Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Marianne Wheelaghan

Today I have great pleasure in welcoming Marianne to Jera’s Jamboree:

Photo courtesy of author

Photo courtesy of author


Before becoming a writer, Edinburgh-born Marianne Wheelaghan was a croupier, a marketing manager, a chambermaid, a cashier, a Brussels sprouts picker, but mostly she was a teacher. Marianne taught English and Drama in Germany, Spain, the Republic of Kiribati and Papua New Guinea. She also wrote plays. Marianne now lives back in Edinburgh with her family. When she is not writing, she is running her online creative writing school, which celebrated ten successful years in 2012.

Twitter @MWheelaghan




Hi Marianne,

Please summarise your latest book in 20 words or less.

{Food of Ghosts}

DS Louisa Townsend is miles away from home on a remote coral atoll and has a week to find a killer.

Did you do any research for your book or use any resources? Did you travel to any places or undergo any new experiences?

I lived in Tarawa, the setting for my novel, for five years. Tarawa is the capital of the Republic of Kiribati, and a remote coral atoll in the middle  of the Pacific.  South Tarawa was, and still is, on route to nowhere. According to UNWTO, the World Tourism Organization, it is so remote that it is the third least visited country in the world, beaten to second place by Somalia and to first place by Nauru  (another Pacific island country). The island itself is a fifteen kilometre narrow stretch of sand, where nothing grows other than coconut palms, and it sits slap bang in the middle of the tropical Pacific Ocean. At its highest point it is three metres  and width-wise it is approximately five hundred meters.

When I was there I used to teach English. At first I struggled  living in such an  isolated place with  no shops (not as we know them), no cinema, no theatre, no library, no swimming pool, no parks, no gardens, no museums, no TV – and this was before the internet so – no Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no blogs, no podcasts, no mobile network, no newspapers or magazines – you get the picture I am sure!  However, gradually I grew to love it. it was peaceful and there were some beautiful idyllic beaches and,  most important of all, the people on Tarawa were and are a most generous and hospitable people with a fascinating culture. In a world where everywhere seems so similar it was great to discover such a unique place and people.  When I started writing I knew I would use Tarawa as a setting. Not only did I  want to bring this very unique, little known people and place to life for my readers –  I also thought a remote, isolated desert island was a perfect place to set  a murder.

Your book is part of a series, what is in the future?

Food of Ghosts is the first in a series of  mystery novels  and my WIP is the second DS Townsend novel, set on Tarawa and Fiji!

What inspired you to write?

I always liked telling stories but never thought about taking my writing seriously until my mum died and  I found letters and diaries that related to her early life in Germany – my mum was a Christian German girl, who grew up in Nazi Germany.  Mum never talked about her early life before coming to Scotland, so you could say it had been a mystery to us. What I discovered in the letters and diaries so shocked me I was compelled to write her story, which is my first book The Blue Suitcase. This started me taking my writing seriously and now I can’t stop 😉

Do you have a most creative time of day?

I used to write at night but that was because it was the only time I could squeeze it in but now I am lucky enough for the writing to be my job and so I write during the day. But my most creative time, I believe is first thing in the morning, when my ideas tumble out of my head after  mulling around in my subconscious overnight.

Do you have a favourite place  you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?

I like writing in the same place at my desk but in between I love walking along beaches or in wide open spaces –  I hate woods as I get claustrophobic.

 Do you have  a book trailer?

I have a book trailer for Food of Ghosts, yes. It was an experiment but I’ve had lot of people tell me  it made them want to buy the book so  we will definitely be doing a trailer for all future books. (intriguing book trailer!)

(We also made a second trailer, just for fun, about shopping on Tarawa because so many people asked about it :!)

Have you done any creative writing/writing courses that you would recommend to others?

Writing can be very lonely and scary and I strongly believe  a creative writing course and/or class can help the beginner writer. I really struggled to find an encouraging class and tutor when I started out. For this reason when  I did eventually complete a Masters in Creative Writing, I co-founded the online creative writing school  We started with two students and one beginner course. We now have six tutors working for us and run six different creative writing courses for all level of writers.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

Seeing my novels published and being able to help so many emerging writers develop  their writing skills through the online writing school

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

Keeping going. Writing is a very  lonely job and it’s very competitive. You need to spend as much time on promoting yourself as you do writing and it is easy to become disheartened. But, on the other hand, I am very lucky to be able to work at doing something I love – that makes it all worth while.

What’s on the horizon?

I am also planning a sequel to The Blue Suitcase which will be based on my mother’s life  (and the life of her brothers and sisters). It will cover Mum’s life from when she arrived in Scotland (after the end of the second world war) and will be set in the late forties and fifties.

 Thank you for sharing with us today Marianne.

food of ghosts cover final4Nothing ever happens on Tarawa, a coral atoll in the middle of the Pacific. Then a mutilated body is found in a children’s nursery hut. Detective Sergeant Louisa Townsend from Edinburgh is on the island, helping train local police officers in basic detecting skills. She is asked to find the killer and jumps at the chance to be in charge of her first murder investigation. She marvels at the simplicity of the task ahead – after all, how difficult can it be to find the murderer on a desert island the size of a postage stamp and with only one road? But nothing on Tarawa is what it seems. There is a rumour the victim’s eyes were eaten as part of a macabre, cannibalistic ritual and a second body is found and a third death looks suspicious. With no forensics on Tarawa and no one telling the truth, Louisa begins to worry she’s out of her depth – not to mention the voices in her head have started up again. DS Townsend is an engaging, new female detective from Edinburgh, who is as impetuous as she is ambitious, with an innate sense of justice at her core. Her determination to find the killer is matched only by her struggle to overcome an obsessive compulsive disorder, which threatens to consume her. To read Food of Ghosts is to be taken to Tarawa and be immersed in the crazy sights and sounds of the contradictory island and its people. Food of Ghosts is the first in a series of crime novels featuring DS Louisa Townsend.


It is 1932, Silesia, Germany, and the eve of Antonia’s 12th birthday. Hitler’s Brownshirts and Red Front Marxists are fighting each other suitcasefinalin the streets. Antonia doesn’t care about the political unrest but it’s all her family argue about. Then Hitler is made Chancellor and order is restored across the country, but not in Antonia’s family. The longer the National Socialists stay in power, the more divided the family becomes with devastating consequences. Unpleasant truths are revealed and terrible lies uncovered. Antonia thinks life can’t get much worse – and then it does. Partly based on a true-life story, Antonia’s gripping diary takes the reader inside the head of an ordinary teenage girl growing up. Her journey into adulthood, however, is anything but ordinary.

3 thoughts on “Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Marianne Wheelaghan

  1. Hey Sharon, thanks so much for your lovely interview. It’s been a pleasure to answer your questions 🙂

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