It’s a rainy start to the week here in Bath, which means it’s definitely ‘Big Coat’ time! I have to say I love Autumn, with its falling leaves and nippy weather – just cool enough to start a fire, or dig out your woolly jumpers. I’m feeling oddly energised to crack on with the rest of my current Work-in-Progress but, before I do, I thought I’d take a moment to make my next Author Introduction in the form of the lovely Tana Collins.
Tana is an Edinburgh-based crime writer and author of the Jim Carruthers detective series, set in Fife. The first book in her series, Robbing the Dead, became a top ten Amazon Scottish Crime Fiction bestseller as did its sequel, Care to Die. Published on 1st June 2017, Care to Die has been described by Peter Robinson as, “…a finely plotted mystery” which “racks up the suspense”, with her cop DI Jim Carruthers being “one to watch”.
Well, that all sounds good to me! Why don’t we find out a little more about Tana…
- Tell us a little about yourself – don’t be shy!
I was born in Yorkshire but grew up in rural East Sussex. It was rather quiet there as I recall. I entertained myself as a teenager by listening to police messages I managed to intercept on my radio. (Ssssh. Don’t tell anyone!) I always loved to try to solve a crime and imagined solving them before the police! It was all going so well, until they caught me. Roll on thirty-five years and I now live in Edinburgh where I’m writing my third Inspector Carruthers novel with a book deal behind me.
- How about your latest book – what can readers look forward to when they pick it up?
I try to create a strong sense of place with interesting characters in my novels and I’ve been told that I don’t shirk from writing about difficult subjects, which is true. I like that feeling of unsettlement you can get when reading a piece of crime fiction but I also like to base my novels on real life stories. The Inspector Carruthers series is set in the picturesque East Neuk of Fife, although the latest case takes our Inspector to Iceland! You can expect a gritty read in Care to Die but with a hugely emotional side to the plot. I have been really fortunate in that both Robbing the Dead and Care to Die have been Top 10 Amazon bestsellers in Scottish crime fiction and I’ve had some great reviews.
- Who is your hero in real life and in fiction?
Ooh, what a good question. I guess, as cheesy as it sounds, all the unsung heroes in the world. I’ve spent a fair amount of time recently in hospital because my father-in-law has been so ill. The caring and wonderful NHS staff almost reduced me to tears! In fiction, I think it would have to be Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks! He’s so dependable, isn’t he?
- Who are your three favourite writers – and why?
It’s no secret that my favourite writer is Peter Robinson. I love his characters and setting. I was privileged to fly to Estonia a few years ago to study crime writing with him when he was giving a summer school course at Tallinn University and Tallinn becomes the setting for my third novel, Mark of the Devil, to be published in 2018. Without giving too much away I had to do an awful lot of research on international art crime for that one! I also love Robert Goddard as his novels are so complex and I just love the historical element he weaves in to his writing. And Ann Cleeves, both for her Shetland and Vera series. I nearly wept when I heard recently she wasn’t going to write any more of the Shetland series!
- When you’re not writing, what is your favourite way to spend your time?
Again, don’t tell anyone, but I love my afternoon naps. Nothing like curling up in bed with my cat, Smudge. My partner, Ian, thinks I’m being lazy but I keep telling him that’s where all my ideas germinate for the next Inspector Carruthers book. When I’m not napping or writing I’m out with a pair of binoculars and a butterfly ID book. I’m currently taking part in Butterfly Conservation’s the Big Butterfly Count. It’s great fun!
6. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
It’s pretty hard to beat getting a three book publishing deal when you have spent ten arduous years writing and there’s no better feeling than seeing your book in print. That said, I’m also pretty proud of the fact I’ve got an MA in Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario. The university had its own police force that cycled around the campus in tight shorts. Some things you just don’t forget.
- What was your favourite book as a child?
It has to be Enid Blyton’s the Famous Five series. It was an early introduction to reading a series! I think I always knew I wanted to create a series using the same characters. Readers seem to love the way the characters of Jim Carruthers and Andrea Fletcher are developing which has given me immense pleasure.
- Have you read any books recently that have really captured your imagination?
Well, I read Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s Silence of the Sea recently and found it so creepy I didn’t sleep for a week! Am I allowed to say I love all the DCI Ryan books? Any book that has a terrific sense of place and great characters captures my imagination.
[Blogger’s Note: You’re definitely allowed to say… 😉 ]
- If the Prime Minister knocked at your front door and asked to borrow a book, which one would you recommend they read?
That’s a fiendish question to answer! I’m not answering that on the grounds that it might incriminate me! That said, I’d love to see what your other authors have written.
- Finally, if you could be any character from a movie, which would it be?
Well, being a huge Arsenal fan, like my female detective, Andrea Fletcher, I think I would have to be Colin Firth in the film Fever Pitch! I love football. Or I would have been Dee Hepburn’s character in Gregory’s Girl. I was so jealous!! Or I would love to have been any character in Local Hero. I loved that film. There you go. I’ve given you three.
Can I just say at the close of the interview, Louise, what a great pleasure it’s been answering your questions. Thank you for featuring me!
…It’s been great having you on the blog, Tana! I love to hear about fresh talent and I’m sure the readers do, too. I’m looking forward to reading your new book about international art crime – sounds fantastic.
For now, though, it’s back to Microsoft Word I go, as I iron out some tricky scenes in DCI Ryan’s seventh outing, Dark Skies. Wishing you all a happy and healthy week!