Thursday, 22 October 2020

New Book Release Spotlight with Author Guest Post: Unbound Ties by Liz Mistry

Including Covid in Unbound Ties

Recently in various Facebook book groups there’s been a lot of talk about whether books written during the current pandemic should mention Covid 19 or not. As always with these things there have been mixed reactions and it left me in two minds about whether to include any mention of Covid 19 in Unbound Ties or not.

Harper Collins HQ Digital, who publish my Nikki Parekh books suggested I don’t mention it at all in my new Nikki novel, Dark Memories which isn’t due out until 2nd Dec this year. As I wrote Dark Memories mostly in January/ February and because no one knew quite how bad things would become, I was happy to do this and so although Dark Memories is released after Unbound Ties, it includes no Covid References.

The thing is – it’s easy for an author to write a contemporary novel and omit to reference tragic notable events if they only affect a small number of people or a small area of the world. But Covid 19 has had such a far reaching effect on the entire world – no-one, literally no-one, has been unaffected by it. Likewise, I appreciated that many readers wanted their reading worlds to be a Covid free zone. So I decided to crack on with the writing and see what happened

When I began writing Unbound Ties in July, I realised that, having lived with Covid for a few months, I couldn’t really pretend it didn’t exist and that it could possibly be merged into the story line in a non-intrusive way. However, I was really wary of making it a dominant feature of the novel, so was at great pains to reference it sparingly and according to some of my ARC readers, I managed that quite successfully (huge sigh of relief). The way I did that was to occasionally mention social distancing or the wearing/or not wearing of masks in a way that didn’t interfere with the narrative.

That said, there were two areas where I felt duty bound to mention the effects of Covid rules on policing, because they really intrigued me as I was writing the story and because it fed so well into the plot.

The first was when Gus had to interview a grieving spouse at the police station. In this scene I focussed on the way social distancing and mask wearing affected both the grieving husband and Gus. The masks made interviewing and reading facial expressions of the interviewee difficult for Gus, but also he found it difficult to show his human side through a mask. Where normally they could offer water and express their concern through a well meant touch of the arm, a smile, or even just their close proximity, that was now impossible. The lack of human contact in this circumstance really affected Gus and I’m sure for the grieving man it only added to the stress and anxiety he felt.

The second big reference to how mask wearing caused issues for policing was from the serial killer’s point of view. The acceptable wearing of a mask indoors and outdoors combined with non-descript dark clothing and a hoodie made him almost invisible- a fact that he revelled in. CCTV became a less effective means of tracing possible criminals and afforded my killer the anonymity he needed to use public libraries and shops and to stake out his targets with nobody able to identify him.

Although I used these two examples in Unbound Ties, I deliberately kept my Covid mentions to a minimum. Unbound Ties isn’t about Covid – it’s about Gus’s mum and her past as a young black girl growing up in mono-cultural Scotland in the 60’s. It’s about family and secrets and lies and how they can all converge into an explosive finale when the sociopathic killer decides to get his revenge and gain notoriety.

I hope you will enjoy Unbound Ties as much as I enjoyed writing it. I found it therapeutic to write it during Lockdown and the storyline and words were fairly free flowing. I hope you find it as therapeutic to read.

Thanks so much

Unbound Ties book 7 in the DI Gus McGuire series by Liz Mistry

DI Gus McGuire Book 7

When the past unravels, all that’s left is death.

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly,

When DI Gus McGuire is called out to the murder of a pregnant woman, the crime scene tells him that this killer is not only taunting them … he’s also just getting started.

Lavender’s green,

With ritualistic precision, the killer has placed a series of clues beneath the victim’s feet. Gus soon realises that these clues link back to his mother’s past as a child in foster care in Scotland.

When I am king, dilly dilly,

Troubled by his mum’s secrets, Gus is in a dark place. Side-lined from the main investigation, Gus works another murder, not realising that the two are linked and that the killer is closer than he realises … Dangerously close.

You shall be queen.

Then the killer begins to target people near to Gus. Angry and determined Gus races to unravel the past and catch this sadist before the loss is too much for him to bear.

The seventh gripping thriller in the DI Gus McGuire series, for fans of Angela MarsonsVal McDermid and LJ Ross.

Born in Scotland, Made in Bradford sums up Liz Mistry’s life. Over thirty years ago she moved from a small village in West Lothian to Yorkshire to get her teaching degree. Once here, Liz fell in love with three things; curries, the rich cultural diversity of the city … and her Indian husband (not necessarily in this order). Now thirty years, three children, two cats (Winky and Scumpy) and a huge extended family later, Liz uses her experiences of living and working in the inner city to flavour her writing. Her gritty crime fiction police procedural novels set in Bradford embrace the city she describes as ‘Warm, Rich and Fearless’ whilst exploring the darkness that lurks beneath.

Struggling with severe clinical depression and anxiety for a large number of years, Liz often includes mental health themes in her writing. She credits the MA in Creative Writing she took at Leeds Trinity University with helping her find a way of using her writing to navigate her ongoing mental health struggles. Being a debut novelist in her fifties was something Liz had only dreamed of and she counts herself lucky, whilst pinching herself regularly to make sure it’s all real. One of the nicest things about being a published author is chatting with and responding to readers’ feedback and Liz regularly does events at local libraries, universities, literature festivals and open mics. She also teaches creative writing too. Now, having nearly completed a PhD in Creative Writing focussing on ‘the absence of the teen voice in adult crime fiction’ and ‘why expansive narratives matter’, Liz is chock full of ideas to continue writing.

In her spare time, Liz loves pub quizzes (although she admits to being rubbish at them), dancing (she does a mean jig to Proud Mary – her opinion, not ratified by her family), visiting the varied Yorkshire landscape, with Robin Hoods Bay being one of her favourite coastal destinations, listening to music, reading and blogging about all things crime fiction on her blog, The Crime Warp.


Twitter @LizMistryAuthor