Linda Coles writes great British crime novels. She developed the DC Jack Rutherford and DS Amanda Lacey series back in 2017 and have watched them and their colleagues grow over time, via their work as well as their personal lives. Jack, is a bit of a 'Maigret', smart and soft-hearted. And as for Amanda? Maybe a younger 'Vera', dedicated, honorable and savvy. Unlike Vera, she wears well-polished Dr. Martens boots with her sensible work suit. That should tell you something of her nature. Together, the duo work on crimes in Croydon, England, usually featuring ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Linda likes to give them modern cases to solve, quite often involving technology or the dark web for a bit of extra intrigue. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, Butcher Baker Banker.
Please give us a short introduction to what Butcher Baker Banker is about.
I wanted to show the injustices of parts of the justice system such as how those with funds can get the best of help and those that aren’t well-off, struggle for decent representation. The lower level might get Legal Aid depending on how low their income is, but it’s those that fall in-between that perhaps suffer the most. No Legal Aid, and no fancy solicitor. Being charged with a serious crime and affording a solicitor often means selling the family home to pay for a defense. Just where are people supposed to live then? And they don’t get that money back even if they win!
Tell us more about Detective Jack Rutherford. What makes him tick?
He’s not your cookie-cutter cop with historical baggage and a drinking problem. In reality, the police aren’t like that and neither is Jack. A loving husband to his patient wife that sadly died, he’s never had children. When he and his work partner DS Amanda Lacey formed a firm friendship, she became the daughter he never had the pleasure of bringing up. A special bond and great for their banter.
Who is Detective Amanda Lacey? What makes her so special?
She’s worked extra hard to get on and worked through the snide comments and jokes about her sexuality. A regular woman, soft around the middle, she’s not a superhero gunslinger either but like Jack, intent on solving the crimes she’s faced with by sheer good policing.
What makes this pair such a great team?
Their bond and attitude to see justice. Working long hours doesn’t bother them.
Butcher Baker Banker forms part of a series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
All the books in the series work on their own but read in order, you delve deeper into the personal relationships of the characters such as when Amanda and her partner Ruth, overcame one of them not wanting to get married, or when Jack wanted to adopt a foundling baby. There are characters that occasionally re-appear in newer books from the past, which readers tell me is like re-visting old friends. If I need a bad lad, I may already have had one in a past story so I could use him in a cameo role rather than create another.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I’m a goat keeper of 6 wonderful creatures, and I can make a mean lasagne. I’ve had a podcast show, spoken professionally for a living and written 4 non-fiction books. And I’ve had a hug with Lee Child.
Readers say your books are unpredictable and hard to put down. How do you pull this off?
Because I never know what’s going to happen myself. I spend hours lying awake at night figuring out where characters can go, and if there are any opportunities to give another burst of energy and intrigue after you think you’ve come to the end …
Which character in this book did you find the most challenging to create?
Probably the Bank CEO since he was a rich guy and I’m not. I didn’t want him to have a cliched life.
What's an aspect of being a writer that you didn't know about going in?
The sleepless nights for sure!!!
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Great reader feedback is what I love and that keeps me motivated to write an even better story next time around. If I know they love it, I’ll keep on going. Without them, there’s little point. Plus I can work anywhere.
When working on a new book, what’s the first thing you do?
Write a few notes on the new characters, such as their names and addresses, anything that makes them different such as hulking shoulders, or being 5ft tall. What is different about this person than someone I’ve already written about, their personality perhaps? What bugs them or delights them? The characters can be more important than the plot in some stories.
Talk to us about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?
Exercise first off then I’ve done my hour. Then it’s office hours as far as possible. I try and stop by 3 pm so I can read for a couple of hours which is a big part of the work process. It’s surprising what snippets you pick up from other authors in terms of knowledge or a simple red herring idea that you can make your own.
What are you working on right now?
The third in the PI Chrissy Livingstone series. She’s gone to Ireland on an autumn break and discovers a child left to fend for itself…
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?