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Denise Mina: It’s always the next one. There’s a period when a book is just forming in my head when I love it utterly and am convinced that I will do it justice. Two or three years later, when it is finished, all I can see are the flaws and my failings.
Litro: How long did it take you to write Blood, Salt, Water?
Denise Mina: Two years. Most crime writers have to write a book a year but I had longer on this and it is very different than it was in the first draft.
Litro:What is your earliest childhood memory?
Denise Mina: Summer in East Kilbride. Barefoot on hot pavement. Stepping onto the grass and feeling the cool, damp ground on my soles.
Litro: What makes you happy?
Denise Mina: Lots of things. Good tea, being dutiful, nice pencils, being still, travelling. Lincoln said “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be”.
Litro: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Denise Mina: Age 19, reading Zola in a damp bedsit and feeling so profoundly connected to the writer, dead a hundred years. I didn’t think I could be a writer but I decided it was the greatest aspiration a person could have.
Litro: What are you reading at the moment?
Denise Mina: John Keegan’s The American Civil War with The American Civil War: a Visual History as a companion.
Litro: What advice would you give to a first-time writer?
Denise Mina: Accept self-doubt as a condition of your practice. Don’t let it cripple you.
Litro: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Denise Mina: Nicotine substitutes.
Litro: How do you relax?
Denise Mina: Box sets and painting rooms.
Litro: What is your favourite book of all time?
Denise Mina: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.
Litro: Which author is underrated or deserves to be better-known?
Denise Mina: Jane Gardam. She wins prizes all the time and hardly anyone has even heard of her. She’s astonishing.
Litro: What’s the worst job you’ve had?
Denise Mina: Academic. I met lovely people but was entirely temperamentally unsuited.
Litro: What is the most important thing life has taught you?
Denise Mina: You’re always worried about the wrong things.
Litro: What’s next?
Denise Mina: A book called The Long Drop (2016).