Chris Collett grew up in a Norfolk seaside town where she worked in a boarding house (now defunct) a local bakery (closed down) and a crisp factory (razed to the ground). After graduating in Liverpool, Chris went on to teach children and adults with learning disabilities, including autism. A recently retired university lecturer, Chris is married with with two grown up children, and lives in Birmingham, on DI Tom Mariner’s ‘patch’. She has published short stories, taught creative and crime writing and is a manuscript assessor for the Crime Writers Association.
It started, as most good stories do, with an idea that wouldn’t go away. To exorcise it, I wrote it down. The scene led to more scenes, and before I knew it I had the skeleton of a story. It took me a couple of years to flesh it out and a little longer to pluck up the courage to show anyone, but eventually it became Deadly Lies; the first outing for Detective Inspector Tom Mariner.
So what was that idea? As a special needs teacher I’ve worked with children and adults with autism spectrum disorder, many of whom have little or no means of communication. What would happen, I wondered, if the sole witness to a serious crime was a man with ASD who had no way of disclosing what he saw?
Why Birmingham? The obvious answer is that I have now lived here for longer than I have lived anywhere else. But perhaps my conscience played a part too. Like most people who don’t know the city, I was mostly disparaging of what I understood to consist entirely of spaghetti junction, the concrete jungle of the Bull Ring and row upon row of tower blocks. I very quickly learned how wrong I was. And what Birmingham has in spades, is everything a crime writer could possibly want.