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Interview with Mel Sherratt, author of The Estate series

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Tell us about The Estate series. What is it about and how many books are currently there in it?
The Estate series is set around characters, good and bad, that live on a notorious housing estate. I liken it to soap drama meeting crime. The books are very much based on social issues, such as domestic violence, debt, infidelity, self-harm, girl gangs, fighting, peer pressure, with the odd murder in there too… I sum the books up as laugh a minute, cry a minute, crime a minute. There is a feel-good factor to them too – a sense of anything could be possible with a little help from friends. The first in the series is Somewhere to Hide, followed by Behind a Closed Door and the third, Fighting for Survival. In all three books, I’ve tried to make the estate the main character. You’ll also find some of the characters popping up in each book.

So what genre is it?
Now there’s a loaded question. I’ve been trying to categorise them for some time now. Originally they were turned down by publishers because they were too cross genre – women’s fiction/crime. To me, they’re emotional thrillers but there doesn’t seem to be a category for that. I like to call my writing grit-lit and there isn’t a category for that either. Because the series is only available on Amazon Kindle, I’ve tried the books in crime and thrillers, romantic thrillers and suspense and now they are in psychological thrillers.

Since the books straddle so many genres, we’ve got to ask what kind of readers will it appeal to?
I think the books will appeal to readers who like to root for the underdog. The characters in the series are real people with real issues. Anyone who likes getting into the minds of people, understanding why they do the things they do rather than solving a crime may enjoy them. But it’s safe to say a strong stomach is needed for some of the scenes. My style of writing is short, sharp sentences. I like reader’s to read between the lines, imagine more of what goes on off the page. I have lots of emails from men and women enjoying the series so I hope I’m on target.

Complete this sentence for us: If you like______________, you’ll love The Estate series.
Shameless and Eastenders.

We’re glad you mentioned those two TV shows, cos the Mitchell Estate sounds like a similarly grim place. Are you making a social and political point with this series? Or is the entertainment of your readers your only aim?
Oh, it’s entertainment first and foremost – there’s a sense of ‘I’m glad that isn’t me’ in a lot of books. I think every book has to be fun for the author to write too or else us gritty writer’s wouldn’t write anything. Of course there are a lot of moral issues in the series and not everyone is going to like everything I cover but what I hope to portray is no matter how down a person gets there’s always someone there to help them get back up. The books allow readers to take journeys with characters that change for the good too. The series is about hope – people getting out of unsavoury situations they are in – well, sometimes.

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You first came to everyone’s attention with Taunting The Dead. Can you tell us what it is about?
Taunting the Dead is about a woman who’s murdered on a night out. Five of her family and friends could have killed her but they are all lying to each other and in turn all lying to the police to cover their tracks. As the lies escalate, so too does the body count. As part of the investigation team, Detective Sergeant Allie Shenton is convinced the woman’s husband is responsible and is encouraged to use her womanly charms to get to the truth…

Are there any plans to make that the start of its own series?
There was originally and I might one day write book two as I’ve had such a great response to Taunting the Dead and Allie Shenton. I left it as a standalone because I want to write more about the cause and effects of crime – more ‘whydunnits’ than ‘whodunnits.’ I hope to make readers empathise with the suspects as well as the victims.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I like to wear killer heels… and I have a fell terrier puppy called Dexter, named after a character in one of my favourite television shows.

Have you got a website where readers can keep up with your work? How can we follow you on Facebook and/or Twitter?
My website is www.melsherratt.co.uk.
You can find me on twitter as @writermels and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mel-Sherratt/218120504951096.

What’s next?
I’ve just completed the first draft of my next book. I have a new agent and we’re taking this book to London Book Fair in April. It’s a dark, psychological suspense and a mixture of everything I’ve learned so far – I want to write fast-paced books about ordinary people, full of fear and emotion. I really enjoyed writing this one.

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