Every Friday, I look forward to reading about another author on Jill’s Book Cafe’s feature. So I was delighted to take part today.
My thanks to Lynne LeGrow for some interesting and entertaining questions.
‘There’s nothing better than knowing others enjoy the story you wrote. That’s why I write.’
My thanks to Yesha for some intriguing and enjoyable questions.
‘The challenge is invariably the same with all my books – keeping it fresh and credible, which isn’t easy when your main character isn’t a police officer or private detective.’
‘The Kent Fisher murder mysteries are a long way from the cop with a trauma, which seems to be one of the current trends in crime fiction. They’re traditional murder mysteries, driven by both character and plot to entertain readers.’
If you want to find out more about why I write the Kent Fisher mysteries, you can read the guest post at Between the Lines
My thanks to Cathy at Between the Lines for letting me spread the word.
says Stefanie of The Magic of Wor(l)ds in her review of No Mercy.
‘The plot and characters are well developed and are certainly entertaining throughout as there is, among others, some great humour in this book.
Everything also sounds and feels realistic, which makes it a great whodunit in a kind of familiar, though also unique way, as I never met a sleuth like Kent before.’
says Lel Budge of The Bookwormery in her lovely review of No Mercy.
‘This is an intriguing murder mystery with a great character in Kent, his gentle humour brings a lightness to the tale. Great fun, an intriguing mystery and thoroughly entertaining.’
No Remorse is the third Kent Fisher mystery and unique in many ways.
The first two books in the series, No Accident and No Bodies were originally conceived, planned in detail and written between 2000 and 2003. They were extensively revised and rewritten for publication in 2016 and 2017 respectively, but the story and characters didn’t change.
No Remorse was the first new Kent Fisher mystery I’d written in thirteen years. It was a chance to write a new novel from scratch, utilising everything I’d learned in between. It was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.
So, what did I learn?
- I could write without a detailed synopsis or plan
I started No Remorse with a desire to show what the bad side of residential care homes might look like, and an opening line of dialogue – ‘They’re going to kill me, Mr Fisher, but they’ll never learn my secret.’
That’s it. I had no idea how the story would develop or if it would work. I had the character of Anthony Trimble, who had a secret I knew nothing about, and a luxury care home with unscrupulous owners.
To keep things fresh, Kent Fisher wasn’t at work when he visited the home. He was there with Columbo, his West Highland white terrier, as part of a Pets as Therapy scheme. When Mr Trimble dies without relatives, environmental health arranges a funeral. This brings Kent back to the words Mr Trimble uttered at the start of the novel. From here, Kent starts to follow Trimble’s life back into the past to unearth a terrible secret and expose his killer.
With no synopsis, the story was written chapter by chapter, each one prompting the events and actions of the next. As a result I kept the chapters short, which really improved the pace of the novel.
It turned out to be the most exhilarating journey of my writing career.
- How private investigators track down people
After Trimble’s death I had the problem of looking into his past, what he did and so on. Tracking someone down is a basic private detective function, but I didn’t know where to start.
Google came to the rescue and the answer really was quite obvious. If you know where someone lives, talk to the neighbours. If you know what someone did for a living, talk to colleagues.
People may not realise how well-connected environmental health officers are. They visit many businesses and have information on them all. Once Trimble was located in the department’s database, Kent was on his way, opening up one can of worms after another. He traced former homes and businesses, spoke to the local rector and asked around in the pub – like a good detective.
- The value of the right editor
I changed editor for No Remorse, based on the recommendation of a fellow crime author. Through only the medium of emails, we hit it off right away. I felt confident she would provide good service and value, which she did.
Her insights and understanding allowed me to make small, but significant changes to improve the story. As all my novels have a strong backstory with familiar characters, the main murder plot can be pushed into the background from time to time. My editor suggested Kent could still be thinking about the murders while doing other things to make sure the murder investigation remained at the forefront.
- How to surprise readers (and my editor)
I wish I could reveal the surprise that stunned many readers, but that would spoil the story for those who want to read it. My editor didn’t see it coming, as she put it, and loved the surprise. Many readers told me how they were surprised, shocked and stunned, but they loved the moment and thought it was one the best parts of the story.
Writing the story a chapter at a time, I knew little about the surprise until just before it happened. I had to go back and do some rewriting as a result, but it was worth it.
- How to write the novel I always wanted to write
No Remorse is the murder mystery novel I always wanted to write. It has elements of Agatha Christie with its cryptic codes and messages, and Kinsey Millhone, my favourite fictional private eye.
All these elements came to me as I wrote. I thought I’d be sitting there, wondering what to write next. Far from it. The ideas kept coming and at the end of every chapter, I lobbed in a complication, determined to make Kent Fisher’s investigation as difficult as it could be, and then some.
This is the way I now write the Kent Fisher novels, starting with minimal information and ideas. I discover what happens pretty much at the same time as Kent (or while I’m shaving) and go with it. Sometimes I have to backtrack a little and revise, but mainly it’s spontaneous until I start to solve the mystery.
If you’d like to find out more about the series and never miss a book release, why not sign up to my Readers Group.
Many thanks to Camilla at Meet the Author for featuring me on her fascinating blog.
Click here to check out the interview and read about some of the other authors featured.
Many thanks to Chelle for this interview on her terrific blog, Curled Up With a Good Book. She asked some terrific questions that forced me to think long and hard and delve deep into the past.
1st October 2019. 4 stars.
Another enjoyable book in the Sloane Monroe series finds her at a school reunion, where Doug Ward is brutally murdered. Determined to find out why, Sloane has to go back into the past to find who would want to kill him. As she stirs up old resentments, there are more murders and threats on her life.
Sloane is a resourceful and tenacious private detective with a direct approach that gets results, even if it ruffles a few feathers along the way. She cares about the people she represents and often puts herself in danger – though she’s helped by Giovanni, a mysterious gangster type with a soft spot for her. His help and protection mitigated most of the danger she faced and allowed her to get results with less effort than normal, which rather took the edge off the story for me.
But like the previous two books, which should be read first to get the most out of this one, the writing is smooth and confident, with a good pace, leading to an exciting climax, even though it was fairly straightforward to identify the killer and motive.
If you enjoy character driven murder mysteries by authors like Sue Grafton, the Sloane Monroe series should appeal to you.
Doug Ward has been running from his past for twenty years.
But after his fourth whisky of the night, his steely resolve has started to crack, and he doesn’t want to keep quiet — not anymore.
When blood is found on the deck where Doug was last seen, private investigator Sloane Monroe goes in search of the truth and uncovers the biggest secret of them all.