Whatever you do, don’t mess with crime writer BA Steadman, author of Death on Dartmoor.
She’s a dab hand with a sword!
Although it’s a little while since she went into battle, Steadman’s a second Dan in the Japanese martial art laidō, which roughly translates into English as ‘the way of mental presence and immediate reaction’.
In other words, although, as is the case with all martial art, the primary emphasis is on the philosophical or spiritual aspects of the practice, in laidō practitioners are also skilled in smoothly drawing a sword from its scabbard, cutting or striking an opponent, wiping his or her blood from the blade and returning the sword to the scabbard.
You have been warned!
Steadman, a former secondary school teacher, dabbled in short fiction and poetry before taking up writing full-time.
Her debut novel, Death in the Woods, the first in her West Country Mysteries series, was completed after she finally escaped the classroom – and marking essays.
This was followed by Death on Dartmoor and Death on the Coast, all featuring DT Dan Hellier and his Exeter-based team.
The books explore the beauty of the area but demonstrate that even in the most charming of settings, bad things can happen…
Now meet BA Steadman:
My name: Bernadette Steadman, but I’m always known as Bernie unless you are my mother, telling me off.
My family: I come from a family of Irish descent, with three younger brothers who managed to be both irritating and protective at the same time. We had little money, and few apparent prospects, but a good grounding in telling stories, getting into scrapes and talking our way out of being punished stood all four of us in good stead.
I married Stuart in 1986 and we have been together ever since. Sadly, we couldn’t have children, so we have cats instead. And dead mice. And live mice….
I was born in…. Manchester. But now live in…East Devon
I like my home because…it’s in a small village, ten miles from the sea, surrounded by an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We moved here into our three-bedroomed cottage style house as soon as I could get a teaching job at the local school. I may have been brought up in the big city, but I’m a country girl, all the way through to my wellies.
About Death on Dartmoor:
Life is good for DI Dan Hellier until the discovery of two headless, handless bodies buried in a bog on Dartmoor. But how can he identify the victims when nobody has reported them missing?
The tension mounts when the death of a young man plunges Hellier into the murky world of the Garrett family. Could the peaceful, family-run Animal Rescue Centre really be a cover for murder and other criminal activity?
Hellier is about to learn just how far people will go to get what they want.
And this investigation will challenge Hellier’s decisions as he races to catch another murderer before it’s too late.
One thing I’d change about me… Is my big mouth. I think I’m getting there, but it has been a slow, slow process to think before it all blurts out. One thing I wouldn’t…I love meeting people, going to new places and doing things that terrify other writers.
Best holiday? Australia and New Zealand, two years ago. All my dad’s side of the family (except him) emigrated there years ago, and I hadn’t seen then since we were children.
It was wonderful to spend time with them, and the scenery of Western Australia and New Zealand beaches and mountains is hard to beat!
I loved the culture and the, sometimes terrible, history. Fascinating trip.
Worst? Our honeymoon! Think a wet week in Welshpool in a chalet with no heating… We even got into the swimming pool in the rain, because we were so wet anyway it didn’t matter anymore.
Allegedly it doesn’t always rain in Wales…
Earliest childhood memory? Sitting on a potty at the age of two or so, when a cockroach ran across my foot.
I think it may have been my mother’s reaction that set off a phobia I still have today. Apparently the rented house we were in was riddled with them, and we didn’t know!
Favourite film? LA Confidential, closely followed by The Usual Suspects. I love a complex plot (as anyone who’s read my books will testify) and Russell Crowe when he was all slim and deadly – what’s not to like!
Favourite writer? Hard, hard, hard…. I’m going to plump for David Mitchell.
When I read Ghostwritten, and then Cloud Atlas, I recognised a clarity, and a beauty in his writing that has, to my mind, not been bettered.
His stories are convoluted but end satisfyingly, often set in Japan and other unusual places, and his descriptive powers are immense.
Favourite book to read with my children? I have no children, but I taught them for over 30 years, so I would recommend Michael Morpurgo.
The last book you read? Turn a Blind Eye, a crime thriller set in London, with an Asian woman DI – very good on cultural differences and city tensions. It’s by Vicky Newham.
Best thing about my life? Being able to do what I choose to do.
Worst thing? Committing to too many things that I don’t actually want to do but can’t refuse for fear of offending someone, and I could probably fit it in if I cancel this, and juggle that….
What keeps you awake at night? Everything. Aren’t all women awake at four in the morning? Maybe we need a 4am group chat!
How many hours a day do you spend on your phone? Aha – not many, but you didn’t ask about my ipad!
Notepad and keys
What’s in your bag right now? Purse, wallet with cards, lipsyl, lippie, tissues, spare herbal teabags and a protein bar.
Notepad and pen, keys, Victorinox multi-bladed mini-knife (which has saved me so many times).
Go-to companion for a night on the sofa? I suppose I should say the other half, but actually I’d choose a good mate so we can have a laugh and share a glass or two!
What you don’t know about me? I have a second Dan in the Japanese martial art Iaidō. Look it up – I had a sword and everything. Had to stop because my knees gave up!
My guilty secret? I pretended for years that I had Maths O-level – yes, I was a teacher, but English at secondary didn’t require it, then. Probably… I failed it three times. The shame! Don’t care anymore. It’s out there!