John Bowie Interview: “As far back as I can remember I’ve written”

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This week John Bowie, from the beautiful city of Bristol talks me through his gritty crime fiction and how he came to write it.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime noir fiction?

I started out writing dirty realism, which evolved a crime side to it. The noir has always been there: the atmosphere tying it together. A shout line ‘Classic Crime Noir Full of Dirty Realism’ was used for my first book. I think it still works. There are many layers for book lovers, writers and music fans to discover beyond its pigeonhole though.

I wasn’t sure of crime fiction originally. I always loved dirty realism, the Beat Generation and noir and they flowed to and from my semi-autobiographical pieces I was working on.

Then I read a Robert Lewis book on a beach in Malaysia. Realising it was set in the same city and timeframe as my work, and with a really similar tone, my wife and I almost wondered if I had some Fight Club style alter ego. I referenced this in my themes of identity in Untethered. Paul Auster, who I’m a big fan of too, and Robert Lewis both get honorary mentions in Untethered as well as quite a few other writers, bands and artists who I’ve been inextricably interwoven together with by creativity over time.

What is your background in writing and how did you get in to writing?

As far back as I can remember I’ve written. I had a short story published, Milburn’s Last Class, with Storgy this year. This was a dark fiction piece reimagining a story I’d actually written and read out in school. It was my revenge through storytelling after being repeatedly berated by my teacher.

My writing took a more purposeful vocation as I started writing what I thought was my version of Bukowski’s Post Office in 1998. I worked for a corporate hellhole of a bank at the time and it was good therapy to drink, write, paint and anything else besides what I was meant to be doing. It built up into four outlined books over time and sat on a virtual shelf in my head and in lots of sketch and notebooks. They were semi-autobiographical noir pieces but lacking a momentum somehow. Later I discovered hardboiled P.I. and crime fiction. The mechanisms I discovered in these were such an important springboard to move my works off my shelf and onto other peoples’. It gave my writing a vehicle beyond the cathartic poetic rants I was used to.

Tell me all about your books. Why do you believe readers enjoy them?

I feel the semi-autobiographical elements give a depth that can only come from reading something that has already or is maybe going to happen. With the lyrical atmosphere, it’s a believable hard fiction with a killer soundtrack. I use metaphysical tools to place the reader in my past and present.

What books do you like to read and how do they impact on your own writing?

I try to master the art of saying complex things in a simple way. There are so many good writers to discover and old favourites — true masters at it. I’ve been lucky and discovered some great new ones through my writing.

Is there anything else that influences your writing (places, people, films etc)?

Ghosts and future memories of the cities, music, people and life I’ve encountered all wrestle round in my head, waiting to be written out.

I always have a notebook for short story ideas and another for my novels to make notes with me. These notebooks are written into each story. They’re as real as the characters and places in them.

I listen to music and revisit it and the towns and cities my stories are set in, to add to the atmosphere too. This gives the words a lyrical feeling; like notes. The music and words weave together, pushing me on. It feeds the flow of it all as I go. Factory records, the Hacienda and the music of my time in Manchester (mid to late 90s) are at the heart of Untethereds’ follow-up, Transference. All four books in the series (so far) have intentional Joy Division feeling one-word titles with multiple interpretations.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me and 24hr Party People films made me think he’s passionate about the same music and themes that surround my stories; maybe I’ll send him a copy of something…

Ian Curtis, Sally Potter, Mary Harron, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Mark E. Smith, Charles Bukowski and David Cronenberg are all just wistful thinking; to bring them together for a drink fuelled brain drop of ideas.

What’s next for your writing? Have you got any exciting plans to develop it that you can share with us?

I dabbled playing with horror tropes recently. I applied my semi-autobiographical elements, music and questions on identity. It’s just come out with Dead Man’s Tome in the U.S. I’d like to try the same with other genres as short story exercises. I saw some great old Western covers in an old bookshop at lunchtime and thought a dark and dirty Brit-Western-Noir would work for me: ‘A Weston-Super-Nightmare’.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

Anything by Paul D. Brazill, Paul Heatley, Julian Barnes, Paul Auster and all the others I keep finding: there’s not enough time to quench the thirst they create. 

Anything you’d like to add?

Thank you so much for the interview- I’m chuffed to be asked!

It’s been great to hear your thoughts and learn more about your work, so thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!

 

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Martin Ungless Interview: “Crime is such a great vehicle for driving forward a story”

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Crime writer Martin Ungless explains his work and how he has created a unique novel in his book Duck Egg Blues.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction? 

I like a nice plot, me. Crime is such a great vehicle for driving forward a story and putting characters in tricky situations, it’s got the potential to be page turning and fantastically entertaining, and in my case, so I’m told, laugh-out-loud.

I’ve always written, but had a brief interlude, a decade or so, as an architect. That’s a great education for a writer; disciplined creativity and learning to critique ones own work. It was also in my case an exercise in narrative and on producing something that pleased the public, and these days of course that’s the reader.

What is your background in writing and how did you get in to writing?

Perhaps I’ve already half-answered that, but I do think when I designed buildings that the stories they told were important. At that same time, I was continuing to hone my practical writing skills with articles in the architectural press. I do feel that writing is another outlet for the pleasure of creation, just with a different brief, and requiring a whole other set of skills. I have written a fair few short stories, and as well as refining technique these can also be usefully entered in competitions, even a long-listing can keep a writer going through the long dark self-doubt times, and sometimes you even get to win!

Tell me all about your books. Why do you believe readers and critics enjoy them?

I think readers enjoy genre fiction because we all like more of the same but different. Sometimes for me that difference comes in blending the genres themselves. I write fiction that surprises, always, regardless of whether I am genre-blending or not, and I can pretty well guarantee that you will not have read anything like one of my stories before; though (more of the same but different) my books are full of crime and detection and peril and complications and characters who suffer and win through. It’s not that my stories are so far out there, I just have a vivid imagination. Not a bad trait for a writer, I guess.

What books do you like to read and how do they impact on your own writing?

I’ve got pretty eclectic tastes. Right now I’m working my way through a whole history of C20th classic Crime, reading and rereading, trying to understand what works so well for them. I don’t know if your readers have come across They Shoot Horse Don’t They? I read that quite recently and it’s a cracker, that and the astonishing The Postman Always Rings Twice. Both feel like they were at least half a century before their time. I utterly love the energy of something like Fight Club, and the exceptional dialogue of Elmore Leonard. Outside of Crime, I’m a huge fan of Murakami.

Is there anything else that influences your writing (places, people, films etc)?

I’ve got wide interests hence the multiple-genres, but in particular I’m a fan of technology, and this passion gave rise to PArdew, my robot-butler-detective from Duck Egg Blues, and is also the reason why I’m currently working on a high-tech hacker thriller.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I think I mentioned him already, but I do think Elmore Leonard had an utterly extraordinary ear for dialogue. I think it was based on his deep understanding of character, and if they could rub off on me, boy would those be some nice skills to learn. Sadly he has passed away.

What’s next for your writing? Have you got any exciting plans to develop it that you can share with us?

My high-tech international crime thriller is called Orange612. The opening section was listed for a Debut Dagger by the Crime Writers’ Association this year, so I’m pretty buzzed to be working on that.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I haven’t read Melmoth yet, that looks a cracker and The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, well, you just know that’s something else!

Anything you’d like to add?

Thank you for inviting me to talk about my work, I think it might be almost as fun as writing it.

Thanks you for taking the time to answer my questions, it’s been great to hear your thoughts.

 

Hugh Fraser Interview: “I’ve always enjoyed the gritty American crime writers like Elmore Leonard and James Ellroy”

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This week I’ve got an awesome treat for fans of the Rina Walker novels, as I talk to Hugh Fraser, Actor and Writer extraordinaire, who offers me an insight into his books and how his experiences influenced them.  

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards thrillers?

I’m not aware of having a particular writing style but I’ve always enjoyed the gritty American crime writers like Elmore Leonard and James Ellroy and I imagine I must have been influenced by them in terms of style and also as to my choice of genre.

How do you draw on your time acting and how does it inspire your writing?

When I was a student at drama school in the early 1960s I lived in Notting Hill when it was a much poorer and rougher area than it is today and so I was able to observe the deprived conditions that Rina Walker grew up in and the criminality and racial prejudice that existed then. When I had no acting work in the early days I also worked as a musician in the kind of Soho hostess clubs that Rina frequents with her girlfriend Lizzie.

Tell me all about the Rina Walker series. What was your inspiration?

I have always collected the black and white photographs of Roger Mayne and Bert Hardy who captured so many evocative images of the poverty and dilapidation of the post-war inner cities. Roger Mayne’s series depicting the street life of Notting Hill and North Kensington in the 1950s I found particularly evocative, with Teddy Boys in their drainpipe trousers and drape jackets, and Teddy Girls in pencil skirts and tailored jackets with velvet collars, strutting their stuff, while raggedy little kids in threadbare clothes play football and hopscotch, or gather on the steps of the tenements.

It was in this neighborhood and this kind of poverty that I imagined my heroine Rina Walker growing up, the daughter of a recently murdered gangster and alcoholic mother, forced into a life of crime at an early age in order to care for and support her two younger siblings and all too soon acquiring the skills and expertise of a contract killer.

What books do you like to read yourself and how do they impact on your own writing?

I have just finished the wonderful Love Hurts by William Boyd and I’m about to start Milkman by Anna Burns, which has just won the Booker Prize. I’m afraid these kind of beautifully written novels, which make us consider our lives and how we live them, have little or no impact on my own writing. My books are no more than entertainment of a very basic kind.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

What an interesting question. I think it would have to be Marcel Proust – but only if he’d let me share his Madeleines.

What’s next for the Rina Walker series? Have you got any exciting plans to develop it that you can share with us?

I have no plans to start another outing for Rina at the moment but I won’t be surprised if she gives me a nudge sometime soon.

Is there any other work you’ve got coming up that you would like to tell me about?

I’m going to Iceland in a couple of weeks to appear in the Icelandic Noir Festival, which I’m really excited about.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to moving forward?

I heard Edith Eger on Woman’s Hour this morning talking about The Choice, her harrowing account of surviving Auschwitz and slave labour in Germany. I was deeply moved by her heroism and optimism after enduring such unbelievable hardship and I can’t wait to read it.

Anything you’d like to add?

Thank you for asking me to join you.

It’s been awesome hearing from you, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. You can read more about Hugh and his work HERE.

The Top Five Sir Clinton Driffield Novels To Give You A New Series To Adore

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Sir Clinton Driffield was the Chief Constable creation of J.J. Connington, the pen name of Alfred Walter Stewart, a renowned scientist who wrote during the Golden Age of Crime Fiction. Alongside his vast contributions to science, he became a renowned crime novelist and a member of the Detection Club, alongside such greats as Dorothy L Sayers and Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime herself.

At his height Stewart, through his pseudonym, was a key player in the Golden Age and was epitomising the genre. Whilst his works were not the typical style of the era, without a dandyish, enigmatic detective, they came to symbolise the Golden Age’s reliance on the influence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels. Sir Clinton Driffield is a policeman, but he has a military-esq style of detective, and whilst he is less flamboyant than his more famous influence, his methods of deduction are based on science and facts, in a similar vein to Doyle’s detective.

Similarly, his friend and detective assistance Squire Wendover is a Watson counterpart. At times the landowner is quick thinking and has a deep understanding of human nature- at other times he is completely dense. Often blinded by his own sensibilities, he is a perfect foil to Stewart’s detective, and his presence often leads to many intriguing discoveries.

Following his death Stewart’s Sir Clinton Driffield novels went out of print, however today they can be bought through Orion’s Murder Room imprint, and you can also find some second hand editions online. As a result of being taken out of circulation for so long, the novels were not made into TV shows or films, or continued on through new authors continuing the series, and as such their popularity have dropped over the years.

It was whilst I was reviewing the brilliant Golden Age anthology Bodies From The Library that I first discovered Sir Clinton, and since then I’ve been tracking the novels down through the internet and some bookshop trawling, which was great fun. Now, I’d like to introduce you to my new favourite so that you can enjoy the tales of this astute and often mercenary police detective, so check out my top five books which will give you a great introduction.

5. The Four Defences: Many of Stewart’s Sir Clinton Driffield novels were based around real events, crimes or ideas, in this case a real life mystery often dubbed the ‘blazing car murder’. In the novel Driffield is confronted with an unidentified body found in a lighted car. A local man is missing, however the body has been cleverly staged to look like him, but is soon found to be a different man altogether. Now Driffield has two mysteries to solve and a variety of strange stories to untangle in his search for the truth.

4. Tragedy at Ravensthorpe: The second in the Sir Clinton Driffield series, Tragedy At Ravensthorpe is a country house mystery set in a secluded country manor where a masked ball leads to theft, murder and general mayhem. Family friend Sir Clinton Driffield seeks to help his old friends’ family and delve into the truth behind the various mysteries and restore order in his usual droll and methodical manner.

3. The Boathouse Riddle: When Wendover acquires a new boathouse he is keen to show his new toy off to his friend, Sir Clinton Driffield, who is on holiday to enjoy some fishing and see his old friend. The boathouse quickly becomes the scene of a baffling crime, and when another body is dredged up from the lake on which the boathouse is situated Sir Clinton and his friend have to untangle a sweeping web of lies and deceits. Fast-paced and enticing, the novel is a rich human drama that keeps the reader hooked until the final twist is revealed.

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2. No Past Is Dead: After an unusual ceremony celebrating everything unlucky, the leader of the Thirteen Club is found brutally killed in suspicious circumstances, which involves being shot, mauled by a cheetah and having his throat slit. Sir Clinton and his companion Squire Wendover are joined by a journalist pal, who was present at the dinner to untangle the knotted web of lies and deceits that made up the victim’s life to find out why he died. A second murder swiftly follows the first, putting the Chief Constable at the centre of a fiendish mystery.

1. Murder In The Maze: Praised by no less than T.S. Eliot himself, the first book to feature Sir Clinton Driffield is a startling piece of detective fiction. As regular readers will know, I am a firm believer that the first book in any series is, more often than not, the best place to start, and in this case Murder In The Maze is an ideal introduction. Faced with double murder committed by poisoned darts in the heart of a maze at a country manor house, Driffield must use all his detective skill to draw out the devilish culprit before they strike again.

Lethal White Review: The Best Of A Not-So-Brilliant Bunch

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The forth instalment of the Cormoran Strike novels is excessively long- but don’t let that put you off, this is actually the best of the lot. Not that that’s saying a great deal.

Picking up directly from where Career of Evil left off, the novel shows Strike and his former assistant turned salaried partner Robin falling into an uneasy rhythm following her marriage. This is abruptly interrupted by the arrival of Billy, a highly disturbed young man who comes bearing tales of child murder, before leaving as quickly and loudly as he came.

With Billy now disappeared, and no real motive to investigate his claims, Strike takes the case of the foppish politician Jasper Chiswell, nicknamed ‘Chizzle’, who is being blackmailed. Keen to avoid divulging what he is being blackmailed about, the Minister commissions Strike and his agency, which now includes several employees, to obtain information he can use against his blackmailers, who, incidentally, include Billy’s older brother Jimmy.

While the 2012 Olympics takes London by storm, the case quickly descends into almost comical absurdity, with Strike and Robin pursuing multiple lines of enquiry, many of which revolve around Chiswell and his laughably posh family. One of the problems I find with Rowling’s Strike series is that I am always unsure if she realises that she crossed the invisible line between light-hearted satire and full-on ridiculousness which is present in all crime fiction.

After all, her protagonist does, on several occasions, mention how posh and out-of-touch his client and his family are, even at one point referring to them as teletubbies, but the reader remains baffled throughout by the intensity of their otherness and the fact that none of them seem to realise how incredibly self-incriminating they are being.

In this latest outing as in all the previous, Strike remains a mess of contradictions. Although Rowling goes to great pains to make him out to be a mess of a man who she describes on numerous occasions as ‘classless’, he also shown to be more at home in a swanky pub in Mayfair than among normal people. He is often slovenly and unkempt himself, yet he judges a young woman for having painted eyeliner over a piece of sleep in the corner of her eye.

The character also mentally derides his latest temporary secretary for not remembering that he detests milky tea despite the fact that he himself is completely incapable of thinking of the feelings of others, even crashing his colleague’s wedding and taking out her flowers in the prologue. Rowling either drastically underestimates the intelligence of her readers or she is unaware of how characterisation works, but either way, the result is the same; a protagonist with all of the sincerity of a Tory election promise.

Then, of course, there is the question of length. I don’t know if you’ve been to Waterstones lately to check it out, but this book is HUGE. In hardback it is over 600 pages long, although a good 300 of these are completely unnecessary. Rowling gets so bogged-down in the minutiae of surveillance and the day-to-day running of a detective agency that she lets her narrative run away from her, and spends fruitless chapters describing the perfectly mundane. There are also far too many needless characters, leaving the reader struggling to keep up with who’s who and what’s what.

Named after the colloquial term for a horse that is doomed to die due to a genetic condition, the one thing that Lethal White does have going for it is its foreshadowing. Rowling is able to skilfully direct her readers where she wants them to, and at times it is intriguing to realise where a certain detail came into play previously. Each chapter begins with a line from Rosmersholm, a play by Henrik Ibsen, which focuses on a time of political change and the emergence of a new order, a metaphor for the downfall of the Chiswells, whose gilded life is quickly disintegrating as the case develops.

There is also some great skill shown in Rowling’s depictions of her disgustingly upper class characters, particularly Jasper Chiswell. There is one scene, in which he is chewing with his mouth open, and he spits a piece of potato at Strike, which is so vivid that I physically reacted (the poor chap on the train next to me thought I was mental, but there you have it).

These brilliant, emotive stretches of text are interspersed with a lot of waffle, but there is some narrative excellence. Robin and Strike’s relationship is brilliantly handled, and it is great that their strange passion for each other does not overwhelm the main plot.

All in all, Lethal White remains by far the best of the Strike novels, although it is, fundamentally, too bloody long and at times completely absurd. Hard-core Rowling fans will love it; anyone else is better off elsewhere.

Desmond Ryan Interview: “My readers like the books because they are reading authentic stories filled with believable characters”

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Former Police Detective Desmond Ryan talks me through how his time in the force has influenced his writing.  

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime and thriller writing?

Crime fiction lends itself well to the type of writing I have been doing for the past thirty years as a police detective. I used to joke with my colleagues that I would be that guy who sits in the corner of the pub and tells police stories to any poor soul who has the misfortune of sitting down anywhere near me. And then I retired. Sensing that a semi-permanent seat in the pub wouldn’t serve me well (on so many levels), I decided to take some of those stories, give them a bit of a twist, and write crime fiction instead. I love noir and the classic sleuth novels and try to incorporate a bit of that flavour into my work.

How do you draw on your experience as a detective when writing?

A lot of my storylines are loosely based on bits and pieces of events that I’ve been involved in either directly or indirectly. I find that the characterizations of both my protagonists and antagonists are where I really draw upon experience. My characters tend to be a compilation of the people I’ve worked with or had dealings with. This makes writing so much easier, doesn’t it? Especially for crime fiction. I mean, at the end of the day, a crime fiction novel tends to be about someone murdering someone and then getting caught. Not much fun in that. It’s the juicy bits that make it fun, and I think those juicy bits are the characters. 

Please tell me about your books and what you believe draws readers to them.

The six books in the Mike O’Shea Crime Fiction series are police procedurals that follow the life of Detective Mike O’Shea over a number of years on and off the job. My readers like the books because they are reading authentic stories filled with believable characters. The dialogue, the little details, the plot twists and turns- all bang on because I know what I’m talking about. I have lived that life. And, as a writer, I assume that my readers are not only crime fiction fans, but also clever readers who enjoy complex characters, a gripping storyline, and reading well-written material.

Are there any particular mediums or narrative troupes you like to use in your writing and why?

As I mentioned earlier, I expect my readers to be intelligent and informed. I know that they don’t want to be spoken down to or presumed to be incapable of understanding the complexities of a police investigation. I use dialogue to create an authentic experience and direct engagement between the characters and my readers. I use a lot of police jargon, but not for the sake of it. Every piece of it is intentional and establishes the mood of the scene. I also use a lot of profanity because that is what I have heard and said (but don’t tell my mother!) as a real police detective. As a reader, I enjoy novels—regardless of genre—that draw me in completely. As a writer, I believe that it is my obligation to provide that experience for my reader, who has given up however many hours out of their busy day to read my books.

What do you enjoy reading and how does this influence your writing?

I kind of binge-read. I will find an author and read as much as I can from that author and, regardless of the genre, will draw some clever bit out and apply it to my own writing. For example, I recently went through a slight Peter Temple phase. I loved one of his books and did not enjoy another as much, primarily because I didn’t like the protagonist in the second book. Both books held my attention and I would recommend them, but I much preferred the first over the second. What I learned from that as a writer is that it’s okay for your reader to not love your protagonist as long as the story is strong.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

I have just discovered Simon Brett (I know, what rock have I been living under, right?) and absolutely love his writing style. I seriously doubt that he and I will ever co-author a project, but I’d gladly settle for sitting down with him for a few pints!

Have you got any exciting new plans or projects coming up that you’d like to share with me?

I am so glad you asked! As well as an outrageously rigorous writing and publishing schedule for the Mike O’Shea Crime Fiction series (Book Two will be out in February 2019, followed by Book Three in June 2019) I have a cosy series on the go. I know. Who writes police procedurals and cosies? And, the main character of the Mary Margaret Mysteries is Mike O’Shea’s mother! There will be some crossovers of characters and dialogue (and room for so many inside jokes referencing the series). I am really looking forward to it and am anxious to see how it all comes together.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to later in the year?

My bedside table at home often looks like a game of Jenga. Ivan Coyote’s Tomboy Survival Guide, Catherine Hernandez’ Scarborough, Aldofo E. Ramirez’ The Purple Cloud Project…the list goes on and on and on. I’m looking forward to a book by a friend of mine, Christine Newman, a debut author, later this year (I hope!).

Anything you’d like to add?

I’d just like to thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with your readers. It is a privilege to be a writer who is read by others. And I hope that you enjoy reading 10-33 Assist PC as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Thanks for taking the time, I’ve really enjoyed hearing from you! 

 

 

 

Killing Eve: Sure, We’ve Had Female Villains, But Not Like This

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Bandwagon Alert! My friend has been talking about the new TV series Killing Eve since the BBC first aired it, so I bit the bullet and watched the first episode, expecting to find the usual tawdry stereotypes and then be able to turn it off, safe in the knowledge that my indifference or disdain was justified.

I am extremely pleased to say that I was completely wrong. I loved this show so much I binge-watched it and finished it in about two days. Many people argue that it is a great feminist black comedy, and I completely agree. It is fantastic to see an inclusive show where women, and particularly women of colour, at the forefront, although it would’ve been great to have seen some differently-abled women as well.

She fights dirty, she sleeps with whomsoever she pleases and she is generally a well-rounded, three-dimensional character. Also, it is truly great to see a woman eating on TV that isn’t sexualised- think lollypops and ice creams being sucked seductively (in fact, the opening scene is literally a parody of this). Instead, Eve and Villanelle are seen eating simply for nourishment, because they’re hungry. It’s great to see that, even if it is a strange thing to say. How often do you actually see women eating on screen?

Also, she buys things she likes, plays tricks, and is generally a well-rounded, defined character. She is more than just a sex object or a one-dimensional form of feminist rebellion. Unlike many female villains, such as Amy in Gone Girl, she does not have an ordinary life from which she is escaping, and unlike Irene Adler from the Sherlock Holmes stories, she is not defined entirely by her life of crime. There are nuances to her character that have not been seen in female villains before, either on screen or in literature.

The trick is that the show was created by women, and portrays real women doing real women things. Although the original novellas were written by Luke Jennings, it was Phoebe Whatsit-Brigadier who created the series and adapted the books for TV.

Having never read Jennings’ work I cannot say how accurate the portrayal is, but it’s clear that the Fleabag creator has defined the character and made it her own. She has developed a TV series unlike any other, and this is redefining the female villain for a generation of crime fiction readers and watchers, which can only be a good thing.