Wednesday, March 16, 2016

9mm interview: Linda Regan

Welcome to the latest edition of 9mm, our long-running author interview series here on Crime Watch. For the month of March I will be highlighting some cool crime writers who I'm very pleased to be chairing on a panel as part of an upcoming crime festival, Deal Noir on 2 April.

After the welcome by Susan Moody, our 9.30am panel "There's A Time And A Place for Everything" will consist of Guy Fraser-Sampson, Daniel Pembrey, Linda Regan, and William Shaw, and will kick-start what will be a fabulous day. You can read more about Deal Noir here. You can read my previous 9mm interviews with William Shaw here, and Daniel Pembrey here.

Today I'm very pleased to welcome Linda Regan to Crime Watch. Linda is a well-known British actress on television, film, and stage, but she is also a crime writer (cool eh?). I understand she is best known for her role as Yellowcoat April in the sitcom Hi-de-Hi!, set in a British holiday camp. (I remember watching that in New Zealand years ago on TV ONE), but Linda has appeared in dozens of other film and television projects, including crime dramas like The Bill, The Detectives, Bergerac, and Framed (a mini-series written by Lynda La Plante). On the stage she's appeared in everything from Shakespeare to farce (not that they're mutually exclusive), including the lead role in Tom Stoppard's Dirty Linen in the West End and working with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Along with being a storyteller onscreen and onstage, Linda Regan also tells stories on the page. She has published several gritty crime novels, often with themes relating to gang violence in South London. I have just read and enjoyed her latest novel, GUTS FOR GARTERS, which involves several of the detectives who've played lead roles in Regan's earlier books, as well as introducing an all-girl South London street gang 'The Alley Cats', vigilantes who are looking to take back their estate from drug dealers, weapons smugglers, and other neighbouring gangs who profit off people's pain.

But for now, Linda Regan becomes the latest crime writer to stare down the barrel of 9mm.


1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
My favourite recurring crime fiction is so difficult to answer. I guess it is Jane Tennison, wrtten by Lynda La Plante, or Ann Travis also written by Lynda. As you can see I love Lynda's books.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
Black Beauty. Because I love horses, partly, and because it opened my eyes to so much crime in fiction.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything): unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
Before my first novel, I had written short stories, and loads and loads of rubbish, which I have to pray never sees the light of day.

4. Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
As well as writing, I am an actress, so I like doing that too. For escapism it'll be long walks with my beautiful dog every time.

5. What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
Visitors to my town (London), should have pockets full of coins. The public loos are extortionately expensive and we all know when you gotta go you gotta go. I think the next Mayor should really look at this issue. I recently gave a mother with three children all my change because she had none, and her children needed the loo. I find that appalling on the part of the local councils.

6. If  your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
If my life was a movie, no one else could play it only me. I am an actress, and no one knows me better!

7. Of your own books, which is your favourite, and why?
I think my favourite is Dead Like Her. It is about a psychopath who is killing off Marilyn Monroe lookalikes. I played Marilyn in the play about her life in the early nineties and I had a lot of very strange people writing to me and following me. I was a woman alone, touring the country, and at times it was very frightening. I put all this fear in my novel, and I am proud of it.

8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
When I was first accepted for publication? I was thrilled. I celebrated with large cup of tea. I don't drink alcohol.

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
I have had some very strange people and events. Someone once asked me to sign Barbara Windsor's autobiography. I said, obviously I couldn't as I wasn't Miss Windsor. The man persisted and said I looked like her (which I don't). I said that was of no consequence as I didn't write like her. He said "well try!" I looked him in the eye and said, "No, that is fraud". He just shrugged and said, "I won't tell". I nodded and said, "You won't get the chance because I won't sign it. Why don't you buy one of mine instead, and I'll sign that?" His answer: "I am not paying 7.99 for a book from someone who hasn't been in Eastenders."

Thank you Linda, we appreciate you taking the time to chat to Crime Watch

You can see Linda Regan at Deal Noir on 2 April as part of the "There's A Time And Place For Everything" panel at the Landmark Centre at 9.30am. For more information on Linda Regan, check out her website here

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