Why do you write?
I suppose because it’s a fairly safe form of addiction. It’s certainly cheaper than most other options. Being a crime writer, I think it’s partly the chance to solve a puzzle of your own setting using the structure and expectations of the genre, but for me, it’s also a chance to explore my home city of Hull and try to make sense of it.
Is writing your first love or do you have another passion?
I only started writing seriously about a decade ago, so can’t really claim it was my first love. Books, though, are a different question. Wanting to write came from a love of reading, so I guess it’s all part of the picture. As much as I love writing, other things are important, too, so I’ll confess to football and collecting records. Simple pleasures…
What was the first book that made you cry?
Good question… I’ve always been a big reader, so something from the library as a child must have made my cry. Nowadays, it’s just reading brilliant books by brilliant crime authors. It’s both inspiring and frustrating…
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
The online world has removed the solitary nature of being a writer (for me) to a large degree, so I’ll go for the crippling insecurity. Will the online reviews be good, will people buy my book, will I ever get past thinking I’m an imposter…
Name a fictional character you consider a friend.
I spend most of time with Joe Geraghty, the Private Investigator who stars in my novels, so I best choose him. We’re not always on the best of terms, but he has changed my life…
Did getting published change your perception of writing?
It probably didn’t change my perception, as I never really had one before being published. I didn’t know anyone who wrote crime novels, or had any connections to the business. Once I had my first book published, I always knew I was going to keep writing, but the opportunities it brought about surprised me. I’ve been lucky to travel, make loads of new friends and increase my own self-confidence in general. The price of entrance to this world is writing books, so you’ve got to keep at it…
Who inspires you and why?
Other crime writers inspire me. I read their work and it makes me want to do better. Add in the fact the vast majority are brilliant people to spend time with and they’re essentially work mates. It’s why it’s so great Sara trusts me to programme a crime event for her at the festival, as I can bring writers to the town who I think have produced brilliant books and will share their time and expertise generously with the audience.
Which book deserves more readers?
There’s a difficult question! So many books, so little time… I really loved “November Road” by Lou Berney, which is set in the aftermath of the John F Kennedy assassination. It’s part a conspiracy theory thriller, part romance, part road trip, but all wrapped up with a devastating ending.
Do you have any friends that are writers? If so, do you show each other early drafts?
One of the pleasures of writing is calling other writers my friends. In terms of sharing work, there is a small circle I can call on for advice, but I do think it’s important to know your own mind. It’s often the case that you don’t need someone else to point out a weakness in a draft, as you instinctively know when something’s not working. It can be a worthwhile exercise, though, especially when you’re starting out.
Who or what are you most excited to see at Newark Book Festival in July?
I’m really pleased to see a football event on the programme and think it will attract new audience members, so credit to the team for making it happen. If you can’t talk about Brian Clough in Nottinghamshire, where can you? Sport plays a huge part in all our lives, however directly you engage with it, and someone of his stature should be examined and celebrated.