The LitVox Author Interview: Lynda La Plante
Lynda La Plante is one of the most prolific and beloved crime writers in the world. Her Jane Tennison novels remain among the most critically acclaimed crime series ever published, and were the basis for the TV series Prime Suspect, which featured Helen Mirren in the starring role and first aired back in 1991. La Plante has just released Unholy Murder, the latest installment in the Tennison series. It’s a dark, twisting and pacey thriller that will delight fans of the series while also offering a brilliant stand-alone read for those who have not read Tennison before.
Jane Tennison is back this month in Unholy Murder. The premise seems dark, even by the standards of modern crime. It’s set amidst a (possible) cold case on hallowed ground and is full of church intrigue. Is there a particular case or story that inspired you to write this book?
I found Karen Armstrong’s book ‘Through the Narrow Gate’, about her 7 years as a Nun, incredibly inspiring. I started researching the number of unsolved crimes that had been committed that had religious connections.
Hidden Killers is something of a favourite for the crime team at LitVox, we’re always recommending it to our customers. Do you have a favourite Tennison novel, or is it blasphemous for you to try to pick one?
In all honesty every one of the Tennison novels has been a major part of my writing career. Unholy Murder is the seventh book in the prequel series. The reason for me not choosing a favourite is because in each novel we see Jane Tennison developing from a young 20 year old Probationary Officer into gradually becoming, in time, the character portrayed by Dame Helen Mirren in the original ‘Prime Suspect’.
The eighth book in the series is currently being edited, and Jane reaches the coveted rank of Detective Inspector. There will be additional books that will take her to the rank of DCI.
You’re Liverpool born and bred. Is there a novel or writer who you feel really captures the soul of the city?
My favourite Liverpudlian writer is Alan Bleasdale. His brilliant ‘Boys from the Blackstuff’ is superb.
What are you currently reading? Is It any good?
The Sphinx by Hugo Vickers. This tells about the extraordinary life of an American socialite, Gladys Deacon, whose incredible beauty and intellectual wit made every man she met become besotted with her. But Gladys had set her sights on the Duke of Malborough, and eventually succeeded. Un-put-downable!
Is there a book you always recommend to people? Why?
‘Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of the Great Gatsby’ by Sarah Churchwell, an astonishing insight into Scott F Fitzgerald’s infamous book. I have always enjoyed Fitzgerald’s work, particularly ‘The Price was High’ which contains his last uncollected stories.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Little Women by Louisa M Alcott, and the original 1949 film starring Janet Leigh, June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor and Margaret O’Brien as the March sisters. Some years ago an editor at Random House discovered Alcott’s unpublished manuscript, The Inheritance, and was able to purchase it and have it published. It is an astonishing love story. I read so many novels and it is rare for me to be so shocked that I let out a scream!
What’s the most important thing one needs to write well?
An imagination. Without it you may as well be a copywriter.
Was there ever a movie or series that was better than the book? Or anything that came close?
The magnificent Gone with the Wind, one of the greatest movies of all times.
Unholy Murder has just been released. What have you got planned next, or is that a secret?
I mentioned earlier that the eighth book in the Tennison prequel series has already been written – be prepared for a love interest for Jane!….