Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival runs from the 11-13th September 2015, in the historical town of Stirling. Please check out events to see who is on at Bloody Scotland and when!
I am delighted to interview Anya Lipska, as part of the Bloody Scotland Blog Tour. Anya Lipska is a rising star in the UK crime scene with three books to date, featuring the wonderful Kiszka and Kershaw. Her latest book ‘A Devil Under the Skin’ was published in June 2015.
My review can be found here: A Devil Under The Skin
1. Are you looking forward to Bloody Scotland? What days will you be there and what will you be getting up to?
I am hugely looking forward to it. The last time I was anywhere near Stirling was 25+ years ago to cover an event in Stenhousemuir for the first ever journal I worked on – a coal industry magazine called Solid Fuel. Very glamorous… I had no idea that the next time I’d be back in the area would be to appear at one of the UK’s biggest crime fiction events. I get a real buzz out of thinking how impressed the younger me would have been.
As well as my own panel with fellow authors Eva Dolan and Kati Hiekkapelto, which is a discussion on crime writing set in minority communities, I’m looking forward to seeing my crime writing heroes and heroines, like Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Belinda Bauer, Sophie Hannah… I could go on… But I must confess that the event I am most looking forward to is the pub lock-in on Saturday night.
2. I’m a MASSIVE fan of your books. I love particularly how you bring the Polish community to life. It all feels very realistic and fascinating. It’s an education.
What made you choose the Polish community? And how much research do you have to do, as a part of your writing?
I am so chuffed to hear that! It’s what every writer wants to hear.
The Polish community chose me, in a sense. I confess I have no Polish ancestry but eighteen years ago I married a Pole who’d come to London with his family in the Eighties, at a time when Poland was still under a Soviet-backed communist regime. By the time I got round to writing my first crime novel, the post-2004 wave of Poles had arrived and there was a Polski sklep on every corner in my East End neighbourhood. So it felt like a topical and fresh setting and my other half gave me an ‘in’ to the culture and history of a culture most Brits know very little about. I have done a lot of research around Solidarity era history and of course among our Polish friends and neighbours. We also have to do a lot of high-calorie research down our local authentic Polish café in Stratford…
3. Everyone loves Janusz Kiszka, even my Mum. He is just so lovable and his relationship with his mate, Oskar provides some great comic moments.
Where did the inspiration for him come from? And do you have lots of plans for him in the future?
Janusz is an amalgam of several Poles I have met. He is named after a wonderful old man we knew who was imprisoned in the gulag after the war and his stories – which were typical of the stoicism and humour of the Poles under horrific repression – helped to inspire the character of Janusz, who has his own demons from communist era Poland. I suppose I am fascinated by people who grow up in repressive societies and the lifelong legacy – for good and ill – it leaves them with. It’s that history that gives Janusz his powerful – but distinctive – moral code. Luckily, his incorrigible buddy Oskar is always on hand with a few cans of Tyskie to take the piss and force him to lighten up.
4. Kershaw and Kiszka are amazing characters. I can see an attraction building between them, very slowly. And I just love their conversations. They have such chemistry. Will they get together as a couple one day? Or is that top secret?
Who knows what will happen to Janusz in the future? Three books in, he really does seem to have a momentum of his own that I’m not wholly in control of… I wish him a contented life, but wonder if he’d be able to handle it. As to his growing chemistry with Natalie – well, he’d have to overcome some pretty deep-seated anti-authoritarian instincts to sleep with a cop…but never say never!
5. Your books are a clever mix of gritty crime, with dark twists and very funny comic moments. I think you get the balance just right. Which parts do you enjoy writing the most?
I absolutely love the light relief of writing Janusz and Oskar’s scenes amid the murder and grit. I was brought up in a family full of men so perhaps that kind of male banter comes as second nature – I certainly find it huge fun to write. I also enjoy the thriller-esque bits – the chases and fights – they’re a lot easier to crate than the convoluted plotlines I seem to go in for, which sometimes make my head hurt.
Thank you SO MUCH, Anya and I hope we don’t have to wait long for more adventures from Kershaw and Kiszka. Anyone who has not read this series, you must check it out now!!!
Bloody Scotland information can be found here: Bloody Scotland