Thank you, Kath. It’s a pleasure to join you.
In terms of novels, yes the Riverhill Trilogy is my first foray into fiction. However, when I studied for my writing diploma around 15 years ago I wrote several short stories, and have included a number of these in my short story book, ‘Crime, Conflict & Consequences’. Prior to the writing course I dabbled a little in poetry but never had any poems published.
You write about the gang culture in an area I knew in my school days. I think what’s different about your books is that you write with an eye to the women whose lives become drawn into that culture. Was this a conscious decision, and why?
It’s something that developed over time and there’s quite a story behind it.
Going back to the first book, ‘Slur’, it didn’t start out as a crime novel. Originally I started writing about the lives of two young women and wanted to see where it took me.
The book had a bit of a chic lit feel to start with and the original title was ‘Nightclubbin’, but I was dissatisfied with it and wanted the book to have more substance. So, I asked the question ‘What if?’ What if something catastrophic was to happen, which would have devastating consequences on the lives of the two main characters? From this point on the book became a crime novel entitled ‘Slur’, and I found my preferred writing genre.
By the time I was nearing completion of ‘Slur’ I had grown attached to Rita and wanted to develop her character further. In ‘Slur’ I had already mentioned that her father was a petty crook and her sister hung about with some dubious characters, which gave me a starting point.
In addition, the Riverhill Estate is based on the estate where I lived from 73 to 80. During the 90s the drugs gangs moved into the estate and there were a lot of shootings. I started researching this period and was affected by the impact that gang violence had on the families involved (see: http://mavuk.org/about/history/). I have therefore focused on this in the second and third books in the trilogy.
With your reader hat on, do you choose crime and thriller fiction or do you spread your net more widely. What’s your favourite thing to read?
My two favourite genres are crime thrillers and sagas. Occasionally I try other genres, mostly through Indie authors that I have discovered, but I always tend to return to my two favourite genres. My favourite thriller authors to date are Jeffrey Deaver, Minette Walters and Nicci French. For sagas my favourites are Sara Fraser (The Tildy Series) and E V Thompson (The Retallick Saga), although some may view their books as historical fiction rather than sagas.
Are there any other genres you’d like to tackle or do you have more of the Riverhill kind of thriller in mind for your next publication?
I have lots of ideas for crime thrillers so that’s something I want to focus on for the near future. I also have a few ideas for novels that I would classify as women’s interest but I’m more excited about the crime novels.
My next publication is another crime novel. It takes place over a number of years and features a brother and sister as they transition into adulthood. I wanted to include their late childhood because it shapes their behaviour in their young adult years. The best way to describe the book would probably be to show you the book blurb:
Blurb of Bad Brother and I
For Adele and Peter Robinson it is by no means an easy childhood. To survive on a tough council estate in the Manchester suburbs of the 1960s and 70s, they have to learn to look after themselves. That struggle for survival is mirrored in their home lives with a slovenly mother and a drunken father who is perpetually angry.
What the children don’t realise at first is that their father’s violent mood swings don’t stem solely from a lack of satisfaction with his load. There is something inherent within him. By the time Adele is old enough to associate her father’s behaviour with stories about her mad great grandfather, she is already beginning to notice adverse signs in her brother.
As Peter grows up he engages in a life of escalating crime, which finally culminates in murder, and Adele is disgusted with the person he has become. Meanwhile, Adele is hiding behind a façade of normality and has difficulties in maintaining relationships because of her jealous rages. She is worried that she might also take after her father, and seeks help from a psychologist.
Can Adele manage to overcome her troubled past or will her damaged childhood, and fragile mental state, have devastating consequences on the rest of her life?
Is there any genre you think you’d never write, and why?
Fantasy, sci-fi and anything paranormal. For some reason those genres have never really appealed to me and, because I’ve never been an aficionado, I wouldn’t do anywhere near as good a job as authors that have a genuine interest in those topics.
And finally, what do you do to wind down? Any unusual hobbies I can winkle out of you?
My hobbies are all fairly standard. I enjoy books, of course, visits to the theatre and eating out. I also go to the gym and swimming but I think that the latter two are more out of guilt than pleasure. Oh, and I’m a member of a Spanish group, which I really enjoy. Even if we don’t learn much, we always have a good natter and a laugh.
Thanks, Heather, and best of luck with Book 3 of the Riverhill Trilogy, Danger by Association, out today. You can find all Heather’s books on her Amazon page here