#AuthorInterview: Chris Carter, author of The Caller @simonschusterUK @JamieCriswell

the caller.jpg“Be careful before answering your next call. It could be the beginning of your worst nightmare.

After a tough week, Tanya Kaitlin is looking forward to a relaxing night in, but as she steps out of her shower, she hears her phone ring.  The video call request comes from her best friend, Karen Ward.  Tanya takes the call and the nightmare begins.
   
Detectives Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia are thrown into a rollercoaster of evil, chasing a predator who scouts the streets and social media networks for victims, taunting them with secret messages and feeding on their fear.”

I love being a book blogger.  Absolutely flipping love it.  You’re reading your books, writing your reviews, then one day a lovely PR person drops you an email.  It happens on a fairly frequent basis and I always count myself lucky.  But when that PR person is from Simon & Schuster and they are asking you to interview CHRIS CARTER…..well!  Yup, that’s what I said, THE CHRIS CARTER.

To celebrate the paperback publication of the latest Robert Hunter novel, The Caller I was given the opportunity to ask Chris a few questions, which he has kindly answered for our delectation.  So, without further ado, let’s get this show on the road…

***

DP: I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as I have such a treat in store (it’s a treat for me too!).  Today I am thrilled (and a little bit giddy) to welcome Chris Carter to the blog!  Chris is by far my favourite author and his Robert Hunter series is always the first collection of books I recommend. 

First of all Chris, welcome and thank you very much for joining me today.  If you could please introduce yourself and tell us a little about Robert Hunter.

CC: My name is Chris Carter.  I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school at the early age of 16, I moved to the USA where I studied Psychology with specialization in Criminal Behavior. During my University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all male exotic dancing group.

I worked as a Criminal Behavior Psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where I swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of well-established artists.

I left the music business a few years ago to write full time.  I now live in London and have written eight novels – The Crucifix Killer, The Executioner, The Night Stalker, The Death Sculptor, One By One, An Evil Mind and I Am Death, The Caller.  My ninth novel – The Gallery of the Dead will be published in February 2018.

In a nutshell, Robert Hunter is a criminal behavior psychologist turned detective for the Robbery Homicide Division of the LAPD.  Though, inside the LAPD, Hunter has a much more specialized task.  He’s the head of the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit.  A special unit that deals solely with homicides where the perpetrator has made a point of utilizing overwhelming sadism and brutality against his/her victims.

DP: Your books are known for being a little gorier than other crime fiction titles.  Have you ever been asked to tone down the amount of blood spilt and/or the suffering? Or vice versa, of course!

CC: No I’ve never been asked to tone it down.  Actually, I was the one who asked if I should tone it down.  None of my first five novels were picked up in the USA, and the reason I kept on being given was that my novels were too violent for the American market. (Yes, you read it right – too violent for the American market) .  My editors in the UK told me never to tone it down 🙂

DP: If the Hunter series had its own soundtrack, who would you choose to play the title track? And would you insist on joining in and playing guitar?

CC: Wow, great question.  If I could choose – Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, A Perfect Circle or Nine Inch Nails.  And yes, I would love to jam with any of them.

DP: Out of the eight books and one novella in the Hunter series, which is your favourite?  Who do you consider to be your best bad guy?

CC: I really don’t have a favourite novel out of the series. I put so much effort into all of them, but I do have the ones that I had a lot of fun writing.  Out of those, my first novel – The Crucifix Killer – I had a great time writing because there was no pressure and I was writing for fun.  I really had no ambitions of getting it published when I started writing it.  That alone makes writing fun, not a job.

The villain I had most fun writing was Lucien Folter from An Evil Mind.  I guess I went nuts on him.  And he’s coming back.

DP: I expect you’ve been asked this question before but can you tell us a little more about your writing process.  Where you get your ideas from, do you plan or are you a pantser? Do you have half-finished stories scattered around your writing space?

CC: I’m definitely not a plotter.  All of my stories are very organic. My main problem is that I never have a whole story in my head when I start writing.  I usually only have the basic idea for the main plot, so as I am starting a new novel I have no “how’s, why’s or who’s” really.  Most of that develops as I write.  Even Hunter, I did not have the entire character in my head when I finished The Crucifix Killer.  I discovered more and more things about him as I progressed through the series.

All the half finished stories I have are in my head.  I never write anything down, except when I start writing a novel.  I really do have zero notes.  Everything stays in my head.

DP: Which authors books do you like to read?  Is there one author who inspired you from an early age?

CC: The truth is that I don’t really have a favourite writer and I was not inspired to write by anyone.  I never even thought about being a writer until I had a dream about a story, which turned out to be The Crucifix Killer, my first novel.  I do respect every single author out there, because this is a tough job, I just don’t have a favourite one.

No author has inspired me to write.  The truth is that I had never planned on writing a book.  I never thought about a career in writing and I never spent any time thinking up stories or developing characters in my head that I would one day want to write about.  My submersion into the world of books – writing books that is – came out of a dream I had back in 2007.

I used to love reading Frederick Forsyth.

DP: I always enjoy the wonderful plot twists and inventive ways you have of killing victims, how do you make sure your books stay one step ahead of others in the same genre?

CC: I am always looking for different ideas.  Sometimes I will read something on a newspaper, or see something in a movie or on the streets, or hear something on the radio that will sparkle some new idea in my brain.  I then usually add to it to come up with something a little different.  I also do a lot of research, especially medieval torturing.  A lot of mad ideas can come from that.

DP: What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

CC: Probably The Analyst by John Katzenbach

DP: Would it be a dream come true to have the series made into a movie (or televised) or something that you’re not really worried about? If they did make, Robert Hunter: The Movie who would play Hunter and who would play Garcia?

CC: I would love to have one of my novels made into a film, or even the whole series into a series, but unfortunately it’s not up to me.  A movie studio needs to have enough interest in one of my books to option it for a movie.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I do live in hope.

As to who would play Hunter and Garcia, I really have no idea.  I guess I will cross that bridge when and if I get there. 🙂

DP: What character traits do you share with Robert Hunter?  In other words, how much of Hunter is Chris Carter?

CC: I do share a few.  Being a loner, being into rock music, the debilitating insomnia, single malt Scotch whisky, ex-criminal psychologist, being quite a calm person, good listener, but he is definitely fictitious.  My outer ego, maybe.

DP: On the back of the previous question, what don’t you like about Robert Hunter?

CC: The fact that he is fictitious. He would’ve been a good friend and probably helped me out in a variety of scenarios.

DP: Does the Hunter series have an end date for you?

CC: There’s none planned.  Just like my agent keeps on telling me – as long as readers want to read Hunter stories, keep on writing them.

DP: And finally, what question do you wish I had asked, but didn’t (and what’s the answer?!)

CC: Actually there’s nothing else I can think of.  All of them, great questions.  Thank you so much. 🙂

***

My most heartfelt thanks to Chris Carter for joining me today and allowing me to have a total #fangirl moment.  I’m thrilled we got the heads up on The Gallery of the Dead being published in February 2018.  I can’t wait!!!  My thanks to Jamie Criswell at Simon & Schuster for making this interview possible.

The Caller by Chris Carter (Robert Hunter #8) was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 27th July 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

Author photo.jpgBiographies can be an absolute drag, so I won’t bore anyone with a long life story.

I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school, I moved to the USA where I studied psychology with specialization in criminal behaviour. During my University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all male exotic dancing group.

I worked as a criminal psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where I swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several well-known glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of famous artists. I toured the world several times as a professional musician.

A few years ago I gave it all up to become a full-time writer.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook |

 

#BlogTour: The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto (@HiekkapeltoKati) @OrendaBooks #TheFinnishInvasion

41mxo4kt01l-_sx322_bo1204203200_“Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees. Can Anna solve a terrifying case that’s become personal?

Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes?”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to my weekend long stop on Orenda Books’ Finnish Invasion blog tour.  I am delighted to welcome Kati Hiekkapelto, author of The Exiled to damppebbles today with a fabulous Q&A.  Tomorrow I have fellow Finnish author, Antti Tuomainen joining me on the blog with a brilliant guest post.  So pop back tomorrow for the Finnish Invasion blog tour part two!  Without further ado, on with the questions…

The Exiled sees Anna return home to Serbia, where she finds that the people there aren’t quite as she remembered, and she’s often shocked by the behaviour of the locals to ‘outsiders’. Was that your experience?

Serbia is very multicultural place and they still have their own war times fresh in their memory, so many people are actually very tolerant and open to ‘outsiders’. In fact, Hungary behaved much worse during last year’s refugee crisis than Serbia. Racism and xenophobia are much more deeper in every-day politics in Hungary. But of course there are problems in Serbia, too. There are politicians, parties and also common individuals who don’t accept immigrants or Romanys – the latter in particular are very badly treated. This concerns the whole of Eastern Europe and unfortunately the whole world. My own experiences in Serbia were only good. I come from ‘West’ and therefore I was something rather to admire to than dislike. Of course I hope that everyone would be liked just because he or she is a good person, not because of the origins. I never understood why on earth would it matter where I happened to be born or where my parents were born. Our nationality in birth is something we really cannot change.

And paradoxically, across the first two books (The Hummingbird and The Defenceless), Anna is an outsider in Finland, yet when she returns home to Serbia in this book, she feels somewhat the same – the people and their treatment of others alien to her – and she discovers a shocking secret that makes her question everything. What was your message here?

I don’t want to deliver any messages. I am just a storyteller. Although, in my experience, many immigrants share the feeling of being an outsider in both their old and new homelands. Research into the immigrant experience also confirm this. So, Anna’s feelings have a big basis in reality, however, not every immigrant would feel the same.

How Anna could feel home in Serbia, when she fled there as a small child? How could she feel home in Finland, where she don’t have her roots and family and can’t really use her mother tongue. These are fundamental questions in Anna’s fragile identity and the worst thing is that she is incapable of talking about them. She believes that opening her inner self to someone is worthless mumbo jumbo and psychology is nothing but bullshit, but I think she doesn’t have words for the feelings she experiences and therefore she overlooks (or suppresses) the whole thing. This is one of the tragedies of losing your mother tongue. Describing your emotions is very deeply rooted in your mother tongue and if you don’t have opportunity to use it often or it doesn’t  develop enough (for example, moving to an other country as a child), you can experience such problems and not even be aware of it. I think to understand Anna, we need to try to understand the fundamental, essential combination of language and identity.

Family secrets are a theme that runs throughout the book. What was your inspiration for this thread of the story?

In The Hummingbird I wrote one sentence in which Anna told her new colleagues that her police-officer father died in the line of duty. I did not know then what had happened, to be honest; in fact, I did not think about it at all, but I knew immediately that I want to find it out. The Exiled was kind of born in that moment, years before I actually wrote it.

Can you tell us a secret of your own?

No. It would not be a secret anymore. Ha ha!  (Good answer, Kati!)

You have been shortlisted for or won most of the big Scandinavian fiction awards (The Glass Key, the Petrona Award, the Ice Pick, Finnish Crime Novel of the Year, Dead Good Reads Most Captivating Crime in Translation …). When you started writing, did you ever expect this?

OMG, no! I still don’t believe this! When I wrote The Hummingbird, I had only one goal: to finish a whole novel. When it was done I almost deleted it, because it felt so shit. But fortunately I sent it to couple of publishing houses in Finland and amazingly Otava picked it up very quickly. Everything has been a huge surprise to me. Huge, huge surprise. I still think sometimes that this is just a gigantic joke and one day everybody is going to laugh at me and say: Ha! We got you! Your books are bad as you thought, you fool!

It is crazy how artists can be unsure about their work! I’ve talked with many writers and painters and composers and almost all of them report feeling the same way. It is horrible to struggle with feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt. I could never expect anything ‘glorious’ from outside, I could not write thinking: this is so brilliant, it’s going to be a huge success. Of course I have moments when text is rolling and it looks good even to my own eyes. Thank God for those moments, or I could not bear to be in this profession without them. And I am ambitious, too. I want to achieve a lot, not because achieving it would be something interesting or desirable, but because I want to become a bloody good writer. I want to learn and get better all the time.

Your writing is evocative and beautiful – very literary. Did you find it difficult to marry this with a page-turning, gripping plot?

It is my style, and it comes quite naturally to me, without any particular effort. Writing in the whole is difficult, though. Plot, characters, narrative, setting, themes, language, rhythm of words and sentences, it all has to be as perfect as possible. That is the reason I experience so much pain when I write. It is never good enough! It is so hard to make all those elements work together as complete, readable, enjoyable and thought-provoking prose. And yet it is so fun, interesting and exciting. I love writing! (And hate too!)

Equally, Kati, you are a political writer – exposing wrongs in society and pointing the finger at wrongdoers. You root for the little people, the underdogs. And yet, as above, at no point is the tension lost, or is the story compromised. How do you go about writing enthralling books while giving a voice to others?

I think this is another thing that comes naturally. I’ve always been on the side of the poor and discriminated. I come from working-class family where social awareness and equality was always something considered to be self-evident. My parents were not activists or anything like that; they are very ordinary people, but in my home all forms of bullying or underrating others was despised. I became a punk when I was young and I still am. Punk shaped my identity very much. I hope I will never be too old to abandon my ideology, my anger at the establishment and my support for the oppressed. However, in my writing I try to avoid preaching. No one likes to be taught or pushed in a certain direction. I hate preaching! I tell stories that definitely have a certain level of social consciousness. It is my style and I also like to read this type of book myself. But conclusions I leave to the reader.

In your personal life, you’ve been very involved in helping writers and artists in danger. Can you tell us a bit about this?

At the moment the project is ‘in ice’ because we don’t have money nor anyone to do it full time. We got a grant for a year (last year) and we had one ‘customer’ from Iraq on our island Hailuoto. There are so-called Safe Haven cities in every Nordic country except Finland (I think Helsinki is soon going to be one, at least there are active people working towards this) and all over the world, too. They offer a period of asylum for artists in danger. I had a dream of creating such a residency to Hailuoto. With the grant we hired one person to do all the paperwork, etc., for the project, but unfortunately he did not do very good job. But we got great experience, good contacts and lots of knowledge. I really hope one day we can continue the project. There are so many writers and other artists who are persecuted for their work and that is a shame.

Are you affected by the cold, dark winters in your home village? Tell us a little about what it’s like to live in 24-hour darkness, on an island, during a Finnish winter.

I am very affected indeed. I am writing this in Tenerife. I escaped the darkness and love the sunshine here. Darkness can be very depressing. The older I get the harder it feels. Luckily my work allows me to go out during the hours of grey light we have around midday. When I was working in school it was much more difficult during the ‘kaamos’ (the period when the sun doesn’t rise in winter). And luckily I live 230 km south of the Arctic Circle, so it is possible to see a blink of sun sometimes. I would say it is 20-hour darkness and couple of hours of greyness. Beyond the circle you can not see light at all for months. And then in summer we have nothing but light. I can go out and read a book in the middle of a night. It is great!

There is much beauty in darkness ,too. It feels cosy and safe, like a blanket. And it is easier to bear in the countryside, rathe than in cities, I think. You can see the light of stars and snow better without artificial illumination. The Milky Way is fully visible from my yard and Aurora Borealis dance above my house very often. I don’t mind cold. It is only question of dressing properly. Finnish houses are well isolated and warm. Well, my house is almost 200 years old and not perhaps so warm… Winter means wood chopping and heating to me. And cross-country skiing. It is something I’m used to, nothing special or exotic really.  But I think I will come back to Tenerife next winter too…

What’s next for Anna Fekete? 

I’m writing it here. She is back in Finland, that much I can reveal. I don’t feel comfortable speaking about work that is not done yet.

Is this a series that you think you can sustain indefinitely, or will you need to take a break to write a standalone or something different? Do you have any ideas for that ‘something different’?

I could write short stories in the ‘Finnish Weird’ genre. Actually, I already have. I also write lyrics for my band, and columns for a couple of newspapers. I have a forever-project called a theater piece. But as long as I feel that I have something to say through Anna’s character and I don’t get bored with her, this series will be my main work.

You’ve travelled to the UK three or four times a year since the publication of The Hummingbird. Is the culture what you imagined it would be and are you surprised by the huge enthusiasm for your books here and around the world?

Do you mean British culture in general or culture among crime fiction scene? Well, it does not matter, because I did not imagine either of them. And yes, as I mentioned earlier, I am totally surprised. One of the greatest things I’ve discovered is that crime writers in UK are like one big, happy family, a wonderful community of amazing people. I have felt very welcome and part of the gang from the beginning. It is fantastic! This, of course, applies to crime writers from all around the globe, but since I have met most of them in UK, I count them as part of the UK gang. I have travelled to many other countries, too, since The Hummingbird. At the moment I have 12 foreign translations. Unless I wake up tomorrow and get a call from my agent to say: we were all just kidding…

What are you reading now, and what has been your best ‘crime’ read of the year?

Luis Ruffato’s There Were Many Horses. The best crime was re-reading The Red Dragon. It was even better than the first time. I often read two or three books at a time, and my third one is Cormac McCarthy’s Cities of the Plain.

***

Thank you so much for answering these questions for us, Kati.  My review of The Exiled will image001be coming to damppebbles soon.

The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 10th October
2o16 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Smith & Sons (11)

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Kati Hiekkapelto is a bestselling author, punk singer, performance artist and special-needs teacher. She lives on an old farm on the island of Hailuoto in Northern Finland with her children and sizable menagerie. Hiekkapelto has taught immigrants and lived in the Hungarian region of Serbia, which inspired her to write her highly regarded debut crime novel, The Hummingbird.

 

 

 

Author Q&A: Robert Bryndza

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photo credit to Jan Bryndza

I am thrilled to welcome Robert Bryndza, author of The Girl in the Ice, The Night Stalker and the Coco Pinchard series of romantic comedies to damppebbles today.

I developed the biggest girl crush on DCI Erika Foster after reading The Girl in the Ice, I may have mentioned that before (..?!) and it went straight into my top 5 favourite books of all time.

So imagine my delight when The Night Stalker, book 2 in the series, appeared on NetGalley!  The Night Stalker was my most eagerly anticipated book of the year and it didn’t disappoint.  You can read my review here.

Hello Robert, thank you for joining me on damppebbles today.  For those that haven’t come across your work before, can you please tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you for inviting me.  Hello, thanks for welcoming me onto your blog. My name is Robert Bryndza, and my debut crime thriller The Girl In The Ice was published by Bookouture in Feb 2016, and they have just published its follow-up The Night Stalker. I was born in the UK, and now live in Slovakia. I was originally an actor, which I used to combine with writing plays. Then the writing took over, and now I’m lucky enough to write full time.

Having been a successful romantic comedy writer, what made you decide to write in a different genre?  And why crime fiction?

I’ve always wanted to write a crime thriller, and I realised that if I didn’t do it soon, I never would. For the past year the character of Erika Foster has been slowly taking shape in my mind, and I’ve been scribbling down notes and story ideas for the past few years.

How far are you hoping to take the Erika series?  In other words, is the end for Erika in sight or do you plan to continue writing her for as long as you can?

I hope to continue writing many more Erika Foster novels. I love writing them!

Do you find any of your characters particularly difficult or tricky to write?  I know some writers struggle with dialogue, but the dialogue between your characters is one of the things I love about your writing.

I find that all writing is very hard. I admire anyone who has decided to write a book and has then followed it through to completion!

I’m afraid I haven’t read any of your romantic comedies starring Coco Pinchard.  With that in mind, who would win in a fight between Erika and Coco?

My first instinct would be for Erika to win, but Coco can be quite feisty when the occasion demands…

What are you working on at the moment, or is it time for a well-earned rest?

I’m working on the third Erika Foster novel.

Imagine you’ve set up your own publishing company.  Which three authors would you immediately sign and why (alive or dead)?  What would your publishing company be called?

I do have my own publishing company, it’s called Team Bryndza Books! It’s run by me and my husband Ján, where we self-publish all of the Coco Pinchard books. I love self publishing, but it is so much work , so I don’t think I would want the responsibility of publishing anyone else’s work.

Do you have a special writing ‘nook’ or ‘space’?  Or do you just grab the chance to write wherever and whenever you can?

I can write anywhere, and I like it that way. I have a cosy armchair by the window, which is my favourite place to write.

What one piece of advice would you give your younger self about writing and the publishing industry?

Have faith in your own ideas. Keep writing, and connecting with readers and don’t sit around and expect someone to discover you. Keep generating your own work and opportunities.

Finally, how can readers connect with you on social media?

I have a Facebook page Facebook.com/bryndzarobert you can find me on Twitter @robertbryndza and on Instagram as robertbryndza.

Thank you so much for joining me today Rob.  I’m over the moon that you were able to stop by and answer a few questions.

Thanks, it was a pleasure to be asked.

The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza was published in the UK by Bookouture on 2nd June 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com |