“The Queen of Tartan Noir”. Who could resist her session at Wellington Writers and Readers Week 2012? Not me, even though I was unaware of quite what constituted Tartan Noir nor of ever having read any.
Denise Mina is the Queen in question and was the winner of the best-dressed author and best author’s hair competitions, contests held only in my irredeemably trivial head. She is the owner of an enviable quiff, a raconteuse of the first order and an award winning writer.
Born in Glasgow, but brought up as part of an ‘oil family’ who moved 21 times in 18 years, Mina ended up back in Glasgow after studying ceramics in Galway. At University in a Law Faculty full of crime fiction fanatics, her PhD topic involved mental illness in female offenders, but, instead of completing her thesis, she began Garnethill, her first book. When she told her supervisor she was dropping out of her PhD to write a crime novel his first question was “what’s it about?”.
According to Mina people read crime fiction for fun. If they don’t like it they’ll say it was bad, but if they don’t like literary fiction they’ll say they didn’t understand it. Having bought one of her books on the strength of seeing her sessions, I’d have to say it wasn’t exactly fun although it was extremely enjoyable, and it made me want to read all her books.
She’s been selected to write the graphic novels of Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy; selected in that she was sent an email asking “do you fancy this?”. The headline for that piece of news read “Queen of Tartan Noir to take on Tattoo Girl”. I can’t wait.