Friday 16 July 2021

Penny Grubb – a multi-layered career but always a writer

Author Penny Grubb says the only consistent part of her varied career has been as a writer; when it wasn’t part of her job, it was something she pursued in her own time.

‘I wrote my first novel when I was four,’ she says. ‘It was written in pencil in a small lined notebook. I didn’t need the whole notebook as it barely ran to half a page, but it felt more like a proper book that way. I can remember three things about it; it starred a cat on a mat, I asked for help to spell its only two-syllable word, and it gave me a tremendous sense of achievement. I think that was the moment I decided to be a novelist.’

Almost half a century would elapse from then to Penny’s first published novel, although she published non-fiction as part of her various day jobs. The first three books in her Annie Raymond mystery series have recently been rereleased as a trilogy, Falling into Crime, one of them having won an international CWA Dagger in 2004.

Penny’s career laid the foundation for her becoming a crime novelist. She worked in hospital pathology labs, an early job giving her access to renowned Home Office pathologist Dr Alan Usher who regularly entertained and educated the medical school staff with lectures about his work. ‘I learnt a lot about sudden and suspicious death. It was information I used when I began my PI series.’

Even after she moved on from Pathology, Penny’s brushes with the world of serious crime continued. In a career switch, and after graduating with a degree in Maths and Computer Science, she spent some time working as a software engineer helping to build a system, the forensic analysis of which later contributed to the conviction by the UK’s most prolific serial killer. She talks about this in an article published in Kings River Life magazine.

Penny later moved into medical computing, founding one of Europe’s first Medical Informatics research groups. ‘It was a very busy decade,’ she recalls. ‘But all the travelling around Europe gave me a wealth of settings for stories and novels. I wrote a lot during that time; including many draft novels that weren’t very good and never saw the light of day.’ The publications that came out under Penny’s name were technical reports, academic papers and textbooks.

When the research field took a different turn, Penny changed career again, and was seconded from her academic post to become Chair of the Authors’Licensing and Collecting Society, the largest authors’ society in the world. During this time, she wrote several of the books in her crime series.

Where There’s Smoke



Penny teamed up with fellow crime novelist, Danuta Reah, to run creative writing workshops. Together they wrote How to be a Fantastic Writer.


In 2013, Penny stepped down from the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and returned to academia, specialising in nurturing fragile learners to go on into Higher Education.


After leaving academia, Penny continued her Annie Raymond mystery series, her 8th book coming out a year into her retirement. She says she expects to be writing Annie books ‘until Annie is too old and decrepit to climb the office stairs or until I get fed up and push her off a cliff.’


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your Comment. Due to escalating spam it is, unfortunately, being sent for moderation and should be uploaded shortly. We appreciate your patience.