What drew you to the world of crime?
I’ve always been a big fan of crime fiction novels ever since I moved on to adult fiction at a young age. As a journalist I have covered many court cases which I find absolutely fascinating. There are many angles of crime you can get caught up in: the victimology, police procedure, the motive of the killer and the forensic detail.
What author (besides yourself) do you think that everyone should read?
I read so much crime and when I find a novel by an author I enjoy I like to read their entire catalogue. My ultimate favourite crime novelist of all time is the wonderful Minette Walters. She really is the queen of the psychological thriller.
Tell us about your new book
My book is set in my home city of Sheffield and centres on the cold case of a double murder committed twenty years previous. My main character, DCI Matilda Darke is given the case to try and solve on her first day back at work after a nine month enforced sabbatical following her handling of her last case. She’s given the case as a PR exercise to appease the press and ease her back into working life. She is a shadow of her former, brilliant self, and has many inner demons to battle to show she is capable of her prestigious job.
The opening of the case leads her to the sole witness; the fragile and haunted Jonathan Harkness. Matilda uncovers a disturbing history of the Harkness family and she has a fight on her hands with everyone involved, including members of her own team, in order to solve the case; some of whom don’t believe she should be allowed to return to work.
By the time the case is solved Matilda is a different person and the structure of her team will be changed forever.
Is there a lot of research that goes in to your books?
Definitely. You can never do enough research. I’ve been among many crime scenes during my time as a journalist but that’s only from a reporter’s point of view. I’ve had to research procedure from the other side of the crime scene tape. Medical procedure needs to be well researched too. I had to re-write a whole chapter once I found out the effects of a knife wound to the stomach.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on the second Matilda Darke novel which is set a couple of months after the events in For Reasons Unknown. She’s back to frontline policing but her confidence is still very low. She has an extremely complex investigation on her hands as the events of a double shooting reveal how regular, everyday people have hidden secrets, and present a different face to the public than the one they show at home.
Do you think you could pull off the ‘perfect murder’?
I’ve thought about this ever since I saw my first Columbo. I do have an idea for a novel where someone tries to commit the perfect murder. I think it is possible, as scary as that sounds.
What’s your top tip for aspiring authors?
Definitely research before you start writing. You may have written a brilliant chapter but it will kill you to have to delete it if it’s factually wrong.
What’s your poison?
Anything that’s undetectable in a post-mortem. Or if I’m drinking it I’ll have a large smooth latte if you’re buying.
What’s your method – regular writing schedule, late at night, listening to music – what inspires the magic for you?
I write very detailed notes before I sit down at the laptop to put it all together. I like to do this in a coffee shop with lattes on a loop. When it comes to typing it all up I like to do this at night or in the small hours of the morning. I find this time to be very productive. I do listen to music while typing; mostly film soundtracks. I’m a big fan of Danny Elfman and Marco Beltrami – very haunting and atmospheric.
What’s your favourite pastime (aside from reading/writing)?
I enjoy watching a good drama/thriller film and I have a very close knit group of friends I like to spend time with. I also have a Labrador who is a great companion. He listens to my ramblings about plots and I reward him with long walks and Bonios.