Saturday, January 13, 2018

Vicky Newham – an exciting new British crime writer!

I am delighted to introduce my guest, Vicky Newham. Vicky is an exciting new British crime writer. I got to know Vicky when she was a student on one of my short creative writing courses. At the time she was also finishing her Masters in Creative Writing. Her writing is fresh and original – and downright deadly! It was no surprise to hear that her exciting debut crime novel, Turn A Blind Eye, was snapped up by HQ/HarperCollins!

Turn a Blind Eye is out on the 5th April in the UK. Do check it out, you wont regret it!

Over to Vicky ...

TURN A BLIND EYE – Tower Hamlets & the London docks

I began teaching and living in East London in 2002 and quickly became aware of how much the river and docks have affected the area over the centuries. When I researched the subject more formally ten years later for what has become my debut novel, Turn a Blind Eye, I realised that changes have occurred in cycles. Much of the plot in the novel grew out of my interest in these subjects, and it’s the same for the characters. What astonishes me is the contrast between the economic highs and lows; the way that the deprivation and poverty of Tower Hamlets juxtapose the wealth of Canary Wharf and the gentrification movement.

During Georgian and Victorian times, the London docks expanded significantly, and workers formed enclaves. Their distinctive cultures, slang and religions provided stability but also responded to change. The building on the corner of Fournier Street and Brick Lane exemplifies this phenomenon. It was originally built as a Huguenot church in the 18th century, then became a Methodist chapel, then a Jewish synagogue and is now the Brick Lane Great Mosque. Following German bombing in the Second World War, the docks were re-built and re-prospered, but lost their trade in the seventies and eighties because container ships couldn’t reach them.

Immigration in Tower Hamlets has taken place in waves too, often following world events, many of which form the backdrop for my novel. French Huguenots were the first to settle in Spitalfields. African slaves arrived for several centuries. The potato famine sent many Irish to East London. Russian Jews fled from the pogroms. After World War Two, the Windrush passenger liner dropped hundreds of West Indian men at Tilbury docks. In the 1970s, many African Asians settled in East London when Idi Amin expelled them from Uganda. In recent decades, Bangladeshis have been the largest ethnic group in East London and their association with the area dates back to when the East India Company recruited seamen from countries such as Bangladesh and China to their crews, many of whom settled in Limehouse, Stepney and Brick Lane.

In Turn a Blind Eye, my main character, DI Maya Rahman, is a Bangladeshi-born female detective in the Metropolitan Police. She came to live in the UK with her family in 1982 when she was four. When I was teaching in East London, a lot of my students were Bangladeshi. Coincidentally, I was teaching about cultural differences on the A-level Psychology curriculum, and was surrounded by cultures which were new to me. Maya’s character therefore evolved naturally from these experiences. Her sergeant in the book, DS Dan Maguire, is a fast-track officer who’s just arrived from Sydney. His character stems from my visits to Australia and my interest in penal transportation. His ancestor was deported as a political prisoner on the last convict ship to leave Britain. Effectively, it means that both characters are outsiders and have an interesting lens through which to view East London and the crimes they are tasked with investigating. In turn, the setting means that the plots in the DI Maya Rahman series stem from the socio-economics of the area, much in the same way that they do in Scandi-Noir.


Turn a Blind Eye has been optioned for TV. It is released in hardback, e-book and audio on April 5th. It is available for pre-order here: through HQ/HarperCollins.

Find out more about Vicky here:
You can follow Vicky on Twitter: @VickyNewham


Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Thank you so much for being my guest,Vicky. Turn a Blind Eye sounds fascinating and I am so looking forward to reading it. I know it will be a gripping read but I'm also looking forward to vicariously exploring the East End of London, it's such a vibrant, cosmopolitan place. Good luck with the book. I know it will get the success it deserves :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for inviting me onto the blog. I hope you enjoy meeting Maya when you read the book. I suspect that readers in many dock/port cities around the world (eg New York, Vancouver, Hamburg) will be able to relate the world of Tower Hamlets, and the crimes that arise there.

Vicki Delany said...

Sounds great! I'm delighted to have a new series to put on my must-read list.

Donis Casey said...

Looking forward to reading this, Vicky. Sounds like just my kind of book!