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Tuesday 20 September 2016

Next in the hot seat: Trish McCormack

Kia ora,
Please welcome our latest victim guest, Trish McCormack. On the metal plate suspended above that puddle by wires is a chocolate fish. Behave and the delicious pink marshmallow fish covered in chocolate won’t end up a goopy mess on the floor.
In the event of an earthquake/zombie plague/or random occupation - you’ll find emergency procedures taped to the bottom of your seat. Yes, just like a flotation device. You’ll also find a Glock 17 with a full magazine.
Remember you cannot reason with zombies and it’s a head shot every time.  


1. What’s your favorite type of takeaway? (Yes, that means take-out in NZ speak)
Fish n chips

2. Describe your current mental status.
Changes by the minute - but laughing right now.

3. I know how I do what I do … but how do you do what you do?
Oh yes got it - hmm usually at the last minute - I need to be staring at the end of a deadline to achieve anything.

4. Could you tell us a little bit about your latest work?
My third Philippa Barnes mystery, Cold Hard Murder grew out of my experience of being a national park worker in Punakaiki during the heyday of cave exploration. Our boss took us out looking for caves when we were supposed to be working. I remember being shoved into a cave (feeling like a canary in a coal mine) I was the smallest of the team and could theoretically wriggle where no one else could go. The experience has given me lasting claustrophobia but I put this to good use when I imagined a killer somewhere close behind me in a twisty limestone labyrinth. And turned the scenario into a novel.

5. Do you have a favorite coffee or tea?
Flat white coffee - at least double shot. 

 6. Walk us through a typical day. (Do you make sure you’re wearing your lucky underpants before you sit down to write, perhaps you prefer commando? While we’re discussing your underpants, boxers, briefs, or budgie smugglers. Inquiring minds want to know. Yes, that includes my Admins… we don’t piss off the Admins.)

Struggle out of bed taking great care not to disturb Miss Lizzie our beautiful cat, mainline first coffee of the day, walk to work, try to find something funny there (spoiled for choice usually), walk home, dinner and RED WINE TIME, read a great crime novel (last night it was Frances Brody's Died in the Wool which I thoroughly recommend), write (when approaching aforesaid deadline), go to bed when summoned by Miss L. Oh and underpants? Let's just
say: unglamourous.

7. Tell us about your main character. (How did you first meet? Would you like to hang out with him/her? What delights you the most about writing him/her? You get the idea …)

Philippa sidled into by consciousness years before I started writing about her. She was the encouraging voice in my head when I did things I shouldn't - career-limiting bridge-burning things - and you know what? I regret (almost) none of them. But she had better things to do than watch me mismanage my life.  She was young, gutsy, full of energy - and coping with tragedy and responsibility that were not of her own making. She was also eternally curious, kind, indiscreet (not the best trait for a sleuth) and self-deprecating.  

When she appeared in my first book some readers didn't like her anger and this surprised me as given what she was coping with I didn't think she was angry enough! Others loved her for her sparky personality. I must say I liked this feedback more! Then there were a couple of readers who contacted me to tell me she was drinking too much. She probably still is … Three books later and maybe she has mellowed a bit, but the edge is still there. She's fascinated by people and their secrets and always willing to try and solve mysteries no one else wants to touch. 

She lives my dream. When I'm writing her stories in her wonderful NZ glacier and national park world I feel like I'm there too - miles away from city, work and boring reality. 

8. Who are your favorite writers?
So so many but top of my list right now are Louise Penny, Val McDermid, Frances Brody, Charles Todd, Elly Griffiths, Cat Connor, Tina Clough, Sharon Bolton, Kate Saunders, Deborah Crombie, William Brodrick, Ann Cleeves.

Favourite past inspirations which remain perennial - PD James, Agatha Christie, Dana Stabenow, Josephine Tey, Kate Atkinson, Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, Reginald Hill, Elizabeth George, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers.

9. Who inspires you to do better?
Reading great crime fiction by other writers. And wanting to help put New Zealand on the world map as the place for the perfect crime.

10. Do you ever put pants on your dog, cat, or budgie?
I wouldn't dare try and dress Miss Lizzie! But back in the day my sister and I did dress up our dog and cat.

11. Describe your perfect day.
A good hill walk - Makara on the Wellington coast is a great favourite - followed by a swim in the sea, then an evening of red wine, good food and a great book - with Miss Lizzie in close attendance for latter part of programme

12. Who is your favorite fictitious villain? Or are you all about the hero? Who do you love to hate?
Two spring immediately to mind - Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca -and Kate Atkinson's Gloria from One Good Turn. They are truly inspirational! They could be villains or heroes - like the best people I know in the real world!

13. Do you have any quirks?

14. All-time favorite movie and why?
Gone with the Wind because I love Scarlett O'Hara - what a role model!

15. Do you enjoy the editing process?
Not much - but when I see my MS improving it is a good feeling. I hate it when you work and work and NOTHING seems to be changing and the words are lying on the page like lumps of mud.

16. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
That changes - but this year I'd live six months at Awaroa in Abel Tasman National Park followed by six months in that wonderful book town Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh border.

17. Favorite Pizza topping?
Cheese. No contest

18. What were you before you became a writer?
A stroppy teenager trying to avoid work or anything else that looked like commitment.

19. What is the most random thing you have ever done?
Lying in a discarded coffin (left aboveground for no apparent reason) in an old goldfields cemetery watching the stars. Then getting married in the same cemetery. Divorce followed …

20.  If you’re not working, what are you most likely doing?

21. Who is your ultimate character?
This changes from year to year so I can't just pick one. My rogues line up would be: George from the Famous Five, Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon, Harriet Vane, Miss Marple, Jane Tennison, Anna Pigeon, Inspectors Gamache, Dalgliesh, Wexford and Dalziel, Jackson Brodie, Deborah Knott, Hamish Macbeth, Barbara Havers and  … where to stop!

22. Whiskey or Bourbon? Red or white wine? Tequila? Beer?
Red wine. Every time.

23. What’s in your pockets? (Or handbag, whatever you carry your stuff in. Are you apocalypse prepared?)
Books, random handwritten notes, coffee money, socks, t-shirt and shorts, iPhone tuned to audiobook (I hate people ringing me and dragging me back to the real world). So no - not really prepared for the apocalypse.

24. Laptop, PC, Mac, tablet?

25. Ebook or tree book?
Tree book - we recently bought a new house as we'd run out of room for all our books in our old one.

26. Favorite apocalyptic scenario?
Leaving the ruined city and going back to my roots in the heart of the country with a host of pets, my old weaving loom and a good garden. Our books will have survived so there'll be endless escapism into other worlds. And lots of good places to go walking. not to mention sea to swim in nearby.

27. Where do you do most of your writing?
At the dining table.

28. What’s the hardest thing for you when it comes to being an author? 
Marketing - the "how-to" advice makes me lose the will to live. 

You made it!! Damn, you rock. Now would you like to try for the chocolate fish? Mind the puddles … but hurry. Power surges are common in the dungeon; you don’t want to have one hand on the metal plate containing that delicious chocolate fish and a foot in a puddle...
That laughter you hear is coming from The Knight, he probably won’t flip that switch he has his hand on. Probably …

You can find out more about Trish McCormack in the following places ...

Trish's books are available in or shop and via the website


  1. Good to see you survived your turn in the hot seat, Trish!

  2. this was fun! I really encourage other writers to give this a go. Cat and Caro are stars! we are so lucky to have them and their wonderful bookshop.

    1. Agreed! They are stars! Get on board guys. Let's show the world what Kiwi authors really have to offer. No shrinking violets are we!