Caz Frear grew up in Coventry, England and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the writing dream finally came true. She has a degree in History & Politics, which she’s put to enormous use over the years by working as a waitress, a shop assistant, a retail merchandiser and, for the past twelve years, a headhunter. When she’s not agonizing over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at Arsenal football matches on the TV or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about. Follow her on Twitter at @CazziF
MM: Sweet Little Lies was an awesome read. It had the perfect combination of grit and heart which kept me glued to the book. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for my blog Murder and Moore.
CF: Great - thank you! And thanks again for all your support xx
MM: What authors have inspired you?
CF: So many, but the two that always spring to mind are Tana French and Lynda La Plante. They’re actually quite an interesting combination in that they are very different writers but in my opinion they’re the best at what they do. Lynda La Plante is a phenomenal storyteller. Her plots are so intricate and well-executed and her books are incredibly well-paced – classic ‘one more chapter’ novels. Over the years, I’ve used her novels like textbooks, always asking myself “How would Lynda handle this?” when I’ve hit a particularly tricky plot knot! Tana French on the other hand is the queen of prose and characterization. She’s also not afraid to write unlikable characters or ambiguous endings, which I love.
MM: What are you currently reading?
CF: I’m utterly enthralled by Alafair Burke’s The Wife at the moment. I’m on a US book tour and actually dying to get onto the next flight so I can dive back in. The dialogue is fantastic and the small details/anecdotes give such flavor to the overall story. I’m about half-way through and I have no idea which way it’s going to go.
I also recently finished Skin Deep by the amazing Liz Nugent. It’s about an Irish woman passing herself off as an English socialite on the French Riviera and the story opens with the line - ‘I wondered when rigor mortis would set in, or if it already had.’ Because of this, it’s not your classic ‘whodunnt?’ Instead the reasons why she’s ‘dunnit’ become the mystery. I can’t recommend it enough.
MM: I recently read an article by Ann Cleeves. She stated she never planned to start a series when she wrote the first Jimmy Perez book. It was supposed to be a standalone. Did you know from the start that Sweet Little Lies was just the beginning for Cat? How did you come to that decision?
CF: I LOVE Ann Cleeves and yet I didn’t know that fact! I always wanted Cat to become a series character and had several ideas about what path her journey could take. However, you never know how a character is going to be received so I feel so lucky that she’s living to fight another day (or another novel, I should say!) I deliberately made her a relatively young police officer so there would be scope for her to grow, personally and professionally.
MM: What sets Cat apart from other detectives in crime fiction is her age. I think she may be the youngest detective I have read. What was behind your decision to introduce Cat at the age of 26?
CF:Ah, I might have just answered this one! However, there was another reason. I knew that I wanted to write about someone at the lower levels of the police force as frankly, they are the people who do most of the investigative work. Certainly in the UK, it’s actually quite rare for a Detective Inspector or Detective Chief Inspector to interview witnesses/suspects, take statements etc (even though this is often portrayed on TV) and the truth is that like most industries, the further you go up the ladder, the more your role becomes about management, admin, spreadsheets etc. I wanted to feature someone who was constantly out in the field and this was far more likely to be someone at Cat’s Detective Constable level.
Also, because of some of the decisions Cat makes, I wanted the reader to cut her a tiny bit of slack! Obviously she’s a grown woman in a very responsible position, but I remember being twenty-six and my decision-making skills perhaps weren’t as honed as they are now. The old saying that ‘you live and learn’ is particularly apt here and Cat is finding this out on a daily basis.
MM: Cat and her father, Michael, have a strained relationship. Why did you choose for Cat to have the strained relationship with her father rather than her mother?
CF: Sweet Little Lies was definitely influenced in a small way by Sharp Objects (Gillian Flynn). I absolutely loved the toxic relationship between Camille and her mother and I guess I was trying to turn this on it’s head a little! I also think the relationship between a father and daughter is often the more complicated one. In the main (although I definitely accept there are exceptions), daughters tend to idolize their fathers so to go from thinking your father is a superhero to suspecting him of murder would be a huge psychological burden – or in other words, it has great dramatic potential!
MM: If you were to cast the movie version of Sweet Little Lies which actress would play Cat Kinsella?
CF: Tricky one but I’m going to say the British actress, Juno Temple. She’s such a fantastic character actress and while she can turn her hand to anything, she really excels at quirky and troubled. I’ve no doubt at all that she’d do Cat justice!
MM: What does the future hold for Cat Kinsella?
CF: Book 2 comes out next July (2019). It’s called STONE COLD HEART and it features Cat and the rest of the MIT4 team investigating a brand new case but with the events of Sweet Little Lies still casting their shadow. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers by saying anything specific about what the future holds for Cat but it’s complicated, let’s just say that!