It’s my stop on Louise Beech’s blog tour for A Mountain in My Shoe, and we’re doing things a little different today. I’m handing over to Louise Beech and Alison Baillie as they talk about crime fiction over a cuppa. Over to them:
Alison, it’s a pleasure to chat to you. How do you like your tea? Or would you rather have coffee?
Hi Louise, lovely to be here. Definitely a coffee for me – I can’t start the day without one.
First of all, I love that we met through a mutual love of one another’s books. Sewing the Shadows Together is one of my favourite recent crime reads. Here’s a little bit of what I thought about it:
It was hard to believe this is a debut. It was so beautifully and patiently written – the pacing was exquisite. No twisty tricky cheap revelations here – just the reader making discoveries they feel only they’re made. It was all about the how the realistic characters coped with and felt about events unfolding. They were flawed people, but they found their ways into my heart. One not to miss.
Thanks, Louise. I loved How To Be Brave, such a poignant story, so beautifully written, and I can’t wait to read The Mountain in my Shoe.
Your title is beautiful. I really love evocative titles. People have asked how The Mountain in my Shoe came about, but of course when they read the book they find out. What gave you the title?
The title is a line from Bat by DH Lawrence. He wrote this poem in Florence when he was sitting by the Ponte Vecchio at dusk, watching the swallows swoop. The movements become jerkier and he realises that the swallows have been replaced by bats, which he hates. I vividly remember reading this poem at school when I was about thirteen and I incorporated this scene in my book. I love the title because it reflects the book’s themes of the gap between appearance and reality and making sense of past traumas. And that’s the short answer!
Tell me a little of your writing day. Are you strict? I am. Very. Won’t let myself even get up and go to the toilet until I’ve got plenty of words down.
Oh, I envy you your discipline. I’m the complete opposite. I always
think that conditions have to be perfect before I write anything at all, so I spend a lot of time sharpening metaphorical pencils and often don’t write a word. That’s the reason that I’m still only two-thirds of the way through my second book.
What are you currently working on? Tell us about it. I’m writing a novel – The Lion Tamer Who Lost – which really is a love story, one with a twist of course, and one that is dark and tragic.
That sounds intriguing – and I love the title. My second book is set in Switzerland, Scotland and Yorkshire. It’s about running away from the past and searching for identity, but I haven’t hit on the right title yet.
Do you ‘follow the rules’ when writing crime novels? Do you think there are any rules? I actually never write with a genre in mind. The Mountain in my Shoe ended up being a psychological thriller quite by accident. I just want to tell the story when I write. How about you?
I’m completely the same. People have commented that Sewing the Shadows Together is not only crime, but a psychological domestic noir, a family saga, social commentary or a love story. I just wrote the story I wanted to write, influenced by the books I like reading, especially Scottish and Scandinavian novels, where the characters and setting are important. I actually prefer novels that bridge genres.
Is there a genre other than crime that you really fancy writing?
I love psychological thrillers, and think my second book is probably more psychological than crime. I think there is a lot of common ground between these two genres.
Who are your favourite crime writers? I love Amanda Jennings, Sophie Hannah, David Young and Patricia Cornwell, all for different reasons.
My absolute favourite is Ian Rankin, as well as many other Scottish crime writers. I also love Scandinavian writers like Henning Mankell and Yrsa Sigurdardottir. My favourite books this year are by Amanda Jennings, S.E. Lynes, and you!
Yes – and you of course! More tea? Cake? I’m going to. And so finally, compare a cup of tea to what you want from a crime novel! I’m gonna go with dark, sugar-free, half-full and with a side of something nutty.
Thanks, Louise. Great to have this chat with you. As I’m a coffee-drinker, I’ll go for strong, dark, smooth, no sugar, a bit of a kick and a lingering aftertaste. And that’s the way I like my crime novels, too.
Many thanks to Louise Beech and Alison Baillie for taking over the blog today with a fabulous chat. You can catch my review of The Mountain in my Shoe next week!
Other stops on this blog tour