venerdì 12 febbraio 2010

:: Interview with Nick Quantrill

Hi Nick and welcome on Liberidiscrivere! Tell us a little about yourself and the beginning of your interest in writing

Hello and thanks for inviting me! I’m a crime writer from Hull, an isolated city on the north east coast of England and I’m just about to have my first Joe Geraghty novel, ‘Broken Dreams’ published. I’ve been writing seriously for about four years now, once I’d finished the degree I was studying for and hung my football boots up. My interest in being a writer definitely comes from loving reading. I was always reading as a child, and apart from a break as a teenager when other things suddenly seemed more interesting, I’ve always been fascinated with books.

What was your first written work? Tell us about your road to publication.

I was extremely fortunate that the first short story I wrote, ‘Punishment’, won the HarperCollins 2006 Crime Tour competition. The prize was to see my story printed in ‘Crime Time’ magazine, which was a huge confidence booster. From there, I wrote more short stories, trying to stretch myself each time before writing a police procedural novel. Although it wasn’t a huge success, it taught me how to actually approach writing a novel. I then wrote ‘Broken Dreams’ and Caffeine Nights Publishing liked it enough to take a chance on me.

Who are your favourite living writers?

I read a lot of crime fiction, so I have plenty of favourites. Top of my list is George Pelecanos, who has matured into a fine writer over the years. I’m a big fan of Graham Hurley, who writes English police procedurals - I’m amazed he isn’t wider known and read. I love Ray Banks, too. His Cal Innes series is magnificent. The list is endless...Elmore Leonard, Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, James Ellroy, Don Winslow, Martyn Waites...Although I don’t read too much fiction outside of the crime genre, I always look forward to new books from Roddy Doyle, Irvine Welsh and Nick Hornby.

What advice would you give to young writers in search of a publisher?

Work hard at being lucky. Although I was offered a contract with Caffeine Nights within a about a month of finishing it, I’d spent the previous couple of years networking with numerous publishers and professionals, just trying to figure out who I’d ideally like to work with and who would be a good fit for my writing. I would also suggest submitting short stories to websites like www.a-twist-of-noir.blogspot.com and www.thrillskillsandchills.blogspot.com, so you’re a building a writing profile and letting people know you’re serious about your writing. It’s also a great way to get feedback, too.

How about e-publishing? Where do you see that heading?

If I could answer that question, I’d be a rich man! Books aren’t going to die any time soon, but I’m sure like the way we listen to music, it’s going to evolve. Books are like any other form of entertainment – you’ve got to make them available in whatever form the consumer wants. If an increasing number of people want to read on their Kindles and phones etc, the industry has to adapt. I can see there are advantages and times you’d want to use new technology for reading. That said, it took me forever to get a mobile phone and mp3 player, so I’ll be ten years behind the times, anyway!

What are typical qualities of a good writer?

I think what I’ve learnt is that you need plenty of stamina. Only the lucky few make a living from writing, so the rest of us have to come home from a day at work and motivate ourselves to start again. Sometimes it’s hard and I’d much rather rest or do something else, but I hate nothing more than people saying they’re bored or they can’t be bothered. If you’re a writer, you’ve got to be a self-starter. I think you’ve also got to develop a kind of self-belief in what you’re doing and understand what you’re aiming for. I suspect, like many writers, I have far more bad days than good, so that kind of determination and thick-skin is important. More than anything, it’s the ability to keep going.

Can you tell us a little about the publisher who published your book?

Caffeine Nights (www.cnpublishing.co.uk) are a relatively new publisher, based just outside of London and their aim is to produce ‘fiction aimed at the heart and the head.’ Until recently, the company was a vehicle for the owner, Darren Laws, to publish his own books. Last year, Darren expanded and started to take on some new writers, as I think his real interest lies in the business side of the industry. Seeing as we’d been in touch for a couple of years, we knew each other relatively well, so although I had interest from elsewhere in my book, it was an easy decision to make. As well as publishing in paperback, Caffeine Nights are very clued up on the new technology and the opportunities they bring, so they’re well placed to succeed in a difficult marketplace.

What role does the Internet play in writing, researching, and marketing your books?

The Internet has been a massive help to me in many ways. In respect of marketing, it’s certainly helped me to reach readers in places I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. I never expected to be talking to an Italian website, but it’s fantastic for me to be sharing the space with great writers like Tess Gerritsen and Allan Guthrie. The Internet’s a great leveller in that respect, so I make sure I take advantage of it by offering plenty of free short stories and content on my website (www.hullcrimefiction.co.uk). The Internet is also great for time-poor writers like myself when it comes to research. It’s certainly helped point me in the right direction. It’s a powerful tool to have, but most of the research I did for ‘Broken Dreams’ was done by reading local books and talking to people, so it’s only one of many options.

What changes have you noticed in the world of fiction in the time you've been writing?

I probably don’t see things in terms of ‘changing’, as I’m still very much a novice when it comes to the business of publishing. Here in the UK, it seems to be ever harder for new writers to be find publishers and agents. As the recession continues to bite, it’s well documented that the major publishing houses are struggling, and the result seems to be that they’re taking the easy option of selling celebrity books. There’s no real imagination or passion in it. Certainly one change I have noticed as a reader is that independent bookshops in the UK are disappearing fast and even major chains are failing. More and more books are being sold by supermarkets, but they only carry a narrow range. It’s not a healthy situation for readers or writers.

Do you ever use any of your personal fears or experiences in your stories?

Only in the very broadest sense. My day job brings me into contact with a lot of different people, so I sometimes inadvertently pick up something interesting, maybe just a phrase or an attitude, but might spark off an interesting possibility. I imagine this one of the biggest dilemmas for professional writers. On one hand, having the time purely to write would be a dream, but on the other, not been part of the real world means you’re losing out on a lot of contact and interaction. It’s a tricky to get the balance right. My fears are probably the same as everyone else. Now I’m in my mid-thirties I’m starting to experience loss and grief in ways that didn’t touch me when I was younger, so that’s maybe something that comes across with more authority.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading the first Tony Black novel, ‘Paying For It.’ Tony’s yet another of these great Scottish writers who keep appearing. The lead character, Gus Drury, is a washed-up, alcoholic journalist-turned-reluctant PI, but the book stays nicely away from cliché. Friends tell me the follow-up, ‘Gutted’, is even better. Tony runs the excellent www.pulppusher.com, so you know what you’re getting from him.

Any movie plans for the books?

There are no plans whatsoever in that sense. It’s certainly not something I let myself think about with any degree of seriousness. ‘Broken Dreams’ is my first published novel, so I’m focused on doing everything I can to establish myself a writer. Anything on top of that would be a bonus. Obviously, my door is always open to television and movie executives...

Do you write non-fiction?

My time is pretty much taken up with fiction, but I do occasionally write non-fiction. It’s nice to be able to finish something quickly, as opposed to working for months and months on a novel without the ending in sight. I sometimes contribute articles to an independent fanzine for my football team, Hull City, which is sold around the stadium on match-days. I also occasionally write for www.thisisull.com, a local website. It might be a CD, book or gig review – whatever takes my fancy, really.

What do you think of modern crime writing?

I think it’s in great shape from top to bottom at the moment. Crime writing is a great way of taking a microscope to society and picking at the seams of things. If you’ve got something interesting to say, or you can make someone stop for a moment to think from a different perspective, yet wrap it up in an entertaining story, you’ve cracked it. I don’t think there’s a better way of doing that than the crime story. Aside from the top dogs, modern crime writing seems to be thriving lower down the chain, too. If you look around the Internet, there’s a wealth of great writing talent, there are plenty of great websites hosting work and the indie presses are finding an audience. I think the future is bright.

In your novels do you prefer use the first person or the third person?

I’ve written in both, so I appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of both methods. I actually starting writing ‘Broken Dreams’ in the third person before realising there was a good reason most PI novels are written in the first person! I think I was trying to be too clever. Once I spent a bit of time getting comfortable in Joe’s skin, writing in the first person felt natural and right. I can see Joe sticking around for awhile, so I’ll probably lean towards the first person for the time being.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

Here’s the blurb for ‘Broken Dreams’:

Invited by a local businessman to investigate a member of his staff’s absenteeism, it’s the kind of surveillance work that Geraghty and his small team have performed countless times. When Jennifer Murdoch is found bleeding to death in her bed, Geraghty quickly finds himself trapped in the middle of a police investigation which stretches back to the days when the city had a thriving fishing industry. As the woman’s tangled private life begins to unravel, the trail leads Geraghty to local gangster-turned-respectable businessman, Frank Salford, a man with a significant stake in the city’s regeneration plans. Still haunted by the death of his wife in a house fire, it seems the people with the answers Geraghty wants are the police and Salford, both of whom want his co-operation for their own ends. With everything at stake, some would go to any length to get what they want, Geraghty included.

It’s also the story of a forgotten city’s past, present and future. Hull generally suffers from a bad reputation, so this was my deliberate attempt to get behind the headlines and try to offer some thoughts on why it might be.

What projects are you working on now?

I’m well on with the next Joe Geraghty novel, which has the working title of ‘The Late Greats.’ Joe’s asked to act to as a buffer between the press and a reformed Britpop band from Hull, who split up acrimoniously over ten years ago. The job soon changes when the singer disappears, feared dead. The story takes Joe deeper into the city and he soon finds himself having to choose carefully which side he’s on. Above all, it’s a story about friendship and loyalty. Hopefully, it’ll be in a decent shape by the summer. After that I’ve got a couple of ideas to work on. We’ll see what happens.

5 commenti:

  1. Cracking interview with a top writer.

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  2. Hi its really very nice i enjoyed a lot to visit..Mobiles Handsets

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  3. Good interview, Nick. I hope it expands the audience looking forward to 'Broken Dreams.'

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  4. Paul, tight real interview, nicely done. And Nick, I look forward to reading it, Richard Godwin.

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  5. thanks a great session with Nick Quantrill , i am a big fain of his novels he great writer i love him so much and i always study Nick Quantrill ,s novel ... and what an amazingly he describes all the times when he write something ... and today i am so glad that you have taken an interview with him and knew about himself...

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