Today I’m delighted to feature crime writer and ghostwriter Kate Simants. Her debut Lock Me In was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger, and her second book, A Ruined Girl was published yesterday by Viper. It won the 2019 Bath Novel Award.
Kate spent several years as an investigative broadcast journalist, for both Channel 4 and the BBC, gaining first-hand knowledge of the realities of police procedure as well as the culture and environment of CID. She also specialised in covert filming and undercover work, and contributed to various investigations and exposés, from fraudulent witchdoctors to abuse in children’s homes. She spent 16 years living on boats, and now lives near Bristol with her family.
Over to Kate:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
So the first one that pops into my head is maybe not something you’d guess: the theme from the BBC’s Test Match Special! My husband is a huge cricket fan and that music just reminds me of him.
I wouldn’t want to be without the ‘Molly Malone’ song (you know, the one that goes ‘In Dublin’s fair city…’) but it has to be the version of it that my daughter sang in a talent show at the Shambala music festival when she was 4. She was so cute, and the crowd went wild.
I don’t have a single favourite song but I’ve always been a big Bob Dylan fan – so it would have to be either ‘Hurricane’ or ‘Tangled up in Blue’.
Standing in the Way of Control by Gossip blew my mind when I first heard it, so I’m going with that.
To finish off with Regina Spektor’s ‘On the Radio’ which is one of the best poems I’ve ever read, but with music.
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Ooh, is it bad that my first thought is pizza?! Homemade, with spinach, mushrooms, goats’ cheese, hazelnuts and mozzarella. I ripped the recipe off from a Westcountry pizza chain, and I’m not saying sorry.
Walking is a big thing for me at the moment, so I’d have to get long country walks (ideally involving a glade/big hill/both) in there.
And my bike – nothing like the freedom of a bike!
Does ‘books’ count as one thing? And audiobooks, even if they count as a separate thing – I get through so many more books these days since I discovered them.
And actually, WhatsApp. Being a writer can be a very lonely business and my little WhatsApp chat groups really make me feel connected with people even if I don’t see anyone from one end of the day to the other.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
I have about 5,000 – I would be so incredibly annoying if I met my younger self!
So firstly, just write the stuff and stop worrying if it’s any good. (To be fair I still haven’t mastered this one).
Be conscious of how you don’t like everyone, so it’s fine if not everyone likes you (I didn’t learn this until I was about 20!).
Don’t get involved with that boy who thinks he’s a poet. He’s an idiot.
Saving for a pension when you’re 20 doesn’t make you boring.
And, most importantly, if you’re going to take your engagement ring off and put it in your raincoat pocket when you cycle ten miles across London, actually doing the zip up will mean it’s still there when you arrive at work.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I can only type with my two index fingers. Ridiculous, huh? Just haven’t ever got round to learning to touch type. I do type really fast for someone who only uses two though – it’s a blur!
I wanted to be in the RAF when I was younger. Like really, really wanted to be a fighter pilot. I did my work experience on an air base and everything. Then I kind of worked out I might have to go to war and I kind of decided against it…
I only have one allergy, and that’s citrus fruits on my ears. How I found this out is another story.
I lived on boats for sixteen years, and both my children grew up on the water. I still miss it a lot – I miss the community of it and the sense of adventure. But the damp was making my husband really ill so we didn’t really have a choice in the end. He’s much better now, so it’s a happy ending!
In my previous work in TV production, I once pretended to be a jilted wife looking for a way to curse my husband. There were all these fake witch-doctors who left their business cards in phone boxes in London and we did a BBC Watchdog thing about it. That one was wild.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
In terms of my writing, I’m not enormously motivated by awards and things, but I’d really like to be considered good enough to still be getting published in 20 years time.
I hope at some point to write a book with my daughter, who’s 11 at the moment. We’ve been working on a YA novel idea for a while, so watch this space!
I feel guilty saying this as a writer (because obviously books are the best form of storytelling, right?!) but I’d love to have a book produced as a film or TV series.
My husband and I have talked for years about building our own home one day, so that’s definitely on the list.
I haven’t had a really big international adventure for a while, and my feet are getting seriously itchy. Cycling across Europe would be up there, or visiting Patagonia.
Thanks so much for joining us today Kate, it’s really appreciated. Your job in TV production sounds fascinating, I think we all need to see that episode of Watchdog investigating fake witch-doctors! A couple of new music choices I don’t recognise so something new for me to discover. That pizza recipe sounds delicious, I’m definitely trying that, though I suspect it might require a walk to compensate afterwards. Sorry to hear you lost your engagement ring. I lost my wedding ring, I think it ended up in the waste bin – long story but it wasn’t deliberately/dramatically thrown away. Hope you get to write that book with your daughter and cycling across Europe sounds great – here’s hoping!
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Lock Me In
Whatever you do, don’t open the door…
By day, Ellie Power has a normal life. She has a stable home, a loving boyfriend, a future.
But at night, she suffers from a sleep disorder. She becomes angry, unpredictable, violent. Her mother locks Ellie in her bedroom every night, to keep them both safe.
Then one morning, Ellie wakes up, horrified to find the lock on her bedroom door smashed from the inside. She is covered in injuries, unable to remember anything about the night before.
And her boyfriend Matt is nowhere to be found…
A Ruined Girl
TWO BOYS LOVED HER.
BUT WHICH ONE KILLED HER?
On a dark night two years ago, teenagers Rob and Paige broke into a house. They beat and traumatised the occupants, then left, taking only a bracelet. No one knows why, not even Luke, Rob’s younger brother and Paige’s confidant. Paige disappeared after that night. And having spent her life in children’s homes and the foster system, no one cared enough to look for her.
Now Rob is out of prison, and probation officer Wren Reynolds has been tasked with his rehabilitation. But Wren has her own reasons for taking on Rob as a client. Convinced that Rob knows what happened to Paige, and hiding a lifetime of secrets from her heavily pregnant wife, Wren’s obsession with finding a missing girl may tear her family apart…
Some people are scared of the dark. But it’s the light that exposes the secrets.
A young boy with nightmares faces up to his demons. A deathbed confession turns the world on its axis. A five-year-old watches his parents bury a body in the garden. A soldier returns from the war to find the horror isn’t yet over.
Afraid Of The Light brings the imagination of fourteen bestselling crime writers together in a collection that will keep you up all night. From a deadly campfire game to a holiday gone wrong, to an AI assistant with a motive and a love affair that can only end in murder, this is a gripping, twisty set of stories to send a shiver down your spine.
Are you Listening? – Adam Southward
Daddy Dearest – Dominic Nolan
Deathbed, Beth Dead – Elle Croft
Loveable Alan Atcliffe – S R Masters
Sleep Time – Phoebe Morgan
Coming Home – N J Mackay
Sausage Fingers – Victoria Selman
Just a Game – Rachael Blok
Drowning in Debt – Heather Critchlow
To Evil or Not to Evil – Jo Furniss
Sheep’s Clothing – Robert Scragg
Frantic – Clare Empson
Planting Nan – James Delargy
Shadow – Kate Simants
All author royalties from the sale of this anthology will be donated to the Samaritans.
Samaritans is a charity working across the UK and Ireland to reduce the number of people who take their own lives and help people who are struggling to cope with how they’re feeling or with life’s challenges. When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year.
You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at email@example.com, or visit http://www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.
You can follow Kate via Twitter