Q&A with T.M.E Walsh, author of the DCI Claire Winters series.

An unforgivable crime. A murderous act of revenge. A killer with justice on their side.

Once, the infamous Dahlia Rapist terrorised young women - and their parents alike - with his brutal acts of violence and sinister calling card. Today, Raymond Knox has shunned his former alias and is being released into society.

But someone suspects that a monster still lurks beneath the surface. And when Raymond Knox is found dead, mutilated to match his victims, DCI Claire Winters is called in to catch a killer the public are calling a hero.

It seems like an open-and-shut case of vigilante justice. But when another body is found, with the same shocking scars, Claire knows she must connect the dots - fast. Because she's suddenly facing something much more complicated than she ever imagined: a serial killer, inspired by past crimes - and determined to leave their own bloody trail of destruction.

Today on Hummingbird Reviews, I am delighted to be joined by author of the DCI Claire Winters series, T.M.E. Walsh. It's time for another of my author Q&A sessions, so grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy!
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? And what's your shoe size?
Hi, I'm Tania otherwise known as T.M.E. Walsh. I hail from Stevenage in Hertfordshire and I'm the author of the DCI Claire Winters series... shoe size 7 ;)

 When is your next book published and what's it called?
The third DCI Claire Winters book, 'Trial by Execution', published 24th February.

How do you hope readers will feel while reading it?
Terrorised, hopefully! Haha! Seriously though, I would expect readers to feel torn between what's right in the eyes of the law, and their own personal feelings, given the subject matter and ask themselves the question: can murder ever be justified?

If you were to describe this book in the same way you'd describe the weather, what would you say?
Dark and stormy with sporadic sunny spells for some.

When did you begin writing? What was your first book about?
I began writing full time in 2008. I lost my job due to the recession and thought if I don't take the chance now to do what I love, then I'll regret it. My first completed book, 'For All Our Sins', is about an act of evil buried in the past that comes back to haunt the clergy and their local community. The killer is hell bent on revenge and the lines are very much blurred between the victims and the killer. No one is truly innocent.

Whether that was a while back or just recently, did you or do you have any goals for your writing?
I still hope to get an agent and feel that is the direction I need to head in. I had goals to get my novels into print, and I've achieved that so far.

Which authors inspire you?
Tim Weaver is my favourite author, and I find his work incredibly inspiring. I've not found an author to match him yet. He creates fabulously intricate plots, with fantastic twists. Just when you think you've got the answer, he throws you a curve-ball.

Describe your writing style in three words.
Dark, raw, twisty.

What themes do you focus on within in your writing? Is it different with each book?
My books in general focus on the flawed and darker side of human nature, for the main characters as well as the baddies. Revenge, jealousy, the thin line (sometimes) between right and wrong. I also like to create a grey area with the antagonist and hopefully make the reader feel a sense of sympathy with them to a point, even if it's only in its smallest measure.

Once you've an idea firmly in place, what's the next step for you?
I usually start writing the opening scenes straight to PC using handwritten notes for reference. I get a sense of the characters in my head and write little notes about them and do a bit of research into anything that I intend to feature in the book as I go along. I then spend the first weeks jumping to different scenes that will feature in the book. I can't write chronologically. That first draft is always a bit all over the place. Sounds chaotic but it works for me.

Do you have a favourite part of the writing process?
Starting a brand new project, and also writing the last quarter of the book, when all the action and big reveals are brought to fruition.

Are there any techniques/methods you use when it comes to plotting?
I write notes in a new notebook for each book and add to it as I go along. I do have to regularly go back and map out what I have so far, and what scenes need to go in and around chapters I've already written. I always liken my writing technique to filming. Everything we see in a movie and on TV is filmed out of sequence and fit together like a jigsaw. That's how I write my first draft.

Have you ever come face to face with writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
I have found it hard to write sometimes, staring at a blank page and trying to find the words is like wading through treacle, but I deal with this by taking a break. Do something else. Write something else - anything else, to get me back into that 'flow'.

Where do you find inspiration?
The bath or shower! Any time I hit a brick wall with my current WIP, I can be sitting in the bath and all of a sudden the answer will come to me. Also different snippets of conversation I might hear, places I visit or even the weather can spark that little idea for something that can grow into so much more.

What does a typical day in your life look like?
I try not to write during the evenings or at the weekend unless I'm nearing a deadline. Mon-Fri I usually get back from taking my daughter to school at 9am, and work through until lunch time, doing the odd bit of admin, social media inbetween. Then after lunch I have a small window before I have to do the school run again, so I will add to the mornings work. I try not to edit much on the first draft (even though I'm tempted). After that, I rarely have the time or energy to write anything else in the late afternoon.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult?
Submitting the book to my editor. After I've written and redrafted as much as possible and I can no longer do anything else productive with it until a fresh pair of eyes have looked at it, I still find it hard to let go. I end up convincing myself that the whole book is terrible.

How do you come up with your titles?
I sit and make notes in a notepad with possible titles. I try to think about central themes in the book I'm about to write and what would attract my attention in a shop or online if I was browsing for something new.

When it comes to creating your characters, what is the first step you take?
I start with a name. The names of my main characters are very important to me. After I have a name, I get a sense of what they look like and their personality traits. I list all these down in a notebook and add to the notes as and when new characters come into the story.

Have you ever taken a research trip? If so, where did you go and for which book?
Yes, I recently went to Scotland. It was for my Mum's birthday but also to do research for a book I plan to write at some point soon. I've been inspired by the natural beauty of the place - the weather, the scenery, the buildings and the remoteness of some of the villages. The book I plan to set there already has a title and the seed of an idea for a dark, moody thriller.

Do you set yourself word-count goals?
Never! I actually find that I'm distracted watching how many words I've written (or not written!) and I find it's more of a hindrance than anything else.

What is your definition of 'success'?
Knowing that I've just written a full-length novel and somehow I managed to keep my sanity throughout the whole process!

What is your definition of 'happiness'?
Family... and books! Lots and lots of books!

Which do you find hardest? The beginning or the end?
Can I say the middle? Pace is so important, especially in the crime/thriller genre, so I always try to make sure that everything is flowing along nicely. It can be tough to get it right.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
In terms of writing itself, the best advice I've had was from author Ken Follett. He taught an English lesson at my school when I was about fourteen. He told us about the importance of that first opening line of your novel and I still make sure that my first line (I hope!) hooks the reader in immediately.

What one piece of advice would you pass on to another writer?
Grow skin like a rhino! Don't take rejection personally. Use that rejection to push yourself to keep going. Be determined and be prepared to work hard, honing your craft - as authors we should always be learning.

Tell us an author who is on your auto-buy list?
Tim Weaver.

If you were to write in a new genre, which would you pick and why?
Fantasy. I enjoyed The Lord of the Rings trilogy for example, but I'm also a huge fan of fantasy films and art. You have so much freedom to do whatever you want with the story and characters. You can create a whole new world, language, and religion for example. There are no boundaries.

What are you working on at the moment?
The fourth book in the DCI Claire Winters series that is under contract but also a standalone thriller that is in its very early stages which has had some agent interest.

Now for some quick-fire questions:
Coffee or tea? Tea.
Summer or winter? Winter.
Bath or shower? Shower.
Sweet or savoury? Sweet.
Holiday in the city or the countryside? Countryside.
Text or call? Text.
Facebook or Twitter? Facebook.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
TV or movies? Movies.
Wine or beer? Wine.
Cats or dogs? Dogs.
Chinese or Indian food? Chinese.
Pasta or cheese? Pasta.

About the author.

Tania Walsh is the author of the DCI Claire Winters series. Tania began writing full time after becoming a casualty to the recession in 2008.

Tania is currently working on a new standalone novel, but a third book in the DCI Claire Winters series, 'Trial by Execution', will be published in February 2017 by HQ/Harper Collins, with a further two books in the series also under contract.

Tania lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and young daughter.

You can find T.M.E Walsh on Twitter.
You can purchase your copy of Trial by Execution on Amazon UK.