14th May2014

My unplanned meeting with Anya Lipska

by Lloyd Paige


The car performed a rapid 360 spin before screeching to a halt. Its sharp lights continued to cut

through the low hanging fog and after a piercing scream emitted from inside, the door finally swung

open and she stepped out with the collars of her coat upturned.

She gazed east towards something unknown so I called her name though she wasn’t surprised to see me and

remained impassive, telling me she was writing and had been for some time. She had books out too and

the latest one was ‘Death Can’t Take a Joke.’

Anya was different and had been touched by something that I couldn’t identify so I asked her a few

questions to feed my curiosity and I remembered them like this.

1. I need to know, what sort of man is Janusz Kiszka?

The question brought a wry smile to her face.

I can’t put it better than one reviewer who called him ‘an anti-authoritarian urban knight’.

2. Which of the Janusz books presented you with the biggest challenge?

The second, because I was petrified that I couldn’t pull it off again.

Her answer surprised me then I remembered another one of her fascinating characters.

3. Why did you settle on the name of Natalie Kershaw?

Er…Lloyd – I don’t know what your angle is here?

I thought that I may have perhaps misheard her so I tried again.

3. (repeat) Why did you settle on that name of Natalie Kershaw?

This time she stepped to me with a furrowed brow and clenched fists, forcefully repeating her words and then some.

Er…Lloyd – I don’t know what your angle is here? It’s just a regular name??

Her heightened fervour convinced me it was safer to ask a different question so I did.

4. Tell me because I’m curious, are you a fan of European crime or U.S crime?

I like both. I’m an admirer of crime from continental Europe – especially the new wave of crime writers emerging from Poland. I also like Fred Vargas (France), and Andreas Camilleri.
Of the Americans, my list of top crime writers starts with Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and includes the great Elmore Leonard for grit and humour, and James Lee Burke for his wonderful characters and his humane philosophy.

5. I don’t get it. You have a journalistic and TV background so why forge a career as an author?

I work primarily in factual TV, producing history and science documentaries, so I find it a refreshing change to be able to invent characters and make up stories rather than having to stick to the boring facts.

I understood where she was coming from, I really did, but not all facts are boring…are they?

6. Research is important in any book Anya so how far do you go?

I suppose it’s inevitable given my journalistic background that I go to great lengths to research even the relatively small things in my books. I think it’s important to do as much research as possible, because then you can feel confident about what you can leave out.

7. That makes sense. So is there a fine line between reality and fiction?

In crime novels, I’d argue that there is no line between reality and fiction: if it isn’t believable than your story will collapse.

Well there’s nothing more telling than an unbelievable story but I needed more, much more.

8. How do you know when you’ve achieved a believable sense of place in a story?

When you think you’ve successfully conveyed it with as little description as possible.

9. How do you spend your time when waiting for your books to be released?

She dug her hands into her pockets, reminiscing on an old memory that she had locked away.

Three months before my second book was released I was starting work on the third one. The publishing mill demands a book a year, so there’s no time off for good behaviour.

Whisper it quietly but she wasn’t an advocate for good behaviour, especially when she lifted her head and breathed in the night air with a disturbing menace. So before she left, I wanted to know who inspired her and gave her that edge.

10. Last thing, who’s your favourite TV/film crime baddie?

She fired back her answer without hesitation like a true pro.

Francis Urquhart in House of Cards, as played by Kevin Spacey.

With more answers than I ever expected I let her go and she travelled onto her next adventure. After all she was a crime writer, I guess out to find her next story to write.


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