Maria McCann is primarily a historical novelist whose novels explore power struggles, denial, obsession and self-deception; she is particularly interested in the role of religion in shaping perception and in the gap between official narratives and lived reality. Two of her novels are set in in the seventeenth century, during and after the English Civil War: As Meat Loves Salt (2001, 2011) was an Economist book of the year; The Wilding (2010) was longlisted for the Orange prize and a Richard and Judy book club choice. Ace, King, Knave (2013), set in the 1760s, reflects her growing interest in how the Georgian period’s elegant surface masked a sophisticated underworld which intersected with respectable society and how this ‘doubleness’ created opportunities for resourceful impostors.
Maria sees herself as a novelist who happens to write historical fiction, rather than one who has no other interests. Her short stories, published in various anthologies, are usually set in the present day and her longer fiction may at some point take the same direction. Although interested in writing since childhood, she began serious work as a writer comparatively late in life. For many years she was employed in further education, delivering a wide range of courses. After the publication of her first novel, she ran the creative writing course at Strode College in Somerset for over a decade before leaving to take up the post of Arvon fiction mentor. Maria continues to live in Somerset and is a self-employed mentor and writing coach.