Welcome to my spot on the blog tour! I’m delighted to post a Q&A with author Robert Crouch today. Here is the blurb for his new book, No Bodies, which sounds fantastic and is available to buy now!
NO MOTIVE. NO CONNECTION.
Why would environmental health officer, Kent Fisher, show any interest in finding Daphne Witherington, the missing wife of a longstanding family friend?
The police believe she ran off with Colin Miller, a rather dubious caterer, and Kent has problems of his own when a young girl who visits his animal sanctuary is rushed to hospital.
When enquiries into Colin Miller reveal a second missing wife, Kent picks up a trail that went cold over a year ago. But he’s struggling to find a connection between the women, even when he discovers a third missing wife.
Is there a killer on the loose in Downland?
With no motive, no connection and no bodies, Kent may never uncover the truth.
‘Robert Crouch has brought both a fresh voice and a new twist to conventional crime drama.‘ Alaric Bond
And so without further ado, here is the fabulous Q&A!
Why did you write a book?
I loved reading books from an early age. It started with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and moved on from there. Books showed me new and different worlds, taught me about people and life and I guess they inspired me to write my own stories.
Do you write every day?
I write Monday to Friday. Mornings are reserved for creative pursuits, usually writing, editing and revising. This also includes posts for my Robservations blog and my monthly newsletter for subscribers. Afternoons are for social media, updating my website, publishing my books on Amazon, email and correspondance. Sometimes, I write into the afternoons, and hope to do more of this in the future.
Do you work to a plot or do you prefer to see where the idea takes you?
I prefer to start with an idea or a line of dialogue, and see where it takes me.
But when you write crime, you have to have a victim and four or five suspects with credible motives. As my detective is an environmental health officer, he wouldn’t be involved in a murder investigation run by the police. So for No Accident I created a murder that not only looked like a work accident, but would have to withstand a full investigation. It meant a lot of thinking and planning, especially the little details that didn’t fit comfortably. Fortunately, having investigated a few workplace accidents, and being a lover of Columbo, I found a way to do this.
No Bodies works on similar lines. As the title suggests, there are no bodies and no evidence that anyone has been murdered. It gave me greater freedom to let the investigation evolve as I wrote, which made the writing much more fun, especially as I piled on the complications and twists. But, I knew before I started writing who the killer was an why.
That all changed with the third novel, No Remorse. I wanted to tackle abuse of the elderly in residential care, and came up with a first line –
The old man’s grip tightens on my forearm. “They’re killing me.”
I had no idea who he was, why he was in a luxury care home, who was trying to kill him or why. All I knew for certain was that the answers lay in the man’s past, which meant it was a journey into the unknown. But what an amazing journey it turned out to be. First, I lobbed in a cryptic code, which seemed the right thing to do, though I didn’t know why at the time. The complications came thick and fast, along with potential suspects. Then the body count increased.
That’s what made it such a thrill to write – I didn’t know who committed the murders till close to the end. I was making the discoveries at the same time as Kent Fisher.
That’s how I prefer to write, but I guess the amount of plotting depends on the story.
How long does it take you to write a book?
This may sound sad, but I now record the time spent on writing, editing and revising my novels. I’m not sure why I do this, but it’s good to have a record. The first draft of No Bodies took 387 hours to complete. Another 270 hours of edits and revisions followed. This was spread over a 20 month period as I also had to edit and work on No Accident for its original publication.
The first draft of No Remorse, the next Kent Fisher mystery took 356 hours to complete over four months. That’s 30 hours less than No Bodies, but fairly consistent.
What’s the worst thing about writing a book?
I love writing the Kent Fisher mysteries and enjoy the whole process from concept to final edit. It’s the waiting to see whether people will like and enjoy the book you’ve written.
When No Accident was first published, I was sure people would pick holes in the plot, or say the characters were unbelievable. Luckily, they didn’t and I was overwhelmed by the positive reaction the story received and still receives.
What’s the best thing about writing a book?
As I said, I love the whole process because it’s a voyage of discovery from start to finish. I love delving into this world I’ve created, watching characters develop as they deal with big problems and engage with one another.
Each book becomes an exciting adventure, a journey into new worlds and characters. It’s all underpinned by the familiar cast and problems in the backstory, which often casts long shadows. For instance, I have an idea for a plot for book six, but I need to set certain things in motion now for it all to work.
That’s the best thing about writing a series – it’s like having two lives – a real one and a fictional one.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I’ve always loved puzzles and mysteries, and after watching Inspector Morse and Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple during the 1990s, I wanted to create something of that quality and depth. I wanted a detective that would stand out and be different from the usual flawed police investigators with failed marriages. I also wanted a strong backstory so that my novels would be about characters as much as crimes.
If you had to write in a different genre, which would you choose?
Humour, without a doubt. I wrote a humorous, satirical novel, called They Laughed at Noah, many years ago and I’m tempted to rewrite and update it as the themes are still relevant today.
Everyone tells me it’s almost impossible to place humour with publishers, probably because we all laugh at different things. If that’s true, it’s a shame because it’s one of the best feelings in the world to make people laugh.
Which book character do you wish you had written?
Based on what inspired me, you’d think it would be Morse or Miss Marple, but I don’t have the background or experience to write them. I’d love to say, Columbo, but he was a TV creation.
As an avid reader of new crime fiction, I’ll go for DS Lasser, from the excellent Robin Roughley. Lasser’s a down to earth, honest and highly principled cop, who can still see the funny side of life.
What do you think are the best and the worst about social media?
The best thing about social media is getting to know others. Whether it’s the friends you make, people you share an interest with, or the many groups on Facebooks, you get to see all shades of life. As a newly-published author, Facebook groups have been a boon, especially Book Connectors, where I’ve met many bloggers and reviewers, who do an amazing job to help authors.
I’m still struggling to see the benefit of Twitter, where the number of followers and retweets seems to have taken priority over communication. But it helps spread the word, even if it devours time.
That’s the worst thing about social media – the amount of time it sucks out of your day.
A few questions, just for fun:
If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
When you first publish a novel on Amazon, you are pretty much invisible among the four million or so books that are already on there, so I’d like to offer a huge thank you to the blogging community for making me more visible.
If I joined you on your perfect day, what would we be doing?
Something you wanted to do that would take me out of my comfort zone.
What’s your signature dish?
I’m an excellent food warmer, no more.
If you could be anyone for the day, who would you be?
I’d like to be one of those unsung heroes, who dedicate their time and energy into helping the less fortunate. I don’t have the courage or skills to do what they do.
Maybe a day as a volunteer at an animal sanctuary would allow me to experience and appreciate all the amazing work that goes on.
If you would like to read No Bodies, here are the links!
About Robert Crouch:
Inspired by Miss Marple, Inspector Morse and Columbo, Robert Crouch wanted to write entertaining crime fiction the whole family could enjoy.
At their heart is Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer with more baggage than an airport carousel. Passionate about the environment, justice and fair play, he’s soon embroiled in murder.
Drawing on his experiences as an environmental health officer, Robert has created a new kind of detective who brings a unique and fresh twist to the traditional murder mystery. With complex plots, topical issues and a liberal dash of irreverent humour, the Kent Fisher mysteries offer an alternative to the standard police procedural.
Robert now writes full time and lives on the South Coast of England with his wife and their West Highland White Terrier, Harvey, who appears in the novels as Kent’s sidekick, Columbo.
To discover more, visit http://robertcrouch.co.uk.
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Huge thanks to Robert Crouch and Caroline Vincent of Bits About Books for the fab Q&A and for including me on the blog tour!