Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Anya Lipska. She writes Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction, Historical Fiction novels.
Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction, Historical Fiction
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Anya Lipska is the pen name of a British crime writer married to a Pole. 'I chose Lipska because my real surname is impossible to pronounce...' she says. Living in East London with its big Polish community gave her the inspiration to create Kiszka, a Polish private detective/fixer, who came to the UK to escape communist rule in the Eighties, and is now in many ways a Londoner. A journalist by background, Anya was able to draw on contacts among murder detectives, pathologists and lawyers. 'Sometimes those research conversations in the pub get overheard and we get some very funny looks!'
The series quickly won critical acclaim leading to Anya being chosen for 'Queen of Crime' Val McDermid's New Blood panel at Theakstons Crime Festival - Europe's biggest crime writing event - in 2013. Originally trained as a journalist, Anya now writes and produces documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4 in the UK, and international broadcasters like Discovery Channel. She's made programmes on everything from Leonardo da Vinci to plane crashes; mammoth cloning to Cleopatra's lost tomb. "I consider myself incredibly lucky to have such an interesting job," says Anya, 'It keeps me buzzing with ideas that I can work into my fiction, but nothing matches the excitement of creating characters and weaving plot."
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
I’m giving Kiszka and Kershaw a temporary rest while I pursue an idea that’s been ricocheting around my brain for a few months. I can’t say too much, but I will say that it’s once again set in a gritty part of London, many scenes take place in a mortuary, and there’s a babcia - a Polish grandmother – among the cast of characters.
You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?
I really enjoy twitter, much more, I must confess, than Facebook. I like its brevity, and the way you can really focus on the things you’re interested in. I let it grow organically, really, because I think if your twitter timeline is just a relentless juggernaut of self-promotion that can be really off-putting. It’s been a terrific way of engaging with readers right after they’ve read the books. I might never have found out that Janusz set so many female hearts fluttering without all the fervent tweets I’ve had on the subject…My handle is @AnyaLipska
You do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances. When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
So far, I’m appearing at Essex Book Festival in Southend, on March 5th, and then at Slaughter in Southwold in June. Details on my website anyalipska.com where people can also sign up for my occasional blog with news and freebies.
You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?
Credit for the overarching style must go to my publishers, the Friday Project, part of HarperCollins: they came up with the look for book 1 and continued it through the series. In the US, where I self-publish, I ran with that look but shot the covers myself – great fun! So ‘Death Can’t Take a Joke’ features a rear view of my husband superimposed on a graffiti-smeared London alleyway, while the latest, ‘A Devil Under the Skin’ is a montage of three different images: a girl, a menacing male figure, set against a cobbled alleyway leading to a Hawksmoor church in London’s East End. I take the photos and then a very clever designer puts it all together.
A couple of your novels have been converted into audio books by Harper Audio. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience for you?
I have met people who have listened to the audio books and they’ve been very positive about the way the narrator brings them to life. I’m not (yet) an audio book listener but I can definitely see its appeal and I think there’s a huge untapped market there.
Tell us about your writer support groups Killer Women? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process? How was the group put together?
Killer Women is a small, informal collective of female writers set up by Melanie McGrath and Louise Millar. Most of us live in and around the London area, so it’s easy for us to get together to drink and plan group activities. Its main aim is to supplement the publicity and marketing efforts of our publishers and to act as a contact point for literary festivals and events, but this year we’re excited to be launching our very own crime fiction festival in London in October. We’ve already secured sponsorship backing and some seriously big crime fiction names. For updates on the festival and more, readers can sign up for the newsletter at www.killerwomen.org
Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?
I’ve only very recently started a reader list on my website and am scratching my head about how to stay in touch with my twitter followers who are fans of the Kiszka and Kershaw series without sending them unwanted DMs. There’s so much to do on the publicity and marketing front that I sometimes despair of writing any actual, you know, books…!
Living in England creates a unique selling and marketing situation and you have published a book in German. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation?
As well as being published in German, my first book where the Devil Can’t Go has now also been translated into Polish with the title Ton. My biggest audience is definitely still in the UK, but I’m pleased to say that now I have three books out, the US sales of the e-books are starting to climb.
How exciting. BBC Drama has acquired the rights to the Kiskza & Kershaw books as a potential TV series. Is there a release date assigned yet?
I was absolutely thrilled when BBC Drama optioned the rights to the series, and when they commissioned the first script from a well-known TV screenwriter, but my excitement is tempered by caution, because the attrition rate between script-stage and production is pretty sobering. If it does happen, I’ll be toasting London’s wonderful Polish community with large quantities of wodka.
Author's Book List
A Devil Under the Skin
- Kiszka and Kershaw Book 3
Things are looking up for Janusz Kiszka, big-hearted 'fixer' to London's Poles. Kasia, the love of his life, is finally leaving her no-good husband to make a new life with him. But then she vanishes – tearing the big Pole’s world apart. Convinced she’s been abducted, he must swallow his pride and seek the help of an old contact, maverick cop Natalie Kershaw, who’s suspended following a fatal shooting. But the search swiftly takes an even darker turn… What connects Kasia’s disappearance and a string of brutal East End murders? And who is the mysterious and murderous enforcer stalking the streets of London?
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Death Can't Take a Joke
- Kiszka and Kershaw Book 2
When masked men brutally murder of his closest friends, Janusz Kiszka – fixer to East London’s Poles – must dig deep into the city’s criminal underbelly to track down the killers and deliver justice. Shadowing a beautiful Ukrainian girl he believes could solve the mystery, Kiszka finds himself skating dangerously close to her ruthless ‘businessman’ boyfriend. Meanwhile, his old nemesis, police detective Natalie Kershaw is struggling to identify a mystery suicide, a Pole who jumped off the top of Canary Wharf Tower. But all is not what it seems…
Sparks fly as Kiszka and Kershaw’s paths cross again, but when their separate investigations call for a journey to Poland’s wintry eastern borders, they're forced to call an uneasy truce...
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Where the Devil Can't Go
- Kiszka and Kershaw Book 1
The naked body of a girl washes up on London’s Thames foreshore - the only clue to her identity a heart-shaped tattoo…
Janusz Kiszka is unofficial 'fixer' to East London’s Polish community – and a man with his own distinctive moral code. When he takes on the apparently routine case of a missing waitress he has no idea that he is dabbling in matters with their roots in Poland’s dark communist past.
Enter police detective Natalie Kershaw: a rookie trying to prove herself in a man’s world. As she investigates deaths of two Polish girls she becomes convinced that Kiszka is the guilty man. With the cops and a psychopathic gangster on his tail, Kiszka escapes to Poland, determined to find the real killer. There he uncovers a terrible secret that reaches across the decades to reveal why the two girls were murdered.
But is he too late to save the life of a third?
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