Q&A With Deborah Crombie

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Q&A With Deborah Crombie

Tonight’s Q&A is with Deborah Crombie who is The New York Times Bestselling author of the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James Mystery Series which takes place in the United Kingdom. It sounds like a mystery series I’m definitely going to start. 

Q: For myself and for the readers of my blog who enjoy mysteries, tell us what intrigues and fascinates you about writing mystery novels? 

A: I love the structure of the traditional mystery. It has built-in plot tension on so many levels—who did it, why did they do it, how did they do it, and how will the detective solve the case, plus you can add in the personal relationships and dilemmas of the series characters for even more hooks to keep the reader turning the pages. I also like the sense of being able to right a fictional wrong—it’s very satisfying to see justice done.

Q: When did you realize that being an author was what you were called to do in life?

A: I read voraciously from a very early age, and wrote from my early teens, mostly poetry. It wasn’t until I had the idea for my first Kincaid/James story that I really contemplated writing a novel, but once I’d started, I was hooked. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Q: Is it fair to say that the characters that are Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are inspired by people you know? I like it when authors can get inspiration from real people to create fictional ones. 

A: Sorry to disappoint on this one, but I’ve never based any of my characters specifically on a real person. Ideas for characters come from all sorts of places and they all get mixed in together. Often characters seem to come to life as I write them, but where that comes from is a mystery to me!

Q: I read online that you did live in the UK for a few years. What was it like living in the UK? Did you get to go on tours to any of the castles and palaces? I always find it fascinating when an author or anyone really, lives abroad. 

A: I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland and in Chester, England. I was already a died-in-the-wool Anglophile, so it was a great experience. When I moved back to the US (Texas, where I grew up and still live) it was my homesickness for the UK that inspired my first novel.

I did visit some castles and stately homes, and have since, but I’m really more interested in ordinary British life. 

Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James Mystery series? Originality is really lacking in Hollywood and we need more mystery shows. 

A: There’s been quite a bit of interest in adapting the books for a British television mystery series, but nothing is concrete as of yet. I’d love to see the books made for TV, and I have lots of fun trying to pick actors to play all the parts. I don’t have any dream casting choices, though.

Q: Tell us a little bit about book 19 in the series titled A Killing of Innocents. What should readers of the popular series expect this time around.

A: In A Killing of Innocents, a young doctor named Sasha Johnson is stabbed as she crosses a public garden in London’s Bloomsbury on her way to meet a friend. The case falls to Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his team from nearby Holborn Police Station. Duncan’s wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, who has been temporarily assigned to a knife crime unit, is called in to assist, and together they must find the killer. I love writing about how Gemma and Duncan juggle their jobs with the demands of their blended family, and I loved writing about the historic neighborhoods of Bloomsbury and Soho in this book.

Q: What is your advice to someone on how to write a great mystery novel? How do you deal with writers block and what’s your advice to anyone who does deal with the same problem?

A: There are lots of great how-to books on writing mysteries, so I’d recommend starting there (as I did!) I’d also suggest analyzing favorite books to see what particular things you like, and how the author has addressed them. I picked apart Dorothy Sayers and PD James novels, for instance, when I was starting to write.

The only cure I know for writer’s block is to sit down and write something, anything! Paraphrasing the prolific Nora Roberts, bad words are better than no words. If you don’t write it, you can’t fix it. If I feel really stuck, I’ll switch to pen and a notebook—less pressure, more like play—and just ask myself questions about the plot or the characters. That’s usually enough to get things going.

Q: What’s your advice to new authors on how to deal with negative criticisms whether it’s bad reviews, online trolls and family and friends who don’t support their writing goals?

A: Oh gosh, those are tough questions. If family and friends aren’t supportive, you just have to be determined to persevere. If you really, really love to write, you have to believe in yourself.

As for the negative stuff, it’s really hard to do, but you have to ignore it. I don’t read negative reviews or respond to online trolls. You can’t please everyone and it’s soul crushing to let those things get to you.

Q: With A Killing of Innocents coming out this year, are you writing book 20 in the series? Or will your next novel be a stand-alone or the beginning of a new mystery series?

A: I am indeed writing Kincaid/James Book #20! Gemma investigates a body found in the canal in London’s Little Venice, but Duncan is drawn into the case as well. (Of course!) There are still lots of adventures in store for the detectives and their teams!