I was thrilled when Deborah Crombie graciously agreed to an interview. She is a terrific writer and I have no hesitation about saying I am a fan of her work. Tomorrow is the release date for her newest book, To Dwell in Darkness. I’ve already devoured it, by the way, and a review will be posted on Mockingbird Hill Cottage one week from today.
To celebrate the upcoming release, let’s learn a bit more about Deborah Crombie.
Me: Deborah, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview. I’m an unabashed fan of your writing. I reviewed one of your books for TLC Book Tours a year or so ago, and promptly went back and read every book in the series, in the order of publication.
Your newest novel in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series, To Dwell in Darkness, is just about to be published. I should add that it’s the 16th book in the series. Is this an exciting time for you? Is it overwhelming? Is there a book tour on the horizon? (That’s 3 questions, forgive me!)
DC: Exciting, yes. Overwhelming, a bit!!! And yes, I’ll be touring and doing events between September 23rd and mid-November when I go to Boucheron 2014 in Long Beach, CA. Here’s the link to my schedule on my website. (Click here.) I’m so looking forward to meeting readers and talking about the book!
Me: Back to the beginning: Did you always want to be a writer or was this calling something that evolved over time?
DC: I wrote from my early teens – no child prodigy here. But it wasn’t a case of seeing myself as a “writer.” I just liked putting words on paper and making things up. Mostly I wrote poetry, some of which I think was not too bad (although I hope it never comes to light!)
Me: What drew you to this genre?
DC: Growing up, I read as much science fiction and fantasy as mystery. But I adored the British crime novel, and everything about the form appeals to me. I love the structure of the crime novel, and the freedom one has to do very interesting things within it. I also love series novels, and crime is the perfect genre for them.
Me: You live in Texas. Why did you decide to set your novels in England?
DC: I loved everything British from the time I was a child. I read everything British – literature, history – watched British television. When I went to England for the first time in my twenties, I felt like I had come home. I eventually lived in both England and Scotland. I was terribly homesick for Britain when I moved back to Texas, so when, on a visit to Yorkshire, I had the idea for the first novel, it was a way of being there in my imagination.
Me: When you first started writing about Duncan Kincaid (and Gemma), did you already have an idea this would become a series?
DC: I knew I WANTED it to become a series! But I had no idea if I could write and sell one novel, much less many more novels. Still, I had a very definite vision of what I wanted in a series.
Me: Was the possibility for a romance between them there from the beginning?
DC: It didn’t occur to me in the first book. I just thought it would be interesting for Duncan to have a female colleague, and someone who was different from him in both background and personality. And I wanted to write about a female police officer who loved and was good at her job, but had to balance her career with family obligations, as most women professionals do.
By the second book, I’d begun to have an inkling. By the third, they had run away with it!
Me: As to the writing process: do you have a detailed plot in your head and/or outlined when you begin the first draft or does the plot evolve as you write?
DC: It’s a bit of both. I’ve always been an outliner, but I have learned that no matter how carefully and thoroughly I outline, things will evolve as I write. And unexpected things will pop up that have to be accommodated. That said, I always know where a book is going, and I’ve never had a book deviate from what I intended at the very beginning. It’s getting there that can be weird and wonderful.
Me: There must be a great amount of research involved. Do you visit England periodically to do that research? (And if so, lucky you!)
DC: I try to go at least twice a year, usually for about three weeks a visit. This year I was there in May and early June, and I hope to go back in late January. If I’m in London, I usually stay in a leased flat. That’s such a bonus, because it lets me experience living in London. I can shop where my characters shop, eat where they eat, take the Tube, take the bus…get rained on. Freeze, as the characters do in To Dwell in Darkness. I was in London in March 2013, which was the coldest March in Britain in fifty years.
Me: Is there a favorite part of the writing process for you?
DC: Once the book is more or less plotted, I love seeing the scenes and characters come to life on the page. The plotting is very logical and left-brained. What happens when you actually start writing taps into the subconscious, and even after sixteen novels I find that fascinating. I also LOVE writing dialogue. It’s so much fun when your characters start talking!
Me: What about your least favorite part of the writing process?
DC: Beginning. (Deborah inserted a Smiley Face here.)
Me: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and what do you do when that happens?
DC: I have great brainstorming buddies. It really helps to talk things out with another writer. And I brainstorm with myself on paper, making a list of questions. “What needs to happen in this chapter? If this happens, what happens then? What would this character do in these circumstances?” And the last resort, of course, is to make myself sit down and write SOMETHING. That will usually get things going.
Me: Do you write on a computer, typewriter or longhand?
DC: I hope I never have to write a book on a typewriter! I write on a computer (I have a Lenovo Thinkpad, if anyone is interested.) But I also write a lot of notes and rough drafts of scenes by hand. That seems to be a good way of warming up my writing mind. And pen and paper are always handy.
Me: This is a purely selfish question: will there be more novels in the series?
DC: I certainly hope there will be many more! I’m now working on #17, and have rough plans for several novels after that. There are now so many characters, and so many story possibilities, that I can’t see myself running out of ideas – as long as readers want to read the books!
Me: Thanks so very much, Deborah! I can’t wait to read your newest book! I hope to meet you someday.
DC: Thanks so much, Claudia! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book, and I hope we can get a chance to meet someday!
Gosh, I’m thrilled that I got to interview Deborah. I hope you enjoyed it.
The newest book in the series, To Dwell in Darkness, comes out tomorrow, September 23rd.