Neil White answers our questions on the inspiration behind his novels, his role as Senior Crown Prosecutor and the book he wishes he’d written
Killer Reads: How long have you been writing for?
Neil White: I have been writing since 1994, when I decided that I would try to write a book when I was on holiday. After twelve years of work and rejections, I signed a publishing contract in 2006, and my first book, Fallen Idols, was published by Avon in 2007.
KR: How much do you draw on real life in your work?
NW: I write crime fiction that is meant to be contemporary, and so it is impossible not to draw on real life, particularly as I still work part-time as a Senior Crown Prosecutor. Although I do not use real cases of my own as plots, I pick up small asides and opinions from the police that do make it into the books, and I have gained an understanding as to what motivates the police on an individual and personal level. The same can be said for the actions and motivations of criminals, particularly those who view crime as a career option rather than an occasional blip.
KR: What subject matter do you most enjoy writing about?
NW: My favourite subject matter is the motivation of killers, because they are so complex, with so many coincidences coming together, such as their personal history combined with their mental make up.
KR: Do you get a lot of support from your fans?
NW: I always enjoy receiving emails from people who have enjoyed one of my books, as writing is something of a lonely trade, and so to see the effect it has in the wider world is always rewarding, particularly if the email is from a far-flung hot place that is so different to my own home.
KR: How do you manage to balance your writing with your career as a Senior Crown Prosecutor?
NW: The balancing of my legal career with my writing is more a question of time management. The real challenge is not writing or saying something that conflicts with my position as a prosecutor, as I take my professional and legal obligations very seriously. In the same vein, I always aim to write stories that would seem real to people who work in the legal system, and so the challenge is about getting the balance right between realism and criticism of a system that is frequently flawed.
KR: Who or what inspires you?
NW: I am inspired principally by a determination to make the next book better than the last, as cheesy as that sounds, and to writes books that people like. It is as simple as that.
KR: What are you currently working on?
NW: I am currently working on my fifth book, which is nearing completion and is a story loosely based on the American murderer Dennis Radar, the self-titled BTK Killer.
KR: If you could have written any book, which one would it be and why?
NW: To Kill A Mockingbird, because it is the only book I have read where I wanted to start reading it again as soon as I had finished it, which is probably as good a recommendation as you can get.