Author Q&A with Denise Mina

blood,salt,waterLitro: Which is your favourite of your novels and why?

Denise Mina: It’s always the next one. There’s a period when a book is just forming in my head when I love it utterly and am convinced that I will do it justice. Two or three years later, when it is finished, all I can see are the flaws and my failings.

Litro: How long did it take you to write Blood, Salt, Water?

Denise Mina: Two years. Most crime writers have to write a book a year but I had longer on this and it is very different than it was in the first draft.

Litro:What is your earliest childhood memory?

Denise Mina: Summer in East Kilbride. Barefoot on hot pavement. Stepping onto the grass and feeling the cool, damp ground on my soles.

Litro: What makes you happy?

Denise Mina: Lots of things. Good tea, being dutiful, nice pencils, being still, travelling. Lincoln said “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be”.

Litro: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Denise Mina: Age 19, reading Zola in a damp bedsit and feeling so profoundly connected to the writer, dead a hundred years. I didn’t think I could be a writer but I decided it was the greatest aspiration a person could have.

Litro: What are you reading at the moment?

Denise Mina: John Keegan’s The American Civil War with The American Civil War: a Visual History as a companion.

Litro: What advice would you give to a first-time writer?

Denise Mina: Accept self-doubt as a condition of your practice. Don’t let it cripple you.

Litro: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Denise Mina: Nicotine substitutes.

Litro: How do you relax?

Denise Mina: Box sets and painting rooms.

Litro: What is your favourite book of all time?

Denise Mina: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

Litro: Which author is underrated or deserves to be better-known?

Denise Mina: Jane Gardam. She wins prizes all the time and hardly anyone has even heard of her. She’s astonishing.

Litro: What’s the worst job you’ve had?

Denise Mina: Academic. I met lovely people but was entirely temperamentally unsuited.

Litro: What is the most important thing life has taught you?

Denise Mina: You’re always worried about the wrong things.

Litro: What’s next?

Denise Mina: A book called The Long Drop (2016).

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