Monday, 18 July 2022

In The St Hilda's Spotlight - Imran Mahmood

Name:- Imran Mahmood

Job:- Criminal and Civil Barrister and author

Twitter:- @imranmahmood777


Barrister and author Imran Mahmood's first novel You Don't Know Me was published in 2017. It was also selected for the BBC Radio 2 Book Club Choice and was shortlisted for the Glass Bell Award in 2018. It was also longlisted in 2018 for the CWA Gold Dagger and the Theakstons Old PeculierCrime Novel of the year Award. It was also made into a BBC drama (to great aclaim) in 2021. His second book I Know What I Saw was published in 2021 and was one of The Times best thrillers of 2021. His most recent book is All I said Was True was published iin July 2022.

Current book? (This can either be the current book that you are reading or writing or both)

I have just delivered 3rd draft of book 4. It is about grief and regret as well (obviously) as murder! I loved writing this book and it’s the one I'm proudest of. I can't wait to see it out next year.

Favourite book?

This is a always To Kill a Mocking Bird. It deals with everything – race, class, poverty, wealth, slavery, human rights, power, justice, morality, truth, integrity, coming of age – the lot. A few other books try to do all of this but the genius of Harper Lee was that she told stories of horror through the lens of an innocent - child. The effect is devastating. 

Which two characters would you invite to dinner and why?

Staying with To Kill a Mockingbird I would like to have Atticus Finch and Scout round for a home-made curry!

How do you relax?

I write of course! And cook. Or if I have time I paint (badly) or do a little woodwork. I make things for the kids that they don’t have any appreciation for. 

Which book do you wish you had written and why?

I'm going to sidestep Harper Lee this time (because there is no way I could have written that). I’m going to say The First Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman for its modest sales!

Also, it displays a great understanding of the market. There’s a whole section of society (that read) but who find themselves totally invisible in culture. Osman realised that and boy did he make the most of it! Also it’s such a perfectly delivered mystery. Can't fault it.

What would you say to your younger self if you were just starting out as a writer?

Writing is very difficult. Reading is much easier. Just read.

What made you decide to write standalone novels as opposed to a series and would you write a series?

I had only intended to write the one book! I had no idea that when you write one – publishers and agents just expect you to carry on. There was no way to turn book 1 into a series so book 2 was a standalone. And by then I liked the idea of meeting new characters that I knew nothing about. I have since thought about a returnable series. I think it’s a lot of work despite the impression you get and it takes a long time (4 plus books I think) to establish a series. I don’t think I have the patience to do that

With Town and Country: Green Lanes to Mean Streets being the theme at St Hilda's this year, Where is your favourite town and where is your favourite country? Why have you chosen these?

London (which is about 100 towns really rather than one place). It’s my adoptive home (from Liverpool) and I love 2 things about it. That you can become anonymous in London very easily. And that the tolerance levels are so high (as a rule) that you can be any version of yourself that you want to be without (usually) ever attracting a second-look. I love that I sat on the Tube last week and someone wandered on wearing a tutu, a blonde Elsa wig to their waist, drinking beer from a Pringle can. She was probably in her sixties. Nobody batted an eye. I love that. The price of being left alone when you want to be left alone is often being left alone when you don’t. So it’s not a perfect city – but where is?

Favourite country – UK. Not a natural patriot. But the UK (despite everything) feels free and safe and there aren’t many places I could spend the rest of my life in. There’s always something to spoil a great country. Geographically/geologically/structurally? the USA has everything. Mountains, lakes, deserts, snow, beaches, big modern cities, slow lazy cities, canyons, waterfalls, huge national parks. But then – you know it has people like Trump in it. And a lot of guns! 

What are you looking forward to at St Hilda's?

Meeting so many new people after so much hiding away for the last 2 years!

All I Said Was True by Imran Mahmood (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC)

I didn't kill her. Trust me...When Amy Blahn died on a London rooftop, Layla Mahoney was there. Layla was holding her. But all she can say when she's arrested is that 'It was Michael. Find Michael and you'll find out everything you need to know.' The problem is, the police can't find him - they aren't even sure he exists. Layla knows she only has forty-eight hours to convince the police that bringing in the man she knows only as 'Michael' will clear her name and reveal a dangerous game affecting not just Amy and Layla, but her husband Russell and countless others. But as the detectives begin to uncover the whole truth about what happened to Amy, Layla will soon have to decide: how much of that truth can she really risk being exposed?

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