How real events inspired crime fiction
This article is from 2009.
Denise Mina has been busy. In the last couple of years she has shown real versatility by branching out into drama, with her plays Ida Tamson and A Drunk Woman Looks at the Thistle being successfully produced at Glasgow’s Oran Mor. She has also braved the macho world of graphic novels, scripting a number of issues of Hellblazer for DC Comics. Mina has returned to novel writing with Still Midnight, the story of Glasgow cop DI Alex Morrow and her half-brother Danny. Both are on the rise, only Danny is making his living by breaking the law, not enforcing it.
The start of this story was inspired by a real-life home invasion and kidnap that happened in Glasgow, which adds an extra element of mystery compared to Mina’s previous work. ‘The ideal crime novel creates a total world as the events of the inciting incident are unpacked,’ she says. ‘The scenario of that crime seemed to me to have that depth without being a body in the woods.’ And it certainly works. But when dealing with true crimes, does she feel any duty to tell the story as it really happened? Her reply is defiant and honest. ‘I think almost all writers base their work on real life events, but we’re all so afraid of having our asses sued off that we admit it privately and have to fib in public. Novelisation doesn’t imply the truth. Readers are sophisticated enough to know that.’