Lynda La Plante: this much I know

The crime writer, 69, on smoking, flying, and the joy of children

Women love the puzzle of crime. The genre format allows you to step away from the raw emotion and say: "Mmm, I think the woman in the raincoat did it." I think women are very good at puzzles and enjoy piecing it together.

My big mantra for aspiring crime writers is: go to source. Go to prisons, go to the police. Sometimes when I watch crime shows I'm amazed they haven't got to the truth because it's usually so much more interesting than fiction.

We have an incredible police force. Obviously there's a bad apple here and there, but in reality I've never found a police officer who didn't have my admiration.

Victims of crime aren't cared for enough. During her imprisonment, Myra Hindley was entitled to psychiatric help. She took a degree, wrote poetry, had Lord Longford running

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