Today I’m lucky to be interviewing Lisa Cutts, whose début novel Never Forget was recently published by Myriad Editions. Lisa is a serving police officer, and has written a gripping crime novel which gives a vivid impression of what it’s like to work on her side of the thin blue line.
Lisa, perhaps you can introduce yourself by telling us a little about your background and the kind of work you do.
Thank you, Tony. Prior to my current job, I had a number of others in London and Kent before joining Kent Police in 1996. I’ve spent the majority of my service in CID and a number of years in the Major Crime Department, investigating serious crimes, including murder. It’s very interesting work and can be very varied, although often disheartening seeing the things that people do to each other.
This is your first novel, and hopefully many more will follow. What inspired you to get into writing fiction?
In a nutshell — Elizabeth Haynes. I met her after reading her début novel and contacted her to congratulate her. It wasn’t something I would normally do as I had no aspirations to be an author at that time. I contacted her because we worked in the same building at Kent Police Headquarters and just wanted to tell her I had enjoyed her book. We met and she encouraged me to write. I’d always thought that someone like me would read books, but I never thought I would be able to write one. It was her enthusiasm that sparked my interest in writing fiction.
Many crime authors take liberties with real police procedure and experience, yet your story gives us an insight into what it’s like to be part of a real police team solving crime. Was it important to you to keep the portrayal accurate? If so, why?
I set out to write a book that readers wouldn’t want to put down, but almost as important to me was its accuracy. I’ve made sure that I’ve stuck to procedures and have at times told the reader why something has been done in a particular way without going into too much detail. I was well aware that the law isn’t always interesting but I wanted to make sure that the fictional murders in the book would be investigated in the same way if they actually happened. I felt it was important to show readers the team work involved: no one single detective can do it alone, irrespective of their rank. That’s something that is sometimes overlooked in crime fiction.
To what extent did you base your detective character Nina on yourself?
We both like a drink. Apart from wine and doing the same job, there are a few things that we both share such as detesting injustice and people not being held to account for what they’ve done. She is taller than me though.
I’m not sure how much you can give away about your work, but have you ever worked on a serial killer case?
I can’t write about specific investigations but no, I have never worked on a serial killing. The main reason I wrote about one in Never Forget was because I have a written agreement with Kent Police that I wouldn’t write about actual crimes I’ve worked on. I felt that I was on safe ground writing about a particular crime I had never investigated. They are also, extremely rare.
Now the book is out, how are fellow police officers reacting? Are they looking for themselves in your characters?
Colleagues and friends at work have been extremely supportive. It’s been lovely for me to have so many of them backing me. I have assured them they aren’t in the book but one or two have asked if certain characters are based on certain people. I’ve done my best to reassure them that it is fiction and that includes the characters — apart from Nina’s fondness for wine.
You’ve said you intend this to be the first of a series. What’s coming next? What about Nina’s love life?
The next book is called Remember, Remember and starts with an investigation surrounding something that happened years ago and follows Nina and the team as they attempt to amass the evidence for a conviction. I wanted to do something slightly different with a few of the same characters. Must admit, I haven’t quite made up my mind about her love life.
Finally, do you have a message for your readers who might be reading this post?
If writing is something you want to do, then please get started. If it’s something you already do and love, please just keep going. I know how difficult it can be to find the time and put the work in but you never know what may happen. And a massive thank you to anyone who has bought my book and read it. It doesn’t matter what’s in a book if no-one reads it.
From the back cover:
A brutal serial killer is stalking the streets. As the body count increases and the force’s biggest-ever manhunt gets underway, Niina is determined to find the murderer.
But when the story of her own traumatic childhood comes to light — a past she’s worked hard to hide — her role on the team is threatened.
Suddenly her job, her peace of mind and her safety are all in danger.
Thank you, Lisa. I very much enjoyed Never Forget, and I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. Good luck.