Unquiet Souls and Uncoiled Lies. Two very gripping books, and both very well received with many five star reviews between them. Obviously the public like them, and I know why. But instead of me telling you why they’re so great, let’s hear it from the author herself. She’s a very talented lady and she’s called Liz Mistry. So come on Liz, tell us all about your two books and DI Gus McGuire.
DI Gus McGuire is a complex character. He suffers from PTSD after being unable to prevent his best friend from killing his family. Gus feels guilt because, as well as being physically injured in the attack, he had to kill his best friend.
One of the things readers seem to like about Gus is his close relationship with his family. I think many detectives are alone or have bad relations with their relatives, Gus is lucky to have supportive parents. Mind you, on occasion he does get a tad impatient with his dad, pathologist Fergus McGuire, a bluff endearing Scotsman who is over-protective of his son. His mother Corrinne is an intelligent would-be creative woman who veers from unsuccessful creative project to unsuccessful creative project. She loves to nurture her family and smothers them with home cooking and baking. Unfortunately, her culinary skills leave a lot to be desired. Gus’ family will definitely be in future DI McGuire novels.
We all know a very important part of a good book are the characters. Just how difficult is it to get this part just right?
Characterisation is both key to a good story and, in my humble opinion also the most difficult bit to get right. I seem to spend a lot of time in the heads of my characters which is fine if it’s a good one like Gus or Compo, my eccentric computer geek. However, getting into the head of characters’ like The Matchmaker is hard work. I tend to do that in short sharp bursts and then feel exhausted afterwards. I think most writers worry that they’ve misjudged their characterisation sometimes. I find it really useful for my writer friends to read my work. They’re generally very good at telling me if I’ve stepped out of character
A question I love asking is, has any of your own personal character gone into any of your characters?
I think it’s probably inevitable that some of ‘me’ goes in to my characters. Most of them will be a mish mash of experiences I’ve had, people I’ve met, things I’ve read or seen on telly… and of course I do a lot of eaves dropping!
Now then, for everyone that hasn’t read any of your books. What would they gain from reading them?
My books are heavily rooted in Bradford, which I think gets a lot of bad press as a city. Every city has its problems, but after living in Bradford for thirty years it’s my home and I love it. I love the fact that we have a world heritage site (Saltaire Village) in the city. We have amazing galleries and museums. We host amazing festivals (The World Curry festival, Bradford Lit fest and Ilkley lit Fest. We’re home to the Brontes and, as a people, we are culturally diverse and benefit from sharing this diversity. I hope all of that comes through in my books.
Are there any themes or messages in your books?
The reason I love crime fiction so much is that it allows me to explore the injustices that exist in society. I like to think that in my writing I give voice to the disenfranchised that exist and are often ignored in out material world.
When you first started writing your novels; did you plan them first or did you just get straight into the writing and see how it pans out?
Unquiet Souls was a long time in the making. In actual fact Uncoiled Lies was going to be Book Number 1 and then I realised that I wanted to include some of Gus’ back story so Unquiet Souls was born. I am a bit of an insomniac so I spend a lot of time cogitating and allowing the plots to stew in my mind before I get around to typing. I’m one of those writers who writes and lets the characters and story take me where it will. All in all it took me over ten years to finish Unquiet souls and get it published. I’m on a bit of a role now and am cracking on with book number three.
If you did have some sort of plot worked out first, do you use something like Scrivener or anything similar? Actually, what I’m really asking is, are you organised, or do you have sticky notes plastered all over your desk?
I did try Scrivener, but it didn’t work for me, although I know people who swear by it. I am a bit ‘set of the pants’ writer. I love coloured gel pens and post it notes. My desk, I must admit, is very messy and I do seem to spend rather a lot of time hunting round for things (prevarication is my middle name)
Apart from your writing, you are also the co-founder, and lead blogger with The Crime Warp Blog. Tell me a little bit about this, because I’m very intrigued.
The Crime Warp came about when a group of like-minded crime fiction fans met at Harrogate crime fiction festival about 5 years ago. We clicked and decided to set up the blog which has become more successful than we could have hoped. Our audience is world-wide and we get over 6000 hits per month.
We review contemporary crime fiction, do author interviews and giveaways etc. For me, reading and reviewing other authors work helps me in my craft. I believe that a sound knowledge of your genre is key to writing well… that and having a strangely quirky mind.
Has there ever been a moment in time that sticks out as being a turning point in your writing life?
There have been two turning points for me. The first was managing, despite being in the process of recovering from a very debilitating bout of depression that had lasted over two years, to start the MA in Creative writing at Leeds trinity university. To begin with it was torture. I spent a of time crying, pulling my hair out and generally thinking I couldn’t do it. However, being in a writing community with such supportive students and staff soon helped me overcome some of my difficulties and I wouldn’t be published if I hadn’t, with the support and encouragement of my amazing family, taken that first step.
I started to submit unquiet souls to various agents and, despite getting very positive feedback, the response was always a reluctant knock back. By chance I posted a throwaway comment on one of my Facebook book groups about not knowing what to do next. Fortunately for me Betsy Reavley from Bloodhound Books saw it and suggested I submit to her. I did and within a week, I had a contract … I’m still pinching myself. It’s been a whirlwind and I’m so happy to be part of Bloodhound books.
Liz, what a fantastic interview, and I must say you have given me some great answers. So all that's left for me to do now is sat many thanks for taking time out to do this, and of course best of luck with your third book; so pleased you're on a roll.And of course best of luck with you blog, The Crime Warp.
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Today, I've got a great interview with a lady called Liz Mistry. Let me tell you a little about Liz. She's highly regarded the world of crime fiction, and if you read her two books you will soon know why. Lucky for me I have been able to track her down for an interview, and this is what she had to say.