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Head of Zeus
Queen of Urban Crime Heather Burnside on The Work Girls Series

It is strange to think how The Working Girls series came about considering that, after writing two gritty crime trilogies, I had no intentions of writing another series. Instead, I wanted to focus on standalone novels in the same genre, starting with The Mark.

The idea for The Mark stemmed from a scene in a nineties detective series in which a female DI was gathering information from a group of working girls in a seedy pub. Her smart suit, subtle makeup and refined speech seemed incongruous in the surroundings, and I remember thinking that she was leaving herself open to all kinds of risks from some of the dubious customers. 

That thought fired my author imagination and the DI became my journalist, Maddy, who goes to the pub to interview a group of working girls for an exposé about their lives. She catches the attention of their ruthless pimp, Gilly, who follows her home and decides to use her to his own advantage.

In conducting research for the book, I read a number of autobiographies from former sex workers and watched documentaries about their lives. One particular documentary captured my interest. It followed a group of women who worked a red-light district in Leeds. 

The girls were quite candid about their lives. Many of them had been through similar experiences to each other such as coming from broken homes, spending time in care, drug abuse, addict parents etc. However, what struck me was that each of them had a distinct personality and that gave me the idea to develop The Mark into a series with each subsequent novel featuring a different girl.

As the series progressed, I carried out further research by visiting charities in the centre of Manchester. I wouldn’t say that any of the girls in my books resembles those in the TV documentary but I’m sure I’ve drawn on their characteristics. I have also used scenarios that came to light during my research. 

I’m happy to say that the series is now complete with the publication of Sapphire in eBook in January and paperback this month. It has been very well received and I’m so glad I went with my instinct to build on my idea for that first book, The Mark. 

Despite the success of the series, however, I’m really looking forward to writing standalone novels and I have four on the way. The first is entitled Guilt and is actually a spin off from The Working Girls series. It features Laura from, book three, Crystal, and her daughter, Candice, who is now an adult.

In Guilt it is almost ten years since Laura worked the beat. She has put her past behind her and successfully runs a string of high-end fashion boutiques while Candice is studying for a business degree. Unfortunately, despite Laura’s efforts to turn her life around, her past comes back to bite both her and Candice in the most devastating way imaginable. 

Guilt will be published in digital, audio and paperback formats on 4th August, but it’s already available for pre-order through Amazon.


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