It’s been two months since we were last together for First Monday Crime. Christmas is now a distant memory and 2019 has kick-started with some pretty amazing books. Will Dean, Lucy Foley and Gytha Lodge were joined by William Shaw, a replacement for Christopher Fowler who was ill. Ever the professional, you wouldn’t even have noticed that William had come at the last moment. Barry Forshaw was asking the questions.
So, what are those all-important books about? Inspiration behind them and all that!
Will Dean’s latest novel is Red Snow, the sequel to Dark Pines. The story is a few months on from the first book and it’s February. The coldest time of the year in Sweden. Journalist, Tuva Moodyson, is driving in Gavrik and notices a crowd of people standing outside the liquorice factory (a very gothic-looking building). Since it’s about -20 degrees, a group of people standing still on the street is a mystery. Tuva joins them and sees a man climbing one of the two tall chimneys. Then he falls to his death. To find out what has happened, Tuva has to go into the factory to talk with the man’s family. Whilst there, another body is found… Barry asked if Will lives in a town like Gavrik. Will’s home is in a forest near a small town, similar to his fictional Gavrik. Only difference is that he has a biscuit factory in his town and every Christmas the place smells of gingerbread. (I would definitely prefer that to aniseed!)
Lucy Foley has previously written historical novels. The Hunting Party is her debut Crime book. Old university friends decide to have a party for New Year’s Eve and go to a remote hunting lodge in Scotland. They party pretty hard and then things start to go wrong. Old resentments come to the fore. And on New Year’s Day, a body is found. Although the book is set in Scotland and Lucy got the original idea for it when staying there, she actually wrote the book in 40 degree heat in Iran! Celebratory occasions are good for murder as emotions are heightened. At Christmas with family, people might regress back to their childhood roles. Or friends may have a set image of how you used to be, not realising that you’ve changed.
William Shaw’s latest novel is Salt Lane, featuring DS Alex Cupidi. She was a character in The Birdwatcher and some readers didn’t seem to like her. (Personally I love her!) So as she was a character that caused conflict, William decided to write her as his main protagonist for Salt Lane. Set in Romney Marsh – reclaimed land – the book looks at the issue of migration. Kent is quite reliant on migrant workers, especially farmers. When you make something illegal, you create criminality. This was something that William wanted to explore.
Gytha Lodge is a trained singer but her passion for writing has finally won out. She first wrote a book at 14 and even sent it to Transworld. She did get a personal note saying she wasn’t quite there yet. Thankfully she has persevered and the result is her debut novel, She Lies In Wait. The book is set in the New Forest and runs from 1983 to the present day. In 1983 a group of teens headed into the forest for a night of drinking and debauchery. One girl didn’t come back and her body is found 30 years later. The detective investigating used to be at school with the group.
Barry asked how the authors dealt with writing characters of the opposite sex and whether any of their characters were based on people they knew.
William Shaw asked a lot of women about writing a female character and the best advice he was given was to think about how women talk to other women when there are no men in the room.
Lucy Foley checked with male friends and family members to make sure she was getting the male voice correct. And she couldn’t possibly comment on whether any of her characters were based on people she knew.
Will Dean’s character, Tuva Moodyson, is a deaf, bisexual, Swedish woman who hates nature. You couldn’t get more opposite from Will. But he makes sure he’s as empathetic and accurate as he can be. He uses an accuracy reader to check the details on deafness. His character, Cici Grimberg is based on his mother and grandmother.
Gytha Lodge felt there was a little bit of herself in each of her characters.
Since I’ve already written a lot, I’m just going to look at one more of Barry’s questions – how do they get on with their editors?
For William, a book is not written by one person. He understands that editors are under pressure to produce books in a certain way for the market.
Lucy used to be an editor so knows all about this. It’s a collaborative process but at the same time there will be things that are sacrosanct in your MS that you might have to fight for.
Will has just been through book 3 with his editor. She’s very wise and gives suggestions. He may not take onboard the idea but it makes him understand that it needs to be improved in someway.
Gytha’s had lots of edits with lots of comments but that’s helped to produce new ideas.
There were some great questions from the audience but I had to put my pen down at that point after scribbling away for so long. If you’d like to come along to the next event on March 4th then reserve your seat by clicking here.
To buy or pre-order the books
Click Will Dean
Click Lucy Foley
Click William Shaw
Click Gytha Lodge
Click Barry Forshaw