I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour celebrating the return of the Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival which is taking place between the 28th and 29th September.
As part of the blog tour I’m delighted to be interviewing William Shaw about his new book, Deadland, the second novel in the DS Alexander Cupidi series.
YOU CAN RUN
The two boys never fitted in. Seventeen, the worst age, nothing to do but smoke weed; at least they have each other. The day they speed off on a moped with a stolen mobile, they’re ready to celebrate their luck at last. Until their victim comes looking for what’s his – and ready to kill for it.
YOU CAN HIDE
On the other side of Kent’s wealth divide, DS Alexandra Cupidi faces the strangest murder investigation of her career. A severed limb, hidden inside a modern sculpture in Margate’s Turner Contemporary. No one takes it seriously – not even the artwork’s owners, celebrity dealers who act like they’re above the law.
YOU CAN DIE
But as Cupidi’s case becomes ever more sinister, as she wrangles with police politics and personal dilemmas, she can’t help worrying about those runaway boys. Seventeen, the same age as her own headstrong daughter. Alone, on the marshes, they’re pawns in someone else’s game. Two worlds are about to collide.
Kent and its social divisions are brilliantly captured in Deadland, a crime thriller that’s as ingeniously unguessable as it is moving and powerful.
Deadland is available to purchase by clicking on one of the following links below.
Interview with William Shaw
Hi William, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Firstly can you tell us a little bit about what your latest book is about?
Deadland is about two poor teenage boys in Dartford who nick a phone, little realising that it’s the worst thing they could have possibly have stolen in their life. It’s also about how the rich expect to get what they want, all wrapped up in a deadly chase across Kent.
Your lead character, DS Alexandra Cupidi appeared in your standalone novel, The Birdwatcher. Why did you decide to write a series about her?
By the time I started Salt Lane I had written four books with male leads; what interested me is that of the women in those books who were my secondary characters were a bit tricky. It’s relatively easy to write male characters in detective fiction. They can get away with being drunken, promiscuous and impulsive in a way that women characters can’t. For better or worse, readers judge women characters more harshly. Having written Cupidi as this rather driven, impulsive person, someone who always feels they’re failing as a parent, I thought, what would happen if I made her a lead? Writing her keeps me on my toes. Readers have to like her, but I still want them to be tutting a bit about how she choses to live.
Do you think that Sergeant William South, your lead character in The Birdwatcher, will make any future appearances?
Oh yes. He’s back in Deadland. Changed by what happened to him at the end of The Birdwatcher (no spoilers), but back for good. Zoë still worships the ground he walks on.
You’ve set your latest books in Kent along the coastline. I found the setting very atmospheric when I was reading Salt Lane and The Birdwatcher. Is Kent an area you know particularly well?
I live in Brighton – so that bit of Kent is relatively close (though a pig to drive to). Everybody outside of the South East thinks the whole of the area is built up and wealthy. The idea that there is this socking great windswept bit of marshland, next to a this wild bit of shingle, comes as a shock to some people. It’s a great, beautiful landscape to set stories in. Writers tend to use Google Maps a lot; the great thing about the headland of Dungeness is that the foreshore is all private. No Google Maps cars are allowed there. The only way to get to know the place is to visit it. I’m off there on Thursday as it happens!
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster?
I started as a total pantser, but writing at least one book a year, that becomes a bit dangerous. The cover of my next book, Grave’s End, was designed long before I had finished it. So I’ve found it wise to know a bit about where I’m heading. But I still like those strange moments where the plot refuses to go where you intended it to.
How much research do you undertake before you begin writing?
Some. I love research. It’s one of my real pleasures. But I try and avoid doing too much at the start because otherwise the research is in charge of your story and ideally you want that the other way round. I then research as I go to see if what I’ve written is plausible. In Grave’s End I’m writing about badgers. At one point a badger brings up some bones from the ground. After I’d written it I invited a Professor who has studied badgers for years out for lunch and asked him if this could happen. ‘Oh yes. Happens all the time in graveyards,’ he said.
Is there anything you have particularly enjoyed reading recently which has stuck in your mind?
I really liked Mark Hill’s The Bad Place that reminds me that a little touch of humour amongst the grimness is always good; Lisa Jewell’s The Family Upstairs has a real quirkiness to it that I enjoyed a lot. On non-fiction I really loved The Edge of the World; How The North Sea Made Us by Michael Pye which makes any European nationalism sound ridiculous because it shows how much we’ve been sharing, trading and intermingling for millennia.
How excited are you about appearing at Morecambe & Vice?
I can’t believe that this is my third Morecambe & Vice. I genuinely love it there.
And finally is there anything you can tell us at all about what you’re working on next?
I have just finished a book called Grave’s End which involves several badgers. See above. It was a book that slotted together so nicely I’m really proud of it. I’m just embarking on another one that is about trawler men and a supposed drowning. Any title suggestions gratefully received.
Thank you William for taking the time to answer my questions and thank you to Sarah Hardy from Books on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.
ABOUT MORECAMBE & VICE
In September 2017, Morecambe & Vice made its sparkling debut at the glorious Morecambe Winter Gardens. Described as a weekend ‘full of warmth, wit and wisdom’, authors, speakers and guests from across the globe flocked to the sunny seaside for a weekend filled with criminal shenanigans.
Now, in 2019 we are back for our third year running! This year the North West’s quirkiest crime-writing festival will be bigger and better than ever before! Keep an eye out on our Facebook page and Twitter stream, as we start to announce authors and panels.
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