Crime pays for Lynda!
Prolific writer Lynda La Plante chats about her latest Tennison thriller and a new film
Aaret 74 years of age, many of us have retired – or certainly considering it. But the opposite is true for award-winning authoress and screenwriter Lynda La Plante. Her latest book, Good Friday, a gripping new Jane ‘Prime Suspect’ Tennison novel, was published recently and Lynda has been contracted for a further five Tennison tomes. Plus she’s currently busy updating a crime drama show she originally wrote as a pilot some years ago for an American TV network. If this wasn’t enough, her first TV series Widows – originally broadcast in 1983 – has been adapted for the big screen. Starring Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell and Viola Davis, the film will be released next year. “No, I’m not slowing down in the least,” Lynda tells us from her home in the Hamptons on the east coast of America, where she spends half the year. “It’s quite bizarre the way things are really happening for me again. I’m winding up, rather than winding down. Not that I’m complaining, though. I love what I do.” It shows. Her passion for crime-writing leaps off the pages in Good Friday. The story is set in midSeventies London. Jane Tennison is a 24-year-old detective constable who survives a deadly IRA explosion at a London tube station. Minutes before the blast, she catches sight of the bomber and,
in a race against time, must convince senior officers that her instincts are right before the bomber strikes again. “We experience the depth of emotions that a very young policewoman is subjected to by being involved in a bombing,” Lynda explains. “But we also see something of Jane’s personal life. What really shapes a person is the relationships they have throughout life. In Good Friday, she is attracted to an extremely charismatic DS called Alan Dexter – I found him very attractive myself as I was writing him! But there’s also a nice, safe chap waiting in the wings. “Jane really wants a relationship, but how does she combine that with her incredibly demanding job – especially when we’re talking about how things were more than 40 years ago? Many police officers – especially those in senior positions – have a history of failed relationships because they’re under such a lot of pressure and work crazy hours. These days police officers are
‘When it comes to crime writing it’s the puzzle aspect that interests me. It’s the hunt too. You want to keep your readers and viewers guessing’
able to form relationships with each other, but this was frowned upon in the Seventies and Eighties.” Lynda is never stuck for inspiration when writing a crime novel. “There’s an endless supply of stories out there,” she says. “In fact, they come to me much of the time. I have a wonderful researcher, who informs me about real-life cases and crimes. Obviously, I
expand on these because you can’t write it just as it is. When it comes to crime writing, it’s the puzzle aspect that interests me rather than getting inside the head of a psychopath or the twisted mind of a killer. “It’s the hunt. You want to keep your readers and viewers guessing. If they know who it is early on, then naturally they lose interest. The thing is to keep the puzzle going and only reveal the last piece of the jigsaw right at the end.” Lynda is hoping that Good Friday will be picked up for a television series – as was Prime Suspect 1973 earlier this year. “Thanks to the popularity of Scandinavian crime dramas like The Bridge, the genre is back is fashion,” she says. “I’m very proud of the fact that a Swedish member of production revealed to me they had dissected Prime Suspect frameby-frame in order to produce a winning formula for their crime dramas. I enjoy watching British crime dramas like Happy Valley, but wish more actors were cast in leading roles. It tends to be the same old faces over and over again. We have so much talent in the UK and yet programme makers here seem obsessed with casting the same few actors. In the US, they’re not afraid to use new faces.” Speaking of America, why has Lynda chosen to live half the year there? “Mainly so I can write,” she replies. “Where I am in the Hamptons, there’s lots of peace and quiet. I just don’t get that in London – there’s too much going on.” Whether in the US or the UK, Lynda’s adopted 14-year-old son, Lorcan, joins her during his boarding school holidays and for long weekends. “Being the mother of a teen isn’t easy,” she acknowledges, “and Lorcan’s a typical teenage boy. He’s very mechanical and great at taking things apart, but not so good at putting them back together! It’s also impossible to get him to do homework. And as for reading a book…” Good Friday is out now and published by Zaffre Publishing, priced £14.99.
A tense moment for Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) in Prime Suspect, with DS Richard Haskons (played by
From top left, helen Mirren as tennison, the cast of Widows and Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson