LIFE OF CRIME

THIS IS­SUE EX-CID of­fi­cer and Theak­stons Prize win­ner CLARE MACKINTOSH

Crime Scene - - CONTENTS -

Theak­stons Prize-win­ning au­thor Clare Mackintosh on mur­der and shop­ping.

What’s the very first crime novel you ever re­mem­ber read­ing?

Well, my first crime novel – if you dis­count The Se­cret Seven and their de­tec­tive ex­ploits – would have been And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. She’s just the mas­ter of plot­ting, so that was a great ground­ing.

What’s your favourite crime novel ever and why?

Daphne du Mau­rier’s Re­becca was my first in­sight into do­mes­tic sus­pense – that would be one that I would read again and again. It’s the char­ac­ters and the sort of creep­ing dread that runs through the book that I love.

Who has been your role model?

I re­ally look up to Mark Billing­ham and Peter James, not only be­cause they’re en­joy­ing such suc­cess­ful ca­reers, but be­cause they’re so in­cred­i­bly gen­er­ous to new au­thors. I think that’s a re­ally won­der­ful way to be when you’ve been suc­cess­ful your­self.

Who or what most in­spires you?

I’m at­tracted to set­tings and I like to build a world around them. The Gower Penin­sula is just a beau­ti­ful place to be. I set Jenna’s sec­tions of I Let You Go there be­cause I find the coast both free­ing and also slightly fright­en­ing. There’s some­thing sim­i­lar on the Un­der­ground [ which fea­tures in I See You] – it sym­bol­ises free­dom in terms of en­abling you to get around, but ac­tu­ally I find it quite a claus­tro­pho­bic and threat­en­ing place to be.

What would you be do­ing now if you weren’t an au­thor?

I don’t think I would be in the po­lice. I think I would have stayed do­ing free­lance jour­nal­ism and copy­writ­ing. I al­ways wanted to be a ra­dio pre­sen­ter. I think ev­ery­one has at least three ca­reers.

What ad­vice would you give to your 14-year-old self?

Just to be­lieve in my­self a bit more. I al­ways loved writ­ing and I al­ways knew se­cretly, I think, that I was quite good at it. But I never quite had the con­fi­dence to do any­thing with it. While I might not have done that at 14, I could have per­haps done it at 18, or 24 or 30.

What’s your favourite TV crime show, past or present?

TV po­lice shows have be­come much more ac­cu­rate. Happy Val­ley is my favourite show be­cause it’s got the whole pack­age – the act­ing’s su­perb, it’s got hu­mour, it’s re­ally down to earth. Sally Wain­wright’s writ­ing is ex­quis­ite, it’s the TV equiv­a­lent of a page-turner.

As an es­tab­lished writer, who do you now most ad­mire among your peers?

So­phie Han­nah was a huge in­flu­ence. She has this bril­liant mesh of po­lice pro­ce­dural and psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller, which I re­ally en­joyed. So I find her very in­spi­ra­tional. And Co­lette Mc­beth – I re­ally kept her in mind the whole time I was writ­ing my sec­ond book, be­cause while I loved her first book [ Pre­cious Thing], her sec­ond book [ The Life I Left Be­hind] was even bet­ter.

What’s the best crime novel you’ve read this past year?

There’s a book called In Her Wake by Amanda Jen­nings. It’s not mak­ing a huge splash and I feel it should, be­cause the writ­ing is so good and it’s so at­mo­spheric and the char­ac­ters are so bril­liantly drawn. So that’s def­i­nitely one of my books of the year.

Which fic­tional char­ac­ter do you wish you’d cre­ated?

I would se­cretly quite like to write funny books. So I sup­pose if I were to think about char­ac­ters I’d like to cre­ate they would be some­thing like in So­phie Kin­sella’s Shopa­holic series, that sort of thing. I don’t have any plans to write a dif­fer­ent genre. But when­ever I read those books, I think what fun they would be to cre­ate.

What’s the cra­zi­est let­ter you’ve ever had from a fan?

I’ve had lots. I have just had an email this morn­ing from a lady that felt I Let You Go was very in­au­then­tic, be­cause Jenna was very un­likely to get a broad­band sig­nal in ru­ral Wales. And you know, she’s prob­a­bly got a point. I’m sorry that mi­nor de­tail has spoiled things for her.

If you could com­mit a crime and get away with it, what would it be?

I think I’d prob­a­bly mur­der some­one, I’m not sure who, or how or why. But yeah – that would be great re­search, wouldn’t it?

I See You and I Let You Go (Sphere) are out now.

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