Interview with Neil Stenton by Robert Raker

RR: WHERE DID YOU COME UP WITH IDEA FOR “SAVING CARRIE?”
NS: I’ve always enjoyed American crime TV shows (NYPD Blue, CSI, Starsky & Hutch, Magnum PI, Rockford Files) and also been to America a couple of times. The last time I was there I started to think about what would happen if we got caught up in the middle of a crime. How would we manage, what would we do, and that gave me some ideas. From there I just fleshed it out a little, thought about some of the TV shows I’d seen and the many books I’d read and wondered if I could actually string a novel together. So I started to map out the chapters, think about the likely/suitable word count and set about it.

RR: HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THIS NOVEL?
NS: Once I had the idea, and mapped out where it was going, it took me 12 months to write the first draft. Then another nine months of re-writing, editing and proofing.


RR: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GENRE TO READ?

NS: I mainly concentrate on crime fiction novels (past and current favourites being Ian Rankin, Stuart Macbride, Peter May, Jonathan Kellerman, James Lee Burke, James Ellroy, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo) but I also like biographies, history and travel writing. That said, I’m currently half way through the first Game of Thrones book by George RR Martin and thoroughly enjoying it.

RR: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT THE WRITING PROCESS? THE LEAST?
NS: I love to research. I could happily spend all day looking at maps, reading about people and places, searching for hotels and walking through journeys from place to place. I like to add elements of realism so that anyone reading it can picture what I’m talking about, perhaps they’ve been to where I was describing. In Saving Carrie there’s a chase on foot from Grand Central Station around the streets of New York and I really enjoyed researching that. As I was writing it I could actually picture the various streets and the sights being passed. On the flip side I guess the least favourite bit is editing and re-writing. I don’t find that easy as I know the story, and how it should unfold, that makes taking a critical eye to it very hard.

RR: WAS IT DIFFICULT FOR YOU WRITING YOUR CHARACTERS INTO AN AMERICAN LANDSCAPE?
NS: Initially I thought not (I’ve watched enough American TV shows afterall), but then once I’d finished the first draft I realised that some of the words I’d used, and the tone of language, was wrong. I’d used ‘lift’ instead of ‘elevator’, ‘pavement’ not ‘sidewalk’ and so on, that took some sorting out. In Saving Carrie there is an English couple who get drawn into the storyline, so I had to constantly switch between American and English descriptions. I think I managed it and learned a lot for the follow up. Now I just think American when I’m writing.

RR: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GENRE TO WRITE?
NS: At the moment I’m sticking with crime fiction. Saving Carrie has received some very favourable reviews and I’m currently working on a follow up with the same team of NYPD detectives. I’m hoping the books will turn into a series as I’ve ideas for the next couple already! I’ve also got plans to try my hand at a biography and would love to write one about Ronnie Lane from the Small Faces – that’ll have to wait until I have a lot of time on my hands, and my detectives have run out of crimes to solve.

RR: DO YOU WRITE MORE PRODUCTIVELY IN A STRUCTURED ENVIRONMENT?
NS: I prefer to write on a weekend, using the week before to think and plan through the upcoming chapter. I like to finish a chapter in a day, or at most two. But I can write anywhere I have my laptop from my office (which my wife reminds me is the little bedroom), the garden or sofa. I find once I’m going I can just keep going and the words seem to flow nicely onto the page. In my office I have a large pin board on which I have photo’s (mainly of celebrity’s) of all my characters, maps, a list of character names I’ve used and will use, photo’s of landmarks and newspaper cuttings of things I can weave in to my storyline to add realism. I do need to sit in front of that occasionally just to bring me back on track a little, but when it’s nice outside there’s nothing better than sitting in the garden.

Please follow Neil on Twitter: @neil_sten

“Saving Carrie” by Neil Stenton is available now: http://www.amazon.com/Saving-Carrie-Neil-Stenton-ebook/dp/B00FIMVLHQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1403542814&sr=1-1&keywords=neil+stenton