3 Burning Questions – Crime After Crime
We are thrilled to host Crime After Crime: the world’s finest crime writers come to Palmerston North on 13 September. We expect a criminally good night!
Val McDermid is considered to be crime-writing royaly. Over 18 million copies of her books have sold to date, and there have been several TV adaptions. Her latest book, 1989 is the second book in the Allie Burns series.
Michael Robotham is Australia’s hottest crime writer; his Joseph O’Loughlin series was a worldwide bestseller and is currently being adapted for the screen. He’s also well known for his bestseller The Secrets She Keeps, now an award-winning TV drama with Season 2 streaming now on TVNZ+. His latest book is Lying Beside You.
Rotorua-born J.P. Pomare’s debut novel Call Me Evie won the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel, and his second book In the Clearing will soon grace our screens via Disney+. His fifth book, The Wrong Woman, is out now.
To get our interrogation started, we sent 3 burning questions to the authors. Here’s what they had to say for themselves.
What’s the weirdest thing in your (writing-related) search history?
J.P.POMARE: The one thing I think that has put me on a watchlist (If I am on one) was ‘How to drown a child’ which I searched for In The Clearing
VAL MCDERMID: It would have to be a toss-up between ‘home-made bomb 1994’ and ‘how to climb the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Sgurr Alasdair.’ And lots of searching for accurate names for characters of different nationalities. ‘Most common Lithuania surnames,’ that sort of thing.
MICHAEL ROBOTHAM: When I was writing Bombproof, I had to research how to make a homemade bomb known as the ‘Mother of Satan’. I was convinced that the security services were going to pick up on trigger words and come storming into my house to arrest me.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you know how the book will end when you start writing?
J.P.POMARE: I know how the book is going to end, but I’m still a pantser when it comes to the writing. I view the end of the story as a point on the compass and will generally head in that direction but won’t follow a map, or have a plan as to what is going to happen. I just like to be surprised as I write.
VAL MCDERMID: I used to be a plotter. When I started out, I thought plotting was my weakest area, so I worked hard on getting the story coherently laid out on file cards before I started. Then that suddenly stopped working for me mid-book. Now, I know the broad brush strokes of the story, the ending I’m aiming for and a couple of crucial turning points along the way. Writing is a process, and we don’t always control what works for us!
MICHAEL ROBOTHAM: I’m definitely a pantser. When I was writing LYING BESIDE YOU, I was three quarters the way through and still didn’t know who the villain was going to be.
One of the benefits is that I make each of the suspects equally credible, because I don’t know who I’m going to choose. I think sometimes when you know too early, you can make the villain either too obvious, or tried to hide them too well and not give the reader a chance to guess the ending. I figure, that if I don’t see the twists coming – neither will the reader.
What pseudonym would you use if you had to go on the run after a – hopefully non-lethal – crime?
J.P.POMARE: Paul Gilbert — it might be a little obvious, and I’m sure Reid would figure it out in ten seconds but it’s my middle name and my Grand Mothers Maiden name.
VAL MCDERMID: Something really bland and common. Emma Taylor, Sarah Robertson, Jane Brown. That sort of thing. And if I dyed my hair its original colour, nobody would recognise me!
MICHAEL ROBOTHAM: Inspector Endeavour Morse. (Nobody would ever suspect me of anything).
Tickets are now sold out.