Ylva author Charlotte Mills chats about her lesbian romantic suspense novel Payback, about an English police detective, as part of our Free Book Sundays campaign.
What draws you to sexy police detectives and intriguing murders in the mystery / romantic suspense genre?
In short, I’d say strong independent women like the characters of Kay Scarpetta (Patricia Cornwell) or Brenda Johnson (The Closer, US TV series). I love it when characters are quite unassuming and may not be all that they first seem. For example, Saga Norén (The Bridge, Danish/Swedish TV series) with her encyclopedic knowledge of practically everything.
Yet Saga, like many other strong women, still have flaws, make mistakes, and have private lives that make them human. And, more importantly, relatable. Regardless of whether I’m reading or watching a crime mystery or lesbian romantic suspense, I revel in a good twist. I love to stumble across something unexpected that keeps you guessing as to who and why.
Although I’ve never written fanfiction, I often put my own mental spin on a story I’m reading or watching. I may change a character or event that flips the perspective, creating a more complex, layered story.
I also enjoy the process of the investigation—how you don’t know what’s important at the start. I think that’s reflected in my writing as I really enjoy the legwork in terms of research. That’s not only for the outcome of the story. It’s also important for the main character and how things fall into place—or not—when they try and piece together the events that led up to a crime.
Do you think the English write different kinds of mysteries or lesbian romantic suspense than Americans? If so, how?
In the past, I’d have said the body count would tend to be lower with British crime writing, but the differences are minimal now. Gun crime is probably slightly less prevalent in British crime writing. We often find more twisted ways to bump people off, or maybe that’s just me.
The types of crime are generally a reflection of the culture or country where the story is based. For that reason, I like to read thrillers from all over the world. The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larson with their strong female lead in Lisbeth Salander is great. Or the Stasi historical thriller The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann.
Alongside these, I love good home-grown classics like the Nicci French Frieda Klein Series. Frieda’s inability to let things go has made her one of my favourite characters in British crime novels.
I don’t read many blockbuster American crime novels. However, I did like Lee Goldberg’s Lost Hills, with Detective Eve Ronin as the underdog detective that comes good.
I’m really fascinated when everyday people are drawn into playing the role of an investigator to save themselves or others. The Lillian Byrd Crime Series by Elizabeth Sims or the Stoner McTavish Mystery series by Sarah Dreher comes to mind.
Payback’s cover is so creepy and compelling. Does it reflect any place or part of your book?
I really love the cover for Payback. It captures the essence of my lesbian romantic suspense. More so, it sets the scene for the events that are revealed in the opening chapter. I’m incredibly grateful to my editor Andrea Bramhall for her input with the cover. She made sure the kicker of a twist that is contained within the story remains there.
The cover for the sequel Fair Game follows in the same grain. It provides another atmospheric snapshot that is at the centre of the story. A cover is the first impression a reader will see, making them an essential marketing tool for writers and publishers. They can definitely be a deal-breaker for me when it comes to picking out a book.
I really like the way a great cover can draw you right into the heart of the story, such as I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll or Andrea Bramhall’s lesbian romantic suspense Norfolk Coast Series. Abstract covers also suck me in with a striking colourful image, such as Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn or Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir.
* Payback, Charlotte Mills lesbian romantic suspense, is free to readers on November 22, 2020, at the Ylva shop.
Free Book Sundays are Ylva’s way of giving back and offering escapism in difficult times for readers.
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