Friday, 12 August 2016

Blog Tour: Blood Sister, Q & A with Dreda Say Mitchell and Review

Blood Sister by Dreda Say Mitchell
Published: 11th August 2016
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 458
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Today it's my stop on the Blood Sister tour and I'd like to welcome Dreda and thank her for taking time to answer a few of my questions:

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to become a writer?
I’m an east End girl who grew up on a Council estate. My family came over to Britain from the Caribbean island of Grenada in the 1960s. I was a chambermaid and waitress before realizing my dream of becoming a teacher. I got the writing bug from coming from a family who loved telling stories and I visiting Whitechapel Library as a child. It was years later that I decided to write my first book about a character that wanted to get out of the underworld. The East End was in my blood, so I decided to write about it.
Blood Sister is part of a new trilogy, how does it differ from your previous book
It’s similar and different to my past books. My Gangland Girl series is set in East London’s badlands, but they are very much very fast paced thrillers whereas my new Flesh and Blood Trilogy still thrills, but it spends more time getting to know the characters lives and relationships. Then I went on to write a series of thrillers about a black, female cop – I adore DI Rio Wray – which are fast paced, but also police procedurals.
Can you sum up Blood Sister in one sentence?
Women behaving very badly!
 What was your inspiration for writing Blood Sister?
I was inspired by the strong and independent women I knew and grew up with on the East London housing estate I lived on. My estate was filled with people who just wanted to make a good life for themselves and their families but there was also a lot of ducking and diving going on and it’s that which interests me. So Blood Sister, the first in the Flesh and Blood Trilogy, is about two sisters, who want to get off their estate, but they both try to do it in different ways. Jen wants to settle down with the perfect man and Tiff wants the good life of the criminal underworld. And then they meet a tough and ruthless woman called Dee…That’s when the crime hits the fan!

Jen, Tiffany and Dee are all strong women, which was your favourite character in the book and why?
I can’t help but love a bad girl, so it’s Dee. She so fierce and determined to rise to the top of the criminal world, but at the same time she’s generous and so vulnerable because of her childhood. A big thing for me is writing about flawed and troubled characters because I think that reflects much of the world I see around me. 
How did you want readers to feel after reading Blood Sister?
Super excited and rearing to read the next book in the trilogy. I want my readers to feel entertained, engaged with the characters, shocked at the twists and turns, but also hope it gets readers reflecting on their own lives.
What can we expect to see from you next?
The next book in the trilogy, Blood Mother, which is out February 2017 and then the last installment, Blood Daughter, out later that year. Blood Mother takes the story right back to 1972.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Lee Child, Martina Cole, Gillian Flynn and Alice Walker.
Which three books have you enjoyed reading the most so far this year?
Darktown by Thomas Mullen. This hasn’t come out here yet so I was honoured to get a sneak peek.
The unseeing by Anna Mazzola
Cut To The Bone by Alex Caan.
The last two are gripping books by debut authors. Must reads!

How do you intend to celebrate publication day?
Chillin’ out! And spreading the word.

Describe your writing process?
I’m a plotter so I spend a good amount of time plotting before committing to the page and shape who my lead characters are. This means that I don’t face the blank page syndrome when I start writing.
I also have a very structured writing page, so I’m an early bird and will keep writing, usually two scenes, which is around 3,000 words. This means I can write a novel pretty quickly.
What advice would you give to anyone wishing to pursue a writing career?
Go for it! I started mine when I was well into my thirties after working in education for many years; so it’s never too late. I joined a writing group, so this may be the way to kickstart your career. Or you may the Lone Ranger type who prefers to do it alone. Whatever you decide, do it now!

Quick fire questions:
Tea of Coffee? Herbal tea. Love Matcha green tea
Sweet or Savoury? Sweet, but no gluten please!
Cosy fires or summer sun? Both.
High heel or flats? Flats
Drive or be driven? Driven, in more ways than one.

There are two ways out of Essex Lane Estate, better known as The Devil. You make good, or you turn bad.
Jen Miller is determined not to make the same mistakes her mother did. She's waiting to find herself a good job and a decent man.
Her younger sister Tiff is running errands for a gangster and looking for any opportunity for fun and profit. But she might just be in over her head...
The choices you make and the plans you have don't always turn out like you expect. Especially if you live on The Devil's Estate. When their paths cross with the unstoppable Dee - a woman with her own agenda - Jen and Tiff will learn that lesson the hard way.
At least they can rely on each other.
Can't they?

Blood Sister is the first book in Dreda Say Mitchell’s new trilogy Flesh and Blood which follows one family from the Essex Lane Estate over forty years. This was the first book that I’ve read by Dreda Say Mitchell and I’m hooked already on her writing and cannot wait till Blood Mother is out next year.

Blood Sister focuses on the Miller sister Jen and Tiffany.  Jennifer is studying at art collage and longs to be a fashion designer and make it out of Devil’s Estate where they live, hopefully on the arm of her prince charming. Tiffany at sixteen is a bored teenager who goes looking for trouble to get her kicks, this time she’s taken on the job as a run around for a big-time gangster and it’s not long before Tiff realises she might be in deeper than she can handle.

Across town Dee Clark is working on making herself indispensable to John Black, nightclub owner and hot shot gangster on the verge of making it big. Dee is a woman who gets what she wants and this time she wants a ring on her finger and a massive fortune to go with it and she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

When these three find themselves mixed up with the wrong kind of men will they be able to get out without any bloodshed and will their lives lead them down the path towards their dreams?

Blood Sister is a novel which is based on the criminal underworld of East End London, something I don’t really know much about so I found it enthralling at times. The novel is split into two parts the first in 1993, the second ten years later in 2003. Honestly I found the first half of this novel much more intense as it dealt with the criminal comings and goings based around The Alley Club and John Black’s gangster ring, the second half of the book I didn’t find as believable but I did enjoy the twist at the end.

I loved that the stronger characters in this novel were the women and I found all three women interesting in their own ways. I liked Jen because she was determined to better herself and wasn’t going to settle for any old man to take her out. I did feel she was a little naive in certain situations and not quite as savvy as she would like people to believe. I liked Dee because she was scary and wouldn’t take any nonsense from anyone. I did feel she was strong enough to make her dreams come true on her own without the need for a man to provide for her, but maybe she just wanted to be loved. Tiffany was definitely my favourite character and I love how she changed over the course of the novel from a whiny teenager thinking she knows it all to someone who works hard for her dreams and knows how to make them happen on her own, even if it means not be completely honest all the time.

Blood Sister is a gripping and at times a violent novel which had me hooked from the start. I really enjoyed that there was a focus on the home lives of Jen and Tiff as for me it made the story more real. I’m looking forward to reading Blood Mother as I’m hoping it will tell us more about why the Millers and the Ingrams don’t get on.

If you’re a fan of Dreda’s previous novels then I’m sure you will this new book and if like me your new to her writing I’m convinced you will enjoy this as it was full of twists and turns right from the start and like me will be eagerly awaiting the next book.

Thank you so much to Hodder for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for sending me a copy to review.

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