Susi Qs – Week 6 – William Shaw

Hello and welcome to my blog series – Susi Qs – where I will be quizzing some of your favourite crime fiction authors, in the style of the Smash Hits Biscuit Tin. For those of you unfamiliar/too young – this involved a celebrity choosing some very random questions from a biscuit tin. I’m using a virtual tin (let’s imagine it was one like this…), and instead of a celeb, I’ve got an author…

This week’s guest is William Shaw, who has been shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger, the Barry Award and The Golden Bullet and longlisted twice for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year without actually winning anything. He was on the staff of Smash Hits for several years (in fact, he probably invented this whole concept).

So, without further ado – let’s find out what wisdom Will would like to share with us…

Where’s the worst place you’ve been sick?

On the ceiling. True story. Though the ceiling was actually quite low. I was a 14-year-old on a family canal boat holiday with my family and my mum, who was quite the forager, thought it would be a nice idea to try some puffball mushrooms, fried in red wine. The vomit was projectile. In the cold light of morning it was also purple. 

How often do you change your sheets?

Weekly on a Sunday. From when I was 19 I lived for a couple of years alone for a in a house half way up a Welsh hillside with no heating apart from a coal fire and a single electric heater that I wired in almost killing myself in the process – and no running hot water. I used to have to heat water on a Baby Belling cooker or on a coal stove to wash anything. Occasionally I took a tin bath in front of the fire. I shudder to think how often I must have washed my sheets back then.

Do you find it hard to take criticism?

Actually no. It sounds really boasty, but I’m really good at taking criticism from people I respect and admire and even better at ignoring it from people who I don’t.

Who do you love?

Jane McMorrow who I fell in love with in September 1990 at a party thrown by Mary Loughran. We were both advantageously drunk and somehow I managed to persuade her to come to a contemporary classic concert by Olivier Messiaen at the South Bank the next evening, deeply weird but beautiful stuff. She was so hungover that evening she couldn’t even bend to tie her shoe laces but that weekend somehow set the tone for the next thirty-two years. I love the children we have together too who are far cooler than we ever were.

Who’s your favourite cartoon character?

Grommit. My sister used to be in animation and worked on The Wrong Trousers – and for Aardman’s Animated Conversations series. She is also the author of Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation. Beat that.

Do you worry about swallowing spiders in your sleep?

Constantly.

Do you have any weird habits?

Sometimes, rather than looking for the glasses cleaner, I lick my glasses and wipe them with my shirt tails. This is not a good look when you’re on stage at a book event.

Have you ever had your fortune told?

In The Belvedere on Brighton seafront – now The Tempest Inn – there used to be a man who always sat in the same chair and would do graphology for the price of a couple of pints. He looked at my handwriting and told me I was a bum and breast man because of the roundness of my ‘w’s. I told him he was an old perv.

Would you rather give up washing, smiling or reading?

Washing, all the way. Under lockdown I’ve mostly given it up anyway. We wash way too much. It’s really bad for your health and the amount of soap we pour down the drains is insane. Seriously. I gave up shampooing my hair six months ago because I looked like a snow globe whenever I wore a dark shirt and my scalp is now perfectly fine.

What are you wearing?

It’s mid January* and I’m wearing a Christmas jumper. That says everything we know about lockdown, doesn’t it?

*It’s nearly March. I suspect he’s still wearing it…

* * *

Thank you, Will. I have to say, that glasses licking thing is actually quite weird…

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Find him on Twitter @William1Shaw

 

 

Susi Qs – Week 5 – Katerina Diamond

Hello and welcome to my blog series – Susi Qs – where I will be quizzing some of your favourite crime fiction authors, in the style of the Smash Hits Biscuit Tin. For those of you unfamiliar/too young – this involved a celebrity choosing some very random questions from a biscuit tin. I’m using a virtual tin (let’s imagine it was one like this…), and instead of a celeb, I’ve got an author…

This week’s guest is Katerina Diamond, the Sunday Times Best Selling author of Exeter-based Grey & Miles crime thriller series – starting with The Teacher and followed by The Secret, The Angel, The Promise and Truth or Die. Her latest novel The Heatwave is a gripping standalone, and fans will be pleased to hear that more Grey and Miles books are on their way.

So, without further ado – let’s see what nonsense Kat would like to share with us…

Do you have any weird habits?

I do the Vulcan “my mind to your mind” with my cat.

Where’s the worst place you’ve been sick?

A difficult question to answer without incriminating myself. I guess the worst place was Derby cemetery.

Who do you love?

Isn’t this an LL Cool J song? – I love quite a few people, too many to list really. At the moment though I’ve been re watching Quantum Leap and I love Sam Beckett.

What would you cook on Come Dine With Me?

Drunk Pork stew – it’s a Greek dish made with pork and red wine (oregano, garlic, Dijon mustard – cook for 4 hours on low) its super delicious.

Have you ever written a fan letter?

I have written a fan letter to an author, back before I started writing myself. They responded to me, they were quite famous too. I’m not going to say who it is!

How many pairs of shoes do you have?

I have 5 pairs of the same trainers in different colours, I have 2 pairs of boots.

When did you last sleepwalk?

Its been a while, I think it might have been on the eve of my third book coming out. We had just moved house and I woke up to find myself wrapped up in my brand new white velvet curtains (since destroyed by the cats). The curtains were in a box somewhere so I must have got up to put them on.

When was the last time you were arrested?

I have never been arrested but I was accidentally in a drugs raid once. I left my bag at someones house and when I went to pick it up a police team with dogs turned up and searched the place.

Who would you rather pay golf with? Michael McKintyre, Take That, or The Queen?

I guess the Queen. The others are all a bit annoying.

What’s your secret party piece?

I can turn my tongue upside down.

* * *

Thank you, Kat. I would really like to know who you sent that fan letter to!

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Find her on Twitter @TheVenomousPen

 

 

Susi Qs – Week 4 – Douglas Skelton

Hello and welcome to my blog series – Susi Qs – where I will be quizzing some of your favourite crime fiction authors, in the style of the Smash Hits Biscuit Tin. For those of you unfamiliar/too young – this involved a celebrity choosing some very random questions from a biscuit tin. I’m using a virtual tin (let’s imagine it was one like this…), and instead of a celeb, I’ve got an author…

This week’s guest is Douglas Skelton, who was once considered to play James Bond but he refused to remove his vest. He began writing, first non-fiction and then fiction as there was no money in notes for the milkman. His most recent book is THE BLOOD IS STILL. Still what? He doesn’t know. His next will be out in August 2021.

So, without further ado – let’s see what Douglas has got to say for himself…

Who was your first crush?
 I am old so have to say Queen Victoria, when she looked like Jenna Coleman. I remember well those days, as a mucky-faced Glasgow waif with skint knees, a bad haircut and the look of the perpetually perplexed (much as I am today). I would wait in the streets for her coach whenever she visited, praying for a glimpse of her face as she passed or, even better, a wave of a hand, a coin or two tossed in my direction or even to be splashed by street mud from the wheel. Many years later, when serving with the 4th Mounted Lavatory Inspectors  I would share this memory with Lord Wellington, Lord Cardigan and, from Glasgow, Lord Stringvest. My, how they would laugh before smiting me with a riding crop and ordering me to scrub with increased vigour.

What is your most unrealistic ambition?
To listen to a politician, nod sagely and say, ‘the wise words of (insert name/ministerial position here) have the ring of truth about them and I will  vote for them at the next election with relish’ even though the election officials take a dim view of me leaving tomato sauce on the ballot paper.

Why are coconuts so difficult to open?
It is a little known fact vouchsafed to certain students of divinity that when whatever supreme being you choose to acknowledge created the coconut, he/she/they had intended to include a small key very like those you get with tins of corned beef. However, she/he/they had been on the bevvy the night before (having just created malt whisky) and had what we call in Scotland a sair heid and they/she/he simply forgot. The coconut was then passed off as a test of ingenuity and intelligence on humankind which most of us have so far failed, plumping instead to devise and watch reality TV.

Who would you rather play golf with? Michael McIntyre, Take That or The Queen?
I don’t play golf, not since the great Niblick Disaster of ’88 when a carelessly wielded club took flight like a lance and managed a hole in one. Unfortunately the hole was in one of the players on the next green and he has never addressed his balls properly since. However, in the spirit of the blog, should I win against Her Majesty I fear a sojourn in the Tower while Take That may feel the need to trill a few ditties, making a sojourn in the Tower seem like a holiday. So it would have to be Michael McIntyre because he would never stand still long enough to take a decent swing so I may have the advantage.

What are you wearing?
This is usually a question I am asked by one of the many fulsome and extremely friendly young ladies who befriend me on social media and then try to get me onto Google Hangouts where we can discuss such grave matters as pandemics, political upheaval and Made in Chelsea while also giving fashion tips. At this very moment of typing I am wearing a rude ploughman’s vest and breeches. The rude ploughman is next door wearing mine.

What was your favourite toy?
I loved cars, the flashier the better. I had an original Aston Martin DB5 complete with ejector seat, I had a huge American number supposedly driven by Napoleon Solo while Ilya Kuryakin leaned out of the window and opened Channel D, I had Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls Royce and a Batmobile. Luckily, we had a large garage and nobody knew I had nicked them.

Do you worry about swallowing spiders in your sleep?
No, but I do now. There has been one in the corner of my bedroom for a few nights now and sometimes he has been dangling over me like Tom Cruise in Mission:Impossible. Perhaps the temptation to drop into my gaping maw is one mission he has chosen not to accept.

Would you rather give up washing, smiling or reading?
I have unfortunate teeth, a hangover from my childhood when we could not afford bottle openers so my sisters used me to prise open their nightly six packs of sweet stout. So I suppose smiling would be the one I’d go for. I do enjoy washing and look forward to it, to be honest. I still have another two weeks to go before my next one. 

What’s your favourite joke?
Why do elephants have big ears?
Because Noddy wouldn’t pay the ransom.

What are you having for lunch tomorrow?
Good grief, that’s too much planning! One of the big drawbacks of being an adult, apart from not being able to get into my Winnie the Pooh onesie with blackflap (for the pooh), is having to decide what to make to eat. I mean, it’s never-ending – breakfast, second breakfast (my great-great-great grandfather was a hobbit and we maintain the tradition. And the hairy feet, not to mention the urge to throw rings into volcanoes), lunch, afternoon tea, tiffin, dinner, supper. You also have to stay on top of those use by dates, which it turns out are not necessarily advisory as I learned to my cost in December of ’94 when a long-ignored spring onion led to a winter of discontent. At that time I tend to open the fridge and if it didn’t grab me by the throat and try to drag me in, then that’s what went next. 

* * *

Thank you, Douglas. The ploughman’s vest image will stay with me for some time…

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Find him on Twitter @DouglasSkelton1

 

 

Susi Qs – Week 3 – Roz Watkins

Hello and welcome to my blog series – Susi Qs – where I will be quizzing some of your favourite crime fiction authors, in the style of the Smash Hits Biscuit Tin. For those of you unfamiliar/too young – this involved a celebrity choosing some very random questions from a biscuit tin. I’m using a virtual tin (let’s imagine it was one like this…), and instead of a celeb, I’ve got an author…

This week’s guest is Roz Watkins – author of the acclaimed DI Meg Dalton crime series set in the Peak District. ‘The Devil’s Dice’ was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award and was the Times crime book of the month. Roz lives in the Peak District with a menagerie of demanding animals.

So, without further ado – let’s dissect Roz’s brain…

Would you rather have no forks or no plates?

I’ll go for no forks because our tables are usually covered in cat hair and in fact cats, so I would probably die of a horrible disease if I tried to go plate-less.

Do you pair your socks?

I do! Despite the above answer about cats and plates, I’m not actually feral. I have a complex system for reuniting single socks with their pair, but it’s too tedious to go into.

What’s the last book you read?

An excellent book which comes out later this year – ‘Two Wrongs’ by Mel McGrath.

What were you in a previous life?

I like to think I was something feline and graceful like a snow leopard, but I was probably a frog.

Are you any good at potato sculptures?

Yes, provided it is a sculpture of something potato-shaped.

Why are coconuts so difficult to open?

They are actually quite easy if you smash them over your partner’s head after too many hours together in lockdown.

Have you ever broken a bone?

I thought I was a high achiever here until I read Craig’s answer of 14! I’ve done four arms (not all at the same time) and one leg. The most impressive was two arms (at the same time) from falling off a horse. The least impressive was one arm falling from my neighbour’s window when drunk because it was too dark to go out the front door and round to my house, and I decided out of the kitchen window and through the garden was a much better idea. It wasn’t.

What was your favourite toy?

I was one those hideous children who operated on her dolls, dismembering and decapitating them, so basically anything human that could be experimented on was good.

What is your most unrealistic ambition?

I’d love to be a gymnast. (See ‘frog in a past life’ answer above.)

Do you find it hard to take criticism?

Well, I don’t read my bad reviews so take that as you will.

* * *

Thank you, Roz. Why am I not surprised that you enjoyed dismembering dolls? 😉

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Find her on Twitter @RozWatkins

 

 

Susi Qs – Week 2 – Gerard Brennan

Hello and welcome to my brand new blog series – Susi Qs – where I will be quizzing some of your favourite crime fiction authors, in the style of the Smash Hits Biscuit Tin. For those of you unfamiliar/too young – this involved a celebrity choosing some very random questions from a biscuit tin. I’m using a virtual tin (let’s imagine it was one like this…), and instead of a celeb, I’ve got an author…

This week’s guest is Gerard Brennan – an obscenely obscure author of Northern Irish noir. His latest novel, Shot, introduces his new series character, Shannon McNulty. She’s cool AF.

So, without further ado – let’s find out more about Gerard…

Have you ever heard voices in your head?

Yes, 100% But they’re usually quite encouraging and supportive. “One more whiskey, Gerard,” they say. “You can handle it, you manly man, you.”

What is your most unrealistic ambition?

To live to 120 years old, only to be shot dead by a jealous husband.

Which actor do you fancy the most?

It used to be Gillian Anderson, but then she played Maggie Thatcher and I can’t get over the betrayal. So now I’m setting my sights on Elisabeth Moss fro The Handmaid’s Tale.

Who’s your favourite cartoon character?

Jessica Rabbit. Because of her singing voice. Ahem.

What is the most annoying thing?

Working for a living. I’m an artist. Where is my wealthy patron?

What was your first gig?

I did a brief modelling stint when I was 4. They dressed me up in a tux and I played a ring boy in a wedding party. I think I fell off the raised catwalk, but I can’t be sure. It was a long time ago.

When did you last sleepwalk?

I don’t sleepwalk. Sometimes I do Kung Fu in my sleep, though. And once my wife thought I was hugging her, but I was practicing a chokehold.

Have you ever written a fan letter?

No. I don’t like going to the post office. And most celebrities are wankers.

Are you any good at potato sculptures?

Do chips count as potato sculptures? I carve a terrific chip.

Which dead celebrity do you wish was still alive?

Your wee man who played Mr Myagi. Imagine how good he would have been in Cobra Kai.

* * *

Thank you, Gerard. This was extremely enlightening 🙂

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Find him on Twitter @GerardBrennan

 

 

Susi Qs – Week 1 – Craig Robertson

Hello and welcome to my brand new blog series – Susi Qs – where I will be quizzing some of your favourite crime fiction authors, in the style of the Smash Hits Biscuit Tin. For those of you unfamiliar/too young – this involved a celebrity choosing some very random questions from a biscuit tin. I’m using a virtual tin (let’s imagine it was one like this…), and instead of a celeb, I’ve got an author…

My first guest is Craig Robertson – the author of nine novels, mainly set on the mean streets of contemporary Glasgow and featuring DI Rachel Narey and journalist Tony Winter. He has been longlisted three times for the McIlvanney Prize, twice longlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year, shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger, and is an international bestseller.

So, without further ado – let’s find out what’s inside Craig’s head…

Have you ever broken a bone?
Many, and most of them my own. Growing up I was regularly either reckless or stupid and as best as I can remember, broke a bone 14 times. The list is: left shoulder, left thumb, right arm (twice), nose (twice), right ankle, left ankle, left leg, big toe (twice), coccyx and fractured skull (twice). It was mostly falling or jumping from walls and playing football. Only one of them (broken thumb) was as a result of punching a wall aged 15 when my best pal sensibly ducked.


If you were a kangaroo, what would you keep in your pouch?
Another, slightly smaller, kangaroo. It could keep another, more diminutive kangaroo in its pouch and in turn that one could keep an even smaller kangaroo with a smallerer kangaroo in its. I estimate that with suitable sized kangaroos available, there would be scope for up to 17 in successive pouches but, in theory, the number is limitless.


What’s your secret party piece?
If I told you it wouldn’t be a secret. But okay, seeing it’s just us… I can not only name all 50 states of the US, but I can name all 50 state capitals. I mean, it would need to be a pretty dull party before I pulled that one out, but I can do it. Just don’t make me.


Where’s the worst place you’ve been sick?
Dundee


Do you pair your socks?
What? I’m not sure I understand the question because socks are sold in pairs, worn in pairs, are meant to be in pairs. It’s a PAIR OF SOCKS, not two socks. Of course I pair my socks! Accidentally wearing odd socks is one of my greatest fears, coming a close second to being eaten alive by a pack of diseased rats.


Do you have any weird habits?
No. None. No, seriously I don’t. I don’t. Ensuring you’re wearing matching socks isn’t a habit and isn’t weird, it’s the only thing that keeps the world spinning on its axis. Don’t mess with it. Confession: I once flew to Los Angeles, having taken three separate flights, to discover I’d been wearing odd socks the entire time. I nearly died.


Who was your first crush?
A girl named Jill Robertson. We weren’t related. She was beautiful, we were both six years old and in P2 when I scribbled a note saying I LOVE YOU and slipped it into the pocket of her coat outside our classroom. I’ve never told anyone this before so I hope to hell she never reads this. Or that anyone who knows me reads this. NB – I wasn’t a stalker aged six and I’m not a stalker now.


What is the most annoying thing?
Hm, that’s a tough one. I’d have to choose between it being either people texting while walking or people walking while texting. One of those.


What’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you?
Apart from discovering I’d worn odd socks on a transatlantic flight? I lost control of my car while driving on black ice on a country road. The car left the road at speed, caught the top of a fence and flipped twice in the air, Dukes of Hazzard style, and smashed up on landing. Luckily, I walked away with just a bit of a fractured skull (bone 14).


Do you empty your own hoover bag?
Hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahaha. I’ve only just discovered that you CAN empty a hoover bag. Previously it was either someone else who emptied it or, when I lived on my own for six years, each time the bag was full, I presumed the hoover was broken and bought a new one. True story.


How many times have you seen Top Gun?
Um. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it. It’s one of those movies that I know lots of bits about (Maverick/Goose/Iceman/Kelly McGillis/homoerotic beach volleyball game) but I don’t know if I’ve ever watched the whole thing. It’s about aeroplanes, right?

* * *

Thank you, Craig. A lot of things have slotted into place for me after that 😉

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Find him on Twitter @CraigRobertson_