Interview with Dreda Say Mitchell -


BCB: So Dreda, the new book sounds amazing. Tell us a little bit more about it.

DSM: I’m thrilled you enjoyed Vendetta!! It’s a race against the clock thriller about Mac who wakes up in a blood splattered hotel room. Mac remembers entering the room…and then nothing…he can’t remember what happened next. He finds the dead and faceless body of his lover in the bathroom; and it’s his gun on the floor near her body. Mac’s in trouble with a capital T because he’s an undercover cop and his lover was a member of the gang he infiltrated. But he took a vow to look after her so he has less than 24 hours to find out who brutally murdered her. Mac is an undercover cop caught, (as they often are), in that no man’s land between the law and crime. I’ve been a little lucky in that it’s being published a couple of weeks after real-life undercover cop Bob Lambert hit the headlines again. As it’s the start of a new series, I’ve introduced a number of new characters, including feisty and ambitious policewoman DI Rio Wray, who will be appearing in greater or lesser roles in the future. 

BCB: How do you come up with the ideas for a book?

DSM: There are stories everywhere! It might be a newspaper article, a conversation overheard at a bus stop, an incident that happened to me or someone else in the distant past or a ‘what if’ moment. Then I try to take that idea, turn it inside out and take it somewhere that Involves drama, excitement and, of course, crime. 

BCB: You sound like a very busy lady, but which of all the jobs you do is your favourite?

DSM: Such a hard question because I like ALL of the things I do and feel really lucky to be able to do so many things I enjoy. But working with young people in schools or young offender’s institutions is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Doing something that can make a real difference to people’s lives will always make education and mentoring the most important thing for me.

BCB: As a writer yourself, do you read a lot in your free time (do you actually get any of that?), and if you do what sort of stuff do you read?

DSM: There’s no free time for me unless I make it and you have to make free time for yourself. You can’t write unless you read so it’s an important way to use my quiet time. Thrillers and crime are a big favourite obviously but I like to keep up with what’s going on elsewhere. It’s always great to be asked to review something because that gets you into things you might not read otherwise. I was sent Roddy Doyle’s ‘Two Pints’ to review and it’s one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. So many people are - quite rightly - talking about Gillian’s Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl’, but I was blown away by her debut novel ‘Sharp Objects’. Such a creepy, dynamic and beautifully written crime story. Plus I love watching crime dramas and am lucky to review many of them on Front Row on Radio 4. Did you see Breaking Bad? Wow, one of the best crime dramas you will ever see. 

BCB: If you weren’t a writer, Broadcaster or Journalist what do you think you would be doing for a living now?

DSM: Teaching definitely. Where would the next generation be without teachers! Education! Education! Education! I know the value of this having grown up on a housing estate in the east end of London. Education gives us freedom and creates many different pathways for our young people and life should be about choices. Hey, I had a real soap moment there, but can’t help it; I get so pash about the life chances of youngsters. 

BCB: It’s been a while since your last release, are you generally nervous when a new book comes out? Or are you like many others authors, having to be focused on the next project?

DSM: I don’t think you’d be human if you weren’t a bit nervous when a book comes out because you’re flying blind until the public and critics has their say. In our genre readers are rightly demanding and aren’t easily pleased. You just have to keep your fingers tightly crossed…

BCB: I know that you recently met up with the lovely Kimberley Chambers recently so I will ask you the same 3 questions I asked her (evil laugh coming on here)…

BCB: How many times have you Googled your own name!

DSM: It depends what happened last time I googled it. If the first site starts ‘Dreda’s the greatest thing since sliced bread’ then quite a lot. If it was ‘Dreda needs to go back to the classroom’ then probably not so much.

BCB: Have you got a secret Celebrity Crush?

DSM: Now that would be telling…

BCB: Any regrets?

I don’t do regrets. There’s enough negativity in life. Keep looking forward instead of back.

BCB: Tell us something we don’t know about you?

DSM: I was a shot put champion in my teens and represented my area of London at Crystal Palace.