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British crime writer Denise Mina's scribe affair

Popular British crime writer Denise Mina explains her choice of characters; says why journalists are her favourite protagonists.

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When one of UK’s leading crime fiction writers arrived in India en route Dubai to attend British Council’s literary initiative Lit-Sutra, she came empty-handed. Denise Mina had lost all her luggage and had nothing except the shirt on her back. However, the 43-year-old didn’t lose hope; instead she raced into a vintage store in Kolkata (where she arrived) to lay her hands on the first dress she saw.

And ‘enterprising’ is an adjective that could best define Denise as well as her protagonists in her novels, who are often journalists, who add colour and flavour to the intriguing books she writes. Denise is happy that the community of crime fiction writers has deftly accommodated the presence of women writers and the percentage of the fairer sex writing is actually fifty percent of the whole. She points out, “It is amazing that the literary sector in UK has grown so large especially for women. And crime is the female writer’s favourite genre because women can actually think. They want to do something useful. You want to be arrogant and want to make people read your 300 pages of literary genius.”

While many crime authors actually have professional detectives as their protagonists, Denise breathes a fresh perspective into it. Several of her protagonists are actually journalists and especially those from the British print media. Denise explains the choice of her character, “I used to work in a bar where several journalists frequented. They have become extremely professional.”

The newspaper industry in UK is changing and the author has tactfully tapped into theresources. Denise adds, “Journalists are being forced to write more copies than before. Several of those who I met at the bar became my friends. It is unfortunate that they have to work at such a neck-breaking speed.”

Denise also teaches criminology and criminal law. So, does conjuring up a crime plot come as easy to her as teaching? Denise says, “Believe me, it is much easier to write a crime novel. While teaching, you have to ask yourself questions, make sure all your facts are right. But while writing a book, you get the freedom to make up stuff.”

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