Travelling to CrimeFest in the UK earlier this year gave me a brilliant opportunity to meet some of the authors whose blogs I'd been following, and who I'd only known previously through social media.
Sarah Ward is one of those authors. Gracious with her time, enthusiastic about the genre, and a huge supporter of fellow writers and bloggers, it gives me great pleasure to welcome her here to the blog this week to talk about her 2015 novel, In Bitter Chill, as well as imminent release, A Deadly Thaw.
There are multiple points of view, particularly police characters, in In Bitter Chill. What drove this decision, and was it something you set out to do on purpose?
There are multiple viewpoints but to ensure that it isn't confusing for the reader the book is structured between chapters from Rachel Jones point of view (the girl who was kidnapped and is now an adult) and the police investigation into the killing of a woman who was a teacher at the girls' school. I wanted to write about a police investigation but I also wanted the victim's voice to be heard as a functioning adult. The idea that you can overcome past experiences.
So, we both started out reading the Famous Five as kids – how did your love of crime fiction evolve from there? Were you influenced by your friends’ and family’s tastes in reading?
I've never been particularly influenced by other people's reading tastes. Like most other keen readers, it was mother who started off my love of books by reading stories to me. Then as soon as I could read, I was choosing my own books mainly from the school and local library. From the Famous Five and Secret Seven books I moved onto Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew series, then Agatha Christie and the golden age writers. In my twenties it was a mixture of British crime fiction (Ruth Rendell and PD James in particular) and the American PI books of Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller and Sara Paretsky.
What’s the attraction to Scandinavian crime thrillers all about? How does it differ to British crime from a reader’s perspective?
Henning Mankell was my first Scandinavian crime fiction love. His books were so well constructed and with such a strong sense of place, I was hooked. It made me want to explore other books in the genre and I moved onto Jo Nesbo, Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardottir. In terms of differing from British crime fiction, I find the Scandis slightly more inclined to address political issues in their crime novels and, also, the influence of landscape is very strong. I don't want to overstate the case though. There's a lot of crossover between British and Scandi crime.
Thanks for being a guest on the blog this week, Sarah - and I look forward to catching up with you again in the UK next year!
A Deadly Thaw will be published on 30 August, 2016 and is available for pre-order here:
Garry Rodgers, author of the brilliant Dying Words blog, recently wrote to me and asked "what was the tipping point for your success?"
It was good for me to take stock, have a think about the past few years, and pinpoint the actions I'd taken that had really worked. Even better, he asked authors Rachel Abbott, JF Penn, Adam Croft, Caroline Mitchell, Bob Mayer, John Gilstrap, Scott Silveri and Liliana Hart the same question, and all our responses are collated here.
It's worth a read - I found it interesting how different our experiences have been, and what techniques overlapped to give us success.
Today, I'm delighted to welcome Rebecca Bradley to the blog.
After leaving the police service after a 16 year career, Rebecca is now writing full-time from her home in Nottingham. Her blog covers interviews with authors, thoughts on writing, and behind-the-scenes information about life as a police officer - well worth a look, and the link appears below.
In the meantime, let's find out more about Rebecca and her protagonist, DI Hannah Robbins...
How important is the setting of Nottingham to the novels? Could the stories have been based anywhere else in the UK, or was the city an integral part of the plot?
I like to think that Nottingham plays its part well in the novels. I’ve had great feedback from Nottingham readers who have loved reading about the locality. I was once given some great advice when I was just starting out in the writing world and that is that location seems to be more important to the crime genre than any other writing genre and I think it’s correct. We need those dark streets and alleys for our dirty deeds. We need the feel of the architecture as it looms above us, the feeling that our surroundings evoke in us is important in crime because crime, more than anything, is about feelings and Nottingham provides all this really well. It’s a diverse city, mixing cultural and modern with old and historic.
Had you always wanted to be a writer, or is writing something you’ve explored after leaving the police?
Given your background in the police, how much research do you have to do for your novels?
With the first novel research was minimal as I set it in the world I worked in, which was sexual exploitation. The second one, Made to be Broken took a lot more work because of the way I was killing people off. So it’s not always the investigative side you have to research, it’s everything else. This was poison, which was an interesting one to use.
How do you maintain a balance between fact and fiction?
I think that considering my background, readers expect to be able to feel that authenticity so I really struggle with this. I want to provide the authenticity without hitting them over the head with it and making it read like a police manual. It’s a fine line I battle with constantly. So far I seem to have managed it…
Finally, onto more serious stuff - tea. Builders’ or milky? One lump or two?
I adore tea and can’t function without it! I like it weak, but not milky! And no sugar, thank you. I’m also partial to Betty’s Rose tea.
Thanks for dropping by Rebecca - it's been great hearing more about your writing!
To find out more about Rebecca Bradley, follow the links below:
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