Denise Mina was recognized as the International Guest of Honor at the 2010 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in San Francisco. She took a few minutes between events to discuss her new graphic novel, the return of her much-loved protagonist, and more.
Will Paddy Meehan be back?
I switched publishers in the U.K., and my new publisher wanted a new series. They didn't want any more Paddy books because they didn't own them, but this summer they bought them from my old publisher. I'm doing a new Alex Morrow book now, after The End of the Wasp Season, and then I'm going back to Paddy to finish the last two. It's not that I got fed up with Paddy or I abandoned her. It was just a technical reason.
How did the idea for Still Midnight and the Alex Morrow series come about?
It's interesting because in those books, Alex is the protagonist, but she's not really the protagonist. She's the gateway character because those books are all ensemble pieces. It's pretty intense writing about one person, and it's emotionally quite draining. For these books, I wanted to write about a lot of different characters in each one. I know people like Alex, and I think to work in the police you have to be pro-authority. I find that very interesting, why anybody does that, hands over their autonomy. Don't get me wrong—I'm glad there are people in the police, but I find it very interesting.
You recently published a graphic novel, A Sickness in the Family, illustrated by Anthony Fuso. Were you always a comics fan?
I started reading comics when I was about 22. I think that's true for lots of women readers. The first thing I really read was Maus, which you're not allowed to mention to comic book guys, because you've got to talk about Spider-Man. I never drew a distinction between reading books and graphic novels. It's funny because graphic novels are such a big thing now in Britain, and lots of clever people I know say that they don't know how to read them. They don't know where their eyes should be. They genuinely don't know how to approach them. It's like someone who's never read a novel saying, "Do you have to read the whole thing? Do you have to look at all 350 pages?" Well, yes, you do.
You've also done work for television.
I made a documentary about Edgar Allan Poe [was] that's on BBC in October. I think we're going to sell it to the States. The BBC is really pleased—they want to do more and that's lovely. You do it for a week a year and you can organize your reading around it! I read six biographies of Poe and all his works. It's like doing a course. His whole story is fascinating. Some of his work is really dated, but you have to read the good stuff, like "The Tell-Tale Heart." I read it for the documentary and I was so jealous! If you read that story now, you think, "Why didn't I write that?" It's brilliant and it's contemporary.