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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Guest blog - Belfast crime - Catriona King confesses!

Today, I’m pleased to welcome as my blog guest Catriona King, a writer who works hard at her craft and is an example to all scribes.

Catriona is a doctor and a member of the Crime Writers' Association. She was raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland and moved to central London to live and work as a Doctor, where she trained as a police Forensic Medical Examiner. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police in London on many occasions.

In recent years, she has returned to live and work in Belfast, basing her D.C.I. Craig crime novels in the streets of modern Belfast and Northern Ireland, and locating the fictitious crime headquarters of 'Docklands Coordinated Crime Unit' in one of Belfast's oldest and most colourful districts, Sailortown. (She writes briefly about the setting for her novels here:

Catriona has written since childhood: fiction, fact and reporting. 'A Limited Justice' her first novel was released on Kindle on 24th August 2012 and in paperback on the 26th October to Five Star Reviews. It followed Detective Chief Inspector Marc Craig and his team, in the hunt for the killer of three people. A second novel in the D.C.I. Craig series 'The Grass Tattoo' was released on 11th December 2012 in paperback and Kindle again to rave reviews, and the third in the series 'The Visitor' on the 29th March 2013 to five star reviews. The fourth book in the series, 'The Waiting Room' was released on May 31st 2013 and follows a sinister cabal called 'The Library Club' culminating in a dramatic confrontation near a major political summit in Fermanagh in June 2013.

Q & A

Since 2012, you’ve had four crime novels published by Crooked Cat. This is a great achievement. You bring a lot of inside knowledge and humour of varying colour to the books. Can you tell me what prompted you to write the series?

I love the crime novels of Ian Rankin and Colin Dexter because, in addition to telling good stories they introduce you to new cities e.g. Edinburgh and Oxford. I wanted to do that for Belfast, not as it was during The Troubles but as it is now in 2012/2013. I've always loved watching crime series and reading crime novels and I had worked with the police in the past and so knew something about the forensic side and the culture, so I thought what better way to combine all of these than in a crime series set in modern Belfast. the stories could be set anywhere but setting them here allowed me to show the country's beauty and humour.

DCI Craig has an Italian mother. I notice that Frances di Plino’s detective is half-Italian, again on his mother’s side. There are already a number of Italian cops popular in fiction, Zen, Brunetti, Montalbano, Ferrara, Cataldo to name a few. Do you intend the Italian connection to loom larger in the future?

There is quite a large Italian/Northern-Irish community and has been for several generations. I wanted to reflect that. I love Italy and it's a country I've visited many times so I felt comfortable writing characters from there. I also wanted to use the Italian side to represent the communities that have settled here, whether from Italy, Poland, Africa or wherever

Italy may play a part in future stories but I haven't thought how yet. DCI Craig's mother Mirella is a classical pianist and my father sang Italian opera. I grew up with music in all forms and it was a link I wanted to bring into the books, however obliquely, and I used  Mirella to do that.

Is there a fifth Craig novel in the offing?

There is indeed. I've just submitted the manuscript so fingers crossed. It's called 'The Broken Shore' and is set on Northern Ireland's North Atlantic coast

How long have you been writing?  What influenced you to start?

I've been writing on and off since school (more off than on because of work). I won my first writing prize when I was five and always loved English Literature. I wrote book chapters for work and many, many work papers. I also did a stint as a medical journalist full time as well.

How do your family/friends feel about your writing?

I think they're quietly pleased .

Are you planning to write any non-DCI Craig books?

Yes. I'm just in the editing stage of a new stand-alone thriller set in New York City. It's called 'The Carbon Trail' and is an espionage thriller. I also have an idea for another standalone novel in my head.

Do you intend to stick with the crime genre or switch?

Switch back and forth I think. DCI Craig is crime, 'The Carbon Trail' is a spy thriller. I'd quite like to have a go at a sci-fi book as well.

A tall order, I know, but what is your favourite book? And why?

It's a book that I read as a child called 'What Katy Did' by Susan Coolidge. It's about a little girl growing up in 19th century America. I loved it because she was a tom-boy like me.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

Oh my goodness, I've no idea. I'm so disorganised I have a hard time planning a week ahead!

Where can readers find you?

I'm on Facebook on and my twitter name is CatrionaKing1

Thank you, Catriona!

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