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The Big Thrill Sits Down to Discuss BORDER SANDS with Math Bird


On a sweltering August Bank Holiday in 1983, the town of Mabon Pryce’s childhood home had much to celebrate – until tragedy struck with the brutal murder of local beauty, Mary Reece.

Haunted by the darkness that shrouds the small town, Investigative journalist Mab returns for the funeral and finds himself drawn into the mystery of Mary’s death.

As he pieces together the events that led to Mary’s death, he realizes that the truth is far more complex than it appears. With each new lead, Mab uncovers lies and secrets hidden deep in the town’s history. With time running out, Mab must confront his own demons while uncovering the truth about Mary Reece’s murder.

© Math Bird

Math Bird recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest mystery, BORDER SANDS.

A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

In its various forms, this book has taken over ten years to write. It’s a story that has been with me for a long time and has been rewritten in many forms. The characters and the main protagonist were vivid in my mind. As they developed more, I became more engrossed with their story. Also, the novel includes the histories and locations of the part of northeast Wales where I was born and grew up, so writing about this area is very important to me.

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

It’s a novel I’ve wanted to write for a long time. It has its origins in my crime short stories set in and around Northeast Wales and the exploration of moral and geographical borders.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

As the novel was set in 1983, there are many references to the news, music, radio, and TV of that time. As part of the research, a lot of 80s music and cultural events were in my mind while writing. The novels, journals, diaries, histories, etc. written about this particular part of northeast Wales and its surrounding area.

When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?

Yes, a literary murder mystery set in northeast Wales that explores a region of Wales not widely represented in fiction. All from a crime, murder mystery perspective centering around how crime affects people’s lives and their families, and it explores family ties and bonds.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

A better understanding and appreciation of Northeast Wales and its surrounding area. Also, the novel’s themes hopefully will trigger lots of thoughts on borders: geographical and moral and their relationships to our lives, and the power of family ties and how they can be both the making and, in some instances, the breaking of us.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

The remaining Witches Corpse Trilogy series—Witches Blooding and Witches End.


Math Bird is a multi-genre novelist and short story writer. He’s a member of the Crime Writers Association and the Horror Writers Association, and his work has aired on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Wales, and BBC Radio 4 Extra.

He is presently writing four series: HolyHell crime series, Elizabeth Daton occult thriller series, The Whistling Sands crime trilogy and the The Whistling Sands crime trilogy. To learn more, please visit his website.

BORDER SANDS with Math Bird

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