Welsh authors

Meet A Welsh Author — Katherine Stansfield on drinks with Hilary Mantel

Poet and author Katherine Stansfield grew up in Cornwall but has chosen to make her home in Wales. In the latest episode of the Meet A Welsh Author series she talks about her love of Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy and her late discovery of the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters.

Illustration of a library with armchairs and text Meet a Welsh author

Earliest Reading Memory

My mum teaching me to read using the Peter and Jane flashcard method which I guess must have been the recognised method at the time (mid 1980s). My dad worked away during the week and every Friday when he came home he brought my sister and I the next book in the Puddle Lane series which we loved. 

The Author Who Changed My Mind

Slightly skewing the question (apologies!), Melody Razak’s novel Moth, which starts just before the Partition of India, taught me so much about the experiences of people on the ground as events unfolded. The book brought home to me the scale of upheaval at Partition. Until I read this novel, I was shamefully ignorant of the violence and trauma people endured when the British left.

portrait of Welsh author and poet Katherine Stansfield

The Author I Keep Returning To

Hilary Mantel. If I had time, I’d read her Thomas Cromwell trilogy once a year every year. They’re the most luminous novels I’ve ever read. The way she connects you to her protagonist Cromwell is like nothing I’ve experienced before in fiction, and she animates the world of the sixteenth century in what feels to me a completely new way. Breath-taking!

An Unexpected Pleasure

The Cadfael series by Ellis Peters. This shouldn’t have been unexpected really, given that I love historical crime novels and very much enjoyed the television adaptation with Derek Jacobi in the title role in the 1990s.

But I didn’t read the novels about Brother Cadfael, the mystery-solving Welsh Benedictine monk, until much more recently and fell in love with the world of twelfth-century Shrewsbury and the Welsh Marches that Peters creates. During lockdowns, I took great comfort in escaping to Cadfael’s herbarium and workshop. I’ve been slowly making my way through the whole series of books, not wanting to rush because I can’t bear to reach the end!

Most Recommended Book

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke. This is the first book in Locke’s Highway 59 series set in modern day East Texas and featuring black Texan Ranger Darren Matthews. It’s a brilliant exploration of character, and the gripping crime plot results from the legacy of racial segregation and related land disputes in a small community. I love all Locke’s book but this is the one I recommend most often. 

You Won’t Find Me Reading …

I’m not a big fan of stories about serial killers or really violent individuals with creative ways of torturing people. Psychological exploration of ‘baddies’ I’m very much up for, but I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to detailed nastiness. 

My Favourite Writing Place

Writing retreats! I love going to Ty Newydd, the writers’ centre in North Wales, and Gladstone’s Library near Chester. These are both places set up for writers to stay and get their heads down with work. I find both places very conducive to making real progress with books, not least because of the food arrangements. For me, the food has got to be laid on because I get very distracted by meal planning, shopping, the washing up 

The Last Book I bought …

Zadie Smith’s book of essays Feel Free which I’m very much looking forward to. I’ve been reading lots more essays in the last few years.

I Would Love to Have Dinner/Drink With …

I think it would have to be the late, great Hilary Mantel, but sadly that’s not going to come to pass, unless there are literary lunches on the ‘other side’ in which case I will be making for her table. I’ve read so many of her interviews and articles, and listened to her on the radio and television, and she never fails to offer me a new way of thinking about writing, reading, history, the world. And she was so funny! It would have been a great privilege to talk to her in person about anything – the weather, the wine list, the choice of socks she was wearing. 

I Wish I’d Written …

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. Another historical crime story, this one set in the Scottish Highlands in 1869, with a fascinating structure. The book is told through documents relating to the case, such as medical reports, and is wonderfully tricksy in terms of truth and doubt. I’m in awe of books like this.

The Author Behind The Name: Katherine Stansfield
Cover of Falling Creatures, a crime novel by the Welsh author Katherine Standsfield

Katherine Stansfield grew up in Cornwall and now lives in Cardiff. She is a multi-genre novelist and poet. Her historical crime series Cornish Mysteries has won the Holyer an Gof Fiction Prize and been shortlisted for the Winston Graham Memorial Prize. The most recent instalment is The Mermaid’s Call.

She co-writes a fantasy crime trilogy with her partner David Towsey, publishing as D. K. Fields, and has also published two full length poetry collections and a pamphlet with the Welsh independent publisher Seren Books.

Katherine is co-editor, with Caroline Oakley, of Cast a Long Shadow: new crime short stories by women writers from Wales, published by the Welsh Women’s press Honno.

She teaches creative writing for a number of universities and has been a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. In 2021, along with fellow members of Crime Cymru — the Welsh crime writers’ collective — Katherine launched a new prize for debut crime writers in Wales.

You can contact Katherine via her website or via Twitter @K_Stansfield.

Falling Creatures: Synopsis

Cornwall, 1844. On a lonely moorland farm not far from Jamaica Inn, farmhand Shilly finds love in the arms of Charlotte Dymond. But Charlotte has many secrets, possessing powers that cause both good and ill. When she’s found on the moor with her throat cut, Shilly is determined to find out who is responsible, and so is the stranger calling himself Mr Williams who asks for Shilly’s help. Mr Williams has secrets too, and Shilly is thrown into the bewildering new world of modern detection.

Falling Creatures, is the first in Katherine’s solo crime series is published by Allison & Busby. It’s available in hardback, paperback and ebook.


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

19 thoughts on “Meet A Welsh Author — Katherine Stansfield on drinks with Hilary Mantel

  • Pingback: Mysteries | Necromancy Never Pays

  • Pingback: Falling Creatures | Necromancy Never Pays

  • Great interview – I really enjoyed reading this. I love Katherine’s books and was lucky enough to be tutored by her at Ty Newydd which was wonderful.

  • Well, Katherine Stansfield sounds my kind of author, who reads my kind of books. So how come I’ve read neither anything of hers, nor any by Ellis Peters? It sounds as though I have plenty of catching up to do (again …)

    • Ellis Peters was hugely popular in the 1990s when her series featuring Brother Cadfael, a monk in a monastery in Shrewsbury were broadcast. Derek Jacobi was in the lead role. Well worth watching Margaret if you can’t get the books

  • Any writer who feels as strongly about Hilary Mantel as I do, is a writer whose books I have to read! Lovely interview, thank you.

    • I know, Katherine has made me think seriously about reading the Cromwell series again

  • A good interview with an author who is also an editor and tutor of creative writing; supporting and encouraging other writers. Thank you ladies.

  • Nice interview! Ellis Peters and Hilary Mantel? She has great tastes, lol

    • Both of them are authors I enjoy too. I’m intrigued by the one she mentions about the India Partition too

  • I’m going to have to try Falling Creatures and Bluebird, Bluebird now.

  • There’s quite a contrast in this statement: You Won’t Find Me Reading …
    I’m not a big fan of stories about serial killers or really violent individuals with creative ways of torturing people. Psychological exploration of ‘baddies’ I’m very much up for, but I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to detailed nastiness.

    A good review just the same. Thank you for making me aware of this Welsh author and her books.

    • I agree, I think the current preoccupation with grisly stories packaged ‘romantically’ as ‘noir’ is awful so I was a bit startled to see that she liked His Bloody Project!
      But I have this interview to thank for bringing my attention to Moth, and I’ve just reserved it at the library. Thanks, Karen!

      • Moth caught my eye too. I read a crime fiction novel last year that was set just after Partition and that has tantalised me but it would be good to go back a few years to the actual Partition.

        • TBH I feel I owe it to the Indian people I know, to know a bit about their history. It’s not that it comes up in everyday conversation, but it stops me from saying stupid things when India comes up in the news, as it did, for instance, when their PM Modi visited our area.

We're all friends here. Come and join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: