Meet the author: Liz Mistry (I spoke with Liz earlier this summer)
Information. How do we connect with you?
Book Title: Uncoiled Lies
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Scottish but have lived in Bradford West Yorkshire for thirty years and consider myself an honorary Yorkshire lass as well as a Scot. I met my husband when I moved to Bradford and so we stayed. He’s Indian and together we have three grown up children. I taught in inner city Bradford schools for a long time and love the diversity of the city… something I hope comes across in my writing.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve always written but working class girls from West Calder in Scotland don’t tend to become authors… well I knocked that one on its head! I tried for a long time to finish a novel and something, often my mental health, got in the way. However about three years ago I had a radical shift in my approach to my depression … Being housebound and seeing my life drift away from me, with the support of my family I realised I had to do something drastic. I changed my meds, had an amazing dynamic counsellor and made some huge lifestyle changes. As I felt better, regaining a little confidence and with my concentration skills slowly reappearing, I also engaged with a writing community at Leeds Trinity University. Although unsure whether I was well enough to complete it, I started the MA in Creative Writing at LTU and it was one of the best decisions I made.
My tutor, Martyn Bedford was super. He encouraged me to complete the first draft of my first book Unquiet Souls before starting the course and I worked on perfecting it during the MA.
I’m not saying it’s necessary to complete an MA in Creative writing to get published… not at all. For me, though, it came at the right time. I was in my fifties and needed something to help me reconnect to the world. The MA gave me that.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
In my dreams I always wanted to be a writer… in reality I settled for teaching. I did a degree in English and History at Stirling University and always said I wanted to teach. I remember someone saying to me ‘English teachers are failed writers.’ Turns out you can be both!
Which writers inspired you?
I love Tartan Noir. Stuart MacBride’s books always go down well with me. I love them. They’re deliciously gritty and so damn funny too. He’s got a real skill. I also love Harlan Coben. His standalones are brilliant and his Myron Bolitars are engaging. I love Mel Sherratt – gritty, down to earth and I love Caro Ramsay’s for the same reason.
What are you reading at present?
I’ve just finished MJ Arlidge’s Love Me Not which is the new Helen Grace book. It was interesting because we see a change in the main protagonist and Arlidge takes a slightly different route this time – intriguing! I just started Michael Connolly’s new novel The Late Shift which is a move away from the Bosch/Haller series. So far I’m hooked!
Digging even deeper. Do you have a day job?
I teach creative writing wherever I can – once a teacher always a teacher I suppose. My dream is for one of the Northern University’s to start up a crime fiction MA – I’d love to teach that.
Can you write anywhere or does there have to be a specific routine?
I love eavesdropping in cafes and pubs, so I do write when I’m out and about. I have a newly re-furbished office at home (Thanks Nilesh) with a big KEEP OUT! Sign on the door – it’s fab. I spread out all my stuff and am in heaven.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I’ve loads of guilty pleasures:
Will.I.Am – I love him- he’s so damn cute! He makes me laugh so I have to admit, I watch The Voice purely to see Will… and I’ve even tuned in to The Voice kids solely for that reason.
Chocolate, Wine, Brandy, curries… romantic crime fiction, supernatural crime fiction, Pitch Perfect, Singing in the kitchen, Dancing in the kitchen, Young adult novels, X factor, I’m a celebrity get me out of here, Criminal Minds, Agatha Raisin…. The list is endless!
Your journey. We want answers. What was your journey to getting published?
A very long one. After being asked to submit my completed Unquiet Souls manuscript to many agents, they kept rejecting me. They were all very positive and most were interested in seeing anything else I wrote in the future. Feeling a tad disheartened I had a bit of a moan in one of my Facebook book groups about why if my books so good won’t they take it on. Betsy Reavley from Bloodhound Books messaged me saying they were open for submissions and did I want to submit. I did and within a week she’d offered me a two book deal. I’ve completed that and have signed a further three book deal with Bloodhound Books and am very happy to be a Bloodhound pup.
What about creative writing courses? Good or bad?
I think anything that gets you writing and keeps you writing is good. Being in a writing community keeps you going. Like minded friends are great for sparking ideas off… and for providing coffee and tissues when things aren’t going so well. So, generally speaking I’d say they are great!
Where do you get your ideas?
Most of my ideas come when I’m either trying to get to sleep or when I’m in the supermarket. Neither of which is ideal. I’m a cogitator… I let ideas germinate and then eventually something good comes from them. I do use my own experiences. However, I also use other people’s experiences, the news, magazines, overheard conversations …. All those contribute to my sub conscious and help me formulate story ideas. Although I may be influenced or inspired by real life events, I tend to change things quite dramatically.
Imagine this. You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters – who would they be and why?
Stuart MacBride’s Logan Macrae and Roberta Steel- their banter would have me in stitches and be really entertaining. There’s a character in a Barry Lyga’s Blood of My Blood, which is a YA novel. His name is Jasper Dent (Brilliant name) and he is the son of serial killer parents and was nurtured to become a serial killer himself. However he rebelled and instead hunts serial killers. I’d find it fascinating to spend an hour or so with him. I’d also want to give him a huge cuddle. Lastly, it would have to be Graham Smith’s Jake Boulder character… because he’s hot!
Tell all. What are you working on at present?
My current book is nearly ready to send off to the publishers and should be out later in the summer. It’s called Untainted Blood and I think it’s a response to Brexit and Trump and everything that’s happening at the minute. A killer is targeting young Asian men, killing them and tattooing swastikas on their groins. Meanwhile, Albion First a racist party have announced that they are standing a candidate in the culturally diverse Bradford Central constituency. My character DI Gus (Angus) McGuire and his team have to catch the killer.
A big thank you to Liz for providing such fascinating answers!
Untainted Blood is available now! Liz’s Amazon Page