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October Crime Author Interview – Anna Smith


How did you get started writing

1 I’ve probably been writing all my life, always lost in my imagination with the kind of small stories I’d get wrapped up in as a kid. It was my love of writing that made me seek out a career in journalism.

What drew you to crime fiction

2 I think a lifetime as a frontline journalist for a daily newspaper where I sat through so many criminal trials from murder to drug dealing is what made me turn to crime fiction. I met so many colourful characters throughout my career – cops, gangsters and also hundreds of victims of crime, that it was almost a natural progression for me to base a lot of that experience into fiction.

Which crime writers past or present have influenced your style of writing

3 I’ve read a lot American crime fiction – from the early Raymond Chandler classics, and was a big fan of James Crumley novels. I also love Michael Connelly and Harlan Coban, but there are a host of great UK crime writers out there who I read now. And of course Martina Cole’s in-your-face style of writing and the characters she creates.

Out of your three books you have written so far which has been your favourite

4 I don’t really have a favourite from my own crime novels to be honest. They are all very different, though the central character, the journalist Rosie Gilmour is the main protagonist. Screams In The Dark is probably the most personal because it is about refugees and in particular Kosovo which is something I reported on extensively and some harrowing memories remain with me.

When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest

5 Yes, it’s always hard to get a publisher when you start out. Actually my writing career began back in 2003, with my first novel Spit Against The Wind. It’s not crime – more of a rites of passage kind of novel told through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl. I recall as a wrote it, sending it to agents, publishers and getting rejected. Then an agent took it up and sold it weeks later. A second novel, The Homecoming, in that genre followed, and they will both be available on Kindle from October 17. But I felt my natural habitat was crime, so it was a little while before I got that moving with the first in the series,The Dead Won’t Sleep. But thankfully, I haven’t looked back.

Why did you decide to set your novels in Glasgow

6 My books are in Glasgow because that’s where I cut my teeth as a young reporter and spent a lifetime working in the city. Glasgow is rich in characters, and when you’ve been to some of the places I’ve been investigating stories and interviewing people it really does make for a great fiction backdrop to my novels. But Rosie Gilmour is a journalist and not a detective, so the novels move to different places as she doesn’t need to be tied to a police office or any city. To Tell The Truth is largely in Spain, and in Screams In The Dark Rosie goes to Bosnia and Kosovo on her investigation. I like to take my books out of Glasgow for a part of the story.

How does it feel to be compared to some of the great female and male crime writers in reviews

7 It’s flattering to be compared to Martina Cole as she’s a fantastically successful crime author and a great writer. My books have also been compared to the Nordic noir author of the TV series The Killing. But I like to plough away with my own style and I’m just happy that Rosie Gilmour character seems to resonate with readers.

What kind of research did you have to undertake for your book

8 My research is mostly from my own experience as a journalist where I saw a lot of things during a very long career – some I wish I hadn’t seen! But I have to turn to the experts for research, particularly in forensics and medical information.

Are the characters in your books based on any real life

9 Most of my characters are based on real life people over the years. And there is a lot of me in Rosie Gilmour – we share the same sense of compassion and determination…and we’re both a little crazy!

Since you have started writing crime novels have any known authors given you any advice

10 No. I don’t think I’ve been given any advice from other known crime authors.

Are the characters in your books based on any real life

11 I think, as do my publishers Quercus, that the Rosie Gilmour character can have a good run. I have a raft of stories from my past that I can take Rosie on with, and as long as people want to read the novels I’m happy to keep her going. She’s quite a complex character and a bit messed up, so there is plenty of material there. Book four, Betrayed, is coming out next year, and I’m in the process of writing book five. I don’t feel tired of her yet, and I hope readers will look forward to reading her next exploits.

Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa

12 As I said, I do see a lot of myself in Rosie, though she is not me. I have used a lot of my own sentiments and voice in her, but I’d say she’s a bit braver than me!

What do you see for the future of Rosie Gilmour in your books

13 For the future of Rosie, it’s hard to say. She is driven by the stories and the investigations, and therefore her private life is a bit messed up. I’m not sure where that will go, but I don’t think readers should expect to see her all settled down and a domestic godess in the kitchen. It wouldn’t really be Rosie!

At the moment there are numerous authors setting their books in Glasgow, what do you think sets yours apart from the rest

14 Glasgow is positively bulging with authors setting their stories in the city, and with good reason as I have mentioned earlier. There are some terrific crime novels out there and I think it’s great that our very own Tartan noir has caught fire. I don’t find it difficult to set my novels apart a little because Rosie is not a detective trying to track down criminals and get them into court. She is chasing a story for a newspaper, therefore the burden of proof is different from a police investigation, so I think that makes my novels different from all the great books that are out there. Or at least I hope it does!

As a blossoming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share

15 The only words of advice I can give to hopeful authors is to put the work in and get the novel written.There’s a bit of luck and fortune involved in success as well as talent, but it’s nothing without hard work. Writing a novel is a lonely business, but the rewards for me are when a reader writes to me saying they enjoyed the latest book, or as in one case recently, knocks on the door of my home, to ask me what’s going on with Rosie’s love life!

Rosie Gilmour Novels

To Tell The Truth
The Dead Won’t Sleep
Screams In The Dark

Other Novels

The Homecoming
Spit Against The Wind

Amazon Author Page

Author Facebook Page


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