Episode 56: Writing Literary Mysteries – Interview with Tana French

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hi there Word Nerds! I’m so excited to share today’s interview with bestselling author Tana French and her process in crafting series and writing literary mysteries.

Tana French has been called “one of the most talented crime writers alive” by the Washington Post. With four bestselling, critically acclaimed, and award-winning novels in print worldwide, she excels in portraying fallible, deeply human detectives, as broken as the cases they investigate. In her new book, The Secret Place, she revisits characters from a previous book, plus she gives readers an inside look at a all-girls prep school.


 In this episode Tana and I discuss:

  • Different elements of crafting a series.
  • Using viewpoint to structure your narrative.
  • The writing and rewriting process.
  • Recurring characters.
  • Sticking to genre conventions or bucking the trends.

Plus Tana’s Tweetable Tip for writers!


More About Tana French:

Tana French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the United States, and Malawi. She was trained as an actor at Trinity College Dublin. Her previous novel, BROKEN HARBOR, won the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. French’s first novel, IN THE WOODS, won the Edgar, IVCA Clarion, Macavity, Anthony, and Barry awards, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller. Today we’ll be discussing THE SECRET PLACE, which is a powerful, haunting exploration of friendship and loyalty, and a gripping addition to Tana’s Dublin Murder Squad series.

Tana French lives in Dublin with her husband and two children.

Learn more about Tana French and her fantastic books by following her on Facebook or visiting her website www.tanafrench.com.


Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to join Dublin’s Murder Squad when sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey arrives in his office with a photo of a popular boy whose body was found at a girls’ boarding school a year earlier. The photo had been posted at “The Secret Place,” the school’s anonymous gossip board, and the caption says “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.” Stephen joins with Detective Antoinette Conway to reopen the case—beneath the watchful eye of Holly’s father, fellow detective Frank Mackey. With clues leading back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends, to their rival clique, and to the tangle of relationships that bound them all to the murdered boy, and the private underworld of teenage girls turns out to be more mysterious and more dangerous than the detectives imagined.

Link to Episode 56

(Right-click to download.)

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome.


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