Under the skin of Danielle Ramsay

Category: Favourites

broken-silenceDanielle Ramsay is a debut author for HarperCollins, and her dark, gritty north-eastern crime will get your heart racing and your blood pumping. Her first book to hit the shelves is Broken Silence which begins when the mutilated remains of a teenage girl are found in the seaside resort of Whitley Bay. All fingers point to one of three men in her life who should have done everything to protect her – her step-father, her teacher and a police detective. But which one of them is responsible for such a horrific act of murder? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out, but first, let’s get under the skin of things in a different way as Danielle discusses her motivations for crime writing.

Danielle Ramsay talks to Killer Reads…

My inspiration for writing first began with the idea of telling my grandfather’s story. He was one of the first African-Scottish men in Dundee at the turn of the last century and a true war hero.  But it was Walter Mosley and his character Easy Rawlins that inspired me to begin Broken Silence, coupled with the stark, harsh seaside location of Whitley Bay where I currently reside. I first came up with the idea for Broken Silence two years ago when I decided to write about what I know – and that was living in a small, run-down seaside resort, coupled with my interest in the darker side of humanity.

I was previously in academia where I was able to explore psychoanalysis and other literary theories and then apply it to literature. It was an exciting and liberating time. However, being able to write creatively myself is an inexplicable experience and far exceeds anything else I have done; including lecturing, giving academic papers nationally and internationally and writing academic essays and chapters for theoretical books.

For me, crime fiction is an ideal way of examining why people commit such dreadful acts against one another. The crime fiction I am writing explores how and why seemingly ‘ordinary’ people can end up in extreme situations. Either in carrying out atrocious acts of crime, or by being the victim of such heinous acts. I am interested in what can push a relatively, normal, sane person over the edge and drive them into acts of nihilistic, murderous violence. And then, commit the act again and again, until they are ultimately stopped, if at all.

I am driven to write crime because of my troubled dark childhood which has made me curious about the question of morality, contrasted against the world I live in. So as an adult, I have been searching to find the answers as to why evil is committed by people who on the surface appear to lead such typical, ordinary lives. I would say that Broken Silence epitomises this through the book’s fifteen year old victim, Sophie Washington, and her seemingly ordinary teenage life and the tragic events that led up to her murder.

Do you have a question for Danielle? Send them in to us at killerreads@harpercollins.co.uk with the subject line ‘Question for Danielle’ by 15th November, and we’ll put the best ones to Danielle in a special Killer Reads feature next month. And of course, the lucky winners will win a copy of Danielle’s new book, Broken Silence!

42 thoughts on “Under the skin of Danielle Ramsay

  1. Hi,
    Could you say more about how childhood influenced your writing. How long were you in academia before you broke free and where I could read your theoretical chapters and academic work?

  2. Hi Bethany,

    Thanks for the questions.

    Let’s say that during my childhood I witnessed the darker side of humanity and found myself channelling this experience into writing and in particular, a genre which allows me to explore the depths of depravity that people will reach in order to satisfy their base desires.

    I was in academia for maybe ten years in total. I had undertaken a PhD and was in my fourth year when I decided to scandalously abandon it before I found myself trapped in a full-time academic role. Up until that point I had taught as a Visiting Lecturer and even when I gave up my PhD, I still continued lecturing for a good few years before committing myself fully to creative writing.

    And as for reading what I wrote during my academic life, I’d be honoured. However, I am certain that ‘Broken Silence’ will make a more interesting read!

    I’ve detailed below the articles and chapter that I wrote as the books will be available in libraries and book shops:

    ‘Feminism and Psychoanalysis’, Chapter in Sarah Gamble (ed), The Routledge Critical Dictionary of Feminism and Post-Feminism. London: Routledge(2002)

    Essays on Naomi Wolf and bell hooks in Sarah Gamble (ed), The Routledge Critical Dictionary of Feminism and Post-Feminism. London: Routledge. (2002)

    Essays on Henry Louis Gates, Jr, and Postcolonialism in Stuart Sim (ed) The Icon Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought. Cambridge: Icon Books Ltd. (1998)

  3. Hi Danielle,

    I’m looking forward to reading your book – I enjoy crime fiction, as well as sci-fi & horror – I went to Whitley Bay once in the early 1980’s with my parents on holiday – it rained all week! Could you be a bit more specific about your “troubled dark childhood” and how it shaped your fiction? They do say “write about what you know”, which in my case, wouldn’t make very interesting reading at all!

    Yours, Louise

  4. Hi Louise,

    I’ve drawn a line in the sand about what I’ll share regarding some of the darker elements of my childhood, however some of the darker elements are in Broken Silence and will appear in future Jack Brady novels.

    However, the discerning reader will be able to draw their own ccnclusions. In general terms, there were issues such as fidelity, misogyny, racism, and abuse.

    Actually, at the time you were in Whitley Bay it was quite a vibrant place, not the run down, decaying world that Jack Brady inhabits.

    We are all born of our experiences and I am sure that everyone has a tale to tell, including you. This is what makes life interesting.

    I hope you enjoy reading Broken Silence and
    further books in the series.

    Kind regards,
    Danielle

  5. Hi Danielle,
    Have just finished reading Broken Silence.As a detective yarn its a good’un, But I’m shocked by setting, Why do you hate the North East and in particular Whitley Bay?
    I have friends and family in the south and if they read it what will they think? You have painted such a realistic picture using actual locations I recognise they must think I live in the ‘pits’!
    Yours Don Luck

  6. i loved your book it was the type of book i could not put down and i would like to know when your next book will be out as i am really looking forard to reading it

  7. Hi Laura, thank you for your kind words, I’m really glad you enjoyed reading Broken Silence. The second book, Vanishing Point, is due out in February 2012. I can tell you that is a much darker and harder piece than the first.

    Best wishes

    Danielle

  8. Hi Don, thank you for your positive comments about the first book. Although Whitley Bay has many positive aspects, it has slipped somewhat from it’s former glory as a popular seaside resort even until the late eighties. At the end of the day you write about what you know, and see around you; the town is now renowned for stag and hen weekends, and has stripper bars and lap dancing clubs, and many places are boarded up, a sad reflection of the economic climate at present. I know the Council are taking steps to clean the place up, but it has seen a morbid aspect to it over recent years. I don’t hate the place, but find it frustrating to see it so run down as it is at present. Hopefully the tide is on the turn, and the area will see a rejuvenation. That said, I find it a great backdrop for the book series.

    All the best

    Danielle

  9. Danielle: Thanks for writing such a good book. I usually only read non fiction, but Broken Silence was great.

    Is Broken Bodies available now? I was a little confused as you mentioned your next book Vanishing Point would be out in 2012. I feel as though I know Jack Brady. Really fabulous writing!

  10. Hi Norma,

    I really appreciate your kind comments and am honoured that you feel as if you know Jack Brady!

    The second book was originally going to be called Broken Bodies and was intended to be released this October but has been put back until April 12th next year and the title has also been changed to Vanishing Point.

    Hope you don’t mind the wait!

    Again thank you.

    Best Danielle

  11. Hi Danielle I have almost finished Broken Silence which I have really enjoyed and look forward to your next book, I rate your book amongst my current authors which are Michael Connelly,Stephen Leather,Chris Ryan,Mo Hayder and Simon Kernick an excellant read.

  12. Hi danielle i have just finished Broken Silence i loved it.At the end of the book it gave a few pages of Broken Bodies i cant find it anywhere.Alli can find is Vengeance when is the follow up available?
    Keep writing i could not put it down.
    Regards Margaret.

  13. Hi Danielle,
    Thoroughly enjoyed ‘Broken Silence’ . I live close to Whitley Bay & am a retired Scenes of Crime Manager in Northumbria Police, so was very interested in the story. If you ever want to pick my brains for future projects please feel free to contact me.
    Regards.

  14. 8th February 2012

    Hi Danielle,

    I have just finished Broken Silence and enjoyed it a great deal. I have lived in Whitley Bay all my life and you have captured it brilliantly as the the bars were excellent a few years ago but the past decade Whitley Bay has taken a turn for the worst. Looking forward to the new book and series keep up the good work.

    Simon Seddon,
    Whitley Bay.

  15. Hi Danielle

    I have just read your first book Broken Silence and wanted to read Broken Bodies but cannot find it. Ideally I would have liked it on the kindle. Is it not available anywhere?

  16. Hi Danielle I have too read Broken silence and would love to read broken bodies but I cannot find it anywhere. Any suggestions?

  17. I have also just finished Broken Silence, having chosen it as a bargain on Kindle!(So far all of my other ‘cheaper’ buys have been inferior, to say the least!)I really enjoyed it apart from one thing – the inappropriate use of ‘sat’ and ‘stood’. I accept that some northern dialects, including in Sheffield where I live, use the form:’He was sat at the bar.’ instead of ‘He was sitting at the bar.’and ‘She was stood near the door.’ instead of ‘She was standing near the door.’ and also accept that characters likely to be speaking in this form should do so in the narrative when direct speech occurs. However I find it annoying and incorrect when educated characters such as Amelia use this form and even more so when the narrator/ author uses it in telling the story!It grated on me every single time.

  18. Just finished your book and loved it! Can’t wait to find out what happens to Jack next! Gutted to find I have to wait til April 26th!! Will there
    be a third book to follow?
    Regards
    Sue
    Ps I spent ages looking for Broken Bones too!!

  19. Hi Terry,

    Many thanks for your kind words and the privilege of ranking me amongst your other favourite (some of whom are mine as well) writers.

    I really do hope that you like Vanishing Point and look forward to hearing your response.

    Apologies for my delayed reply.

    Best,

    Danielle

  20. Hi Margaret,

    Many thanks for your kind words.

    I am really pleased that you enjoyed Broken Silence and look forward to hearing your comments on the sequel, Vanishing Point which is released next Thursday 26th April.

    Apologies for taking so long to get back to you.

    All the best,

    Danielle

  21. Hi Richard,

    I am really pleased that you enjoyed Broken Silence, more so given the fact that you are a retired Scenes of Crime Manager with Northumbria Police.

    I would be honoured to be able to ‘pick your brains’and will definitely be in touch.

    Really hope you like the sequel, Vanishing Point.

    All the best,

    Danielle

  22. Hi Simon,

    Many thanks for your kind words. I also really appreciated your comments regarding Whitley Bay, especially since you are a resident and have witnessed first-hand the small town’s decline over the past decade.

    I hope you like the sequel, Vanishing Point which also is set in Whitley Bay and look forward to hearing your opinion on the book.

    All the best,

    Danielle

  23. Hi Carole,

    Originally the sequel to Broken Silence was called Broken Bodies and a sample is at the end of Broken Silence. However, the title was then changed to Vanishing Point, so apologies for any confusion.

    The sequel is out next Thursday 26th April and it can already be pre-ordered on Amazon either in paperback or downloaded onto kindle.

    I really hope you like it and it was worth the search!

    All the best,

    Danielle

  24. Hi Carol,

    I really appreciated your comments and that you enjoyed Broken Silence.

    However, I must apologise that you found parts of the dialogue and narrative irritating and frustrating. This was by no means my intention and I thank you for taking the trouble to point this out.

    All the best,

    Danielle

  25. Hi Danielle, loved Broken Silence and looking forward to reading Vanishing point. I also spent ages looking for broken bodies and any details about you as an author. May i suggest your own website.? I often check my fav authors sites to see what is coming next. As well as Michael Connelly, Lee child, Sheila Quigley and sarah rayne i now have to add you to my list. As an avid reader your descriptive writing was excellent. I picked your book on a whim simply as it was based in whitley bay and i live in south shields and enjoy northeast based stories. Keep up the good work. Paula

  26. Hi Paula,

    Many thanks for your kind words and also for adding me to such a talented list of authors. I am honoured!

    I really hope that you enjoy Vanishing Point and look forward to hearing your comments.

    I also appreciate your advice regarding a website. It makes a lot of sense and it is something that I will be sorting out in the next few weeks.

    Again, many thanks,

    Danielle

  27. Dear Danielle,

    I’d like to add my praise to those above. I thought the first Jack Brady novel was exceptional. The ending was especially good, compared to so many books I’ve read where the ending has felt rushed and disappointing – I guess endings are really hard to get right, so high praise from me for this!

    The only bugbear I had that distracted me a little bit at times was that during some dialogues between characters, it feels like you were trying to put as many different variations of “said” in as you could – e.g. “stuttered Brady”, “muttered Ainsworth”, “stated Jenkins”, “spat Simmons”, “reasoned Brady”. Not sure why but I found it a bit distracting from being involved in the plot. Hope you don’t mind me pointing this out 🙂

    Regardless, congratulations on an absorbing and satisfying novel, and I’m looking forward to starting the new one tomorrow!

    All the best, Oli

  28. Danielle,

    Just wanted to say (further to the above) that Vanishing Point was truly awesome – I just finished it and the end was so exciting I was eating and reading at the same time!! Worthy of a film adaptation I reckon for sure!

    Hope Brady and the gang will be back before too long :-))

    Cheers

    Oliver

  29. Hi Oliver,

    I just want to say thank you for your kind comments. They are very much appreciated it. Especially your comments on Vanishing Point – the film adaption does sound appealing. Question is, who would play DI Jack Brady and his sidekick, DS Conrad?

    I’m sure you can tell that I thoroughly enjoyed writing Vanishing Point and developing Brady’s character, as well as the rest of the team.

    Hopefully Brady and the gang will be back soon – there is too much happening in Whitley Bay for them not to return.

    Again, many thanks,

    Danielle

  30. Hi Danielle,

    I just had to buy the books given that Damaged Goods gets a mention.

    The boys in the band thought that was good albeit we had to read out loud for our drummer 🙂

    Would you believe that someone asked in The Fat Ox if they knew a band called Damaged Goods… looks like you have someone researching your facts!

    Anyway, I really enjoyed the story in Broken Silence, a good entertaining read and well paced… I can’t wait to start Vanishing Point.

    Keep up the good work and oh, I will expect you to sign Vanishing Point for the band 🙂

    Boomshanka,
    Mark H
    (Guitarist in Damaged Goods)

  31. Hi there – I grew up in Whitley Bay and have loved hearing about the old places I used to go -my mother went into labour on the causeway across to St Mary’s Lighthouse!

  32. Just read both your books – one after the other as the first was so good! Please hurry up and write a third as I think Jack Brady is a brilliant character. I do wonder though what the inhabitants of Whitley Bay make of your books – your descriptions of the place can’t make you very popular with the local tourist information centre!!

  33. Hi Mark,

    Really pleased that you and the boys in the band enjoyed Broken Silence. Let me know what you think of Vanishing Point when you finish it. Damaged Goods get a mention in the third chapter, as does The Fat Ox. Let’s say I’m doing my bit for the local tourist information!

    I’m honoured that someone came into The Fat Ox actually asking after Damaged Goods – I know they will not be disappointed as Damaged Goods are a fantastic band!

    Will definitely sign Vanishing Point for you and the boys and again, I am really pleased that you and the band liked the first book.

    All the best,

    Danielle

  34. Hi Gary,

    You have a story in itself with your mother going into labour on the causeway to St Mary’s Lighthouse!

    Whitley Bay and the surrounding area is a fantastic resource for any writer. Hope to keep you entertained with more plots revolving around this small seaside resort.

    All the best,

    Danielle

  35. Hi Julia,

    I really appreciate your lovely comments!

    Interestingly, most of the people I have talked to who live in Whitley Bay agree with my representation of the seaside resort. However,I accept that Whitley Bay Tourist Information Centre may not be my biggest fan!

    All the best,

    Danielle

  36. Hi Danielle,

    Just finished reading both vanishing point and broken silence and couldn’t get enough of them!

    I was hoping in vein there was a third or kindle full more of DI Brady. Will you be releasing another book?

    Hope so!

    Thanks,

    Megan

  37. Hi Danielle – I absolutely loved Broken Silence and like so many others tried to find Broken Bones. The Amazon people had 2 books with that title but on trying to buy yours I kept getting the other one. So I kept it thinking maybe there was a mistake somewhere. Imagine my shock at the first few pages of the other one ….. don’t know if you’ve read it but I deleted it from my Kindle straight away. Now I’m happy to say I’ve just downloaded Vanishing Point and can’t wait to get started. By the way it was this Killer Reads site that gave me the right title. Looking forward to many more. Best Wishes Joanzone 19.10.2012

  38. Hi Danielle
    I have just read Broken Silence ( which by the the way was excellent) i then went to Amazon in an attempt to purchase Broken Bodies without any luck.
    Could you please advise me when this will be released.

    cheers

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