An interview with…Mez Packer

MEZ PACKER is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Among Thieves, as well as a senior lecturer of interactive media at Coventry University.

She has had an eclectic career, first working as a web designer, then working at the BBC as a broadcast journalist and content producer, before leaving to become a university lecturer and pursue her passion as a writer.

“I’d always wanted to write!” Mez enthused as I caught up with her before the creative writing course she teaches at Coventry University. “But it wasn’t until I became a journalist actually that I realised I had the discipline to sit down for eight hours every day and work at it. I was a journalist for about five or six years and I had to produce lots of features to order. I had a brief and I had to research and produce these features, and I realised that I could easily do that. Then as for my creative aspirations, I realised I actually had the ability to do it and the discipline to do it, so that’s what made me want to do it basically.

“Among Thieves is a pretty gritty novel! There’s lots of violence and drugs and criminality. But actually it was a response to certain things I witnessed in the 1980’s which were also in response to the thatcherite politics at the time. So I was part of a group of quite alternative people. Some of them were anarchists, some of them were politicised in other ways, others were quite criminal, all of them were radical, and now looking back on that I’m interested in how I feel about it as a fine upstanding member of society and how that panned out for all of us basically.”

Mez’s novel Among Thieves was released last year to rave reviews. “I’ve read all my reviews for this first novel, everything that I could possibly find! I’ve only had good ones so far, it’s been really brilliant!” She laughs. “God knows what it’s going to feel like when I get some crap ones. I think people are quite generous to first time novelists, so they’re not likely to slag me off at this juncture! Its only when you become established and expectations are raised that people really start criticising you! So I probably wont read as many reviews as my career goes on. If my career goes on!”

Finally, when I asked Mez if she had any advice for any budding novelists, she had some concise but valuable suggestions; “Sit down every day and write and read as much as you can. And get a comfy chair!”

Mez Packers first novel Among Thieves is available from all good book sellers, RRP £7.99.

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