– Lying and telling the truth are significant themes in this novel. What made you focus on these and what inspired you to create your central protagonist, Harry Cull, the professional lie-detector?
I read an interesting article on how to beat lie detector machines by a man who thinks they are hokum and I thought about having a character that gave polygraph tests but didn’t believe in the machine. Like all things in a novel, the ideas often move away from their original form. But that was the spark.
– Did you carry out any research prior to writing Ice Lake, which helped you develop the setting, characters and storyline?
Ice Lake is set on a lake in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I not coincidentally grew up on a lake in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I thought that writing about a place that I knew intimately would be easier than my previous writing in a fantasy world but no. Making stuff up is easier. As far as fracking (one of the themes of the book) and lie detection – I did tons of research. Again making crap up is easier.
– Do you have a preferred strategy for plotting and writing a novel? Would you start off with a detailed sketch of the storyline, written on a board across the wall? Or would you begin writing with a basic premise and let the story carry you along?
I have to know the ending. I tried writing a novel once where I just followed where the day’s writing took me with no idea what the finish would be – I haven’t finished that one yet.
– Which books convinced you to become a writer? Have you always been a crime fiction fan or were you drawn to the genre later on?
In my youth, I was a sci-fi fantasy reader and later I became a crime fan. Now I have eclectic tastes. If it comes my way I’ll give it a shot. The last thing I read was as a book by Penn Jillette on how he lost 100 pounds.
– After Ice Lake, what will you write next? Though you’ve set this novel in Pennsylvania, do you plan to write fiction set in the UK?
I have an idea about a book set in Cricklewood, London.
Of all the books you’ve read in the past year, which have been your favourites?
I have recently been bingeing on the Aloysius Pendergast novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I was first drawn to them because my middle name is Aloysius but later I’ve really enjoyed the mix of the real and the fantastical.