Liz Mistry you naughty lady – turning up with a chocolate cake and a gallon of mulled wine with Amaretto …
I’ve made you a cappuccino!!
Ah well, while I slice up this cake (or shall we just tuck straight in with our forks?) and pour us a little tipple, you tell us who you are introducing us in today’s character spotlight …
Detective Inspector Gus (Angus) McGuire is the main protagonist in my police procedural books Unquiet Souls and Uncoiled Lies. Uncoiled Lies was for released on 26th January 2016. Gus is currently estranged from his wife and the situation between the two is tetchy to say the least. His mother is a feisty mixed race Scottish/Afro Caribbean woman whose desire to protect Gus often feels claustrophobic to him. Gus’ dad is the Pathologist (Dr Fergus McGuire) and he is a bluff, no nonsense Scot. Unlike many of your booze-driven detectives Gus is more polished, less abrasive, however he is a tortured soul. Suffering from mental health issues following a traumatic incident prior to Unquiet Souls, Gus is vulnerable yet strong. He has a hard inner core that borders on stubbornness and unfaltering thirst for justice and fairness.
He certainly sounds different to the ‘usual’ police officers we read about … When did you create him?
Gus has been floating about in my head for a fair few years but his physical appearance wasn’t really set in stone for me until one day, at Theakston’s Old Peculier crime writing Festival in Harrogate about four years ago, I was entering Betty’s tea rooms and a young man was just leaving. This young lad was mixed race with dreads and the most startlingly blue eyes I’d ever seen… he was Gus – well his eyes and hair were Gus’.
For the launch of Unquiet Souls last year, I got my hubby to recreate my vision of Gus but with a difference. I remember years ago seeing a picture of Marc Bolan with serpents intertwining through his hair and I wanted Gus to be portrayed like that. Turns out all my Google searches for that very picture of Marc Bolan threw up zilch – must have dreamed it!
Ha ha! What a great place to discover what your character looks like though! So, you’ve ‘known’ Gus for years, what do you like the most about him?
I think one of the things I like most about Gus is his values and morals. Despite being in despair of his parents and their foibles he loves them deeply. He is passionate about doing the right thing and sees the victims as his personal responsibility. He is intelligent, pleasing on the eye… but unlucky in love.
I don’t think we have yet to ‘meet’ a police officer who is happily married/in a relationship! It doesn’t seem to go hand in hand with the job.
What do you like the least about Gus?
The thing I can’t change about Gus is his inability to loosen up and reveal his innermost feelings to those who care about him. Sometimes I’d like to let it all just burst out for his sake but I know that it wouldn’t be in his character to reveal too much of his pain.
In terms of writing I find Gus quite easy to write. I feel I’ve lived with him so long now that I know his motivations and inner most thoughts and I’m very comfortable in his company. However , the villains I create are a very different story. In Uncoiled Lies, one of my antagonists, Anastazy Dolinski is a detestable, violent, amoral villain. I don’t spend too much time in his shoes. I find that when I’ve got a bit of his story in my head I have to get it down as quickly as possible so I can free myself from the darkness.
When I write a villain like Dolinski or The Matchmaker (Unquiet Souls) I find sometimes understating their ‘badness’ works well… the reader has as dark a mind as I do and they can imagine the horrors themselves without me spelling them out too much.
Is he, or any of your characters, based on anyone you know in the real world?
My villains, indeed all of my characters, are made up of snapshots of things I’ve seen, overheard or read about. I’m a terrible eavesdropper and sometimes it’s a quirky turn of phrase or a mannerism that finds its way onto the page. I suppose I must write some of myself into my characters (only the good ones I hope) but generally they’re a collage.
Mind you I did write a scene with one particular person in mind when I wrote it. To me it was very clearly that person and I was so worried they’d read it an realise so I got my family to read it first and they couldn’t identify the person. Fortunately, when the person I based the character on read it they didn’t suss it out either- seems I’m not as good a writer as I thought I was.
One of my friends asked to be in Uncoiled Lies so I made him a pimp and changed his name slightly. He seemed quite happy to make an appearance as a pimp… mind you he hasn’t read it yet- oops!
That is brilliant! I’m not sure how I’d feel opening a book and finding that I’d been turned into someone unsavoury!
Gus certainly sounds like the type of officer I’d love to have on my side if there was a crime to solve!
Thank you so much for joining me today Liz, I’m a little tipsy and about ten stone heavier after all that cake, but it has bee a pleasure!
Now, if you guys fancy getting to Gus even better, you need to go and buy Liz’s brilliant books!
Unquiet Souls: Amazon UK
Uncoiled Lies: Amazon UK
About Liz …
I am a crime writer based in Bradford but originally from West Calder in Scotland. I studied at Stirling University and taught in Bradford inner-city Primary schools for many years. I write gritty crime fiction drawing on the richness of Bradford’s diverse cultures and my writing is heavily influenced by Tartan Noir writers such as, Stuart MacBride, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid. I completed an MA in Creative Writing at the brilliant Leeds Trinity University. I currently have two novels published: Unquiet Souls (my debut novel) and Uncoiled Lies and I look forward to writing many more featuring my main character DI Gus (Angus) McGuire and his team. I am co-founder and lead blogger with The Crime Warp Blog
Have a super day folks! Keep reading!