Arlene Hunt on crime fiction

Your stories have been described as ‘dark and atmospheric, why did you get into crime writing above other genres? Without a doubt, crime fiction is my favourite genre to read, so it was natural for me to want to write it above all else. I’m trying to imagine attempting a romantic fiction or sci-fi novel: I wouldn’t even know where to start. Where would I hide the body?

There’s lots of talk about Ireland being more crime-riddled and dangerous since recession, has this impacted on how crime is portrayed in fiction? Is there? I thought we were pretty bloody before and during the recession, that seems to me to be era the gangs rose. It’s possible that lesser crimes like burglary have increased, but murder and other violent crime seems ever present regardless of who has what in their pockets. There are definitely more weapons available, that translates into fiction. Weapons and drugs.

How long does it take you to write a book? About nine months, a good old gestation period.

Do you interview sources or pluck the details & plots from the ether!? Depending on the book, I’d say both. I did a good bit of research for my last book, The Chosen, as it was set in the USA. I had to be very sure of my terrain which was essential to plot, and I had to learn how to operate a long bow and how to make arrows and so forth. It was very enjoyable. I read a lot too, hunting magazines, forensics, books on psychology, that sort of thing, but that’s a pleasure and something I would do in my spare time anyway.

Do you have any quirky habits when writing or a particular time of day when you’re most creative? I write in the morning (badly) and in the evening (fluidly), with the mid-afternoon taken-up with reading submissions or editing. I’m also training for a marathon at the moment, so it’s a pretty full day, with little time for quirks: unless you consider operating as a cat butler a quirk. I don’t. More a chore. Stupid mammals, not having opposable thumbs.

Are any of the characters based on people you know? Not really, most of the people I know are far nicer than the people who appear in my books. That said, if I met someone I actively dislike you can be sure they’re going to meet a grisly end amongst my pages.

You list your favourite authors as: Robert Crais, George Pelecanos, James Ellroy, James Lee Burke, John Connolly – what do you particularly like about them? That they have the ability to combine good writing with escapism without losing credibility. I think it’s fair to say that you can read any one of their novels and come away with something you didn’t have before you cracked them open. The older I get the more I appreciate the skill and practice that goes into good writing.

Give us a writing tip! Read! Don’t ever stop reading. I cannot fathom people who write but do not read.

Your last book The Chosen was a departure from the QuicK Investigations, was it harder to write? No, but I had the story kicking around in my head about a year before I sat down to write it, which is unusual for me. It was kind of nice to stretch myself mentally too. It’s easy to get moored to one particular formula, so this was a nice break.

What inspired you to launch your own publishing company? I thought the time was right for such a move. It was a huge learning curve of course and many lessons were learned in the process, but I’m glad we did what we did; it seems to be working out for us with two titles behind us, and hopefully two more to come this year.

What are you working on now? A novel set here in Dublin about two children who run away from home to escape an abusive father and walk straight into a drug war in the process.

“Arlene Hunt may just be the best female crime writer to have emerged from these islands in recent years” – John Connolly

Arlene who will teach a Crime Writing course at the Irish Writers’ Centre from 25th April began writing at the age of 27, and produced her first novel, Vicious Circle, within the year. This book was eventually published by Hodder Headline at the end of April 2004. Her second novel, False Intentions, introduced two characters, John and Sarah of QuicK Investigations, who were set to become a regular part of Arlene’s work, and was published in May 2005. Her third novel Black Sheep was published in June 2006. Arlene’s 4th novel, and the third in the John and Sarah series, is called Missing Presumed Dead (MPD) and was published in June 2007. It was translated into Dutch and is available under the title ‘Vermist’ and is due to be published in Russian. Her fifth novel, the fourth QuicK Investigations book, is entitled Undertow and was published in Septmber 2008. It was nominated for Best Crime Novel at the 2009 Irish Book Awards. In 2009 Arlene completed her 6th novel, Blood Money, which was published in March 2010. It continues the QuicK Investigations series. Her 7th novel, ‘The Chosen‘ was published in October 2011. It is a standalone thriller based in the USA and will be published by Portnoy Publishing.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Beginning the Novel, courses, creative writing course, Fiction, Irish Writers Centre, new writing, novels, publishing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>