Q&A with Carmen Radtke

Today I’m sharing my second post for SpellBound Books blog tour for International Women’s Day. I’m sharing my Q&A with Carmen Radtke, author of Dig Your Own Grave, with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the tour and to Carmen Radtke for answering my questions!

Have you always wanted to write? 

Always! My dad brought home an incredibly heavy, ancient typewriter from work when I was six or seven, and I’d stab away at the keys, producing my first attempts at poetry and fiction. None have survived …

What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?       

I’m a trained newspaper reporter and used to work for a local daily, so I could never afford to have writer’s block. My job also included huge amounts of research, tight deadlines, sub-editing, and coming up with new ideas in a blink if not sooner. An excellent preparation, except it took me forever to overcome that “decent-ish first draft, now move on to the next topic” rush. As a reporter I couldn’t afford to take my time. As a novelist I can’t afford not to.

What was your inspiration for Marie?

One of the many, many things that interest me is the fine line between legal and legitime (not that I condone murder outside the fictional realm!) But I can understand the thought that maybe one evil act could prevent a multitude of bad. There are always people the world might be better off without. And Marie is acting upon that notion, not because she’s bad but exactly because she’s kind and caring.

How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?

They sometimes have quirks I’ve observed, but mostly they form themselves in my mind – preferably at 3am when I’d like to sleep, bless their hearts. I can’t write about a character if I haven’t nailed their name. It’s such a fundamental part of identity that it has to be right.

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser? 

I kind of started as a pantser, with a loose structure in my head. These days I outline roughly what’s going     to happen in each chapter. There are still a lot of surprises, like four dogs in Dig Your Own Grave. They just gambolled their way into the story.

How did you research Dig Your Own Grave? Did you enjoy it?

I love research (shoutout to Google here). I use anything from maps to newspaper articles and ads to scientific websites. My search history probably makes for scary reading!

Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them? 

My favourites – where do I start? I’ve devoured classic crime from the Golden Age since I was 11, and I still adore these books. So, Christie, Sayers, Marsh, Stout, Tey go here. Then there’s Elizabeth Peters, Joan Hess, Rhys Bowen, and others who added so much humour to their mysteries. I also love Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, Terry Pratchett, Bill Bryson, Shakespeare, and a trove of new authors I’ve connected with, like Fiona Leitch, Paula Harmon, Linda Huber, and Barbara Silkstone. Most of these writers have influenced me in some way. Writing and reading belong together, and I believe there’s some kind of osmosis. 

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why? 

First thought was, Dorothy Parker, but only if she’d like me … It’s probably safer to go with Elizabeth Peters, Oscar Wilde, and Billy Wilder.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why? 

Politicians aside, that’s every single person who’s sent me creepy messages on social media. No. Just no.

Who would play the main character/s in a film version of Dig Your Own Grave? 

Olivia Colman or Carey Mulligan! 

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I’ve become obsessed with Wordle, I learn Italian with Duolingo (everything has a slightly sinister, mafia-esque flair …), I do tap dance, and I go to the movies.

What is next for you?

I’m working on a new cozy Jack and Frances mystery, set in London in 1932. They get around a lot more than me!

Favourites:

Book? There can never be only one, but Terry Pratchett’s witches and night watch top the list if my most re-read books.

Film? Again, it’s impossible to narrow it down! Can I do one per year? From Bringing Up Baby in 1938 to Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings in 2021? (Or maybe Free Guy?)

Band/Singer? The Killers. Wait, on second thought … IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!

TV show? One per year, please please please. For 2021, that’s Only Murders in the Building.

Colour? Red

Place? Sydney in the Southern Hemisphere, London in the Northern. See what I did here?

Biscuit? French macarons.

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Dig Your Own Grave is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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