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Ms Aine Mulkeen is one of Highgate’s Junior School teachers, and unbeknown to some, author of detective fiction novel, Murder Most Festive, published under the pseudonym Ada Moncrieff.

Read on in our interview with Ms Mulkeen to find out a little more about her passion for writing and how she balances this with her teaching career.

Tell us what inspired you to write this first novel?

“Well, back in the autumn of 2019, an editor friend of mine was on the hunt for a new Christmas mystery to publish, but couldn’t find one that fit the bill – so I thought, why don’t I have a go? In my previous life in publishing, I used to specialise in murder mystery authors from the 1930s/1940s, so I was extremely familiar with the genre already. I started with a classic mystery scenario – a family in their huge country house over the festive period – and took it from there.”

‘Murder Most Festive’ has been compared to an Agatha Christie novel. Is whodunit writing a genre that fascinates you?

“I was very much tapping into the murder mystery genre, yes, and it’s a genre I’ve long been a fan of. They’re perfect escapism, whisking you off to a world of murderous aristocrats, shady ne’er-do-wells and dubious shenanigans – and all the better if these shenanigans happen at Christmas.”

Who is your favourite author, and why?

“There are so many brilliant authors from the Golden Age of crime writing – Edmund Crispin, Gladys Mitchell, Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, and Agatha Christie of course, but I think my favourite is probably Margery Allingham. She wrote mysteries that are thrilling and funny, and have really stood the test of time.”

How do you combine teaching with your writing?

“I found that being strict and structured with my free time was the way to do it! When I wrote Murder Most Festive, I was living in Madrid and teaching during the day, so I had to be very disciplined, and set myself targets that were achievable. I spent one evening a week writing, then on Saturdays and Sundays I had to hit my word count targets before I could close my laptop – having an aim to work towards every day really kept me motivated.”

Do you have any advice for budding writers?

“Read as much as you can, write as much as you can – and enjoy it! For me, having read so many mystery books already was a great advantage – it meant I could really tune into the voice and style of the genre. It can be daunting sitting down to write something, but it’ll only be more daunting if you have a blank page in front of you for hours – the sooner you get writing, the sooner you can go back to edit and improve it.”

Do you have any more books up your sleeve?

“I’m hoping that my alter ego – Ada Moncrieff – will be on bookshelves again at some point, so watch this space!”

You can find out more about Aine Mulkeen’s novel Murder Most Festive here