Good morning lovelies. I hope you’ve all got something nice planned for the weekend (as much as you can!). Today I’m delighted to have the lovely Betsy Baskerville talking to us on Meet the Author. We’re discussing how UFC inspired one of her characters, yoga, being a ninja by night, naughty Welsh Terriers and her most recent book, Rock, Paper, Scissors….
Mystery and Thriller
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Hi there! I describe myself as an author by day and ninja by night due to my lifelong obsession with taekwon-do. When I’m not writing, you can usually find me kicking something or someone. I live near the coast in the spectacular north-east of England with my partner, Rob, and our highly energetic and extremely naughty Welsh terrier.
What inspired you to start writing and where do you get your ideas?
I’ve always written bits and pieces but rarely got around to finishing anything. Here’s where it gets a bit random… Ronda Rousey had been the dominant force in the UFC for years – she was unbeatable. Then Holly Holm came along and shocked the world. The following morning, boosted by Holm’s performance, I went for a run and that’s when the character of Athena Fox came to me. A female fighter with a healthy dose of Geordie spirit.
Inspiration comes from my local area. All of my books are set in the north-east and many of the places my characters go are places I enjoy walking or eating. I also listen to a lot of true crime podcasts, thought I’ve had to stop listening to them while I walk the dog alone at night as they have me constantly looking over my shoulder.
How many books have you written and published?
Three so far, with number four on the way and number five in the research and outlining stage. My first book, The Only Weapon In The Room, follows professional fighter, Athena Fox, as she tries to solve the mystery of her sister’s suicide.
Cut The Deck and Rock, Paper, Scissors are the first two books in my DCI Cooper series. Erica Cooper is a single-mother and cancer-survivor with a good-for-nothing ex boyfriend and, oh yeah, she has a serial killer to catch!
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
What a great question! I bet a few of my friends would choose Kris from The Only Weapon (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink), but I feel like Athena and I would have great time stuck on an island. We’d probably find a buried crate of pirate rum and spend our days honing our martial arts skills and our nights getting tipsy. However, if I actually want to escape the island then I have no choice but to choose Tina Cooper, Erica’s brilliant daughter. Tina would be able to create a raft out of coconuts and abandoned fishing nets and she probably taught herself how to navigate using the stars when she was five.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Weirdly, I wanted to be a pathologist. I found shows such as Silent Witness fascinating. I aced science subjects at GCSE but quickly realised the same wasn’t going to happen at A-level so I had to rethink that career option. Now that I write, I can still dive into that world and have just finished reading a book about autopsies for authors. I look forward to adding more realism to my morgue scenes.
Other than writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
My partner and I are doing a yoga workout every day of lockdown and it’s quickly becoming addictive. We’re also crossword nerds and big fans of watching UFC, which now I say it, is probably a really random combination. I also love reading a good book with a cup of tea, drawing and watching old episodes of Friends.
Name one book you think everyone should read and tell us why?
It’s probably been said a hundred times, but Stephen King’s On Writing is a must if you are an author or wish to be one.
If you were given a boat, what would you name it and why?
The book I’m currently outlining is actually set on a yacht. It’s a bit of a closed room mystery, only the closed room is floating about the Ionian Sea. The yacht in the book is named Bacchus after the Roman god of wine, which I think would be a great choice were it not for the fact Bacchus was taken by pirates as a child. So given that, I’ll name my boat ‘The Naughty Welshie’ after my dog. At least she’d warn us if pirates were approaching!
If you could travel anywhere (world/universe etc!) where would you go and why?
We’re under lockdown at the moment due to Covid-19, so frankly, I’d be happy to go further than the local supermarket. To make matters worse, I’m editing the third book in the DCI Cooper series and my characters keep going to all my favourite restaurants and are mulling over the case whilst walking along our lovely beaches. I’m jealous.
There are a lot of places I’d love to visit once the travel restrictions are lifted, with the first on my list being Joshua Tree National Park in California. We were supposed to go this month but the trip was called off. I’m looking forward to long hikes in the sunshine and barbecues under the stars with a glass or two of a crisp Californian white.
What is your favourite time to write, and why?
I teach three taekwon-do classes on a Wednesday evening and one thing I love to do between classes is pop into a local cafe, order something very chocolatey and sit and write. I may only have an hour but it’s usually a very focused hour where I can zone out of one activity, dive into a different world and refuel all at the same time.
Your main characters, Athena Fox and Erica Cooper are very different to each other. Was that deliberate?
Athena was a lot of fun to write, but at the same time she wasn’t very relatable. There are probably less than one hundred women in the world doing what Athena does for a living. She’s also so good at what she does, that she’s almost super-human. Add to that, she’s rich and sort of famous. It was important to me that Erica be more relatable with real-world problems and while she isn’t based on my mum, they are both breast cancer survivors so I can always pick my mum’s brain when it comes to Erica’s medical history. Athena could say what she wanted, when she wanted without much pause for the consequences. Erica has to bite her tongue, be more diplomatic and hide her feelings a lot of the time.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
Rock, Paper, Scissors is the second book in the DCI Cooper series.
When nineteen-year-old Macey Gallagher goes missing after a night out in Newcastle upon Tyne, DCI Cooper feels as if she is the only one worried about her. During her investigation she unearths a disturbing pattern. Macey isn’t the only young woman to go missing in the city. Then a horrifying assault lands on Cooper’s desk.
As Omar Ali slipped into a coma he only had the strength to utter two words to Cooper: Bad dog.
A hate crime with horrific injuries and little evidence to go on. Who was the bad dog and why did they target Omar? Cooper must work quickly. She doesn’t know who the attacker is, but he knows her. And he is watching.
final words from chelle…
Thank you Betsy for coming over on to my blog. I love this interview! My Husband would be well impressed that one of the characters is inspired by UFC (he loves it – I’ve watched it a few times but it’s a bit brutal for me!).I LOVE that your a ninja by night! Naming your boat after your dog is definitely something I would do ‘The Naughty Welshie’ is a great name! And finally I’m with you, I’m looking forward to being able to do some lovely simple things once some form of reality has returned!
If you have any questions/comments for Betsy, then either drop them in the comments or contact her on one of the links above.
Have a wonderful Saturday all!