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There’s Been a Murder Interview with Val Penny

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge and Hunter’s Force are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fourth book in the series, Hunter’s Blood, follows shortly.


1. How did you get started writing?

I have always enjoyed telling stories, reading and writing. However, I started writing my first novel when I was recovering from cancer. I found chemotherapy and radiotherapy debilitating and could not undertake many of the activities I enjoy. I could not travel, as I had to stay close to the hospital treating me. I could not swim due to risk of infection at the pool and I could not go for walks because the fatigue I suffered was extreme. What was left? Watching day-time television, which gets old very fast or reading. I have always read voraciously, and luckily, I was still able to do that. As I became a little better, I started my blog to review the books I read.


2. What drew you to write a novel

Happily my recovery continued. I was still too poorly to do much but felt good enough to get bored. It was then that Handsome Hubby said in exasperation, “If you know so much about what makes a good book, Why don’t you write one!” Thus Hunter’s Chase was born.


3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?

I write police procedurals and chose to write that genre because it is the type of story I most enjoy reading. Authors writing this type of novel include Ian Rankin, Val McDermott and Mark Billingham. I do think it is important for writers to read widely within and outwith their own genre. I believe everything you read improves style, vocabulary and pace. I have been very lucky to have had support from gifted and successful mentors within the writing industry including Peter Robinson who writes the DCI Banks series; Erin Kelly who write psychological thrillers and Michael Jecks who writes the historical Templar series.


4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?

I knew very little about the publishing industry before I completed my first novel. The one thing I did know was that there was no point sending my manuscript of a crime novel to publishers or agents who were closed to submissions or only interested in romances, sci-fi or historical novels. So I checked out independent publishers who would accept a manuscript direct from the author, open to submissions and interested in my genre. I also made sure that I followed the guidelines they required. This maximised my chances of the publisher expressing interest.


5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one?

I like Hunter; I can trust him. However, I think my favourite character is Jamie Thomson. He is a bad boy with a good heart and is always getting into trouble. I like his cheeky sense of humour too.


6. What kind of research have you have to undertake for your Novel?

The main research I have to do is looking into drug trafficking and how to commit murder. I hope nobody every looks at my internet history!


7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?

I think everyone is influenced by everybody they meet and each experience they have. So while I may have encountered the some of the types of people who inhabit my novels, each of the characters is fictional and definitely not based on real life.


8. Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why.

I have favourite scenes in each book, but in my most recent book, Hunter’s Force, I do like the scenes where Hunter has to fight for his life when he is caught and bundled into a car.


9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?

I have heard that each author must struggle to create their characters and ensure each one acts as theywould act and not as the writer themselves would act. I write full biographies for each of my characters to try to ensure that I avoid this trap.


10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might planned.

I have recently finished the fourth novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mystery Series: it will be Hunter’s Blood and centres around mysterious deaths in an Edinburgh Hospital. My website is to be found at


11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any writer alive or dead, who would it be and why

I do not think I would like to co-write a novel with anybody! I think I am too possessive about my work. I know that there are very successful writing duos like Nicci French and more recently Ambrose Parry. Both of these are husband and wife teams – however, I do not think I could cope with the restrictions of writing with somebody else, especially Handsome Hubby!


12. Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is interested in writing a novel.

Persevere! Writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint and many people get stuck at around 20-25,000 words. But if you plan your story in advance, know your characters well and just keep writing – you too can write a novel.

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course.

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough.

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series


Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until his friend’s death is avenged.

DI Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is shocked to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold.

Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George’s home so intense?

Hunter must investigate his friend’s past as well as the present to identify George’s killer.

When a new supply of cocaine from Peru floods HMP Edinburgh and the city, the courier leads Hunter to a criminal gang, but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough, and local gangster, Ian Thomson, to make his case.

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taut crime thriller.

Hunter’s Revenge is the second in Val Penny’s gripping crime series featuring DI Hunter Wilson.

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature.

Can DI Hunter Wilson keep Edinburgh safe when he is the hunted?

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is woken in the early hours of the morning by a call from his son. Cameron’s flatmate was murdered. Why would anybody want to kill a young woman recently arrived in the city?

Hunter must call in the new Major Incident Team (MIT) to lead the investigation due to the reorganisation of police services. Hunter’s ability to be involved, however, is put in severe doubt when someone from his past decides to take revenge on him. He goes missing, and his team have no idea where to look for him. Who would want to stop Hunter in his tracks?

Meanwhile, Hunter’s team must work closely with the MIT, with or without him, to solve the murder in this taut crime thriller.


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