Denise Mina is a Scottish crime writer and playwright, and while studying for her PhD at Strathclyde University she used her student grant to write her first novel, Garnethill, which was published in 1998. It won the Crime Writers Association John Creasy Dagger for Best First Crime Novel. Since then she has published a total of 12 novels and has also written various short stories, plays and graphic novels.
Described as a writer of Tartan Noir, she is famous for writing the highly successful Garnethill trilogy. As well as Garnethill she’s also written a series of novels featuring around the character Patricia ‘Paddy’ Meehan, a Glasgow Journalist.
Her first novel featuring ‘Paddy’ Meehan, The Field of Blood was filmed and broadcast by the BBC in 2011 and the second, The Dead Hour was filmed and broadcast in 2013.
In 2014 she was inducted into the Crime Writers’ Association Hall of Fame.
Now on with the actually Interview:
Tell me a little about what you enjoy reading, and are there any authors that you like to read?
I find it hard to read fiction when I’m writing and I have a lot of books pending for blurbs, which is a source of terrible guilt. My favourite writers, people I go back to time and again, are Orwell, Bulgakov, Nemirovsky but I enjoy non fiction, biographies and true crime. It’s awful but I don’t go by author, generally, but subject
What attracted you to writing in the first place?
Reading. I was reading Zola or Dickens and I thought what a great thing it was to write stories like that. I never thought I would make a living at it but it was like a compulsion and still is.
Did you have any idea that your books would be as big as they are?
No clue. I honestly thought maybe six people, living in Partick, would understand what I was on about. I’m amazed every day, waiting for it to end all the time. But maybe that’s a good thing, keeps you grateful.
Can you think of a few tips of the top of your head for writing the perfect antagonist/protagonist?
David Peace said that people fall in love with characters because of their flaws, not in spite of them and I think that’s very true. Make them flawed and fallible. That’s why we love anyone, really.
So after a few years in the creative industry, do you have any tips for newcomers?
Enjoy it. Someone once said that all careers in the creative industries are a race against bitterness. People with less talent than you will do better, you’ll never feel safe or successful but it’s a privilege to do these jobs at all.
Do you have any rules for writing that you think have served you well?
Write. Being a writer is a pose not a job, writing is a job. Don’t talk all the energy out of your ideas before you write them and try not to be a prick. Your audience is the reader, not the critics or the judges for the Booker.
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