Katie Medina, author of White Crocodile
Tell us about your latest creation:
The name of this novel, my debut, is White Crocodile.
White Crocodile is a thriller set in the land mine fields of northern Cambodia. Teenaged mothers are disappearing from villages around the minefields, while others are being found mutilated and murdered, their babies abandoned. And there are whispers about the white crocodile, a mythical beast who brings death to all who meet it.
Tess Hardy thought that she had put Luke, her violent husband firmly in her past. Until he calls from Cambodia and there is something she hasn’t heard in his voice before. Fear. Two weeks later, he’s dead. Against her better judgment, Tess is drawn to Cambodia and to the killing fields.
Caught in a web of secrets and lies that stretches all the way from Cambodia to another murder in England, and a violent secret twenty years old, Tess must find out the truth, and quickly – because the crocodile is watching…
I live in Wimbledon, London, virtually next door to the All England Tennis Club where the Wimbledon tennis championships are held. I am also lucky enough to have a tiny, three hundred year old thatched cottage by the sea an hour’s drive from London, where I go for weekends and holidays with my husband and children. My mother is from Brisbane, Queensland and so I have duel British and Australian nationality. I lived and worked in Sydney for two years, ten years ago and would love to repeat the experience.
When you were a kid, what did you want to become? An author?:
My parents have a photograph of me, aged five, with a crew cut, wearing an Army camouflage outfit. I was an outdoorsy tomboy and always wanted to be a soldier, which is probably why I ended up spending five years in the Army Reserve, and working for Jane’s Information Group, the world’s leading publisher of defence intelligence information as Managing Editor, Land-Based Weapon Systems. However, I have also always loved to read and write, and much of my childhood was spent immersed in stories.
What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:
White Crocodile is my first novel, but it is very personal to me and, as such, will probably always be my favourite.
I had the idea for the novel while working at Jane’s. As part of the role, I spent a month working alongside professional mine clearers in Cambodia, to learn more about the information they needed to help them clear mines more safely. I was privileged to be able to get to know both Western and Khmer clearers and to spend time talking with Khmers who had lost limbs to land mines.
Separately, I also met a professional mine clearer, Paul Jefferson, who had been seriously injured in a land mine accident in Iraq. He is now a good friend, and I have dedicated White Crocodile to him.
Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:
I work in a small attic room, which is freezing in winter and sweltering in summer. However, because I have three children, two dogs and a cat, the location gives me space to escape!
I am not a tidy person – something the Army tried and failed to knock out of me – and so my work space is a litter of paper and post-it notes. I spend a couple of months laying out a detailed plot on the wall with post-its before I start writing. The plot of White Crocodile is complex and contains multiple interrelated sub-plots and I would have completely
lost track without my post-it note map!
When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:
I am an avid crime and thriller reader, which is why I chose to write in that genre. I love writers such as Jo Nesbo, Steig Larsson, Martina Cole, Mo Hayder, Michael Robotham and Lee Child among others. One of my favourite books is Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth, which I think is an enduringly excellent thriller. I also enjoy books that explore people’s psychology, such as the classic Lord of the Flies, as I have a degree in Psychology and am fascinated by human behaviour.
What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:
Two books spring to mind: Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird. They are both fantastic children’s psychological thrillers, with great story lines and vividly drawn, memorable characters. I have read these novels a number of times over the years and never fail to appreciate them. I was also an avid reader of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series and, in common with many other tomboys, wanted to be George.
If you were a literary character, who would you be?:
I would like to be Jack Reacher, because of the freedom that he has to go wherever he wants and to behave however hewants, without rules or boundaries. I think it would be incredibly liberating to have no home, no possessions, no commitments and no dependents – for a while at least. I also love the fact that he knows how to handle himself. No body gets one over on Jack Reacher!
Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:
Apart from reading, I spend as much of my spare time as I can by the sea. I am probably more Aussie than Brit in my heart, as I love being outdoors, love the beach, swimming, sailing, and anything to do with being out on the water. I also have a vegetable patch, which I find fascinating. My home grown vegetables always look wonky and never quite the
right colour, but they taste fantastic – much better than shop bought
What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:
In the winter, which is unfailingly cold and rainy in England, I love roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, and a cup of tea. In the summer, it has to be shellfish and a cold glass of Aussie
Who is your hero? Why?:
My hero is personal to White Crocodile and to me, and is Paul Jefferson, the friend who was badly injured while clearing land mines in Iraq. He lost a leg and is blind, but continues to lead a more active life than many of the able bodied people I know (including myself) completing a degree in Archeology, travelling, working for charities, renovating a house in France and leading an active social life. He never complains, is energetic and fearless, and I find him incredibly inspirational.
Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:
I think the biggest challenge for books and reading is lack of time. The world feels as if it is getting increasingly challenging and competitive, and people have to run faster just to keep up. It can be hard to find the time to curl up with a good book – though there are few things more enjoyable when you do.
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