A stolen painting. A gangster intent on revenge. And nothing is what it seems.
Art consultant Kate Carpenter has an off-the-books sideline in art recovery, dealing with thieves, gangsters and the occasional war criminal to reunite priceless artworks with their owners. But when she refuses a request from the owner of one missing painting, Yuri Sokolov isn’t prepared to take no for an answer.
Her knowledge has cost him millions, he wants revenge, and he isn’t planning to show any mercy. The only way that Kate can get Yuri Sokolov to keep his distance is to find out exactly what happened to his painting, but when she starts scraping away at the surface, she finds that nothing is exactly as it appears.
Don’t Blink is the first book in the Kate Carpenter series.
- Do you always take a book or e-reader wherever you go?
Usually I have a book with me, but I also have an app on my phone so I’ve always got reading matter somewhere to hand. Being stuck without anything to read is awful. I remember a family holiday to a remote part of Wales when I was a child and I forgot to take books with me. All there was in the cottage (apart from the biggest spiders I’ve ever seen) were lots of 1970s Monty Python books and so I spent a week reading those. Probably not the idea reading material for a ten year old and it would explain why I often find myself including the odd Python reference in my own books.
- Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be ‘the good one’ or ‘the bad one’?
It’s always struck me that characters called Vanessa are horrible, so I’d like to see a heroine called Vanessa to redress the balance a little. A writer friend called his protagonist’s ex-wife Vanessa and when I queried whether she was nice or not, he said she was “righteously indignant”. I’m good at that when the need arises and I’m choosing to see that as a positive for now. I’ll be having words if she turns out to be a villain!
- Where can I find you when you’re reading?
We’ve recently moved out to the countryside and are lucky enough to have a Victorian walled garden. It’s on a slope and at the top there’s a south-facing terrace. On a summer’s day, with an umbrella to give some shade, where all I can hear are birds and the wind in the trees, it’s the perfect spot to curl up with a book.
- Where can I find you when you’re not reading/writing?
We have a ridiculously big Leonberger dog who loves water and so we often take him to the beach for a paddle and a swim. I also like the beach when I’m stuck on a plot – a couple of miles in the wind and I can work out most problems. Luckily in Scotland we have some amazing beaches to walk along, even if they’re often a bit chilly.
- Can you walk past a bookshop without going inside?
Oddly for a writer, yes. I was a bookseller for years and it’s made me very picky where I shop. Fortunately when I’m in Edinburgh I’m lucky because there are some fantastic ones such as Golden Hare down in Stockbridge and the gorgeous new Toppings at the top of Leith Walk. Last year I did all my Christmas shopping there.
- What are you most proud of?
That’s a tricky one. Writing-wise, it would have to be that I get feedback from readers who really enjoy my story-telling. Reading a comment or an email from someone who liked one of my books is immensely satisfying and never fails to boost my confidence a little. As someone who stopped writing in her early teens because of the derision from my classmates when I said I wanted to be a writer, that little bit of vindication is fantastic.
- What goes through your mind when you hold your new book for the first time?
I wish I could say something romantic and inspiring but it’s more prosaic. I’m checking that the print on the cover all lines up, that the font looks okay, that the ISBN’s been used and so on. Later, maybe when I’m celebrating with a glass of wine and I’m looking at the book again, I let myself feel a little bit proud of myself.
8. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I didn’t write seriously for decades because I worried what people might think or because I felt that it wasn’t something people actually did. Remember this was before the internet where you could find a community of other young writers or reach out to the authors you admired. So my advice would be to keep writing and find your tribe, even if you have to look further for them.
- Who would you have liked to interview?
As a bookseller, I ran lots of events and interviewed many writers, famous and obscure, but I’d have loved to interview Kate Atkinson. Specifically about her Jackson Brodie novels.Technically they’re crime fiction but she brings something more to the genre by refusing to stick to formulas and I’ve always loved that.
- When and where do you prefer to write?
I’m pretty flexible really. On my desktop at my desk, on my laptop in bed or on the sofa. And I love to write in cafes – the white noise of other people’s conversation seems to be pretty motivating. As for when, I tend to do better with creative stuff in the mornings and I try to use the afternoons for admin and errands. Mind you, at the moment, life’s so out of kilter that I don’t really have a routine. Hopefully soon life will be more normal for all of us.
Thank you, Vanessa Robertson and Love Books Group
About the author
Midlander by birth, Scot by choice, Vanessa Robertson won Pitch Perfect at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. Death Will Find Me, a crime novel set in 1920s Edinburgh featuring former spy, Tessa Kilpatrick is her first novel. Later in 2019, Vanessa will be launching a series of thrillers set in the world of high stakes art crime, and the second Tessa Kilpatrick book will be published in early 2020.
Vanessa lives in a cottage in the middle of a Scottish wood with her family and unfeasibly large dog. She enjoys wild beaches, Venetian cafes and wandering around art galleries. She dislikes celery, cheap notebooks and writing about herself in the third person.