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One to Watch Crime Author Interview – Jenny Thomson


1. How did you get started writing I sold my first article to a girl’s magazine about superstitions when I was 15 and it all started from there. Over the years I’ve written about every topic under the sun for newspapers and magazines and had self-help books published – all by the traditional route. About twelve years ago, I wrote my first novel The Football Fan’s Survival Guide, but that ended up being the one that languishes in a drawer – every writer has one of these. It was only when I got a contract for my short novel How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks in 2010 and won the Pitlochry Quaich for my crime novel Vile City in 2011, that I realised I could write fiction.

2. What drew you to crime fiction I read a lot of crime fiction from so many different countries and love the genre. The best thing about it is it’s such a wide one, so you can play around with it. Hell To Pay and the other books to come in the Die Hard for Girls series (all featuring Nancy Kerr and Tommy McIntyre) don’t focus on the police or on private detectives, they focus on a couple of vigilantes and the victims of crime. With crime fiction you can get away with doing that.

3. Which crime writers past or present have influenced your style of writing Scottish writers like Stuart MacBride and Craig Russell have shown that you can write crime fiction and it doesn’t need to be all doom and gloom. There can be moments of humour. Like many writers, I love Stephen King. Although he doesn’t write crime fiction, if you want to write popular fiction you need to read his books. His book On Writing is a must read for any writer.

4. What was the inspiration behind the storyline of Hell to Pay I was sick of reading about women being the victims of sadistic crimes and so often not getting any justice, so I wanted to write a book where the main character didn’t just get revenge, she went out and got it for herself. And, so my kick ass heroine Nancy Kerr was born.

5. Did you find it hard to get publisher interest for Hell to Pay The first publisher I sent Hell To Pay signed me up within days. They loved the book and the fact that it was the first in a series I’d dubbed ‘Die Hard for Girls.” They also gave me a contract for the second one, Throwaways, which I’ve almost finished writing. I feel lucky that way, but then I’ve had plenty of knockbacks and disappointments in the past. For example, I had a contract for my book about a one-legged barmaid who goes on the run with a gangster’s cash and gun, but it was never published after the head of the imprint left the publisher.

6. Did you find the experience of writing your first novel an easy task or a quite daunting one Hell To Pay isn’t the first novel I’ve written. Dead Bastards, my Scottish zombie novel was published by TWB Press last year as an eBook. It’s also attracted interest from a paperback publisher, which I’m very excited about.

The story for Hell To Pay was an easy one to write and didn’t need much planning. The things I did struggle with were making sure there were no continuity errors. For instance, you can’t have a character with brown hair one minute and pink the next, or have someone come into a room who you killed off two chapters ago. You need to keep track of those things and that can be difficult because you’ve so many other things to keep an eye on.

7. Why did you decide to set your books in Glasgow For over a decade, I lived in Glasgow and I thought that if there was a character who could come back from having her parents murdered and being raped it and go all out for revenge, it would be someone from Glasgow. Glaswegians are very resilient and don’t take any crap.

8. Did you ever consider putting Hell to Pay up as a e book to gain interest like a lot of new crime authors have done No, I think there are too many authors doing that now that it would be hard to stand out. There’s also a stigma attached to self-publishing because there’s no quality control. Not as much as there used to be because there are so many great self-published books out there.

I am working on a short story featuring Nancy Kerr and her sidekick Tommy McIntyre though, which will be available free on Kindle to introduce new readers to the first two books in the series. Top authors like Tess Gerritsen have been doing that quite successfully.

9. What kind of research did you have to undertake for your books I had to research a few things, including whether it was possible for someone to escape from the boot of a car and how you would incapacitate someone who was much stronger than you. For another book, I researched the cakes people jump out of at birthday parties and stag dos. I was very disappointed to find they didn’t eat their way out!

10. Are the characters in your books based on any real life people The characters aren’t based on real people. I’d be too worried I’d get sued! The name of Nancy Kerr is an amalgamation of two people I know from high school. It was a subconscious thing and not intended.

11. Since you have started writing crime novels have any known authors given you any advice Lawrence Bloch told me that diversity was a good thing and that as well as writing crime you should write other types of books. Joyce Holmes who judged the crime writing competition I won, was also a great help and offered to look at the final manuscript for Vile City, my winning entry.

12. Do you see any of Nancy Kerr’s personality in yourself and vice versa Nancy’s the kind of person I wish I could be. She’s sassy, streetwise and sexy. And she takes no nonsense. In a way, I think she’s the woman we all wish we could be.

13. You touch on some harrowing moments in your book. Did you feel it was quite hard to write about No, the best thing about writing Hell To Pay is I knew that no matter what happened to Nancy Kerr she would recover and would get her revenge. Sadly, in real life that doesn’t usually happen, but that’s why I think the Die Hard for Girls books will take off: because readers know they’ll get a good dose of escapist fiction.

14. What do you see for the future of Nancy Kerr After avenging her parents’ deaths, Nancy Kerr will help other crime victims, assisted by her hunky sidekick Tommy McIntyre. They have a long future ahead of them and a changing relationship.

15. As a blossoming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share Never give up. Keep writing and working on different projects because you will face disappointments along the way and if you do you will have more work to send out. The worst thing you can do is write one novel and just sit back thinking you’re done. You’re never done.


Hell To Pay is published on July 26 th by Sassy Books and will be available on Amazon and in all good bookstores. RRP £7.99

Read a free excerpt of my zombie novel Dead Bastards & watch the trailer at Hell to Pay, a revenge thriller, will be published by Sassy Books, in July 26th 2013 It’s the first book in a series dubbed Die Hard for Girls. Read an excerpt here. Amazon author page


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