Today on Mark Of the Devil Blog Blitz I am delighted to share a fab guest post by Tana Collins telling us all about where she get’s her ideas from….I hope you enjoy it as much as me
While Inspector Jim Carruthers and team are busy investigating a series of art thefts they receive an anonymous tip about the body of a young woman on a deserted beach.
The bizarre clues to her identity, and what might have happened to her, include a strange tattoo, a set of binoculars and slab of meat left on the cliffs.
The team’s investigations lead them to a local shooting estate and its wealthy owner Barry Cuthbert. However, Carruthers suspects Cuthbert is not all he seems and the DI soon starts to wonder if the cases of the missing works of art, the dead woman and the estate are connected.
Then when the body of a young gamekeeper is pulled from the sea tensions boil over. The trail of clues lead the team to the unlikely locale of Tallinn and into the sinister world of international crime and police corruption.
Needing answers Carruthers must look further afield than Fife. However, the closer he gets to discovering the truth the more danger he finds himself in.
Since everyone who crosses the vengeful killers seem to end up dead, can Carruthers solve the case with his life in tact?
Where do I get my ideas for my novels from?
I am now three books into my Detective Inspector Jim Carruthers series which is set in the East Neuk of Fife. My latest novel, Mark of the Devil, published April 2018, was heavily influenced by a trip to Tallinn in 2011 to study crime writing with Peter Robinson, the author of DCI Banks.
Robinson was in the process of plotting Watching the Dark , his latest in the Banks series and was wanting to find a European city to be the setting for the disappearance of a young British woman on a hen weekend. At the same time the University of Tallinn had made him an offer to teach crime writing on their summer school programme. A match made in heaven. When I saw the course listed on Robinson’s website, and knowing that it was open to all, I booked. Amazingly I was the only British person to be enrolled on the course.
When I registered I was half way through writing my debut novel, Robbing the Dead, which had stalled. The week’s course got me writing again and to be truthful, without that course and the subsequent Arvon Foundation course I took the year after, I don’t think I would have been offered a book deal! And I certainly believe I wouldn’t have ended up with two Amazon Top 10 novels! Incredibly Robbing the Dead even became a No 1 Amazon bestseller!
I learned so much from those courses – how to write believable characters; how to structure plots; the importance of setting. Although I was busy focusing on the debut at the time little did I know that Estonia was already forging a place in my heart and that it would become the backdrop for Mark of the Devil .
Estonia is a fascinating country and I was intrigued by the political history of this former Eastern bloc country under soviet rule. The old medieval town is captivating overlooked as it is by the stark concrete skyscraper, Hotel Viru, purpose built by the Russians. From their secret room at the top of the building he KGB spied on all foreigners who were made to stay in this hotel.
During that week, Gunilla, a lovely woman from Finland, regaled me with amazing stories of when she and her boss came over from Finland on business in the 1980s and were made to stay in the Hotel Viru. It was an open secret the hotel was bugged. Half the rooms were bugged as was the sauna (the Finns love to do business in the sauna apparently) There were even antennae on top of the building which picked up signals from passing ships. It may seem incredible, amusing even, but many people who had come under the radar of the KGB disappeared while staying at the Viru and Estonia suffered greatly under Russian rule. My visit had such a profound effect on me that, as I started to write the series, I knew I wanted to send my Inspector Carruthers to Tallinn on police business and have him stay in the Hotel Viru. In Mark of the Devil, I’ve tried, through Carruthers’ eyes, to capture that sense of anxiety and foreboding that unlucky guests who came under the radar of the KGB felt. You could say this third novel is more of a spy thriller than previous books.
I have been asked why my novels have been so successful. When I wrote my debut I knew I wanted to create a cast of convincing characters with really strong contemporary storylines. I find I incorporate true life events that have really happened to me or my family or people I hear about. In Care to Die Carruthers’ brother has a heart attack which is modelled on the shock heart attack that happened to my own mother. Perhaps incorporating true life events lends a sense of authenticity to the work. I certainly believe it makes the characters I create more convincing.
I hope you enjoy reading the novels as much as I have enjoyed writing them and if you do see me at an author event please come up and say hello. I love meeting readers.
About The Author
Edinburgh based Tana Collins is the author of the popular Jim Carruthers detective series set in Fife. Her debut novel, Robbing the Dead, published February 2017, became a No 1 Amazon bestseller for Scottish crime fiction. Care to Die, the follow up in the series, also became a Top 10 Amazon bestseller. Published on 1st June 2017 Care to Die was described by Peter Robinson, author of DCI Banks, as “A finely plotted mystery. Tana Collins racks up the suspense on this one. DI Jim Carruthers is a cop to watch.” In September 2017 having won one of the coveted Spotlight places at Bloody Scotland Tana supported Lynda La Plante on stage.
Her third novel, Mark of the Devil, is to be published 24th April 2018. Author Leigh Russell writes of it, “A cracking read. The suspense never lets up.”
Tana is a trained Massage Therapist and Stress Management Consultant.
Author Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Tana-Collins-490774634440829