Well, for Crime Reading Month, First Monday Crime really pulled it out of the bag with the panel – Peter James, Sharon Bolton, Chris Morgan Jones and Mark Hardie.
Peter James has just released his 12th Roy Grace book called Love You Dead. Peter talked about how he finds inspiration in real life crimes. He’d wanted to write about a Black Widow for a while, and after meeting a real life one in a prison where he was teaching, he had his idea for his femme fatale. Added to that are venomous reptiles (he explained the difference between poisonous (ingested) and venomous (bite)) and he had the idea for his plot.
The Searcher is Chris Morgan Jones third book. The first two were about Ben Webster who is part of an investigative agency. This book though focuses on Isaac Hammer, Ben’s boss. When police raid Hammer’s offices and accuse him of hacking, he has to use his own skills to discover who is really responsible. His journey takes him to Georgia to discover the truth.
Sharon Bolton, author of the DC Lacey Flint series, has written a standalone for her new book. Daisy In Chains looks at the real life phenomenon of women who fall in love with serial killers. Her initial inspiration came from Myra Hindley and Sonia Sutcliffe. Hamish Wolfe, a surgeon, good looking, has a legion of female fans who regularly send him letters in prison. The fact that he’s a serial killer doesn’t appear to put them off.
Mark Hardie is a debut author who hasn’t let disability get in the way of writing. Mark lost his sight 14 years ago and has worked hard to be able to get to this position and is about to release his debut – Burned and Broken. DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell have to tread carefully as they investigate the death of a fellow officer. Especially as the dead officer was under internal investigation.
James Kidd, from The Independent, was asking the questions and one he asked was – is there a line you won’t cross?
Mark Hardie felt that gratuitous scenes should only be there for a good reason. He has disturbing scenes in his book but there are always distressing real life scenes.
For Sharon Bolton, the line doesn’t worry her. The world is already a scary place and is natural to our human condition. We’ve been pouring our fears into scary stories for centuries and these allow us to come to terms with what terrifies us. Stories offer us resolutions that we might not get in real life.
Peter James suggested that William Shakespeare is the greatest crime writer of all time because he examined the human condition and laid it bare – just as crime genre does today. There’s nothing that Peter’s written that hasn’t happened worse in real life.
Chris Morgan Jones suggested that a writer has a responsibility to fully imagine what is happening, no matter how horrific, before writing it.
A question from the audience was do you plan or allow your stories to develop?
It’s like a journey for Chris Morgan Jones. He knows his ultimate destination and roughly how he’s going to get there but circumstances change and throw him off course. So he starts with an initial plan but may end up with a very different book.
Sharon Bolton agreed but as crime stories often have complex plots, she likes to have a detailed plan. But this could vary with each book.
I loved Mark Hardie’s honesty – he has no idea where he’s heading! He starts with characters and set pieces and takes it from there.
Peter James does plot to a certain extent. He starts with a theme, characters and has an ending in mind. He normally has the first 20% planned out. But he loves it when something pops out and if you don’t surprise yourself, you won’t surprise your readers.
Once again, I have written far too many notes to put into this post but I’ll leave you with the final question from the audience – do you feel pressure to do better with each book?
Peter James – Yes! (There was a swear word preceding that!) He tries to raise the bar with each book but still has a panic moment part way through.
Chris Morgan Jones wouldn’t want to keep writing the same book over and over again so he would look to change things, even though certain elements would still be needed.
Sharon Bolton is very aware that you’re only as good as your last book! And like Chris, you can’t keep writing the same book over and over again.
Mark Hardie’s book hasn’t yet been published so he’s wondering if he can write at all!
First Monday Crime will be back on the 4th July with Andrew Taylor, Stephen Booth, Anna Mazzola and Beth Lewis. Tickets can be bought for £5 from http://www.goldsborobooks.com
If you want to follow any of the writers on Twitter then
Peter James – @peterjamesuk
Chris Morgan Jones – @ChrisMJAuthor
Sharon Bolton – @AuthorSJBolton
Mark Hardie – @Markhardiecrime
First Monday Crime – @1stMondayCrime