Lesley Thomson was born in 1958 and brought up in Hammersmith, West London, grew up in London. She went to Holland Park Comprehensive and graduated from Brighton University in 1981 and moved to Sydney, Australia. Her novel A Kind of Vanishing won The People's Book Prize in 2010. Lesley has written eigtht books in her Detective’s Daughter series. The latest novel being Death of a Mermaid. Lesley combines writing with teaching creative writing at West Dean College. She lives in Lewes with her partner.
Lynne: Stella and Jack are chalk and cheese, but their talents and working methods complement each other. Where do such different characters come from? Are they based on people you know? Or pure imagination?
I wrote Death of a Mermaid for itself. As I said, I had the fishmonger idea, and rather than shoehorn it into a Stella story, I wanted to create new characters in a different setting. Now, I’m equally excited and absorbed as I write a new Jack and Stella.
Lynne: Do you remember the moment when your advance copies of your first-ever book arrived – a real book, not just a computer file or a pile of manuscript? Did it feel familiar – or completely different from the work you initially sent out? Did you re-read it?
Lesley: It was over thirty years ago but it’s still vivid. Nine books on, I haven’t got used to it. It’s extraordinary to me that characters I have dreamt up in my study with only my dog for company can be ‘real’ to readers in the US, Australia, or even in the same street! I’m often invited to book groups where my novel is fresh in their minds. For those, I’ll re-read or listen on audio; as author I’d hate to be the least knowledgeable in the room. While I remember key elements, when I’m deep in a current novel everything else fades. For example, in The Detective’s Daughter Stella chews gum. By The Playground Murders, she wouldn’t dream of it, seeing it as nonchalantly rude; I need to remember that when I’m talking to readers. I have been pleasantly surprised to enjoy one of my novels objectively. Sometimes I can even forget I wrote it.
Lynne: Lesley, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Fingers crossed for huge success with Death of a Mermaid.
The Detective’s Daughter series:
The Detective’s Secret
The House With No Rooms
The Dog Walker
The Playground Murders
The Runaway (novella)