17 February 2023
Writing Magazine’s ‘Make Crime Pay’ is just around the corner. And it’s promising to be a day of engaging online workshops, talks, interviews and more with an exciting range of crime writers! As part of our guest list, we’re honoured to have Cath Staincliffe, who will join us for an hour-long interview. In the meantime, we’ve caught up with her for a short Q&A.
Writing Magazine’s ‘Make Crime Pay’ is just around the corner. And it’s promising to be a day of engaging online workshops, talks, interviews and more with an exciting range of crime writers! Throughout the event, you will have the chance to learn valuable writing tips and advice, hear from leading crime fiction authors on their own publication journeys, explore new ways to develop crime writing ideas and more. As part of our guest list, we’re honoured to have Cath Staincliffe, who will be joining us for an hour interview on the day. In the meantime, we’ve caught up with her for a short Q&A.
Cath Staincliffe is a best-selling, award-winning novelist and radio playwright. She has written for several TV shows and created the ITV's hit series Blue Murder, starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis. Her books have been shortlisted for the British Crime Writers Association's best first novel award and numerous times for the Dagger in the Library award, which she won in 2012. Cath also writes the Scott & Bailey novels based on the popular UK TV series. She is a founding member of Murder Squad, a group of Northern crime writers who give readings and signings around the country. You can follow her on Twitter at @CathStaincliffe.
WM: What was the first crime book you read?
Cath: One of the Secret Seven stories by Enid Blyton. I was six, and it inspired me and my friend to stay up late on a stakeout to find out who was nicking the apples from their garden.
WM: What do you think makes a great crime book?
Cath: Characters that are well-drawn, an evocative setting, suspense, some surprises to keep us guessing.
WM: What are some of the great modern crime books, in your opinion?
Cath: There are so many
- We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker
- Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby
- Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
- No Country For Girls by Emma Styles
- Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz
- Broken Harbour by Tana French
- Oxblood by Tom Benn
- Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
- Blacklands by Belinda Bauer
- The Truth by Peter Temple
- Platform Seven by Louise Doughty
- No Honour by Awais Khan
- The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penny
- Girl A by Abigail Dean
(I could go on forever!)
WM: Why do you think crime fiction has enjoyed such long-standing popularity?
Cath: I think it's because it tells brilliant stories where the stakes couldn’t be higher, and people are pushed to extremes. It’s compelling and exciting; the best of it moves us too. There’s an element of satisfaction in working out whodunnit or why or in following detectives as they try to uncover the truth. Finally, as with any other fiction, crime can both reflect our world and take us into worlds we aren’t familiar with and is a great vehicle for exploring topics of social justice.
WM: What advice would you give to an aspiring crime writer?
Cath: Get on with it. Write whenever you can seize some time (even if it’s rubbish – it can be improved). Write what you enjoy most. Find your own voice or style. Read widely – any genre – it’s all grist to the mill. Consider joining or setting up a writers’ group to swap work-in-progress and get constructive feedback. Don’t give up the day job – yet…