I am delighted to welcome Mel Sherratt to take part in my Getting to Know the Character Interview. To celebrate the release of Liar Liar book 3 the DS Grace Allendale series.
Can you describe your character?
Grace Allendale is 34 and a widow after losing her husband to acute myeloid leukaemia.
What is Grace’s job role and where does she work?
She’s a detective sergeant attached to the major crimes team in Stoke-on-Trent. Her role is a community liaison sergeant – basically, the eyes and ears of the police station. She gets to know all the gossip, the locals, helps out with day to day anti-social behaviour and crime. Then when she’s needed, she joins the major crimes team to get information from within the streets and local communities.
Where did the original idea of her come about?
I was asked to write a detective series based in my hometown. Having spent a lot of time getting rejected during my earlier years because of where I set my books, this was a complete turnaround.
I love writing about strong females, and I particularly enjoy getting involved with the hands-on roles in the police, so Grace became a detective sergeant in the major crimes, on secondment.
Another idea I was asked to incorporate was an estranged crime family. Grace moved out of Stoke when she was twelve when her mother fled their violent father. He went on to remarry and have more children and they are now known as one of Stoke’s notorious crime families. So Grace came back to face a murder on her own doorstep, so to speak, when a victim is found at the Steele family’s gym.
I get a lot of stick when reviewers say that Grace wouldn’t be allowed to work in close proximity to her family. Firstly, they are right to some extent. But Grace has never met or mingled with her family until she came back to Stoke. And you’ll have to read book 4 to find out why this sub-plot is so important.
What makes her original?
I’d like to think it was her vulnerability. She empathises with her victims, and sometimes with the criminals, to get them onside to tell her more. She is emotional too. I really dislike reading about maverick or bullying cops, so I wanted to make her ‘everyone’s best friend.’ But she can be feisty when she wants to be, too.
What makes her tick?
Without a doubt, it’s justice. She wants to know that she has put people away so that they can no longer harm others.
What is her biggest fear?
I think possibly it’s letting herself love again because she is afraid to go through the pain of losing someone. It means that she doesn’t trust her instincts enough, and she should. Everyone deserves to be loved.
If you and your character met in real life, do you think you’d get on?
Definitely. She is my alter-ego. She is understanding, sympathetic and a good friend to have on side. But she is kick-ass and tenacious whenever necessary. I would treat her to an oatcake breakfast and I’m sure we wouldn’t stop nattering for a long time.
Who would you like to see play Grace if your books were made into a film or TV show?
We have an Oscar winner from Stoke, Rachel Shenton, and she is perfect for the role. I’m lucky enough to know her and I’ve told her that I see her as Grace in my books. She says she can see herself running around Stoke like a cop. She has read the first two books, and I shall be sending Liar Liar to her. You know, just in case…
How many books do you have in the series so far?
There are three in the series – Hush Hush, Tick Tock, Liar and Liar.
What’s in store for her next?
Grace 4 (untitled yet) is written and I’m about to start the structural edit on it. That’s the edit that takes my original idea and knocks it into shape after feedback from my agent and my editor. I like this part and hate this part too. There is so much to keep in your head as you work through everything again, but equally, it is very satisfying when it all comes together.
Grace 4 is about a teenage girl who is murdered metres from her home. She was with her best friend when it happens, but it’s not all cut and dry.
Both girls live in the same street and their mums are best friends. I wanted to explore how a murder so close would affect the two mums as well as the surviving girl. Also the parents, when they knew how close their child was to safety, as well as them now having to see the spot where their child died every day.
As I eluded to above, it also has a very seedy subplot that started in book one, Hush Hush, that is completed in book four.
About Mel Sherratt
My novels take you to the heart of the crime. I write police procedurals, psychological suspense and crime dramas – fiction with a punch. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award, my inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes.
Since 2012, I’ve sold 1.5 million books. All eleven of my crime novels have been bestsellers, each one climbing into the Kindle UK top 10 and I’ve had several number ones. I’ve also had numerous Kindle All-star awards, for best read author and best titles.
My latest series features DS Grace Allendale, HUSH HUSH being the first one and TICK TOCK the second and LIAR LIAR the third.