Behind the story of Crime in Cornwall Emma Dakin has written more than twenty-five trade published books of mystery and adventure for teens and middle-grade children and non-fiction for teens and adults. Her cozy mysteries explore life in the British countryside.
The beginnings of Crime in Cornwall
“At a crowded bar in New Orleans at a Bouchercon Conference, I asked a lone woman if I could sit with her. She graciously consented and we talked. Her name was Kathy Ackley and she said she ran tours to the sites of mystery novels in Britain. I stared at her, then asked if I could borrow that for a plot. I could see the books spilling out from that premise as if I had already written them.”
The woman agreed Emma could use the idea, so she returned home and started writing the first book, Hazards in Hampshire. As she wrote, Emma kept a theme in mind.
“Justice,” Emma said. “I am basically concerned with justice. A cozy mystery should allow justice to prevail. I want justice to prevail in my books and in real life. The problem is, of course, that it isn’t always obvious what justice is in each situation. I am also committed to loving behavior between characters. I don’t glorify unkindness or cruel actions, so I suppose I’m striving for a kinder, more just, society.”
An adventurous spirit
“I work hard when I’m home which is most of the time, but I love researching in Britain. I love sitting in pubs, listening to the dialects of different districts, some of them only a few miles from another. When I am on my own, people invite me to sit with them, talk with them and I am able to understand better what it is like to live there.”
One of Emma’s adventures took place during a visit to Penzance, Cornwall. She bought a ticket to the Minack Theatre, a Roman amphitheater located on the coast and about nine miles through the countryside from where she was staying.”
“There was a bus to the theater but Robert, my B & B host told me because it was Thursday there wouldn’t be a bus back. That struck me as hilarious. A bus to the theater but you’re on your own after that.
“I decided to take the bus with a Cornish attitude that I’d deal with the return trip later. I settled myself comfortably at the Theatre with a spectacular view of the sea, ready to watch a circus show. Naturally, I talked to the people around me and one family offered me a ride home. They did drive me to Penzance, but I didn’t want them to have to negotiate the winding streets, so had them drop me off along the seaside a few blocks from my B & B.”
Once again, Emma was diving into the unknown—she didn’t know the way back to the B&B. SheI stopped a man on the street, who turned out to be a minister. He pointed out a short cut along a stone path and told her she could take the path because the tide was out. “If the tide had been in,” Emma said, “I’d have needed waders. I arrived home to find Robert pacing the floor, worried about me. Aside from the bus company, everyone cared.”
The Minack Theater is not Emma’s only adventure. In fact, the list, is actually very impressive. “I’ve played my decidedly amateur fiddle in a Scottish pub for beer, landed a Cessna 172 on a runway in the country, ridden the river tug boats with the captain and deck hand, and spent a week with an Innu family in Arctic Bay, Baffin Island.”
Emma also once packed up her van and with her thirteen-year-old son and drove from Vancouver to Winnipeg, stopping in towns and cities to interview teenagers for a non-fiction book. She said, “Really, almost any adventure can be labelled ‘research’. I genuinely like talking to people. I consider that is what research trips and vacations are for.”
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