Posted in Author Interview

Q & A session with Robert Thorogood

Killing of Polly Carter jacket (email(

I was delighted to be asked to be part of this blog tour and especially pleased to be allowed to ask the creator of Death In Paradise. Robert Thorogood, a few questions.

This series has a very special place in my heart; when Owen returned home at the beginning of this year we instigated a complicated point system for the entire series with awards made for Victim, Perpetrator and method of killing with a sliding scale for how early these were identified. Needless to say it got totally silly with certain people guessing as soon as each episode started, and other’s making schoolboy errors for not having watched the previous week’s trailer closely! I will be watching the fifth series in 2016 without him but with fond memories and of course I will use my best detective skills to ensure I win.

In the meantime there was The Killing of Polly Carter to enjoy where I pitted my wits against this ingenious puzzle – you can read my review here.

 

1. Where did you get the inspiration from for Death in Paradise?

It’s actually a rather sad answer, because I came up with the idea in 2007 after the Pakistani cricket coach Bob Woolmer died under suspicious circumstances in the Caribbean. Following his death, the Met Police in London decided that the local Caribbean coppers weren’t up to running the murder enquiry (Mr Woolmer was a British Citizen) and so they sent out a British Policeman to head up the investigation. As soon as I read that, it was like a lightbulb going off in me head. ‘A British Copper goes to the Caribbean to solve murders…?’

2. You came to success relatively late in life after years of dreaming of writing for television; how close were you to giving up?

I certainly was ‘relatively late’! But it’s a hard question to answer in that I was still selling scripts (to both the BBC, ITV and independent film companies) in the years before I got Death in Paradise greenlit, it’s just that nothing I was writing was getting made. In truth, I think that my ‘career’ at the time (such as it was) was more appropriate for someone in their mid-twenties rather than someone in their mid-thirties, and I know this for sure: without my wife’s support — both emotional and financial—over the years, I’d certainly have had to give up long before… so I’m eternally grateful to her.

3. The Killing of Polly Carter is the second in a three book deal with MIRA, how does writing a book compare to writing for television? Which do you prefer?

There are huge differences between writing a book and writing a TV episode. The main one is that when you’re working in TV, it’s very much a team effort, whereas when you’re writing a book you are on your own for months at a time. Which is both liberating and terrifying. What’s more, when you’re coming up with a TV script, you’re very much tied to what we can afford to film, who we can manage to cast — all the ‘real world’ problems that coming with shooting a script in the real world. Whereas the joy of a novel is that you only have to write a sentence and you can conjure anything into existence. (For example, the idea for the murder in Polly Carter was one I’d had for some time, but we couldn’t work out how we could film the necessary cliffs and bay at the heart of the story seeing as there no such cliffs or bay on the island of Guadeloupe where we film the series).
And finally, the real joy of a novel is that it allows the author access to his or her character’s internal thoughts, and this has been the single most enjoyable upside of writing a novel rather than a TV script: in a novel I can explore Richard’s grumpy take on the world in far greater detail.

4. The Killing of Polly Carter features a formerly successful model, did you take inspiration from anyone real? If so are you prepared to tell us who or perhaps give us a cryptic clue?

Ha ha! I wouldn’t really like to say who I based it on — although there’s certainly elements of Kate Moss at her most nihilistic kicking around in there. In truth, I chose to set this book in the world of modelling because I needed the victim to be famous, rich, unstable, and now fed up with life. So that’s the real reason why I made the victim a supermodel. It felt like the sort of character who’d get into the sorts of mess I needed her to get into to help me ‘sell’ the story.

5. In The Killing of Polly Carter I thought I’d cracked it early on only to find I was on totally the wrong track; how long do you spend working out a credible mystery with plenty of red herrings?

It’s so lovely to hear that your theory about who the killer was incorrect. That’s after all what I’m hoping to achieve when I write the book! As to how long it takes to create a story with all the necessary twists, turns, reveals and surprises…?! Well, it takes months and months of plotting and thinking and writing. Just hundreds (and thousands?) of hours of work. For this book, I didn’t even start writing the first sentence until I had a fully-detailed synopsis of every single moment that had to happen… which ended up being a 45-page document! It is tough plotting a murder mystery novel, but very satisfying once it’s done.

6. What I love about Death in Paradise and the two books you’ve written featuring Richard Poole on the Caribbean island of Saint-Marie is the traditional feel to the mysteries. I’ve read that you are a fan of Agatha Christie and wondered which of her novels is your favourite, and why?

I am a MASSIVE fan of Agatha Christie, and I’m sure that my list of favourite novels is very similar to anyone else’s: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd of course; and Death on the Nile, Evil Under the Sun and And Then There Were None. But the truth is that there’s no such thing as a bad Agatha Christie novel. Even in the ‘less good’ books, there’s always something that is startlingly impressive. For example, I re-read the Tommy and Tuppence ‘N or M’ last year. It’s an enjoyable but patchy read, but there’s one glorious misdirection in it (when a passing beggar woman steals a baby) that is pure murder mystery genius… and no-one else could have come up with it apart from Agatha.

7. Richard Poole often gets his flashes of inspiration from the most unlikely of sources, one lightbulb moment in The Killing of Polly Carter was particularly brilliant and obscure, which points to a writer with a wealth of knowledge about all sorts of interesting subjects. Do you start with the solution and work in the clues afterwards? Or do you have some facts that you want inserted and build the solution around them?

I think I know what you’re referring to when you say that there’s an obscure source in the book! (And yes, it is very obscure, isn’t it?). But this is such a lovely question, thank you for asking it, and the answer is simple, really: for the last 5-6 years I’ve been working full time as a murder mystery writer, so I’m always bumping into odd bits of information or forensic breakthroughs or etc. etc. online that I think might be useful in an episode one day. So, whenever I find anything interesting, I make a note of it, and then, before I start writing a book or an episode, I go to my scrapbook of hundreds of half-thoughts, clues and oddities and see what I can weave into the story. So yes, I come up with the ‘fun’ bits first and then, if I can make it work in the story it goes in… otherwise it stays in my scrapbook waiting to be used for another day.

8. Where do you do your writing? I imagine you in front of a big picture of a Caribbean beach with perhaps a toy iguana for company? Am I close?

Ha ha! The tragic truth is that I write in a tiny shed in the garden that’s half full of lawnmowers, old camping equipment and broken furniture. So, the only view I have is of the pine cladding I put on the walls in front of me. And the only window I have is a tiny little strip of Perspex that I can’t see through because it’s directly behind me. In fact, when I’m sitting in my chair at my desk, I can touch all four walls of my (half-an-) office… and yet I’ve come to love it over the years. I think that writers should never get ideas above their station, and it’s very hard to do that when you don’t even have a whole shed to work in!
In fact, here’s a panorama photo of ‘my’ side of the shed taken from one of the corners. You can see the little window that’s behind me (with green curtains bought from a charity shop), the lovely self-built pine cladding on the walls with all my various notes stuck to it (and my Series 1 framed poster)…. And the red thermal curtain I hung to keep the heat in (and to stop me seeing the lawnmower and junk that’s in the other half of the shed).

Shed view

9. What book would you recommend to me? And why?
Oh gosh, I don’t know! Looking through your website, you read wider and better than I do, so can I please ask you the same question? What book would you recommend?

Well that was a bit of a cheat but… well I’m always up for a book recommendation and the latest book on my book pushing mission is a debut novel that is much darker than yours but also extremely well plotted – the book I recommend is The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minnett – to find out more, read my review!

Thank you Robert Thorogood for answering my questions – The Killing of Polly Carter is published by MIRA on the 3 December 2015 – don’t miss out!

Posted in Books I have read, Uncategorized

The Killing of Polly Carter – Robert Thorogood

Killing of Polly Carter jacket (email(
Crime Fiction
5*s

I am a huge fan of the TV series Death in Paradise so was thrilled when I was offered the first in a series of a three book deal the creator signed with MIRA books earlier this year. Having loved reading a totally new story featuring the English Detective Richard Poole on the Caribbean Island of Saint-Mare in A Meditation On Murder, I was delighted to be offered a copy of The Killing of Polly Carter to review.

In this story Richard Poole is summoned to the scene of an apparent suicide whilst simultaneously agitating the imminent arrival of his mother to the island. Richard soon determines that the famous model, Polly Carter, couldn’t possibly have committed suicide and sets about investigating her murder. With her twin sister Claire, the sister’s nurse, the agent and the writer all seem to have solid alibis for the time in question, indeed Claire was in the island at the time the model crashed over the cliff to her death seemingly blaming Claire for her death, the team are going to have to work hard!

There is a real feel of the more traditional mystery in these books, with very little focus concentrated on blood and gore or even up to date forensics (most of this has to be sent off island for analysis) so the detectives have to be ‘real detectives’ As always in both the TV series and the novels there are a whole shoal full of red-herrings and if that wasn’t enough the solving of some of the clues depends on the reader knowing some obscure facts but I personally award myself points for identifying which objects are likely to be critical. The relationships between the buttoned-up Richard Poole and the young vivacious Camille, the eager Fidel and the lazy but well-connected Dwayne are brilliantly portrayed with the odd one-liner painting the picture really effectively.

With the victim in this case a model of International fame and one who seems absolutely typical of the profession based on the clichés that we are frequently fed by the media, the reader can turn their attention to the solving of the puzzle – or puzzles as one piece of information often opens up a whole host of different questions. Sadly as is so often the case, I really thought I’d cracked this one fairly early on, I had a number of clues solved and a convincing theory to back it up, only for another pesky piece of information ruining everything for me. As is so often the case, I had to wait with the suspects as they gathered together at the end for Richard Poole to reveal the who, how and why to me.

Any lover of mystery novels could do far worse than to pick up one of these books, especially at this time of year, after all a murder in the Caribbean is far more appealing when the wind rain and ever-potential snow warnings are blaring out at us on an hourly basis.

The Killing of Polly Carter will be published on 3 December 2015 and I’m greatly honoured that Robert Thorogood, the author, has agreed to answer some of my questions about his writing tomorrow so please pop back and see what he has to say.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (November 18)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

At the moment I am reading Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín, a book that has been on my TBR for far too long. It is in fact over a year since I read Fiction Fan’s review of this book!

Nora Webster

Blurb

It is the late 1960s in Ireland. Nora Webster is living in a small town, looking after her four children, trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. She is fiercely intelligent, at times difficult and impatient, at times kind, but she is trapped by her circumstances, and waiting for any chance which will lift her beyond them.
Colm Tóibín’s Nora is a character as resonant as Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary and Nora Webster is a novel that illuminates our own lives in a way that is rare in literature. Its humanity and compassion forge an unforgettable reading experience. NetGalley

I have recently finished the very enjoyable The Killing of Polly Carter by Robert Thorogood.

The Killing of Polly Carter

You can read the synopsis and an excerpt of this one in yesterday’s post

Next up I’m catching up on the Nicci French days of the week series with Friday On My Mind

Friday on my Mind

Blurb

When a bloated corpse is found floating in the River Thames the police can at least sure that identifying the victim will be straightforward. Around the dead man’s wrist is a hospital band. On it are the words Dr F. Klein.
But psychotherapist Frieda Klein is very much alive. And, after evidence linking her to the murder is discovered, she becomes the prime suspect.
Unable to convince the police of her innocence, Frieda is forced to make a bold decision in order to piece together the terrible truth before it’s too late either for her or for those she loves. NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Do share!

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (November 17)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

My opening this week comes from The Killing of Polly Carter by Robert Thorogood

The Killing of Polly Carter

Blurb

When famous supermodel Polly Carter is found dead at the bottom of a cliff all signs point to suicide, but as the evidence continues to mount DI Richard Poole declares it to be a murder. Now, with a houseful of suspects Richard has to narrow the field and discover who the murderer is before it’s too late. At the same time his mother is arriving from England and throwing his whole perfectly ordered life into turmoil. Not only does she want to be involved in island life, but all signs are beginning to point to not all being right in Richard’s own family…something he cannot help but attempt to fix.NetGalley

~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Prologue

Detective Inspector Richard Poole sat on the verandah of his beachside shack looking up at the cloudless Caribbean sky in inarticulate outrage.

A passing parrot had just crapped in his cup of tea. It didn’t seem possible, but Richard had watched the little bugger fly in over the sea and defecate in mid-air, the little ball of released guano flying in a perfect parabola only to land in his English Breakfast Tea with an accuracy, Richard realised, that Barnes Wallis could only have dreamed of.

Chapter 1

Richard Poole’s dark secret was that his mother Jennifer was about to arrive on the island. Why on earth she’d chosen to visit on her own, Richard had no idea, but he also had no idea how he was going to get through two wees of keeping her company, and that seemed the more pressing problem.

Please note that these excerpts are taken from a proof copy

Do you want to know more?

If you have an opening to share, please leave your link in the comments box below

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (October 11)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.

As I’m off to Bath a city chosen for a short-break, the location chosen in no small way because I’ve been longing to visit Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights ever since some other lucky blogger featured this shop. Fortunately my friend also likes books!

mr-bs-emporium3

With this in mind, because I will possibly purchase a book or two during this visit I have just a couple of finds for you this week.

The Killing of Polly Carter by Robert Thorogood, is written by the writer of the TV series, Death In Paradise. The first in this series, A Meditation on Murder, was very well-received by this reader.

The Killing of Polly Carter

Blurb

When famous supermodel Polly Carter is found dead at the bottom of a cliff all signs point to suicide, but as the evidence continues to mount DI Richard Poole declares it to be a murder. Now, with a houseful of suspects Richard has to narrow the field and discover who the murderer is before it’s too late. At the same time his mother is arriving from England and throwing his whole perfectly ordered life into turmoil. Not only does she want to be involved in island life, but all signs are beginning to point to not all being right in Richard’s own family…something he cannot help but attempt to fix. NetGalley

The Killing of Polly Carter will be published on 3 December 2015.

I also have a copy of My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, a book that has me intrigued although it is quite different to my usual reading choices, this will be published in February 2016.

My Name is Lucy Barton
Blurb

An exquisite story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Her unexpected visit forces Lucy to confront the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of her life: her impoverished childhood in Amgash, Illinois, her escape to New York and her desire to become a writer, her faltering marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable. In My Name Is Lucy Barton, one of America’s finest writers shows how a simple hospital visit illuminates the most tender relationship of all-the one between mother and daughter. NetGalley

I also picked up a copy of Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight having been so impressed with the author’s second novel Where They Found Her.

Reconstructing Amelia

Blurb

Single mother and lawyer Kate Baron is in the meeting of her career when she is interrupted by a telephone call. Her daughter Amelia has just been suspended from her exclusive prep school. When Kate eventually arrives at Grace Hall an hour later, she is greeted by the news that no mother ever wants to hear. A grieving Kate can’t accept that her daughter would kill herself. But she soon discovers she didn’t know Amelia quite as well as she thought. Who are the friends she kept, what are the secrets she hid? And so begins an investigation which takes her deep into Amelia’s private world – and into the mind of a troubled young girl. Then Kate receives an anonymous text: AMELIA DIDN’T JUMP. Is someone toying with her or has she been right all along? To find the truth about her daughter, Kate must now face a darker reality than she could ever have imagined. Amazon

What have you found to read this week?