Briefly tell us about your book.
The Ghosts of Paris is set in 1947, in a world still reeling from the events of WW2. This story follows on from The War Widow, which was our introduction to ‘fast talking, fast driving, champagne swilling Nazi hunter investigator Billie Walker’. This next installment is set in postwar London and Paris, where search for a missing husband forces Billie to face the ghosts of her own painful past, and sets her on a collision course with an underground network of Nazis.
What was the research process like for the book?
I love immersing myself in the 1940s political, social and material culture, watching film noir, footage of the time and documentaries, wearing 1940s vintage, walking the grounds of the buildings that feature in the books, and speaking to the fading few who were there at the time and have first-hand knowledge of WWII and the aftermath. There is rich history to draw on, with amazing personal stories.
What are you hoping the reader will take away from reading your book?
A sense of having been taken on a thrilling adventure by Billie Walker – a woman who I rather like knowing, and would like to have a drink with.
How does it feel to hold your book in your hands?
Hilariously, I just posted a video of this, and the expression on my face says it all. Even with my 14th book, the feeling is incredible to first hold a published copy in my hands.
Do you write about people you know? Or yourself?
All of the above and none of the above. I find people and their life stories fascinating, and most of my characters are informed by research, personal experiences and observations, and often an amalgam of real-life historical people. For example, Billie Walker is inspired by real life heroines like Nancy Wake, Virginia Hall and Martha Gellhorn, the women of film noir, real life investigators of the 1940s, and the women I grew up with stories about from WWII.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Don’t write it right, just write it and make it right later.
Procrastination and self-doubt kill creativity. Give yourself the freedom to know that you can edit what you write. There is time.
Are you able to switch off at the end of a day of writing? If so, how?
Never. Even after 23 years of being published, I have not mastered the art of switching off. The work lives in me, and to be truthful I like it that way.
What’s your daily writing routine like and what are you working on at the moment?
I am working on Billie Walker’s third adventure, which will carry on from the events of The Ghosts of Paris. I also have a short story coming out in Black Is The Night, an anthology in tribute to noir master Cornell Woolrich. My writing life is rich, and when I am not writing I am learning, reading, and working as an advocate in human rights and disability.