Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Christchurch, NZ and that influenced my writing – not so much because childhood had an influence, happy though that was, but because my first full time job was as a clerk working in the courts. It was a great career path but little did I know it would result in writing about stuff I’d stored away in the dark recesses of my mind.
When did you first start writing?
I think this was in the summer of 2009 but the decision to write occurred the previous year as a result of a dinner conversation with a good friend about crime writers we enjoyed.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is entitled Presumed Guilty. It’s just been through the final edit and is set in Christchurch although the first murder occurs in Akaroa. It begins with the main character Sasha Stace, securing the acquittal of a sleezy MP on a rape charge. Readers will remember Sasha was herself raped in Best Served Cold. But she’s disillusioned with criminal law and vows to retire. Then Ben Tyler, her former life partner who betrayed her in Trust No one, is arrested for the murder of his wife. This was the woman Sasha discovered in bed with Ben when Sasha and Ben were going through a rocky time but still ‘together’. She’s not interested in taking the case until she finds out that Quilter Fyne, a grudge holding, ambitious and deceitful lawyer is prosecuting. Sasha already has law society misconduct proceedings against Fyne who wants to win at any cost, so we can expect fireworks in and out of court. The book doesn’t stop with the end of the trial – there’s high drama and a high octane finish.
When will that be available?
It might be a little while. I’ll have another go at the traditional publishing route.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Impatience. I did what many of us do and sought publishers and agents. Seeing ‘my book’ on book shelves certainly appealed to the ego. I soon found I’d entered the publishing world at an incredibly difficult time for publishers and agents. Their world of books was, and still is, changing around them. Many have become very risk averse in taking on new writers, almost to the point where deep down, they want assurances they’ve got a ‘best seller’ on their hands. I simply decided I wanted to spend more time writing than chasing and was prepared to take on the cost of contracting a good editor and cover designer.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Plotting and dialogue. I find its ‘playtime’. It’s a bit self indulgent to entertain myself but when its going well that’s an outcome for me. I believe if I can enjoy writing in that way, I will be able to entertain others.
What are you working on next?
Number 5. I’m looking at a new police character in a police story set in Christchurch. This guy is in trouble with his own organisation having launched a major broadside at the judiciary after the courts allowed a recidivist criminal bail. The defendant subsequently killed a cop in a police chase. From there things are going to get a whole lot tougher.
Who are your favourite authors?
In the crime genre: Peter Temple, Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, P D James. There are so many great authors. I’m now reading more NZ crime authors and recognise they are as good as anyone else, particularly Neil Cross and Paul Cleave,
Who have you read recently?
Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling – The Cuckoo’s Calling. Took me a while to get into but there’s some great description and dialogue in there. I’d recommend it as a good crime read. But in 2014 I also read a few Stuart Macbride, a crime writer from Scotland who’s sense of humour I enjoy. Speaking of crime writers who make me laugh, I also read and enjoyed NZ Crime award winners (The Ngaio Marsh Award) Paul Cleave – Joe Victim (Paul never fails to make me laugh) and this years winner – Where The Dead Men Go by Liam McIlvanney.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
There is a bit of creative opportunity in my professional work as a human resource consultant. Just recently, I wrote some role-play briefs for a management selection process and performed as the difficult person to deal with. Some people say that the difficult person role comes too easy to me. Can’t think why! But there’s lots of business writing in my role and lots of working with people when I’m a facilitator of groups dealing with tough work issues.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
New authors tend to be word-of-mouth referrals from friends.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don’t know whether it was first but it was the first memorable one and that was ‘The wind in the willows’. I loved the characterisation with the animals that the author produced. Close on the heels of that would have been the famous five series.
How do you approach cover design?
Cautious optimism balanced with the sort of realism that says I wouldn’t hire a plumber to wire my house. Cover design is every bit as skilful as writing the stuff behind it. I like to guide the designer with an idea or two.
Describe your desk
Where chaos and disorder are corralled into an L shape.