'I'm not a Jane Austen type of reader, I like Gritty Novels'
Lesley Horton talks to Ali Karim at Heffers Cambridge about her work.
Ali : Lesley Horton, we meet at last! I loved 'The Snares of Guilt' as you know, could you tell us about the book for those readers, who have not read it?
Lesley : Hello Ali, and great to see you too. The theme of the book is the relationship within races, and between races, and it's based in Bradford so we have an exploration of some of the racial issues in the city. But what I wanted to do, was to show that races can live together, that there are problems within the races also, and that prejudice stretches in all directions, even with races. I also wanted to show that its is possible that people can start to understand each other.
Ali : The book takes a fascinating and in-depth look into the Yorkshire Asian community. How much research did you do for the novel?
Lesley : I used to teach in a school that was 98% Muslim, so I talked to the older students, the six-formers, and they spoke very freely about the problems that they had as second generation Asians, and the kind of double culture that they were having to live in. I can remember one of them saying to me that 'When I close the door in the morning I enter another world, and when I return in the evening, I re-enter that world'. They were very helpful, and very willing to talk about it.
Ali : DI John Handford, for me was a masterful creation, can you talk a little about the genesis of this character?
Lesley : Yes, I wanted a character that was essentially a decent person, who just wanted to do the best he could, but had got himself involved in a problem that happened just prior to the story in 'The Snares of Guilt'. He therefore had to tread on glass as he didnt want to upset anyone, or to mess-up his career any further. He is therefore for a lot of time, quite tense.
Ali : I felt sorry for him, because he had this taint of 'racism' from a previous case, but he was far from it in reality. So he had to battle to justify himself, and I found that quite interesting.
Lesley : Which is exactly what I was hoping would come over.
Ali : Well you succeeded!
Lesley : Thank you very much!
Ali : So how long did 'Snares' take to write?
Lesley : Two and half years, and it took four complete drafts I suppose.
Ali : So what are you working on at the moment ?
Lesley : I'm just doing the editing for 'On Dangerous Ground' which is set in the world of child prostitutes. It features DI Handford and Ali, and Ali has a lot of problems dealing with the fact that these girls are prostitutes.
Ali : So you dont shy away from controversy then?
Lesley : No. This began because there was a Barnados Report in the mid 1990's that said that the Bradford/Leeds area had the largest number of child prostitutes per head of population in the country. When I discussed this with vice squad in Bradford, they said that the report wasn't true and there weren't any child prostitutes in Bradford.
Ali : So who was right?
Lesley : Well, I had worked with pregnant school girls for 12 years, and had even been to court with them, so I knew that the problem with child prostitutes was real, so I knew that they were there, even if the police denied it. So I've tried to bring a little of the politics of the police into the story.
Ali : So when is it due for publication ?
Lesley : March 2003.
Ali : So to close, who do you read ?
Lesley : Ian Rankin, Val McDermid anyone who writes gritty novels. I'm not a Jane Austen type of reader, I like to get down to what is happening in reality.
Ali : I read a fascinating article in 'writing magazine' on how you got started, meeting Andrew Taylor so could you give any advice to an aspiring crime novelist?
Lesley : Keep going, and keep taking as much advice as you can, and go to places to meet authors, agents, and publishers really.
Ali : Thank you for your time, and we wish you great success with 'On Dangerous Ground'.
Lesley : Thank you and best wishes to all SHOTS Readers !
Publication Date : 20 June 2002 Orion Books
£9.99 Trade Paperback