SHEILA QUIGLEY HAS NO THORN IN HER
Interviewed by Adrian Magson
Sheila Quigley is a grannie with attitude and a columnist for the Sunderland Echo, and has a sharp eye for the gritty side of life. Her five novels in the DI Lorraine Hunt series (‘Run for Home’ (2004), ‘Bad Moon Rising’ (2005), ‘Living on a Prayer’ (2006), ‘Every Breath You Take’ (2007) and ‘The Road to Hell’ (2009)are centred on the Seahills Estate in Houghton-le-Spring, where life is not so much lived as clawed from the mean streets. Now, taking a brave step, Sheila has left the estate - and Lorraine – for a while, and begun a new series featuring DI Mike Yorke. The area isn’t so different, but the setting and characters are definitely a whole world away.
Sheila, you’ve taken a big step away from the Seahills Estate settings, which your many readers know and love you for. First of all, can you give us a brief description of the setting and the idea for ‘Thorn in My Side’?
Much of the events take place on
Holy Island. It’s a place that grabs you by the heart and never lets go.
Having visited the island many times it was inevitable that one day it would
crop up in my fiction. I guess the island came first and Mike Yorke and crew
fitted right in.
This is always a tricky question.
Does any author truly know where their ideas come from, or what sets them
off? I think it’s like a jigsaw; one day the pieces come together and it’s
like someone has fired the starting pistol.
I couldn't have described the island any better. It’s a place that’s screaming out for a good thriller.
DI Mike Yorke is a different kind of main character for you. Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of the man and what drives him?
Mike Yorke and two other boys were
fostered at 8 years old and taken to live on the island by aunt May who
fought tooth and nail to get them. The only opposition was her boss in
Social Services, who knew he could never replace her. Aunt May won. Mike is
a champion of the weak and has been dragging waifs and strays home since he
was a small boy. He's also a bit of a ladies man, and loves to smoke ops –
that’s other peoples ciggies.
Ah, Smiler. Again, he just walked
onto the page fully formed. It amazed me when his history just unfolded.
I’ve had lots of emails begging me not to let anything else happen to him.
Even my editor phoned me up a week after it had gone to print; she couldn't
sleep for thinking of him. She says it’s the first time ever she's had such
a reaction to a character.
Strictly down to earth, with a
wide-open mind. I always tell the kids, a closed mind learns nothing!
Again, one never knows. Is what's
written about the past strictly true? How do we really know? Some of the
papers that have come down could be fairy stories and the truth totally
different to what we actually believe.
I was a bit nervous about this, but
they love it. I’ve had countless emails begging me not to forget the
Seahills, but please can we have a new Mike Yorke as soon as possible!
Ah, yes. I loved every minute of it.
I’d intended for a new Seahills to be next, but couldn't get the ‘Thorn
In My Side’ lot out of my mind. And that buzz is as strong as ever. I’m
loving every bit of the new one. I went up to the island the other day to
refresh a few things in my mind, and forgot to check the tide table. I
couldn't get on the island for 4 hours! I was gutted and had to come back
Well, a few years ago an old woman in her nineties stopped me in the street after novel no 4 - ‘Every Breath You Take’ - and said, ‘There's not as much swearing in this one. Have you been getting wrong off your publishers?’ I said no, because not everyone swears. She thought about it for a moment then said, ‘Well, will you please bring back the ones who do!’
I guess it’s the same with the new
series; not everyone swears, although Aunt May is very fond of the ‘bloody’
word, and Danny lets a few naughty words blast out when he gets frustrated.
Not really. The horror I like is the more creepy kind rather than having lots of blood everywhere just for the sake of it.
You’ve left the ending wide open, with a hint about Mike Yorke returning to London. Does that involve Smiler, too? Can you give your eager readers a little hint, plot-wise?
Oh, yes. Smiler is well and truly in
the next one. Can’t tell you too much as the whole book isn't in my head
yet. That's the way I like it so that I get as many surprises as the reader.
‘Thorn in My Side’ – Burgess Books – H/B - £18.99 – 20 September 2010
For more information about Sheila and her writing, go to: www.theseahills.co.uk
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