Apart from your background with the Met and CID, what triggers your imagination to write your plots?
It could be anything – someone I see on a train, a holiday, something in the media, a dream. Anything. For example the idea for The Toy Taker, my third Corrigan book, came about when I caught my eldest boy hiding his younger brother’s favourite teddy close to bedtime. He was doing it to delay going to bed, but it gave me an evil idea that I knew would resonate strongly with all parents. My fourth book [The Jackdaw] is inspired by the media coverage of the banking crisis and all the public discontent with ‘greedy bankers.’ My mind never switches off to ideas, hence I have a backlog to try and get through.
What is your writing routine?
A writing routine in basically something I dream of one day having. I’m insanely jealous of writers who get to sit in a lovely study and write all day and sometimes all night. I squeeze my writing in between looking after my three young children, wife, cats etc, so I really write whenever I get a chance – often just bursts of a few minutes here and a few minutes there – sometimes while I’m cooking dinner, sometimes walking around the house with a laptop or on a train on my way to a business meeting. You get the drift! No routine!
Are you ever surprised by your plots taking an unexpected route, or do you stick to a detailed outline?
I was with Cold Killing, because I wrote it off the cuff with no plan, so it constantly changed, which was fun, but difficult to keep up with. Now I plan them quite meticulously, an overall plan and then scene-by-scene, so if the plots going to change it changes at the planning stage, not the writing stage.
Are there any books/authors that have inspired you to write?
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, which I love. I read it as a young cop and it just felt spot on. I want to write books that stay with people as long as Red Dragon has with me.
If you were recommending your book to a friend – how would you describe it?
I’d say it was a fast paced thriller – a page-turner – but with a haunting, realistic backdrop, and challenging enough to make you think rather than just dispose of it when you’ve finished.
What would you like readers to take away from the experience of reading your novel?
A realization that there’s nothing fun or entertaining about violent death; and what a tough and undervalued job the police do – not to mention underpaid. The book’s entertainment lies in the story. The deaths are there as a wake-up call and a challenge to people who may have become anaesthetized to reality.
This blog post was originally posted on the Killer Reads blog on August 29th, 2013.