Pick a character, any character – by Michael Wood

Category: Author Post

I had the story for Outside Looking In long before my first novel, For Reasons Unknown, was published. However, I didn’t want to write a follow-up in case my protagonist, DCI Matilda Darke, never saw the light of day. Thankfully, she did.

Outside Looking InAs soon as I signed my contract for book one I wasted no time in starting book two. The first draft went well. I researched, I plotted, I wrote, and I loved where the characters were going. Just as For Reasons Unknown was published I finished writing Outside Looking In. It was time to relax, take a step back from writing for a while before tackling a second draft.

Then the comments and the reviews for book one started coming in.

The reviews were very positive and I was thrilled the crime fiction community were welcoming Matilda and me into their lives. One aspect I wasn’t expecting was for people to tell me who their favourite character was, especially so soon into a series. To write Matilda, I needed to get into her head; to experience her thoughts and feelings. I had to understand loss and grief and use my own first-hand experience with panic attacks to figure out how her day-to-day life was going to play out. As such, she will always occupy a special place in my heart. Of course, as an avid crime fan, I know that the readers’ favourite character isn’t always the same as the author’s. Gossip lover and keeper of the snack drawer DS Sian Mills is a strong contender, as is Matilda’s best friend, pathologist Adele Kean.

As a reader, I enjoy getting to know the personal lives of supporting characters. DS Edgar Wield from Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series is a brilliantly drawn character. In the earlier novels he is difficult to get to know, private, quiet, an enigma, but over the twenty-three novels he slowly emerges. As a lifelong fan of Ian Rankin I have enjoyed watching Siobhan Clarke flourish from a DC into a DI and step out of Rebus’s shadow (although not too far). Of the newer crime fiction series Sarah Hilary has created a wonderful supporting character in DS Noah Jake. We are only three books into this series and I am looking forward to discovering more about Noah as much as I am the protagonist, DI Marnie Rome.

When I sat down to write the second draft of Outside Looking In, I started to worry for my supporting characters. Did they need more of a role? Should they take their share in the limelight and rub shoulders with DCI Matilda Darke? A tweet from a reader quickly made my mind up. She described Matilda as a ‘wonderfully created and well-rounded character’ and ended her message by saying it was nice I had created such warm and compassionate allies for her. That’s when I knew I was doing the right thing. Matilda doesn’t have to be the clear favourite. As long as she has the love and support of the secondary characters then she will have a place in the readers’ hearts.

Outside Looking In wasn’t easy to write (no book should be) but I have enjoyed taking these characters on another journey. So, whether your favourite is determined Matilda, motherly Sian, sympathetic Adele, or even fun-loving Rory Fleming, I hope you enjoy my second book, and if you have a comment, don’t keep it to yourself – it may shape book three.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

Author of SOMEONE OUT THERE, Catherine Hunt shares her Top 10 Books

Category: Author Post

  

Strangers on a Train/Patricia Highsmith.

A clever and simple idea for the perfect murder. Excellent portrayal of the relationship between the two main characters; the psychopath Bruno and his alter ego, Guy, who is the target of his corruption.

To Kill a Mockingbird/Harper Lee.

I love this for its focus on having the courage to stand up for what you believe in and for Atticus Finch with his burning sense of justice.

  

The Woman in White/Wilkie Collins.

Full of suspense, a twisting plot and great characterisation, especially the sinister Count Fosco. Chilling and very dramatic.

My Cousin Rachel/Daphne Du Maurier.

This tale of two men’s obsession with a mysterious woman they want to control keeps you guessing until the very end about whether Rachel is guilty or not … and then it keeps you guessing some more.

  

Rubbernecker/Belinda Bauer.

Original and with a terrific lead character, Patrick, who suffers from Asperger’s. I love the way the author switches from grimly bleak to darkly funny; a wonderful mix of darkness and light.

A Fatal Inversion/Barbara Vine.

A haunting story of how past sins cast long shadows.  Very atmospheric as it moves between a long hot summer of lost youth when murder was committed, and ten years later when those involved fear revelation.

  

Engleby/Sebastian Faulks.

A delightfully creepy book and a great character study of a sociopath. All is very definitely not what it seems.

Catch 22/Joseph Heller.

Very funny and very sad. Great use of satire and black humour to highlight the insanity of war, the mendacity of political and military leaders, and the madness of human behaviour.

  

Apple Tree Yard/Louise Doughty.

Riveting tale of a successful, smart woman who makes one bad judgement which leads to terrible consequences.

The Mermaids Singing/Val McDermid.

Fast paced, tense and exciting. A compelling exploration of the tormented mind of a killer.

 

Catherine Hunt’s debut thriller Someone Out There is out now. For the latest from the author, you can follow her on Twitter @CHWrites, Like her on Facebook, and visit her website catherinehunt.com.

A Killer Q&A with author Catherine Hunt

Category: Author Post


Tell us about yourself.

I’m a journalist who for many years was with BBC TV news producing and then editing the main TV news shows. Started out on local papers in the dim, distant past. Currently run a media consultancy business. Avid reader of crime fiction.

Tell us about your latest book.
Someone Out There is my first thriller. It’s about divorce lawyer, Laura Maxwell, who believes she’s being targeted by someone intent on destroying her. It’s about obsession, fear, isolation; about how quickly life can unravel and how well you ever really know the people around you.

When did you start writing?
I only started writing fiction a few years ago. Up until then, it was all factual stuff. I did write a few short stories as a teenager but never dared to send them off.

What drew you to the world of crime?
Probably all the real life crimes I’ve written copy on over the years, some of them so incredible and bizarre they would never have got past a literary agent!

Where do you write?
Wherever I can but preferably at home at a desk looking out at the garden and some woods beyond.

Which other authors do you admire?
Difficult because there are a lot. To pick a few: Patricia Highsmith, Barbara Vine,  Daphne Du Maurier,  Graham Greene , Gillian Flynn, Nicci French, Stephen King and Iain M Banks.

Book you wished you’d written?
To Kill a Mockingbird

Greatest fictional criminal: Count Fosco in The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Greatest fictional detective: Arkady Renko

What scares you?
The usual things: wars, real life killers, cruelty – oh and politicians.

Are you ever disturbed by your own imagination?
Not really though it might be best to keep it to myself to avoid any strange looks.

3 crime books you would recommend to EVERYONE.
        Strangers on a Train – Patricia Highsmith
        Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
        Brighton Rock – Graham Greene

What’s your poison?
Vodka, rum, gin, need I go on?

Are you on social media?
Yes, I’m on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn.

How can fans connect with you?
On Twitter @chwrites and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatherineHuntAuthor
Or via my website: http://www.catherinehunt.com