Katherine Wiseman

Kate Wiseman

My other passion is writing

I am very lucky to have novels published in several countries. Mudlarking is growing in popularity very quickly, and there are an increasing number of books about the subject appearing on the market. I buy each one, carefully arranging them to form my own small library on the subject closest to my heart. I read with pity about the hard lives of nineteenth-century mudlarks. More often than not they were children
without homes or parents, or old people with no family to look after them. I realized, with aston- ishment, that there was hardly any fiction on the subject, and I decided that it was a gap I was destined to fill.
As a lover of history, it seemed natural to set my novels in the days when mudlarks abounded and when it was a survival tactic, not a wonderful hobby. My characters seemed to develop without much help from me. The surname of the central characters. siblings Joe and Edie Lighterman, is a homage to a very common Victorian Thames-side occupation. Lightermen transferred the cargo from the teeming ships that used to moor in the Thames, to the shore. There were so many of them that they sometimes had to wait for weeks, their precious cargo guarded by a skeleton crew, for the lightermen to unload it onto huge flat-bottomed boats called lighters (because they lightened the ships of their cargo) and take it on its onward journey.
I’m loving writing the Mudlark Mysteries and hope that there will be many more to come. I also hope that my nineteenth-century mudlarks pass some
of their amazing luck to me. They always seem to be finding astonishing treasure
that plunges them into adventure after adven-
ture. I’d be
happy with
just one of their finds: a silver pocket watch with an unde- cipherable note tucked into its
casing: a golden Aztec skull; an Egyptian cat fashioned
in lapis lazuli. It would have pride of place among my Thames treasures and would certainly make the others-spent bullets from two world wars, sherds of beautiful pottery that I make into mosaic tables, and tiny doll limbs-look a bit shabby. But I will still love them all. They’re all treasure to me.
Look for The Grinning Throat: Mudlark Mystery Number One, coming in July 2023.
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