Earlier this week I was interviewed by the lovely Mel Sherratt, whose infectious spirit and never say die attitude have helped her to become an Amazon best seller.
Mel is the author of several novels including the popular ‘Estate’ series which includes ‘Somewhere To Hide’, ‘Behind a Closed Door’ and ‘Fighting For Survival’.
Her stand alone debut ‘Taunting The Dead’ stormed the charts last year and I happen to know that Mel is currently in the process of polishing up another potential chart buster.
I would say that down to earth characters with a big heart are central to Mel’s work, so I expect she’d quite like Jill Shadow in ‘Kiss and Tell’.
Mel’s books tend to feature gritty real life dilemmas, often those encountered by society’s more hapless souls.
This was her interview with me which she featured on her ‘Murder They Wrote’ blog:
For my next victim, I have Tim Cooke. Tim, can you describe your latest novel in one sentence.
Meet Jill Shadow, the accidental lawyer with a past she’d rather forget – which not only comes back to haunt her, but propels her into a dark world of drugs, money laundering and murder…
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Predictable, Unpredictable… Flippant
What is your main character called? What three words would you use to describe them?
Clodagh Gillian Shadow, who insists on being known as ‘Jill’… Driven, Caring and Instinctive
Can you tell us one positive and one negative trait of your main character?
…brave, but occasionally headstrong.
What inspired you to write crime fiction?
I’ve always had a general interest in crime… from a number of angles. Experience working in a criminal law practice and being a legal advisor for tv dramas gave me a good grounding, and heightened my interest. Writing for television serial drama helped too as it gives you a good feel for story and structure. I needed to learn the formulas and moulds, even though I now spend most of my time breaking them!
Who is your favourite crime author? (and why)
I don’t really have a ‘favourite’ as such. I appreciate the skills of authors like Val McDermid, Sophie Hannah and John Grisham. Val visits some very dark places with her characters and I think she encapsulates the word ‘sinister’ as well as any writer has. Sophie’s books tend to have menace too, often creating a lingering and latent tension. As for John Grisham, he builds so well. I guess you could say he tends to tell the same story over again, in different guises, but he is a master of it nonetheless. From a different point of view I also admire Kyril Bonfiglioli and Mark Haddon. They are intriguing writers but neither fit neatly into the crime fiction genre… perhaps that’s why I like them? I should also put in a word for Patricia Highsmith, of Strangers On a Train and The Talented Mr Ripley fame. I must like awkward and challenging characters!
What is your favourite book of theirs? (and why)
If pressed I’d have to choose Mark Haddon’s – ‘The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-time’. The title alone would be enough to make me pick the book up or browse further online. There are a number of personal reasons why I found this book so enthralling, and sometimes a book just resonates with you. I know it’s a stretch to call it ‘crime fiction’ but there are enough elements I think to force it into the box. The character of young Christopher Boone is so well portrayed, and the boy’s assimilation of facts about the death of the dog plays wonderfully against the family chaos that surrounds him. My second novel ‘Defending Elton’ also has a dysfunctional lead, and though it’s not directly inspired by this book, because I wrote the first draft as a screenplay many years ago, it probably explains why I like ‘Curious Incident’ so much.
What is the book you wished you’d written ?
I admire so many writers, but have never wished that I’d written any of their books. It somehow feels awkward, as writing is such a personal experience. I am a big of fan of the Chris Douglas radio 4 series ‘Ed Reardon’s Week’. I really don’t know if it’s available in print but get the CD series box sets! it’s very succinct, and funny, and tells the story of a struggling writer… I can’t say ‘I wish I’d written it’ but I’d feel comfortable writing something like that, and would be proud to have written it.
Who is/was your favourite crime duo – film, television or book?
Easy one that. Batman and Robin, with Adam West and Burt Ward. There was something about the old tv series that had me mesmerised as a child. Even as a teenager I appreciated the blatantly daft scripts, the curious lack of pathos, the off-skew camera angles and the tongue in cheek performances. I also used to like the original Randall and Hopkirk, again perhaps because there was something a little different about it. On a more serious note, maybe Holmes and Watson. I’m not that big a fan of ‘duos’, generally I like more maverick types… like Maigret, Van der Valk and Jane Tennison.
Tell me one weird and wonderful fact about yourself…
That given such a chaotic and dysfunctional upbringing I ever managed to write a sentence, let alone a book…
You can find out more about Tim at his website here: www.tjcooke.com