A Quickie with Liz Mistry

Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?

My latest book is called Untainted Blood (Release date 29th August 2017) and it’s the third in the DI Gus McGuire series set in Bradford. It’s best described as gritty Northern Noir. I set my books in Bradford because I love living here. I love the warmth of the people, the diversity of the city and the hopefulness that surrounds Bradford. Untainted Blood is, I suppose, my response to the changing world and it was written in the aftermath of the Trump presidential election, the Brexit referendum and the resulting unease.
Untainted Blood opens with an extreme right-wing party, Albion First, standing a candidate, Graeme Weston, in a Bradford constituency. However, Weston has secrets that could threaten both his candidacy and his family. Meanwhile, young black and Asian men are being murdered and their bodies tattooed with swastikas and the city feels like it’s teetering on a precipice. Amongst all of this Gus McGuire is grieving and his mental health has deteriorated since the events in Uncoiled Lies. Untainted Blood, I think, brings Gus to the brink and when things become increasingly personal we see him spiralling out of control.

If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?

It’s funny you should ask that Tracey, because I’m working on a piece for ‘Before I was Fabulous’ at Ilkley Literature Festival fringe. The piece I’ve written is called ‘Strike’ and is about a somewhat embarrassing event when my kids were little at a bowling alley before I realised that they greased the alleys…. In some ways, I think that just about sums up my life … A series of embarrassing events that my family, for some strange reason, seem unable to allow me to forget. So I think the title would have to be something like… ‘Nobody needs to embarrass me… I do I very well all on my own.”

What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?

Well, having been a published author for only a year I’m still new to all this book signing malarkey. The strangest request though was from a friend of a friend who wanted me to apply lipstick and kiss the inside of Unquiet souls rather than sign it … that was seriously strange … and before you ask… no I didn’t do it … much as I’d love to imagine I’m the likes of Cheryl Cole, the reality of being a fifty plus year old Scot slammed in and I just couldn’t do it. Give me a BIC any day!

If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?

Aw, that’s a brill question. I’d love to write with Stuart MacBride. We could come up with a character as good as Roberta Steel and talk dark and gritty Tartan Noir. I’d love to learn more about his thought processes and how he develops his characters. He’s my fave writer ever!!!

Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).

Now I wish I’d kept the bowling alley thing for this. Ok here goes … when I was a wee lassie, we used to holiday in Nairn (near Inverness) every year and as a special treat we’d go to the Eden Court Theatre where they had a Scottish variety concert every year. I used to love it when Calum Kennedy would bring all his kids onto the stage and they’d all sing. It was a bit like a Scottish Von Trapp family – maybe the MacVonTrapps? Anyway, I used to dream of being asked up onto the stage to sing Wild Mountain Thyme with them. Fortunately, because I’m totally tone deaf, my dream was never realised.

Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.

Watching the Bodies by Graham Smith. 

I loved this book.  I love serial killer books and I love strong protagonists and Graham Smith’s Jake Boulder is a great character.  It’s set in America and I think Smith does a grand job.  The fact that Boulder has Scottish links is appealing … I think I’m a wee bit in love with him.

Girl Zero by AA Dhand

Girl,Zero is set in Bradford (like my books) and it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I loved the grittiness of it and I loved the fact that our stories converge on the same areas sometimes.  Dhand’s character, Harry Virdee, although a police officer,  is able to operate outside the law slightly which I love.  It gives him an edge.  His conflicted loyalties add another dimension to the books.

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

Again, Slaughter’s characterisation is second to none.  In the Good Daughter she has created a cast of characters that keeps you invested in them right to the end. A fantastic read that’s very different to her Will Trent\Sara Linton series.

Who is 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 completed an MA in Creative Writing at the brilliant Leeds Trinity University. I currently have two novels published: Unquiet Souls (my debut novel) and Uncoiled Lies and I look forward to writing many more featuring my main character DI Gus (Angus) McGuire and his team. I am co-founder and lead blogger with The Crime Warp Blog

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