It was like all my Christmases came early when Mel Sherratt kindly agreed to be interviewed by me. Just in case I have not said it enough, I am a HUGE fan of Mel’s books…read every one of them…they are gritty, the characters are real and the story-lines are in my opinion..phenomenal! So without further ado..
Mel Sherratt writes police procedurals, psychological suspense and fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as she calls it. She has released three psychological thrillers in a series, The Estate and, WATCHING OVER YOU, a dark, erotic thriller. More recently, she has made her first novel, TAUNTING THE DEAD, into the first of a series, with FOLLOW THE LEADER and ONLY THE BRAVE, books 2 and 3 respectively, both published this year.
CBJ: Can you share with us a little about yourself and your background?
Mel Sherratt I write police procedurals, psychological suspense and fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as I call it. My inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes.
I live in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with my husband and terrier, Dexter (named after the TV serial killer) and makes use of my hometown as a backdrop for some of my books.
CBJ: Currently you have two fantastic book series: DS Allie Shenton and The Estate Series. You also have a stand-alone: Watching Over You which I and I am sure others thoroughly enjoyed. Do you have any plans in the future to write more stand-alones?
Mel Sherratt: Noelle, I have so many plots and characters in my head – an idea folder fit to burst, too – that I’m sure I’ll write more standalones. I think I’ll have to as some of the ideas don’t fit in either series.
CBJ: What drew you to write gritlit/crime vs other genres of books?
Mel Sherratt: It was trying to get a book deal, I suppose. In 1999, I started out writing women’s fiction and then because I couldn’t get this published, after watching the television series, Shameless, plus starting to work on a housing estate as a housing officer, my storylines became grittier as the next book grew. Who knows what might have happened if I’d got the original women’s fiction novels published – I might never have tackled crime and crime thrillers, so I’m more than happy with how things have worked out.
CBJ: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Mel Sherratt: Hmm, that’s difficult to answer as if I’m not writing, I’m reading. I feel very lucky to work for myself now, making a living out of what I enjoy. I don’t just focus on thrillers and crime books — I love reading all sorts! From Erotic Poems to short stories to historical fiction, I can read anything. I also enjoy attending crime festivals – not just on the panels but as a way of chilling out when I’m with a group of author friends.
CBJ: I love Josie Mellor from The Estate Series. Do you have a favourite character you enjoy writing about and if yes, which one?
Mel Sherratt: I love Josie too, but I think it has to be Allie Shenton for me, although writing about Ella in Watching over You was a fun challenge! But with Allie, I’ve seen her grow and change through three books and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her. She is kick-ass, emotional and determined.
CBJ: Only the Brave has just been released as the third book in the DS Allie Shenton series. It was very emotional to read. Do you find it hard writing about some topics in your books? What has been the hardest topic to write about and why?
Mel Sherratt: Actually, I don’t find writing dark scenes hard at all, I don’t get emotional. I must switch off as I write them. But reading them back, if anything gives me goosebumps or tears in my eyes, then I reckon I’ve cracked it for the reader too. I think for me personally, though, the hardest thing to write about is domestic violence because it is all too real.
CBJ: Would you ever consider collaborating with another author and if yes…who!?
Mel Sherratt: Yes, I would love to do that. As to who… there are a few on my dream wish list. I’d love to work with Ian Rankin, Kerry Wilkinson, Elizabeth Haynes, Martina Cole and Lynda la Plante.
CBJ: Your books all have great covers which match the titles beautifully; how do you decide on a cover and who designs them?
Mel Sherratt: Thank you. I hire a cover designer for The Estate Series and my publisher, Thomas & Mercer, designed The DS Allie Shenton Series to have the same gritty tone, playing on continuing my brand look. It’s great to work both ways as I have masses of input into each design.
CBJ: What criticisms have helped you grow as a writer and what is the best advice you have received in your writing career?
Mel Sherratt: Although, I often get criticised for my sex and violence scenes, I think all the rejections from publishers helped me to grow a thick skin over the years, making me more determined to persevere and get there.
The best piece of advice I’ve been given was to take ten bestsellers from the genre that you wish to write in and become a book detective – ask yourself questions such as who is the main character, why is he/she likeable/unlikeable. What is the main theme of the book? Study the cliffhangers at the end of the chapter, figure out what is making you read on. Check the tension, the sub plots and see how the author has worked them in. When did you figure out the twist – and if you didn’t, go back and find the subtle clues
CBJ: What current projects are you working on?
Mel Sherratt: Currently, I’m working on structural edits for Written in the Scars, book 4 The Estate Series, which will be out in August. Plus I have a secret project, as all writers have, I’m sure… to be revealed later in the year.
CBJ: What are you currently reading? Are there any new authors out there who have grabbed your attention?
Mel Sherratt: I’ve just finished reading Evil Games, Angela Marsons, and it has blown me away. I really enjoyed Silent Scream, her debut novel too, so Angela has definitely grabbed my attention. At the moment, I am reading We Are All Made of Stars, Rowan Coleman. It’s a truly uplifting book from an author I really admire.
CBJ: And last but not least, what question do you wish someone would ask about your books but have not yet asked? …oh…and answer it please!
Mel Sherratt: Would you like me to adapt them for TV? 😉
Ummmm….the answer to that last question/answer from me Mel Sherratt would be a resounding HELL YA!!
Mel’s latest release “Only The Brave” can be found on Amazon UK if you follow this link:
[amazon template=add to cart&asin=B00R6S23Q8]
Thank you Mel for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me. And for any readers out there, if you have not read The Estate Series, Watching Over You or the DS Allie Shenton series …then head on over to Amazon and check them out as you do not know what you have been missing!