Marianne Wheelaghan is from Leith, Edinburgh. She left home when she was seventeen and lived in England, Spain, Germany, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and the Republic of Kiribati before returning to Edinburgh to settle there with her family.
Before Marianne started writing novels she studied at Newcastle, Napier and Lancaster Universities and was a croupier, a marketing manager for a company that sold warm air hand dryers, a chambermaid, a cashier in a pizza restaurant and a script writer. Most of the time, however, Marianne taught English and Drama to young adults in Spain, the Republic of Kiribati and Papua New Guinea.
From when she was very young Marianne liked telling stories. However, she never considered writing stories until she took a change of direction in her life and completed her Masters in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. In 2002 she founded the international online creative writing school, www.writingclasses.co.uk.
Marianne writes both crime fiction and historic fiction. Her aim as a writer is to ‘tell the story she means to tell, as wholly as she can, tell it by exploring the different ways of telling it.’ She is fascinated by connections between identity, home and place and explores these themes in her writing. As director of writingclasses.co.uk she helps new writers find their unique creative voice by offering them a stimulating, supportive and encouraging writing environment to work in.
Marianne’s debut novel, The Blue Suitcase, was published at the end of 2010 and was an immediate bestseller. Based on letters and diaries Marianne found after her mother’s death, The Blue Suitcase is the under-told story of an ordinary Christian girl growing up in Nazi Germany. Often referred to as a hybrid novel, Marianne expertly blurs the lines between fact and fiction.
“We think by now that there can be no more untold stories from the 1930s and the Second World War. Then a book like The Blue Suitcase comes along and we are once again astonished by the capacity of some humans to do unspeakably cruel things, and of others to survive them. The simple, almost mundane tone of Antonia’s diary makes The Blue Suitcase all the more shocking. It’s hard to read, but harder to stop.” James Roberston
The Blue Suitcase is the first in The Blue Suitcase trilogy. The second in the trilogy, The Brown Paper Parcel, is due out at the beginning of 2015. It carries on from where The Blue Suitcase finishes and is set in Edinburgh during the 1950s.
Marianne’s second novel, Food of Ghosts, is a crime thriller set on Tarawa, a remote coral atoll in the Pacific, and another bestseller. Like Robert Louis Stevenson when he sojourned in the Pacific over a hundred years ago before her, Marianne is fascinated by the ‘old society’ in many of the Pacific island countries. In Food of Ghosts she hopes to bring to life what remains of the unique ‘old society’ of Kiribati before it vanishes forever. Her protagonist, DS Louisa Townsend is from Edinburgh and far from perfect. She suffers from an obsessive compulsive disorder, is opinionated, often rude and develops a reputation for doing things in a weird way, but she always gets things done.
Marianne’s next book, Double Deaths and Double Lives, is the second crime novel in the DS Louisa Townsend series and set in Fiji. It is due out in the summer of 2014. DS Louisa Townsend finds her life at risk when she becomes caught up in the investigation into the brutal murder of a suspected peadophile.