Today I’m really excited to be the closing stop on the blog tour for Blood Sister by Dreda Say Mitchell, I’ve always been a huge fan of Dreda’s and have read ALL her books, so it’s a real honour to be part of the blog tour for this truly gripping book. So after much thought I put some questions to Dreda Say Mitchell about Blood Sister, so without further ado here’s the interview……….
Where did the idea Blood Sister come from?
I do a lot of work in prisons and was getting heaps of great feedback about how much they enjoyed my Gangland Girls series. In the meantime I’d left gangland behind, writing a series of thrillers about a black female cop and was going to continue doing this, but after hearing such praise I decided to get back to the East London badlands. And I’ve always been fascinated by the strong East End women who lived on the housing estate I grew up on. It’s those women that Blood Sister celebrates.
What was the hardest part of writing Blood Sister? To what extent have your previous experiences impacted on your fiction writing?
Blood Sister spans a decade, starting in 1993. Remembering that year was hard because I wanted to make sure I got it right. What clothes were people wearing? What popular tunes were people listening to? What was the popular slang of the day? My research took me on a wonderful trip down memory lane….Growing up as a London girl in the East End has had a huge impact on my stories. That working class London world sometimes is presented as a world full of clowns who can’t speak properly. Oh, that makes me so cross! I wanted to right about a family of three generations of women who end up with their backs, criminally, against the wall. How are they going to get out of their troubles?
Did you have a character you enjoyed writing about more than your other characters?
I do love a bad girl, so I’m going to have to choose Dee. I was even terrified of her! She’s a woman heading for the top, the criminal top and Lord help anyone who tries standing in her way. There’s something big, bold, but also honest and vulnerable about Dee that I love. She has a backstory of filled with secrets….
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
As the Blood Sister is about four women, I needed to make sure that all their storylines were threaded through correctly and that takes a heck of a lot of planning. Sometimes I felt like my mind was in such a whirl. But when it all comes together – ah, what a felling!
What do you consider the most important part of a good story?
Two things – character and plot. They’re literary twins because character drives plot and plot drives character. I spend a lot of time thinking through who my characters are – especially their flaws. Underneath what has really made them the person they are? What is the secret they’re hiding from the world? Who would they kill for to protect? Writing about troubled characters is my thing. No goody two-shoes need apply to be in my books!
Have you always wanted to be an author, and when did you first realise you wanted to write?
I wanted to be a teacher for years and that’s what I became. But I could never forget the evenings my dad’s friends would tell stories as they played dominoes or my mum sending me off to Whitechapel Library. Stories were in my bones. But I only had a grade C in my ‘O’ Level English language and lit. So I only really wanted to write when I hit my thirties and I had something to write about.
How much time does social media take up of your busy writing life and how important a part do you think it plays?
I love engaging with other people on social media. The problem is if I spent my whole day chatting away I’d never get my books done. So social media is usually first thing when I get up, a peek at lunchtime and then mid-evening. It’s such a thrill when I meet readers who’ve enjoyed my books. And it’s those readers who will spread the word about your books. Like generous people like you the book Review Café.
Can you give me three interesting facts about yourself?
I’m a TV drama addict. Love Game of Thrones and Poldark…swooning….
My real name isn’t Dreda.
I adore massages, saunas and spas.
If you could co write a book with another author who would it be? and why?
Lee Child. Because he’s been so generous in helping my career and is a master of the thriller genre. I’d learn so much of him. Maybe I can get him to set a thriller in London
Many thanks to Dreda Say Mitchell for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Rebecca Mundy for arranging the interview
About the author
Born and bred in the East End of London, Dreda has seen it all from the inside. After a string of jobs as a waitress, chambermaid and catering assistant she realised her dream of becoming a teacher. During this time she saw a new generation of East Enders grappling with the same problems she had but in an even more violent and unforgiving world. Dreda’s books are inspired by the gritty, tough and criminal world she grew up in. She still lives in London’s East End.
Links to Dreda Say Mitchell
There are two ways out of Essex Lane Estate, better known as The Devil. You make good, or you turn bad.
Jen Miller is determined not to make the same mistakes her mother did. She’s waiting to find herself a good job and a decent man.
Her younger sister Tiff is running errands for a gangster and looking for any opportunity for fun and profit. But she might just be in over her head…
The choices you make and the plans you have don’t always turn out like you expect. Especially if you live on The Devil’s Estate. When their paths cross with the unstoppable Dee – a woman with her own agenda – Jen and Tiff will learn that lesson the hard way.
At least they can rely on each other.
Don’t you just love it when you pick up a book, read the prologue and know you are in for a damn good read and that’s exactly how I felt the minute I picked up Blood Sister. This book reminded me very much of Dreda Say Mitchell’s earlier books, gritty and very believable. The author delves into the murky life’s of a family living on an East London estate (or The Devil as it’s known to locals), where crime is a way of life. Jenn and her wayward sister Tiff live on The Devil estate, different as night and day, Jenn wants to make a better life for herself away from the estate, where as Tiff embraces the darker side of the estate and finds herself caught up in the dangerous world of crime. Add to the mix the formidable Dee who will let no one get in the way of making her dreams become a reality and you just know it’s going to be an explosive read.
From the opening chapters I found myself totally engrossed, Dreda Say Mitchell has a way of writing that brings the story to life, her characters were an intriguing bunch and very credible, and the realistic and sometimes colourful dialogue make for a very authentic read. Blood sisters begins in 1993 and then jumps to ten years later where life for both girls is very different to the ones they envisaged. Surrounded by violence, crime and drugs both girls find themselves caught up in the seedy underbelly of crime, the two sisters must fight to keep their family and lives together when crime comes knocking on the door.
Gritty and realistic the author brings the goings on of a East London housing estate to life, it’s not a a pretty or glamorous tale, but it’s certainly credible one, and one that kept me reading late into the night. The plot twist and turns and there were a few shocks along the way that I didn’t see coming, which always adds to my enjoyment of a read. The chapters are short and snappy, which seemed to make Blood Sisters a quick but very enjoyable read. If you like an authentic east end crime thriller that’s gritty, then I would highly recommend you get yourself a copy of this gripping book.
Blood Sisters is the first in a series following the Millers over forty years, and I will certainly be reading the next two books in the series without hesitation.
5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️out of 5
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (11 Aug. 2016)
Amazon UK 🇬🇧