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Interview: Tina Clough talks about The Shadow Broker

Tina Clough was born in Sweden and lives outside Napier, where she divides her time between writing crime novels, translating and editing medical research papers and looking after an acre of fruit trees, vegetable gardens and hens. Tina is married and has two daughters. Present and former interests include reading and writing, driving and diving, camping and kayaking, and inventing new jam flavours. Tina talks to NZ Booklovers about her latest thriller.

Tell us a little about The Shadow Broker.

It is a political corruption thriller, set in 2026 when things have changed and personal privacy is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, Government surveillance is everywhere and additional intelligence agencies have been created. What inspired you to write this book?

I felt that the step from what is gradually developing and becoming accepted today (facial recognition, cameras and smart devices that track our movements) it's only a couple of steps further to a rather terrifying future. And the story takes us to that future and what happens if you start stirring up the hornet's nest of corruption at the top level of government in a time when you cannot hide.

What research was involved?

A variety of aspects had to be fact checked - procedures in Parliament, the role of staff there, how to prevent being tracked if you want to move around invisibly, what would cause a fireball explosion in a garage, how to make a miniature explosive device to set off a bigger explosion and general aspects of hacking. But having useful friends, like an IT specialist, a science nerd, a political policy advisor, a fireman, and a retired parliamentary messenger made it possible to get most details right (I hope).

What is your usual writing routine?

I don't have a routine or a specific place to write. I just write when I have time - in between editing science research papers and doctoral theses prior to publication and the maintenance of a one acre garden with shelter belts and hedges prune, and lots of grass to mow. I fit in writing when I can. If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

Rod Stewart "All for love" alternating with Adele singing "Skyfall" - the lyrics say it all. If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

Agyness Deyn and Henry Golding fit my mental image of what Minnie and Luke look like, and someone a bit like Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies to play the character Rumble.

What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?

I really enjoyed creating a dystopian near future without going too far, keeping it credible - like extrapolating the current scene in a dark direction. I also always love trying to create three dimensional characters with credible habits and quirks without resorting to stereotypes. The reader is the judge of how well this comes off.

What did you do to celebrate finishing The Shadow Broker?

As always when I finish a book I set it aside for a couple of months and then read it on my e-reader to see how it comes across as a book instead of text on my laptop screen - and then I put the champagne in the fridge and hope for the best. What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

I was knocked over with admiration for Jacqueline Bublitz's "Before you knew my name". Stunning structure, innovative idea, lyrical prose and an engrossing story. A remarkable achievement for a first novel. What’s next on the agenda for you?

Well, I'm going off-trend with a few new books, nothing about crime at all! During lock-down(s) I wrote three novels in the "women's fiction genre" - not modern so called romance, but books about people and their relationships and lives. The three are called The Devon Letters series: 'A Stranger at my Table', 'My Enemy, my Love', and 'Trusting the Enemy'. They are set in South Devon, in Salcombe, Kingsbridge, Torquay and Exeter ( (an area I know and love). They are linked by the theme of a main character who receives a letter from the past, and how this changes her life. And since then I have written one of the same kind but set in Wellington - it remains to be seen what happens with these stories ...


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