Just a quick post to say that this month’s ebook offer is The Estate Box Set – books 1-3. Usually it retails at £4.99 but it is only £1.99 this month. The box set includes SOMEWHERE TO HIDE, BEHIND A CLOSED DOOR and FIGHTING FOR SURVIVAL.
If you haven’t read any of them yet, here’s a few questions I always get asked:
How do The Estate Series and The DS Allie Shenton Trilogy differ?
DS Allie Shenton novels are police procedurals, so they are fast-paced and thrilling, with a murder to solve in each book, so plenty to keep readers thinking and working out. The Estate Series are a lot more relaxed – colourful characters and gritty subject matter, covering many social issues.
What genre does the series fit into?
I’d like readers to go through emotional journeys with the characters. I like to write about hidden crimes – things that often happen behind closed doors. The storylines are gritty but most have happy endings, laced with hope and encouragement. So I’m going to go with my own genre of Grit-Lit – where drama meets crime.
Where is The Estate set?
I’ve based the series in the fictional city of Stockleigh but it’s anywhere you’ll find dysfunctional families such as the Gallagher’s (Shameless). It’s anywhere the teachers try their best to educate the kids in schools similar to Waterloo Road. It’s not far from Happy Valley. At times it’s as sad as Eastenders: more often it’s reminiscent of an episode from The Jeremy Kyle Show.
You started out writing contemporary women’s fiction. What prompted the shift into crime?
People sometimes assume it was my housing officer background but it wasn’t, as it’s usually a news bulletin or a newspaper article that starts off a chain of thought. TAUNTING THE DEAD was a personal challenge as I thought there was no way I could write a police procedural. It’s partly why I spend more time with the villains rather than the police – and some readers said I blended Martina Cole and Lynda La Plante’s writing styles. I’m not sure why my writing turned darker except that I like to explore dark subjects. And I love watching gritty TV dramas.
Have you brought any elements across the genre divide?
Yes, I think so. THE ESTATE SERIES has an element of laugh a minute, cry a minute, crime a minute as I explore emotions and fear. I lovingly call it grit-lit because it’s gritty realism through the eyes of some really strong women characters. The issues I choose have been covered in both genres too. I’ve also been told that a lot of people sympathise with my nasty characters, feeling for them when things go wrong which I’m extremely pleased about. I’m a firm believer that there is good and bad in everyone, depending on circumstances and just how far we can be pushed.
You don’t shy away from tough subjects – domestic violence, sexual abuse, girl gang fighting . Did you find it challenging to explore these issues?
My work as a housing officer and the women that I often worked with, plus my love of the underdog doing well, gave me the background for writing about an estate. I then read a lot of case studies that I’d either find on the internet or in the media. For instance if I want to try to understand self-harm or young teens in prison, often I can turn to Youtube or research on Google. That said, I haven’t worked directly with people as I think it would be too upsetting. Some people go through so much it pains me. And it must be hard to be a support worker. I have so much admiration for them.
THE ESTATE SERIES saw you move away from your hometown of Stoke-on-Trent. What provoked the change of location?
It was two-fold really. I wanted to create a character out of the estate itself – I wanted readers to think it could be just around the corner from where they live. There are good parts and bad parts in every city, I’m sure. However, the new series I’m writing at the moment finds me back in Stoke, hopefully on a permanent basis…
Though fictional, The Mitchell Estate is going to be familiar to many of your readers. Are you conscious of wanting to show them a recognisable world?
There are lots of victims that go unheard of, stories swept under the carpet, things hidden behind closed doors. I hope to cover issues that some people like to think don’t exist – or certainly not in their world. It also amazes me how many times I see news clip of someone saying ‘you don’t expect this kind of thing to happen on your own doorstep.’ Why? We’re all humans, striving to get along but sometimes, something makes certain individuals flip.