Sunday, 8 January 2017

Fab Firsts - Q&A With Liz Mistry

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of! 

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

I’m Liz Mistry and I’m a crime fiction writer working on a series of books set in Bradford featuring Detective Inspector Gus McGuire

1) Can you tell us a bit about your first book?

My debut novel is Unquiet Souls which is a gritty police procedural about child trafficking.  Set in Bradford it encompasses the dark side of Bradford whilst celebrating the richness of the city. My main character is DI Gus McGuire who has recently suffered a traumatic event and is hanging in there by the skin of his teeth. 
2) What was your original inspiration to become a writer, and to write your debut?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer and have allowed the characters in Unquiet Souls to bubble in the back of my mind for many years.  However, the main stimulus came for me after the latest in a series of bouts of depression (which I have struggled with for many years). After major medication adjustments and the help of an amazing dynamic therapy counsellor I began to feel better and decided at the ripe old age of 52 to embark on an MA in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University.  This was the best decision I ever made as it provided structure and a supportive network which allowed me to go from strength to strength both with my illness and my writing.

3) How long did it take you to write your first book?
Unquiet Souls has been on the boiler for a number of years and was originally going to be the second in the series but, after a few rejections from agents for my first idea I decided to work on Unquiet Souls.  Before I started my MA I had completed a first draft and used the MA to finesse it.  My dissertation was part of my second book Uncoiled Lies which is due out on 27th January 2017

4) If you could do anything differently in retrospect, what would you change about your debut, or how you went about writing it?

The main thing I would change is that I would have started writing seriously much earlier in my life.  I trained as a Primary teacher which I loved and I taught in inner city Bradford schools for over twenty years… but writing is my passion and I regret the years I wasted not pursuing my dream.

5) Was your first book self or traditionally published, and how did you go about making that decision?

Unquiet Souls is published by Bloodhound Books which is a rapidly expanding independent publishing house.  After many rejections from agents, a chance comment on Facebook got noticed by Betsy Reavley who then invited me to submit.  I did and a few short months later I was published… amazing! 

6) Do you have any tips for other first time authors?

I suppose my main tip has to be: Don’t give up!  If it’s meant to be it will eventually happen… it did for me anyway.

7) First book you bought?

The first books I bought were Agatha Christie’s.  Not sure which one but I remember being on holiday with my parents in Nairn, Scotland and being allowed to buy books from the book shop with my holiday money (Normally we were only allowed to get books from the library).  I think I’d have been around ten to twelve years old.

8)  First album you purchased?

Oh that would have been Bob Dylan live at Budapest.  It seemed such an exotic title for a wee lass from Scotland.  I just loved his gritty voice and the social message he put out there.

9)  First embarrassing moment you can remember?
Not sure I should share this but here goes… I once chased a bowling ball down the rink, ended up on my ass sliding towards the pins… very embarrassing especially as I was in my thirties at the time.

10)  First Pet

We had a lovely wee yellow canary with a brown fringe like a Beatles haircut.  We called him Ringo and funnily enough Ringo features in a cameo role in my second book Uncoiled Lies

11) First toy that you recall loving

I had a rubber doll called Sally when I was a child… I loved her so much.  She had a navy woollen dress and a slit in her neck (From age not because I was torturing her or anything). My dad once had to drive to my granny’s house to collect her because I couldn’t get to sleep without her.

Thank you so much Liz for discussing Unquiet Souls with us, and I love that you are giving your canary a cameo in your second book. 

About Liz Mistry

I am a crime writer based in Bradford but originally from West Calder in Scotland. I studied at Stirling University and taught in Bradford inner-city Primary schools for many years. I write gritty crime fiction drawing on the richness of Bradford's diverse cultures and my writing is heavily influenced by Tartan Noir writers such as, Stuart MacBride, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid. I have nearly completed my MA in Creative Writing at the brilliant Leeds Trinity University. Unquiet Souls is my debut novel and I look forward to writing many more featuring my main character DI Gus (Angus) McGuire and his team.
I'm on twitter @LizCrimeWarp  FB@LizMistryBooks 

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