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June Author Interview – Chris Longmuir


Q – How did you get started writing?
A – I’d always wanted to write, even as a child, but I didn’t do anything about it for a long time because I regarded it as one of those impossible dreams. I started to write seriously round about 1989, but didn’t get anything published until 1991, when I received my first acceptance from People’s Friend. Over the next few years I had stories and articles published in small press anthologies and professional magazines. However, it was 1997 before I again published anything in commercial magazines, such as My Weekly, they accepted several of my short stories. The only problem was it was an effort for me to write for women’s magazines, because my brain doesn’t work in that way. I prefer darker stories. On the other hand, I published quite a lot of articles, mainly historical, in a variety of magazines in the UK and the US. But I had to wait until 2009 to publish my first novel, although by that time I’d written four novels.

Q – What drew you to crime fiction?
A – I suppose it’s because I like to read crime fiction. I started off with Agatha Christie, when I was in my teens. Doesn’t everyone? Took a slight detour into horror fiction after reading Bram Stoker’s, Dracula. During this phase I read James Herbert, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz, among several others. I still like Koontz. So, on my return to crime fiction I started to prefer the darker stuff. Books written by Mo Hayder and Val McDermid among many others. But I’ve written a historical saga, A Salt Splashed Cradle, as well as my slightly darker, Dundee Crime Series. There are two in the series at the moment and a third one due to be published in July.

Q – Which crime writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
A – I think I may have answered this in the previous question, although I’m not too sure they influenced my style of writing. I like to think my style is my own.

Q – What was the inspiration behind the story lines of the Dundee crime series?
A – I’m not sure about this question, although I’m sure my experiences as a social worker in Dundee must have some bearing on it. I’m afraid I start with one scene in my mind and build the story from there. Everything comes from that dark place that is my mind!

Q – Did you find it hard to get a publisher interested in your books?
A – Extremely hard. It’s not easy to get published in today’s climate, and if you do get one interested, you’re very lucky. I had four books in my bottom drawer before I struck lucky by winning the Dundee International Book Prize, with my breakthrough book, Dead Wood. But that book had done the rounds of publishers and agents, and attracted its fair share of rejections. In fact I got a rejection from a publisher – who incidentally had kept the book for four years – a week before it was published as the Dundee prize winning novel. I had an intense urge to thumb my nose at them and say ‘Yah, boo sucks’, but of course, I didn’t.

Q – Did you find the experience of writing your third book more or less difficult than the first two?
A – Again this is a difficult question to answer, because every book is difficult to write. Unless you’re a writer yourself it’s not easy to imagine the work involved in writing a novel. Beginners tend to be satisfied with the first draft they write and don’t want to delete or change anything. They do say that until you learn to ‘throw your babies out with the bathwater’, that is edit, change, delete and rewrite, then you haven’t yet become a professional writer. For myself, I tend to distrust my writing if it comes too easily. Believe me, it’s hard graft.

Q – Why did you decide to set your series of books in Dundee?
A – I worked in Dundee as a social worker. I know the city, and I know its dark underbelly, so the settings are relatively easy. I find it difficult to write about places I don’t know. That’s because I like to walk the streets, smell the smells, and feel the atmosphere.

Q – When you started writing Dead Wood did you have any idea the series would become popular with readers?
A – I don’t think that was something I considered when I was writing it. I’m just really glad that readers like the series.

Q – What kind of research did you have to undertake for your books?
A – I’ve worked with the police on joint social work/police investigations, so I suppose I had a head start. However, I do research police procedures and forensics. The internet is good but you do have to double check any facts gained from the web, so I have a large library of reference books as well, plus one or two police contacts. The research for my historical saga was mostly acquired from the research I did for my historical articles and was gained from written reference books.

Q – Are the characters in your books based on any real life people.
A – No. I find it impossible to use real people as characters. One of my friends wanted me to put her into my new book as the police inspector. I tried, couldn’t do it, and had to revert to a fictional character. The problem is that the real person’s character gets in the way of the fictional character’s development.

Q – Since you started writing crime novels have any known authors given you any advice?
A – Crime writers are extremely generous with their time and advice, however, in order to write books it’s important to rely on your own story development, not someone else’s.

Q – Do you see any of your characters’ personality in yourself and vice versa?
A – Not really. All my characters do things I would never do! For example, I don’t swear (except in readings), don’t drink, don’t commit crimes, and don’t do nasty things. I’ve been described as ‘that nice, gentle wee lady, who writes the most horrible dark crime’! Oh, and my characters are probably all younger, and better looking than me.

Q –You touch on some harrowing moments in your books. Did you feel it was quite hard to write about?
A – No harder than writing in general. I told you my mind was a dark place!

Q – What do you see for the future of your Dundee crime series books?
A – I’ve written three books in the series now, and I suppose it will depend on when the inspiration comes for another one. In the meantime I want to develop my historical crime series, inspired by the first Dundee policewoman in 1919.

Q – As a blossoming crime writer do you have any words of advice you can share.
A – The most important thing is to keep reading contemporary crime fiction. You need to keep up to date. The classics won’t cut it, because today’s readers can be impatient with writing styles that have become dated. Then you need to write, and keep writing. The name of the game is perseverance, because most writers get loads of knock-backs. You have to be able to rise above them. If I had let rejections discourage me, I would have stopped writing twenty years ago.″ qid=1359039402&sr=1-2-ent” Amazon UK

Dead Wood
Night Watcher
A Salt Splashed Cradle
Ghost train & Other Stories
Obsession & Other Stories


One response to “June Author Interview – Chris Longmuir

  1. Pingback: Bookaholic: The Death Game: By Chris Longmuir (REBLOG) | Dispensable Thoughts

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