Tina Baker is an author from Coalville, who moved to London during the 80s to pursue a successful career in journalism and broadcasting.
Our editor, Louise Steel, sat down with Tina to discuss her latest novel ‘Nasty Little Cuts’, as well as how her career and working class roots have helped to shape her stories.
With two novels now under her belt, Tina Baker has come a long way since her early years.
The daughter of a window cleaner and a fairground traveller, she was born into a working class family,
where her writing aspirations were stifled and written off as ‘unrealistic’.
Tina grew up in a caravan in the small mining town of Coalville, Leicestershire, and spent her time at the local library, reading books which
were ‘way beyond her years’.
“We couldn’t afford books, so it was a lifeline really. I used to haunt the place!”
However, after studying English at Sheffield University, Tina moved to
London to do a post graduate degree in journalism. She went on to have
a successful career as a journalist
and broadcaster, before becoming a familiar face on TV as a critic for the BBC and ITV’s GMTV.
But her dream was always to become a published author, something she
achieved last year, with the release of her debut novel ‘Call Me Mummy’.
Her latest book, ‘Nasty Little Cuts’ was released at the end of February. However, Tina
still has to ‘pinch herself ’ when she sees copies of her work stocked on supermarket shelves.
“I’m from a traveller community, so I’d literally never met a writer from that background,” she revealed.
“Where I came from, it’s like, that’s not what you do. I was the first one to go to university, and my mum had
very little schooling because they moved around all the time. My grandad couldn’t even write his name,” she revealed.
“I remember my Dad, who was a window cleaner, saying ‘don’t do English at university, what are you going to do with that? Growing up, it was all about getting a ‘proper job’. But he had no idea that you could make your living being a writer,” she added.
Although she now works as a fitness instructor, Tina made a career out of writing for over three decades.
Her latest novel is described as a dark ‘domestic noir’, and the theme of ‘class’ is something which is explored throughout. It tells the story of a married couple, one from a working class background, and one who was born into the middle class.
In Tina’s words “their relationship has gone horribly wrong”, and the story centres on a “fight to the death” between the two characters just before Christmas.
“The woman, ‘Debs’, is working class, she’s a fitness instructor from the Midlands. She’s basically me!” Tina told Pukaar. “She marries a middle class bloke and they both have this idea of what the other person is because they’ve never really met anybody like that. And when I came to London, all my relationships were like that,” she revealed.
“So the book explores those relationships – the misunderstandings, the clashes and all those ‘nasty little cuts,’ which can build up, and even explode into a situation where it’s ‘life and death’.
Tina lives in London with her third husband, Geoff, as well as her four cats. Although she has been in violent and abusive relationships in the past, she regards her current one as ‘healthy and happy’ – one where she can
relax and enjoy lighthearted antics, which she often shares on TikTok.
“To celebrate the launch of ‘Nasty Little Cuts’, the fun- loving author even turned up at her local Waterstones in a wedding dress – all in the name of promotion.
At the age of 63, Tina admits that realising her dream of becoming an author is something which she came to quite late. But she is certainly savouring the experience now.
The death of her beloved Dad, Pete in 2013, sparked a desire to take immediate action, so she embarked on a Creative Writing course at London’s City University, achieving an MA.
“When my Dad died, it really made me reassess things and I think if he hadn’t have died, I wouldn’t have took the chance,” she said. “It made me think, ‘if not now, when’? I’ve got to give myself permission to go for it and achieve my dream. I was lucky. I sent off my work and managed to get a publishing deal pretty quickly.
“Writing is such a cathartic experience for me and both of my books are very close to my heart,” she added.
“I don’t have children, so to me they’re my ‘book babies’ and I’m proud to see them out in the world. It really is the best feeling.
“To be able to hold your book in your hands and
to see it out in shops, is quite surreal. I still get a certain amount of ‘imposter syndrome’, I must admit, but it just goes to show that no matter what your background, or where you start out, dreams really do come true.”
By Louise Steel