What is GONE IN SECONDS about?
The main character of GONE IN SECONDS is Kate Hanson who’s profile is that of a single mother to 12 year old Maisie – so there’s a readily-availabe source of aggravation. Kate has a full time post as a lecturer in Forensic Psychology/Criminology at the University of Birmingham, which she loves, and she also has a role as a civilian member of the Unsolved Crime Unit at Birmingham’s police headquarters at Rose Road. In GONE IN SECONDS psychology and police procedure clash resoundingly at times as headstrong Kate and her Force colleagues search for a Repeater operating in the West Midlands, a killer who won’t stop until caught.
So Dr. Kate Hanson is a Forensic Psychologist like you! How much of your experiences in the field do you use in your writing?
Forensic work is extremely confidential and the nature of cases means that they can be very easily identifiable. However, my involvement in cases allows my deviant imagination to roam and produce ideas which are interesting and which I can link to my forensic expertise without jeopardizing real people in any way.
Where do you write?
Like Kate, I’d like to call it a study but in reality it’s a spare room in the house which closely resembles a hovel at the moment because I’m so busy with the second book. The desk is layered with papers, emails, notes – you name it, it’s here, although I have to admit that when I do forensic work things aren’t much different. There’s a little, round summerhouse at the end of the garden and I’ve taken my laptop down there occasionally, feeling very authorly, but the weather isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do to make that a regular thing.
Do you ever write/take notes for your novels when you’re out and about with work?
Do I ever! Wherever I am: in the supermarket, the post office queue, on an escalator I find myself listening (yes, I know: eavesdropping!) to conversations going on around me – sometimes it’s just a phrase which starts up lots of possibilities, even plot directions inside my head. At other times when I’m out and about or relaxing ideas tend to come. Thank goodness for the iPhone – I’m a big fan of its little yellow legal pad.
When you’re writing, do you prefer: a pen or the keyboard? Silence or music? Day or night?
Keyboard every time. I’m a trained typist – very fast although not always so accurate. Silence every time. And How about day and night? I think concentration is my strength which means I can work for hours at a stretch although I try to break it up a bit by dashing off to the gym.
What inspired you to start writing?
Not sure if ‘inspired’ applies. What happened was that about five years ago my husband, who’s a jazz musician, went to Helsinki for a few days and I decided that we had too many books in the house and they needed winnowing. Most of what I searched through was crime fiction. As I sorted them the thought simply arrived in my head: ‘I can do this.’ I’ll never know why or where the underlying confidence came from but soon after I started assembling a plot very similar to GONE IN SECONDS. I was frankly shocked at how quickly the characters appeared. Through the various drafts subtle changes have occurred but they’re basically the same as when I first ‘met’ them. At one stage, about two or three years ago, I was so busy with forensic work that I put the writing to one side temporarily. At the risk of sounding fanciful I could almost feel Kate and her colleagues kicking against the side of the box where they were ‘resting’, wanting to get out!
What’s next for you? Will we get to catch up with Dr Kate and her team again soon?
I’m thrilled to say ‘Yes, you will.’ The second book is almost complete. It’s underlying theme is very different from GONE IN SECONDS. If all goes well I think it will be released around July, 2013.
How did you go about finding an agent and getting published?
I made a really good investment: I bought a copy of the Writers’ Handbook. For anyone who doesnt know, it has all the agencies and publishers listed alphabetically along with details of what they do and don’t represent and how to submit work to them. I hardly knew anything at that stage, except that I needed an agent. I sent the first three chapters of GONE IN SECONDS to Darley Anderson because I liked the name. I didn’t realise that they represent some of the top crime authors writing today. Then I got lucky a second time: the chapters were read by Camilla Wray who rang me the following day to say she loved them. Camilla negotiated an amazing deal with Orion for me as a debut author. Kate Mills bought GONE IN SECONDS and the second novel and here we are. To say that I’m grateful to these two clever, young, women is such an understatement.
Do you have a favourite book?
I have a few relating to different periods of my life. As a child it was ‘Alice in Wonderland’. From the age of about seven I was reading Sherlock Holmes. I sobbed for nearly two days when he and Moriarty plunged over the Falls. Nobody told me at the time that he ‘survived’. As an adult, Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’ is up there for me, as is Ann Rule’s ‘The Stranger Beside Me’.
What are you reading now?
I’ve just finished ‘Whoops!’ by John Lanchester which is a clever, funny read about the financial mess we’re in. Crime reading has skidded to a halt. After I’d been writing for a little while I became nervous of reading other crime authors in case I ‘absorbed’ their ideas – I don’t know whether that’s a common fear. All I know is that two R. J. Ellory’s are sitting on the shelf just here, looking miffed.
What would be your top tips for aspiring writers hoping to get published?
Stick at it. If you get rejected, remind yourself that nobody asked you to write a book – you chose to – send it somewhere else. Take any advice you’re offered with a good heart. I suspect that there are lots of people who want to write but maybe they don’t believe they can, maybe because they think they’re not educated enough, smart enough, young/old enough. The one unifying characteristic of all authors is that they didn’t wait around to be invited. They decided they would do it and then they got writing.
GONE IN SECONDS, published by Orion, is out today!