Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing fabulous Yorkshire author Liz Mistry who is enjoying great success with her gritty crime thriller series based in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
Liz has three successful novels published – Unquiet Souls (a DI Gus McGuire case Book 1), Uncoiled Lies (a DI Gus McGuire case Book 2) and Untainted Blood ( DI Gus McGuire case Book 3) all featuring Detective Gus McGuire.
Liz is also the co-founder and lead blogger of The Crime Warp Blog which is a great source for all crime novel lovers as it features reviews and interviews with authors. http://thecrimewarp.blogspot.co.uk/
As a keen writer myself I am always fascinated with the details behind every author so I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.
Good afternoon Liz and thank you for joining me on my blog today.
At what age did you start writing and why?
I’ve always written stories. When I was a child I remember writing long meandering stories in the style of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. However, it wasn’t till I had finished at Uni and settled down in Bradford that I began to attend creative writing workshops and courses. My first book Unquiet Souls was in my mind for a long time before I put pen to paper and then it was years before I finished it.
Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?
I’m a bit of a sponge. I read a lot and I eaves drop loads and people watch too. So, basically my ideas can come from anything, anyone or anyplace. I sometimes visit a place and think,’ oh yes this needs to go in a book’. My newest book Untainted Blood was inspired by my reactions to the Brexit referendum and Trumps election as US president and all the resultant hatred that flared up.
Who is your favourite author and why?
I have lots of favourite authors but my most favourite is Stuart MacBride. He writes gritty Tartan noir set in Aberdeen. What I like most about his work is that he seamlessly delves into the darkest areas of peoples’ lives with a belly grabbing dark humour that makes me laugh out loud. His characters are fantastic and diverse and his observations of human nature are pithy and to the point.
What does literary success look like to you?
Many things. Having good reviews from folk who appreciate the genre I write in. Having a story idea in my mind that keeps me awake at night. Loving what I’m doing and looking forward to it every single day. Sharing what I’ve learned of my craft with others through creative writing workshops… the list is endless.
How many hours a day do you write and where do you do most of your writing?
Since being published I’ve learned that it’s not just about writing the stories, it’s also about keeping in contact with readers, bloggers and the wider world through social media as well as upkeeping my blog The Crime Warp. So, every morning I spend some time on social media. Then I spend my time writing in Leeds Trinity University Library, The Hare and Hounds pub in Heaton, Bradford or The Lunch Monkey café in Heaton or in my wee office at home. A lot of my ‘writing’ time is spent ‘thinking’ though.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
It took me a long while to settle on the names for my main characters and in the end it just sort of came to me that ‘Gus should be ‘Gus’ (Angus) and his dad should be ‘Fergus’. My character Alice Cooper’s surname came to me when I decided she should drive a Mini. Then, when I worked on her backstory and realised her parents were eccentric scientists it seemed funny for them, to be oblivious of the real ‘Alice Cooper’ and name her Alice. My other characters I struggle with. In Unquiet Souls, I named three separate minor characters Billy and had to change them. I’ve taken to raising money for MIND charity by hosting a ‘get your name in my next book’ raffle.
What was your favourite childhood book and why?
I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and The Secret Seven. I also enjoyed Heid and then I progressed to Nancy Drew and soon after Agatha Christie.
How long from start to finish does it take for you to complete a book?
My first two books had been marinating in my mind for more years than I care to remember. I’d written bits of them but hadn’t finished any until I started on the MA in creative writing at Leeds Trinity University. My tutor advised me to just get Unquiet Souls written and then worry about the editing afterwards. I took his advice and found it very liberating. Untainted Blood took me about six months start to finish (including the editing) and I anticipate my work in progress will take around the same length of time.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not writing?
What spare time? Seriously, I read in my spare time and I also walk and swim. I like to knit or crochet of an evening when I’m watching TV – no sub titles for me though as I can’t knit and read at the same time.
Do you have any advice for any keen writers reading this today?
My advice would be just bite the bullet and sit down and write it from beginning to end. During the editing stage, you can change and tinker, but get it all down first. It’s very liberating to know you can write a full-length novel!
Thank you very much Susanna for having me on your blog and for asking such interesting questions.
Thank you to Liz for taking part in my blog today and for giving us an insight into the life of a published author. I am sure many of us harbour a desire to write a book and see it published. I know I certainly do ! In fact I have a half written novel stuck in a drawer somewhere gathering dust. I hope this has inspired you all to think about getting those ideas down on paper. If it has, then let me know in the comments below. Sometimes all we need is inspiration from others to set us going so I hope Liz has inspired you in some way.
For more information about Liz and her work please pop over to her website https://lizmistrycrimewriter.wordpress.com/
Liz is attending many literary events in 2017-18 and these are listed below.
21st Sept Noir at the Wigan Bar (group of crime writer’s doing readings from their work) (Sold Out)
2nd Oct Book Launch Waterstones York from 6:30
7th Oct Inside The Mind of a Crime Writer panel at Morley Arts Festival
10th Oct Before I was fabulous (fringe event Ilkley Lit Fest organised by LTU MA student Stephanie Buick)
15th Oct Ilkley Lit Fest: Crime In Your Backyard panel
28th Oct Fact V Fiction panel, Fareham
23rd Nov Portsmouth Dark Fest Femme Fatale panel
21st Feb 2018 Crime writers panel in Harpenden
I hope you have enjoyed today’s blog. As always, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below or send me a private message.
I am hoping to make a regular feature of interviewing Yorkshire people, businesses and organisations so keep popping back for more exciting features.
Until next time