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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Interview: Catherine Lea talks about The Water's Dead

Catherine Lea, author of the popular Elizabeth McClaine series of thrillers and several standalone novels set in the USA, has brought her writing home to the beautiful Far North of New Zealand. The Water’s Dead is the first in the ‘DI Nyree Bradshaw’ series. She talks to NZ Booklovers.

Tell us a little about The Water’s Dead.

The book is a police procedural set in the beautiful Far North. The main character, Nyree Bradshaw, is a career-driven DI who finds herself under the hammer when it’s discovered that a six-year-old diabetic is missing, last seen in the care of a murdered woman. Following her instincts and the evidence, she and her team must sift through the lies and backstories of each of the suspects to get to the truth. And what she finds is more shocking and heart-breaking than she could ever imagine.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve written several thrillers set in the USA and I wanted to bring my writing home to showcase New Zealand’s glorious North. Being a life-long fan of British murder mysteries like Ann Cleeves’ Vera, Colin Dexter’s Morse, and Ruth Rendell, I wanted a Vera-like character set here at home where our police procedures are, in many respects, quite different to those overseas.

What research was involved?

I’ve spoken to a couple of detectives, a police pathologist, and local Māori so I can accurately represent the culture and the procedures. Learning about protocol on the marae, about the significance and spiritual meaning of moko kauae, and the history of the Māori community in the north has been fascinating.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

I usually write in the mornings. I wish I could say I sit for eight hours a day, but I usually try to write at least 500 words a day. Unfortunately, they have to be the right words, and that doesn’t always happen. Since I moved from Auckland to the Far North two years ago, this book has taken three years, and three endings longer than it should have.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

Hollie Smith Bathe in the Water

If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

First one to mind is Robyn Malcolm, although we’ve got quite a few amazing actresses who would kill it.

What did you enjoy the most about writing The Water’s Dead?

First, the beginning: speeding through the first 10K words and diving into the atmosphere of the book. Secondly, finally realizing who the murderer was. I’m a pantser. That means I don’t plot. I write as it comes because I love the spontaneity of events as they unfold. Of course, the problem with that is when you get to the end, you have to figure out who the culprit is. And it has to be a twist you never even thought of.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

Started working on the marketing and the release. I still have lots to do. I really should start rewarding myself but it’s not done until it’s published.

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

Razorblade Tears. It’s taut, gripping, brilliantly written, and heart-breaking. I loved it.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

The next Nyree Bradshaw novel. This was always designed to be a series in which Nyree’s personal life comes to the fore. She’s given everything to the job, and now she must make some dramatic changes at home, or risk losing everything.


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