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Lesley Horton

Interview with Lesley Horton ...

Tell us something about yourself and your background.

I was born in Farnhill, a village in North Yorkshire. I was educated at the local primary school and at Keighley Girls' Grammar School. From there I took teacher training at Redland College Bristol. Later I gained a B.Sc. in Applied Educational Studies from Bradford University and an M.Ed in Special Educational Needs from Manchester University. I married my husband on the day of the Great Train Robbery, and have three children (now grown up) and four grandchildren.

I have taught in a number of schools, as well as children of all ages. For twelve years I headed an educational unit for pregnant schoolgirls and schoolgirl mothers in Bradford. This was the first such unit of its kind. From there I moved into an inner city school, teaching English to A-Level. I finally took early retirement to allow me
to settle down to writing Snares of Guilt.

What made you take up writing?

It is something I have always wanted to do. I can remember writing short stories when I was very young, and writing the pantomimes and plays for the Sunday School in the village when I was a teenager. For eight years, I worked as a village correspondant for two local newspapers. It was doing this that taught me the discipline of settling down to write, of getting my copy in on time. One of the newspapers allowed me to write features and articles as well. But I knew that the one thing I wanted to do was to write a crime novel and Bradford's decision to shed 160 teachers allowed me to take up the offer and do this.

Why crime?

It is more why the criminal commits the crime than the crime itself. Why do some people turn to crime, particularly violent crime? It's that that interests me the most. Then there is the jigsaw effect of putting the whole thing together and allowing my detectives to unravel it.

So why Snares of Guilt? Where did you get the idea for that?

I wanted to show how guilt, whether it be flawed or not, can affect the way we live our lives and the way in which we act and react. Experiences with the pregnant schoolgirls and in the Upper School in which I worked gave me the idea for the plot line. I also wanted to explore the relationship between and within the different cultures of the people of Bradford.

So race relations plays a part in the novel.

A part, yes. I hope when people have read the novel they realise that everyone has problems to cope with. How we cope with them may be determined by the culture within which we live, but in the end we all feel the same emotions: happiness, sadness, despair, anger - and it is those emotions which motivate us to do what we do.

What do you consider then as the most important - character or plot?

Character. It's what people do, how they act, react and interact that produces the conflict and the tension and drives the plotline. Indeed, there are times when the character may do something totally unexpected to you as the writer; equally, he or she may refuse to do what you want of them, and then you have to think again.

You have used Bradford as the city in which the novel is set. Why Bradford specifically?

Bradford is a city with a diverse population and that makes it an interesting one in which to set a novel. There's so much to draw on. Geographically, too, it is unususal, set as it is in a bowl, with people living and working in its base, up the sides and along its bevelled edges. And as well as a present, it also has a past. There is lots for an author to draw on. Bradford is not just the setting, it is character in its own right.

Finally, which the crime writers do you admire?

I read lots of crime novels, but I would put Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, John Harvey and Minette Walters amongst my favourites. Indeed, anyone who writes a strong and gritty novel which shows things as they are, but at the same time allows the readers to make their own judgements.

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