Katy Gardner

Katy Gardner

Bio

Katy Gardner is a graduate of Cambridge University, and received a Ph.D. from The London School of Economics. She is currently a senior lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex. Losing Gemma is her first novel.

Katy Gardner

Katy Gardner

Books

Q&A

Katy Gardner goes under the spotlight…

What was the first crime novel you ever read?  Probably ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier when I was a teenager. Does that count?

Who is your favourite crime writer?Ruth Rendell / Barbara Vine

Which crime novel do you wish you’d written?The Talented Mr Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

Why did you choose to write crime fiction?I love really gripping stories. I also find the darker side of humanity infinitely more interesting than romance or comedy.

Has any thriller ever made you sleep with the lights on?The Collector, by John Fowles

If you were stranded on a desert island – which fictional character would you most want to be stranded with and why?James Bond. He’d be bound to have some high tech gadget that would send signals to a passing boat.

If you had to compare your books to any author, who would it be?Maybe Nicci French, or Barbara Vine…

When you begin – do you already know the end?Always. That’s the most important part.

What is the most outlandish plot idea you’ve come up with – and did it become a book?A psychic cleaner. It became a book, but not one that was published!

What are you working on at the moment?I’m at the ideas stage at the moment, so shall keep it to myself…

First person or third person?First

US or UK?UK

Marple or Morse?Morse

Amateur sleuth or DCI?DCI

Paperback or hardback?Paperback

Past or present?A mixture, usually

Series or stand-alone?Stand alone

Chandler or Hammett?Chandler

Please give your top three crime writing tips:1) Start with the ending2) Make sure your characters have strong and easily understood motivations3) Plot is all.

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We asked Katy Gardner to give us an insight into the inspiration for her debut novel, Losing Gemma, hailed as ‘a real page turner’, ‘unputdownable’ and ‘an addictive novel’ by booksellers across the UK.

Travel, especially to South Asia, has always been an important part of my life. After finishing my A-levels I journeyed with my sister on a double decker bus from Earl’s Court to Kathmandu, then spent six months roaming around India with a school friend, eventually returning overland again through post-revolutionary Iran.

It was a life changing trip, and one which has strongly influenced Losing Gemma: in retrospect, like Esther, I was both terribly enthusiastic and terribly naïve. Once at university, anthropology gave me a structure for my yearnings for other places. It also provided me with a framework for analysing and understanding the world, something which has never left me.

Most importantly, perhaps, the ‘fieldwork’ required in order to complete a doctorate in the subject involved living with and participating in the life of a community, a privileged opportunity to learn the language and really get inside a place. I decided to work in Bangladesh and subsequently lived in a village in Sylhet over 1987-1988. My experiences there have been written up both in academic form and also as a book of short stories, published by Virago in 1991 (Songs at the River’s Edge: stories from a Bangladeshi village; currently published by Pluto Press).

The experience changed my life. Whilst at times I found my transformation into the daughter of a Muslim farming family incredibly challenging, I shall never forget the friendship I received there. Since leaving, I have returned many times to the village – most recently in 1999, this time with a husband and two small children in tow!

I should add that I have also done fieldwork in Britain, working with Bengali elders at a day centre in Tower Hamlets. Losing Gemma is not, however, about anthropology, but about how two young Western travellers relate to India and in writing it I was drawing most closely on my earlier travels rather than my experiences in Bangladesh. Perhaps the novel reflects my changing relationship with the sub-continent, a consciousness that the world is not always how it is imagined to be. Most of all, however, the book is about friendship, about moving on and growing up.
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