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Final Exam

Photo of author Shari Lapena, smiling.

Shari Lapena's Mysterious Ways

The writer of bestselling whodunits shares her circuitous route from lawyer to teacher to celebrated author.

Describe yourself as a student.

Well-behaved. Teachers loved me.

What were your favourite literary pieces studied at school?

I loved the Shakespearean tragedies — Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth (especially Macbeth) and The Merchant of Venice. I didn't like the comedies. And I loved Beowulf.

Who are your favourite historical figures?

I loved reading about all the British and French kings and queens, and various revolutions. I read a lot about Russian history. But favourite historical figures? Honestly, there wasn't a lot to admire.

Who are your non-fiction heroes?

Right now, my real-life hero is Greta Thunberg.

Who are your favourite writers?

Kate Atkinson, Hilary Mantel, Anthony Trollope — and too many others to name.

As a student, what career path did you dream of following?

I wanted to be a writer when I was about nine. But I didn't really consider it as a career path. A law degree seemed like a good idea. But I never really wanted to be a lawyer.

What natural gift did you wish to possess during your school days? And now?

A photographic memory would have been nice. I don't need that anymore. I wish I had a natural gift for technology, but I don't. I still struggle with it.

Who is your favourite fictional teacher and school?

Hogwarts for most favourite school ever, and Snape for favourite teacher.

What quality did you most appreciate in a teacher?

I had a teacher who made history and politics absolutely fascinating. His name was Mr. McWhirter, and his enthusiasm really inspired me.

Your favourite extracurricular activity?

I was pretty good at basketball, even though I wasn't very tall.

Most important life lesson you learned at school?

Probably organization and discipline. And how to make friends.

Fondest school-related memory?

Hanging out in the halls with my best friends from high school. We still get together now.

What school experiences prepared you for your life now?

I was a big reader from a very young age. That love of books is still a big part of my life. Also, learning to type was useful. High school and university opened my mind and stimulated my curiosity.

You were a teacher: how did your school experience shape your career choice?

I loved literature and wanted to share that.

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