We asked Bill Scott-Kerr, Manda’s Editor and Publisher at Transworld, to tell us why Manda’s work is so special.
Over to Bill:
“I first noticed Manda Scott when her debut thriller No Good Deed was nominated in the Best Thriller category for America’s top crime writing prize, the Edgar Award. She had written crime novels before – her first novel, Hen’s Teeth, was shortlisted for the Orange (now Bailey’s) Women’s Prize for Fiction – but this was the first serious thriller and it pushed the boundaries of the genre with its dark, taut, edgy intelligence.
She was with Headline then, but her Boudica series, starting with Dreaming The Eagle, then brought her to Transworld, under the care of Selina Walker who took her into the bestseller lists.
There had been books about Boudica before, but what Manda did that nobody else had done, was to look at the world before the Romans marched in. As she says, ‘This is who we were, this is who we could be’ and the books became international bestsellers, garnering a cult following all round the world.
Ten years down the line, they’re still in print, still selling well and the television rights have just been bought by a major film company, so we’re all lining up our favourite actors to play our favourite characters: Jennifer Lawrence for Boudica, maybe, and Jerome Flynn as her father, Eburovic, although I’d rather like him to play Tod Rustbeard in the new book, Into The Fire – that’s had TV interest too…
I became Manda’s editor half way through the Rome series, the spy thrillers that started as a sequel to the Boudica books, written with more than a nod to John le Carré, but grew into something more. The subjects were often controversial – the first two, for instance, blew apart the origins of Christianity because, as she said, ‘the history didn’t make sense.’
And here’s the thing – whatever she’s writing, Manda’s books have the kind of depth that drag you in and make you live, eat and dream the characters, and the kind of writing that leaves you breathless, but it’s the scope of the ideas that never ceases to amaze.
Whether she’s writing about the first century or the twenty first, – or both together in a dual time line novel like the new one Into The Fire (the historical thread in that one is mediaeval), she always finds the new angle, the thing nobody had noticed, that was waiting to be brought into the light. She wasn’t a historian before she gave up the day job to write novels, she was a vet, but she says that five years of training taught her how to take information and stitch it together to make sense – and that if it didn’t make sense, it probably wasn’t right.
So when she came to me and said she thought she knew who Joan of Arc really was, and that it would make sense of the mythology of centuries, I believed her. And she has.”