I’m Celebrating Black History Month by asking @nadinematheson Author of #TheJigsawMan, some questions.

I’m absolutely honoured that Nadine Matheson agreed to answer some of my questions, as an Ally it means so much.

I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of The Jigsaw Man come from?

I always wanted to be a lawyer or a journalist when I was younger. I think the truth is that when I was a kid, I didn’t know that being a writer could be ‘job.’ I don’t remember any of my teachers or careers advisor presenting ‘writer’ as an option. Firstly, I’m a Solicitor who specialises in Criminal Law but I’ve never worked on any serial killer cases, however, there was a case in 2009 (My firm didn’t act on the case) where the victim was dismembered and parts of his body were scattered around Hertfordshire. They called the victim ‘The Jigsaw Man’ and that case always stuck with me. Secondly, I grew up in Deptford, South-East London, next to the River Thames, and I always thought how I would react if I was just walking along the riverbank and found a body part.  It was the combination of ‘The Jigsaw Man’ case and growing up by the river that inspired me to write my novel.

The lead Character in The Jigsaw Man, Detective Inspector Angelica Henley, is a brilliant portrayal of a strong Black Woman, in the Met Police, how much of yourself is in her character? And did you speak with any Black female Detectives in your research?

None of us are perfect but thankfully I don’t share Henley’s personal and professional issues but there are some similarities. We were both born and raised in South-East London to a Grenadian family, our footwear of choice is Adidas Gazelle and we’re both resilient. Henley is also quite spontaneous and there’s a fearlessness in some of the decisions that she makes and I’m a bit like that.  I didn’t speak specifically to any Black Female detectives, but because of my job, I’ve met quite a few, female Detectives of Colour and I think we have similar personal stories of women of colours navigating a career that is predominately white and male.”

The Jigsaw Man is set in London, and you grew up in Deptford, why did you set the novel there and do you have a favourite secret place in London?

I grew up in Deptford and I love Crime fiction, but I always felt that the area where I lived wasn’t represented in the crime novels. I wanted to see South-East London, and especially my London, on the page. I called ‘The Jigsaw Man’ my macabre love letter to South-East London and I’ve loved when readers have contacted me because they recognise or even live in the locations that are mentioned in the book. I do have a favourite place, but I don’t think that it’s a secret anymore; One Tree Hill in Greenwich Park. It has the best view of London

View from One Tree Hill, Greenwich Park, UK

There are some pretty gory scenes in The Jigsaw Man (months after reading I still cannot eat sausages!), where on earth did those come from your mind or real life?

I don’t think that sausage reference was that bad!! None of those scenes were (thank God) the result of any real-life experiences but some of those scenes were inspired by very random things. For example, the scene where we first see Henley examining a body part on the river bank, came to me when I was in my kitchen jointing a raw chicken. I think that I’m inspired by the thought of disturbing the normality and almost banality of life by inserting a moment of chaos. I think that it can be more disturbing to compare a moment of brutality against an image of uncontroversial normality i.e. sausages.

If The Jigsaw Man is turned into a Movie or TV Adaptation, who would you like to play Angelica?

I like the idea of Naomie Harris, Jodie Turner Hall or Lashana Lynch.

As a child growing up, were you an avid reader? Do you have a favourite childhood book?

I’ve always loved books and I would read everything and anything. The library or being in a bookshop was my happy place. My favourite books were ‘Wind in the Willows’, ‘Wizard of Oz’ and ‘The Children of Cherry Tree Farm.

Your daytime job as a Criminal Solicitor, must be very rewarding, does it also give you inspiration for more books?

Definitely. It’s not one specific case that has inspired but it might be certain character traits of my clients that have sparked an idea or a scene. I’ve always loved the fact that every client that I’ve represented has their own story and their motivations and I try to remember that when I create my own characters.  My job is rewarding when I’ve got the right result for my client and sometimes that may not necessarily be an acquittal. It may be that their conviction has allowed them to engage in a rehabilitation programme or for them to have their mental health issues finally addressed instead of being lost in the prison system.

What is your favourite book you’ve read this year and why?

I have two. Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby and Do No Harm by Jack Jordan.

Do you have a favourite Author or favourite book of all time?

I can’t pin it down to just one author or book! But American Tabloid by James Ellory,  The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold’ by John Le Carré are in my Top 10.

What were the challenges you faced growing up in Deptford? And did you have a role model?

I have very supportive parents and they raised me with a strong sense of self and awareness of the world, therefore I don’t think that I had any real challenges growing up.  I didn’t grow up in a bubble I was very aware of the realities of the world and how certain people would make assumptions about me because I was a Black girl from a working-class, Grenadian family from South-East London.  My family were my best role models.”

If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?

I’m always intrigued by the idea of corruption and also denial which means that I am obsessed with the  Watergate Scandal. I would have loved to have been there when that story was breaking.” 

You can pick 4 famous people, dead or alive, for a dinner party, who would you pick and why?

Oprah Winfrey, Prince, Michelle Obama and Michaela Coel. They are all brilliant, inspiring and unapologetic about who they are and have met every challenge that’s come their way.

When you are writing do like silence or do you listen to music?

I need noise when I’m writing. I’ll listen to music, podcasts, non-fiction audiobooks or just the plain old radio. Silence is painful!”

Finally, What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I have two. ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’  and ‘Don’t waste your energy worrying. Put that energy into something else.’

WOW! What a fantastic set of Answer’s, thank you once again Nadine for taking the time to do this.

To buy The Jigsaw Man click HERE

You can follow Nadine on Twitter @nadinematheson Facebook and Instagram Nadines Official Website is HERE