Welcome to my second author Q&A! I was beyond delighted that Cara Hunter agreed to answer some of my questions, and I am really excited to share it all with you.
Cara is the author of the DI Adam Fawley series of crime thrillers, set in Oxford. They are all compelling page-turners, full of twists, and with an excellent cast of characters. For any crime fiction lovers, I definitely recommend them!
The third book in the series, No Way Out, was released in April, and the next one is due to be released in December. Can’t wait! Without further ado, here are my questions,
and Cara’s wonderfully insightful answers!
1. What made you want to become an author, and how did you eventually manage to achieve it?
I’ve always loved words – like most writers I read voraciously as a child and then ended up doing English at university. After that I did a lot of different jobs and only really started thinking about writing fiction when I went freelance as a copywriter. By then crime fiction had become a real passion so it felt natural to write what I loved to read!
Getting Close to Home published was an amazing experience. Only a few months after getting the initial idea, the book wasn’t just written but had gone to auction, which has to be any writer’s ultimate dream. And then it got picked for the Richard & Judy book club and the rest is history!
2. I have found all of your books really compelling page-turners. How challenging is it to create a crime thriller with multiple characters and twists, and which book has been the hardest to write so far?
It’s a bit like doing three-dimensional chess! I have really detailed synopses before I start, but even then I rely on my copy editor to spot things like ‘two pages ago it was Saturday’ or ‘doesn’t this character have green eyes?’
The first draft is always the hardest – just getting the bare bones of the story down. After that it’s much more fun and you can start dropping in clues and red herrings for the reader to spot. As for which has been the hardest, probably No Way Out. Not for any particular reason – it just took longest to ‘pin down’.
3. Your books are set in Oxford, one of my favourite places to visit. How important a role do you think the city plays in the DI Fawley series?
Charles Dickens always used to say London was another character in his books, and Oxford plays the same role in mine. Everyone knows the city, not least because of the Inspector Morse franchise, which means it’s already there, in my reader’s minds, before I even start. That’s a wonderful advantage.
4. What made you decide to write DI Adam Fawley in first person?
I really like the fact that we have multiple narratives in the books. Not just Adam’s, but the third-person story, where we can see what’s going on when he’s not there, and get a glimpse of him through his team’s eyes. Having the first-person angle allows me to get inside his head, and I love being able to do that. I can really ‘hear his voice’ now.
5. All of the characters in your series are very well developed and have distinct personalities. Do you have a particular favourite, or one you enjoy writing the most?
I love them all for different reasons (Gislingham for being cheeky, Baxter for his snacking, Quinn for, well, just being Quinn), but I suppose I have a special soft spot for Erica Somer. It’s great to have such strong female characters in the team.
6. One of the most distinctive features of your books are the extra storytelling devices such as news articles, transcripts, and social media forums. What was the idea behind them, and do you find them fun to write?
It started with Close to Home. I knew that story would inevitably have a social media angle, as no real-life missing child case can avoid that now. So I decided to make the most of it and bring those voices inside the novel.
After that it was natural to includes news items and comments too, and it just spiralled from there. I like to include one new type of ‘document’ every time. In In The Dark it was a true crime documentary script, and in No Way Out it’s a fire scene report. I love doing those parts of the books – I think It’s my favourite bit!
7. How would you describe your writing process? How much research and expertise goes into your books?
I’m definitely a big planner – I know some crime writers just sit down at a blank screen but I can’t even imagine doing that. I often start with the twist and work back – I ask myself if that’s what happened at the end, how might it have started in the beginning?
I do a lot of online research before I start, and I have a
great team of professional advisers to help me with the
technical details. From a DI to a lawyer, a doctor, a CSI, and
in No Way Out, a fire scene investigator.
8. In my review of No Way Out, I said your writing felt more confident and it has a very natural flow. Do you think that was accurate?
It’s a very nice compliment, thank you! I guess it’s one of the advantages of a series that your characters get more rounded with each book, and the reader brings more to the story from the knowledge they already have. And I’m enjoying myself enormously, which obviously helps!
9. Your books seem to be released in very quick succession (no complaints from me!). Does that mean you are an extremely fast writer?!
Yes, I am pretty quick. Having been a copywriter I’m reasonably good at just getting on with it. What tends to take the time is getting the idea and doing the planning phase. Once it comes to actual writing, I’m fairly productive.
10. Are there any books that you have enjoyed recently and would recommend to others?
Lots! I just finished Shari Lapena’s new one, Someone We Know, which is great, and JP Delaney has a fascinating psychological thriller coming out in the summer called The Perfect Wife.
11. Do you have any writing tips for aspiring authors?
Publishing is a lot about luck, but I firmly believe you earn your own luck by working hard. So my top tips are practice, persevere, and never give up!
What did you think of Cara’s answers? Have you read any of her books? Let me know in the comments!
Happy reading 🙂