Scene of crime writing: Mary Paulson-Ellis

We sat down with Mary Paulson-Ellis to find out where she penned her mysterious and entrancing novel, The Other Mrs Walker.

We sat down with Mary Paulson-Ellis to find out where she penned her mysterious and entrancing novel, The Other Mrs Walker.

This is a picture of the studio space in which I try to write – pure luxury, but irresistible. Well, it gets me out of the house anyway. I've been working in here for about a year now on the edits for my debut novel, The Other Mrs Walker.

The studio is housed in the attic of an old Victorian building in Edinburgh. The building belongs to the Spiritualist Church, which suits me perfectly as I'm very interested in life and death and the grey area in between.

Death features in the newspaper headline on the desk too – yet another real-life case that mirrors the fictional one that kicks off my novel. Truth is always stranger than fiction.

The four coins on the desk are reminders of the lucky coronation penny that brings my protagonist home to Edinburgh. Her coin is from 1937. Mine are chocolate and from Christmas.

All my notebooks are here, with research from visits to the Edinburgh City mortuary and crematorium.

On the left, under the pile of manuscript, is a clipping of a photograph of a child sleeping amongst her dolls. At least she looks like she's sleeping, but actually she's dead. It's an old mourning memorial and it inspired the photograph of two dead sleeping children that first appears in my book in 1935.

The window looks a little as though it is welcoming divine intervention too. In fact it has a lovely view out over the chimney pots to the West. I sit there when I'm meant to be working and dream up new stories. The writing on the wall and the cards standing on the desk are all about the next one.

The Other Mrs Walker

by Mary Paulson-Ellis

Book cover for The Other Mrs Walker

An old lady dies alone and unheeded in a cold Edinburgh flat on a snowy Christmas night. A faded emerald dress hangs in her wardrobe; a spilt glass of whisky pools on the floor.

A few days later a middle-aged woman arrives back in the city she thought she’d left behind, her future uncertain, her past in tatters.

She soon finds herself a job at the Office for Lost People, tracking down the families of those who have died neglected and alone.

But what Margaret Penny cannot yet know, is just how entangled her own life will become in the death of one lonely stranger . . .