I am THRILLED to be able to feature the very lovely Tana Collins on my blog. I had the pleasure of meeting her at CrimeFest in Bristol and she immediately agreed to be interviewed!
Tana’s debut novel ROBBING THE DEAD was published in February 2017 and the second novel CARE TO DIE has just been released this June (she’s been busy!). She is the creator of Inspector Jim Carruthers, the main character of her series set in the picturesque East Neuk of Fife.
Let’s find out a little more!
1. First off, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
It would be my pleasure and can I just say I’m thrilled you’ve asked to interview me for your blog. Thank you so much. Although I was born in Yorkshire and grew up in the South East of England I have spent the last twenty years living and working in Edinburgh as a Massage Therapist which is a job I love.
2. What first got you into crime writing?
Would you believe it I picked up a book in a charity shop to take on holiday and it was Peter Robinson’s ‘In a Dry Season’. I was looking through women’s fiction and I think it had been placed on the wrong shelf! After reading the book I was hooked on Robinson’s novels and then crime fiction in general. I started writing my first crime novel for pleasure about ten years ago. Very quickly it grew in to a series and once I’d written three books I then approached publishing companies. In October 2016 I was fortunate to land a three book publishing deal with Bloodhound Books.
3. Could you describe your main character, Inspector Jim Carruthers for us, and where you got the inspiration for him?
When ‘Robbing the Dead’ opens Jim Carruthers has just moved from London to Fife in the hope of winning back his ex-wife. When we first meet Carruthers he’s pretty heartbroken. And I actually think his loneliness is palpable. He has a journey to take in the first book. At the start he blames other people (or one in particular) for his marriage break up. By the end he comes to see that he does have some of the failings his former wife accuses him of. I like Jim Carruthers. He’s trustworthy and decent even if he is a bit of a maverick. Mind you, he does seem to have a bit of a problem with authority figures! He’s constantly clashing with his boss and anyone else who tries to tell him what to do. He’s definitely got baggage like a lot of detectives. However, in this first novel he’s not given much time to grieve for the end of his marriage as he’s pitched straight away in to solving the brutal murder of a young man who has been beaten to death. Very quickly it transpires that this is going to be part of a much bigger investigation, especially when a bomb explodes.
4. What is your writing set up like and do you have a particular routine?
Like a lot of writers I have to fit the writing round the day job. Fortunately I’m self-employed so I have much more flexibility than most. I have converted the second bedroom into an office so that is where I am to be found doing much of my work unless I’m naughty and get caught working with the lap top on my lap by my partner in the living room!
5. I’d love to hear more about your favourite places you’ve travelled to for your stories! How do you record details of the places you visit?
For my second book in the series, ‘Care to Die’, I have my Inspector Carruthers travelling to Iceland to interview a suspect which is great fun (I’ve had two visits there myself) and in the third novel he travels to Estonia and stays in the Hotel Viru which is where the KGB used to stay to spy on anyone visiting Tallinn. I actually stayed there myself! I take lots of photos, record street names and try to talk to local people to get a flavour of the place.
6. Who is your favourite crime author of all time, and could you recommend us a favourite book?
I think my favourite crime writer has to be Peter Robinson as it was his Inspector Banks series that introduced me to reading crime. As luck would have it the first novel I ever read was ‘In a Dry Season’ which many feel is still Robinson’s best DCI Banks novel. I was over the moon when Peter gave me a quote to use for ‘Care to Die’.
7. Who is your favourite ‘baddie’ of all time, and why?
Ooh, that’s a difficult question. Probably Moriarty as I would love to get inside his head.
8. What advice would you give someone just getting into crime writing?
Go on an Arvon Foundation course. The tuition is brilliant and you meet some wonderful people. Crime writers are by and large really supportive to those starting out! Immersing yourself in all things crime fiction helps so if you can go to one of the many crime fiction festivals here in the UK it really helps both your writing and networking! Don’t worry if you are shy. People will always talk to you. Newcastle is my favourite as it’s so affordable and inclusive and the organisers are just lovely! Yep. I’d definitely start with Newcastle!
9. Finally, what are you working on at the moment and when can we get our hands on it?!
My second novel, ‘Care to Die’, was published on 1st June 2017 (less than four months after the first) so it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster! And I’m delighted to be able to tell you it’s also become a Kindle Top 10 bestseller! I’m editing ‘Mark of the Devil’ which is the third in the series. It will be published sometime in 2018 so very excited about that.
Thank you very much for being featured on my blog Tana, and especially for sharing your personal photos with us! The very best of luck as you finish off Mark of the Devil!
Make sure to check out Tana’s work:
Follow Tana on her Facebook page!