The brand new Tania Carver novel, The Doll’s House, is being released as an exclusive early ebook on the 27th June. The Crime Vault asked husband and wife Martyn and Linda Waites, the dream writing team behind the Tania Carver books, how they’re feeling on publication of their fifth novel…
Martyn: I’m very happy with the way the books are going. There are lots of changes in this one, certainly from the one before. Phil and Marina have moved house, there’s a new setting and a whole new team for them to get along with. Or not get along with. I think it’s a really strong story too. I’m pleased with this one.
Linda: There’s a really interesting mix in the new team Phil’s working with now. Particularly because of the animosity – they’re not all pals like they were last time in Choked.
Martyn: I think that’s one of the book’s strengths. Conflict is good. Conflict is drama. You happy to get them out of Colchester and packed off to Birmingham, Linda? Even for a while?
Linda: I think there’s only so much crime you can have in one small town so in that way it’s a good thing. But for me, because I know the Colchester area so well it was easier for me to visualise. You’re the Brummie lad . . .
Martyn: Well, Geordie-Brummie lad. I went to college there and still know the place quite well. Hopefully well enough to set novels there. And we can always go there to research.
Linda: Maybe they’ll go back to Colchester. We’ve kept the door open.
Martyn: You know, I think setting is important in any novel but particularly a crime one. Is it easier to write about somewhere that you know well and see every day or somewhere that you have a kind of distance from?
Linda: I think it depends how accurate you want to be. Obviously, if you don’t know somewhere very well there’ll always be a reader who’ll put you right. It depends on how much artistic license you want to use.
Martyn: I like having a bit of distance. It’s that Wordsworth thing about action being remembered in tranquillity. Go somewhere, do the research, let it percolate and recreate the place in your own head.
Linda: Yes, but that’s dangerous if you’re talking about somewhere that the reader knows very well and you’re recreating it differently because they don’t always like it. Readers have told me that they love the familiarity, the fact that people get murdered on their street. You’ve got to get it right.
Martyn: You’d think they’d be more concerned with the house prices if that kept happening.
Linda: Martyn, it’s just pretend. We make it up.
Martyn: Well, you say that . . .
Linda: I do. But I know that a lot of the Tania novels have their basis in fact.
Martyn: Something which people may find hard to believe, I think.
Linda: True. But we do take quite a few liberties with the truth.
Martyn: Linda discovered the story that became The Surrogate. It was an article in the paper about a serial killer in the American Mid-West. We just transplanted it to Colchester and played about a bit with gender identity. Choked has quite a few elements of real life cases too.
Linda: What about The Doll’s House? The premise of that was pure fiction on your part, Martyn, wasn’t it?
Martyn: Kind of. Mostly. There are echoes of the Armin Meiwes case, the famous German cannibal. That really, really disturbed me to a great degree. I couldn’t get my head round the fact that someone was so complicit in their own destruction. And what a way to go. It stayed with me for years.
Linda: Aye lad. There’s nowt so queer as folk. She says in her best Geordie accent. . .
Martyn: That’s your best? B******s . . .
Linda: Anyway. What about the next book?
Martyn: Okey dokey. It doesn’t have an official title at the moment but the working title is Worse Than Death. We both like it and it seems to sum up what the book’s about.
Linda: We can’t say too much about it yet. Suffice to say it’s about being given a choice. It explores how far people will go to keep what they believe is the most important thing in their lives. It shows what people’s real priorities are. And it’s not always what you’d expect.
Martyn: And there may be an old villain back.
Linda: Or there may not. We don’t want to say too much. Spoilers.
Martyn: Thank you, River.
Linda: That’s alright, sweetie. Are you happy writing as a couple? Does it take the pressure off to have someone to bounce things off or do you prefer writing as Martyn Waites?
Martyn: Well, I do love to see my own name on the cover of a book. That’s true. And I get a few strange looks (actually, more than a few) when I do a signing on my own and have to sign as a woman. However, having said that, the Tania voice is, I think, different to the Martyn one.
Linda: Yes, Martyn is definitely much darker.
Martyn: I know. I’m very proud of my Joe Donovan series. It’s like the Tania series if it had been written by James Ellroy. Darker and angrier. I’ll be writing more of them, hopefully. But because the process of writing as Tania is collaborative and the work is under a different name – not Martyn or Linda – it feels entirely different. It’s good to have someone to share the workload with and bounce ideas off, like you said. And when it’s going well it’s good to have someone to share the success.
Linda: And when it’s not going so well?
Martyn: It’s good to have somebody else to blame for the bad reviews.
Linda: Thank you very much.
Martyn: No, it is. Writing as Martyn there’s no one to hide behind. I have to take the flack on my own. I suppose both approaches come with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Linda: I presume I’m one of the strengths. I edit them all anyway.
Martyn: Indeed you do. And very well. What about you? Are you going to write anything without me?
Linda: I’ve got a couple of ideas in mind that I’ve not had the confidence to work on before but I think the time could be nigh . . .
Martyn: Interesting . . .
Linda: So in the meantime, what are we up to next?
Martyn: Well, there’s Angel Of Death, the sequel to Susan Hill’s Woman In Black, coming out later this year under my own name, then there’s the next Tania, then there’s my secret project that I can’t talk about yet, then another couple of Tanias, hopefully. And then, all being well, the return of Joe Donovan.
Linda: Well, that should keep us busy for a little while!
Martyn: Indeed. And finally, as Trevor MacDonald used to say, I’m a writer and on the Tanias you’re my co-writer. But your day job is theatre costume designer. Is this a two way street? Because you write with me can I design with you?
The Doll’s House is published in ebook on 27/06/13.
Author photo by Charlie Hopkinson.
From the outside, the house was unremarkable. Just one of many on an ordinary, suburban estate. But inside was a different matter. With pink ribbons and pink walls, stuffed toy animals everywhere and a dining table laid out for a tea party, it was a doll's house. The doll was sitting at the table. Life size, with blonde, pigtailed hair and rosy red cheeks, dressed in her best pink party dress. Her finger and thumb curled round the handle of a fine china teacup. An adult woman. Covered in blood. Eviscerated. Dead. In all his years on the force, DI Phil Brennan of the Major Incident Squad has never encountered a scene like it. As he investigates he uncovers more bizarre revelations and realises that he must act fast; the next murder has already been planned and the victim is close to home ...