Today I am pleased to welcome Val Penny to Portable Magic to celebrate the release of Hunter’s Force. I’m sharing a Q&A with the author with thanks to Val Penny for inviting me to post and answering the questions!
What made you decide to start writing novels?
I have been writing and telling stories all my life. When I was a child, I used to make up stories for my little sister after our Mum put the light out and told us to go to sleep. Later, I wrote documents, contracts, and courses as part of my job, but my time was well accounted for, so I did not create any fiction.
However, I took early retirement when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and there were times when I suffered severe side effects from my treatment. I could not go out, spend time with friends or indulge in many of my favourite hobbies, but watching daytime television got very old very fast, so I turned to reading. It was the only thing I had the energy to do and could do safely.
What inspired you to write crime fiction and set your series in Edinburgh?
I must admit that the genre of book that I enjoy most to read is crime fiction, so I decided to write what I like to read. Before I set the DI Hunter Wilson series in Edinburgh, I did debate making up a town like Peter Robinson did for his crime series. However, I know Edinburgh well and it is a city many people have visited or want to visit. It is also quite a small city, but cosmopolitan and it has everything in it that I needed, so Edinburgh is Hunter’s home.
The book has some dark humour within it as well as some brutal murders, how did you manage to combine to two without it sounding forced and was it intentional to combine both and yet keep a gritty feel?
Aah yes, well that was intentional. I enjoy humour and especially dark humour. I think you need that to lift a crime novel from being too bleak.
How do you get into the mindset of your characters to write both the murderer and the police solving the case?
I drafted biographies for each of my main characters and that allowed me to get to know them well before I started writing my novels. I particularly like Hunter Wilson because I know I can trust his judgement. I enjoy Jamie as a character too. His judgement is always suspect, but he tries his best to accomplish his goals!
Did you have to research for the police procedures? If so, how easy, or difficult was this to do and then to translate it into a fictional story?
Yes. I am lucky to have a friend who is a retired Detective Chief Inspector and another who is a serving CSI with Greater Manchester Police. They were most helpful in guiding me in the right direction, Of course, I may have strayed for dramatic effect and any errors are mine.
How do you get your inspiration?
I get inspiration from many different places. Overhearing a snatch of a conversation in a restaurant, hearing a story from a friend or from the evening news. I always have a notebook with me to jot down my thoughts.
This is the third book in this series now, do you have more planned or what’s next in your writing career?
I certainly plan to write more books in the Hunter series. I also have a second series now where Jane Renwick is the main character. The first book in that series will be published by SpellBound Books this year and I am writing the second book in that series now.
You write a blog and keep a social media presence, as well as writing books. From an author’s perspective, how does this benefit both you and your readers?
I like to keep in touch with my readers and to hear from them through my website, www.valpenny.com my blog, and on social media. It is always lovely to keep in touch.
When can readers expect your next novel?
I particularly enjoyed writing Hunter’s Force and hope that your readers will enjoy the novel too. SpellBound plan that the next novel in this series, Hunter’s Blood, will appear later in 2023. It will explore more aspects of Hunter and his family. Your readers can find out about that on my website in due course!
What genres do you like to read and what are you reading just now?
I read many crime fiction novels, but also women’s fiction, historical novels, and nonfiction. I have just finished reading My Extra Life by Maggie Cobbett, a nonfiction book of the author’s 20year career as a TV and film extra. Now I am reading a historical novel set in Roman times, The Third Daughter, by Fiona Forsyth.
Hunter’s Force is available from Amazon.