I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour to celebrate Leigh Russell’s new book, ‘Murder Ring’ which is being published in paperback on the 26th May 2016 by No Exit Press. I am really looking forward to reading it. As part of this tour I have interviewed Leigh.
Can you tell me a bit about ‘Murder Ring’ please?
Murder Ring is the eighth book in the Geraldine Steel series. While each of the books works as a stand alone, Geraldine’s life story unfolds slowly in the background. So Murder Ring is a tense murder investigation, in which I tackle the issue of gun crime for the first time, and make use of a fairly new technique in forensic science to help solve the case. In the book, Geraldine also makes a disturbing discovery about her own life. As with all my books, my villains are a mixture of really nasty, and pitiably dysfunctional characters.
Did you have to do any research for this book and if so what did it entail?
I started with researching into gun crime in London, a topic raised in the book. One of the interesting features of crime fiction is that it takes a look at social issues. A lot of what I discovered was available online and in the news, information about gun crime in London, and children in possession of guns, and I took advice from a contact of mine who’s a police ballistics expert. Apart from that, I researched different locations in London, and of course the latest developments in forensic science, which are always useful.
Can you relate to any of your characters?
Not really. To be honest, I’ve no idea where my characters come from. The crime reviewer of The Times describes my books as ‘psychologically acute’, although I don’t research my characters at all. They seem to invent themselves, arriving fully developed in my mind and revealing themselves on the page. With some of them I think I’m exploring different aspects of my own character. With others, I hope I’m not! But I just place my characters on the page and let them take it from there.
I understand ‘Murder Ring’ is the 8th book in the Geraldine Steel series to be optioned for TV. What character traits should the actress playing Geraldine ideally have?
My only request to the television production team was that Geraldine be portrayed by an actress who is credibly an intelligent, driven career woman in her late thirties. It would be great if the actress resembled the character as she is described in the books, but the essence of the character is more important to me than her physical appearance. Producing a television series is a very different artistic endeavour to writing a book. I know something about writing books, but have no experience of working in television so am happy to leave that to experts.
How long on average does it take you to write each book?
I deliver two manuscripts a year, which gives me six months to write each one. My typing is very fast, meaning that I could physically produce a full length manuscript in four weeks, but I don’t think it would be worth reading. What makes a book is not the typing, but the thinking and research that goes into it. So I wouldn’t be able to produce a book I was pleased with in less than six months.
Where do you get your ideas from?
That’s a good question, to which I wish I knew the answer! There’s always the worry that I’ll be due to write a new book and not be able to think of anything, but I don’t think too far ahead. Instead I go from book to book and hope for the best, and so far so good is all I can say. Someone once wrote of me that ‘Leigh Russell can see dead bodies anywhere.’ Of course that’s an overstatement, but I often get ideas from spotting places where bodies could be dumped.
What made you decide to write crime novels?
There was no decision to write crime novels. In fact, I never had any intention to write at all. I just had an idea one day, started writing, and haven’t been able to stop since. Eight years and twelve books later, with the next two already finished, I’m still writing every day.
You’re so busy writing lots of books and doing loads of signings. How do you manage it all?
I like to work hard, and I love writing. Although it’s my full-time job these days, I still don’t regard writing as work. Book signings can be hard work physically, but they’re fun as I get to go out and meet other book lovers. And it’s lovely meeting fans of my own books! Sometimes even I wonder how everything gets done, but most of the time I just get on with it.
Presumably you read a lot as well. Who are your favourite crime authors?
Unfortunately these days I don’t have as much time to read as I’d like. My tastes in reading are not confined to crime, although most literature includes crime of some description. In my opinion, the greatest crime writer of all was Shakespeare. In terms of the detective genre, there are so many brilliant authors writing these days, it’s difficult to pick just a few names. I admire Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, Val McDermid, Ruth Rendell, Simon Beckett, and many more.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Recently I told my husband that I had a completely clear day in my diary and was taking a day off. ‘You mean you won’t be writing?’ he asked me. ‘No,’ I answered. ‘I’m gong to spend the whole day writing.’ And that’s my idea of a day off. Other than writing, I enjoy spending time with my family, and I like to sit in the garden.
Have you got any advice for anyone who wants to pen a crime novel?
I have so much advice to offer on the subject of writing, that I teach creative writing every summer for a week or two on a beautiful Greek island. In terms of the crime genre, crime fiction is plot driven, so it’s a good idea to work out a strong storyline before you start writing. Research is important, as is making sure characters behave consistently. Finally, try to write clear prose. In that respect George Orwell’s advice can’t be bettered. ‘If it’s possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.’
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
In five years’ time, I’ll be writing the fourteenth Geraldine Steel story, and the eighth book in my Lucy Hall series, and the third Geraldine Steel television series will be appearing on the small screen. And I’ll be a grandmother!
‘Murder Ring’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-