Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Murder In Keswick. I’m sharing my Q&A with the author with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the blog tour and to William Todd for answering my questions!
Have you always wanted to write?
In some capacity I have wanted to write since middle school in the early 80’s. It started out as writing that resembled a screenplay more than it did a book. My friends and I would then record it on a tape recorder complete with sound effects like the old radio shows. From there, as I began to read more and more, my focus changed to writing more descriptive stories, which I enjoyed much more than what I had been doing, and it sort of blossomed from there.
What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?
I’ve worked in a pathology lab for 31 years. I dabble in a few genres, but the one genre that my career has definitely helped shape is my gothic horror. I’ve done hundreds of post-mortems over the years, and certainly being up close and personal with blood and internal organs has given me a certain perspective how to describe an eviscerated corpse. I think it also helps me with my Sherlock Holmes stories to the extent that he is solving a murder and not just finding lost submarine plans or getting European royalty out of ill-advised engagements.
What was your inspiration for Murder in Keswick?
I live in the U.S., but I am an unabashed Anglophile, and the Lake District is one of my favourite places (it’s on my bucket list). Other than loving the area, the idea for the story just popped into my head one day, which is how almost all my stories come to me, and I thought the Lake District would be a perfect place for it to take place. Narrowing it down to Keswick was hard, but I actually befriended online a retired police officer from the area, and he was so helpful in getting the setting right. I believe I mention him at the end of the book.
How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?
I am nothing if not a people watcher, which I prefer to actual interaction (it’s a writer-thing), so yes, my characters do have traits of not only people I know but of people I’ve taken notice of during the course of a day. I write down quirks and mannerisms I might notice, and I try to make a composite of many different people, lest I get cornered by an angry family member or my friends for using their likeness in a story…especially if it’s for a not-so-savoury character.
What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Oh, I’m a pantser, no doubt about it. Now, some may wonder if that’s the best way to write a Sherlock Holmes mystery. It very well may NOT be. But it’s my preferred method and the only method I know. I have tried to write out complex plots and twists, have every little detail written out, but I find writing much more enjoyable for me when I find out things on the fly. I’ll be like, “Holy crap, I didn’t know he was gonna do that!” Now, obviously there are major points of a story that have to be fulfilled, but I have completely changed how a murder is done, and even who did it, based on what my characters do in the story. I give my characters life, put them in a setting, tell them what’s going on, then I just tag along for the ride and write down what they do. I love that discovery. That kind of writing makes writing never like work.
How did you research Murder In Keswick? Did you enjoy it?
Most research was done online. Google and Wikipedia are my best friends. But as mentioned above, I befriended a gentleman online who lives in the area, and he helped me out tremendously. His insight into Keswick and its history helped give my story the legs it might not have had if I just went with what I read online. As far as research in general—I love it! Now, you have to be careful about going down rabbit holes, but I absolutely love researching, especially that time frame. I love all things gothic, Victorian, and gilded age. I was definitely born in the wrong century!
Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?
ACD, obviously. The first book I ever read from cover to cover was Hound of the Baskervilles. My horror stories are inspired by Poe and Lovecraft, but Dean Koontz really turned me onto horror, even if not all his works were horror. He is certainly my favourite modern author. Since I rarely write anything outside of the time frames mentioned above, Poe, Lovecraft, and Conan Doyle are my biggest influences and do my best to emulate their styles.
If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?
Poe because I need to know what the hell happened to him before he died. It’s killing me, man! Conan Doyle to give me pointers on writing better Holmes stories, and Oh, hell, I don’t know, Elvis Presley because who wouldn’t wanna hang out with the king!
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Any of the Kardashians. Do I really have to explain why?
Who would play the main character/s in a film version of Murder In Keswick?
Douglas Henshall as Barney Mains and Marc Lavoine as Jean-Luc Verten.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I do a fair amount of walking. We have a wonderful peninsula, Presque Isle, on the southern shore of Lake Erie, and the summers are beautiful. We have a daughter with Down Syndrome who can be rather stationary if we let her, so the walking is as much for her as it is to keep this body *ahem* lean and mean. So, yes, walking. Honestly, I let very little time elapse between the end of one story and the beginning of another, so a lot of my spare time outside my 50-hour work week is spent writing or researching. And of course, my wife and I love our Britbox and Acorn.
What is next for you?
I just finished my first ever historical YA novel. It’s also the first time I’ve hit 100,000 words in a story. I hope to find it a home soon or will self-publish in late summer. I am also two stories into another Sherlock Holmes compilation.
Book? Watchers by Dean R Koontz
Film? The Thing from Another World (1951 version slightly over the 1982 version)
Band/Singer? Collective Soul
TV show? I Love Shakespeare and Hathaway!
Place? I once drove a rental car to the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The car almost died several times due to lack of oxygen, but once I got up there it was night. It was the most beautiful night sky I had ever seen.
Biscuit? I’m American, but I think you mean what we call a cookie, right? I swear I’m not going to Google this, I watch enough Midsomer Murders. If you mean cookie, then Danish Butter cookies are my fav. If you mean something more like a scone, then raspberry/ white chocolate. Did I over think that?
The Keswick Murders are available from Amazon.
You can follow the rest of the blog tour here: