1) So, who are you and what have you written?
I’m Val Penny and I am an American author living in SW Scotland where I live with my Scottish husband and two cats. I have a Law degree from Edinburgh University and an MSc from Napier University. Throughout my life to date, I have had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However I have not yet achieved either of my childhood dreams: being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, I have turned my hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. My crime novels, Hunter’s Chase and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland and published by Crooked Cat Books. LIKE my page and follow me as @valeriepenny.
2)Why do you write crime fiction?
I enjoy reading crime novels! They are also amongst the most popular books purchased, so I have a large target audience!
I also find that through writing crime novels I find an emotional release in my craft. Crime novelists deal with the dark things that people usually push to the side of their minds in order to get on with every day life: I find the attraction of writing can be important and cathartic.
It is often said that writers can be difficult people: gloomy, competitive and quarrelsome. However, for the most part, I have found crime writers to be an inclusive and convivial bunch.If you have a chance to go to a crime-writers’ convention, do take it: I’ll see you there! Crime writers conventions are exhausting, exhilarating and irresistible.
Lastly, I suppose, I write crime novels because I can create and then solve a puzzle for my readers. I can also confirm the a crime novel is an excellent place to park your rage! The prospect of giving vent to righteous anger in a safe form can be a particularly pleasing device. When characters require to act in a violent way or commit violence the reader is willing to witness this on the page but they would shy from it in real life. I can let rip on the page in a way they avoid doing in the real world.
3) What informs your crime writing?
For me, the sources for crime novels are many and varied. Ideas can spring from the news and current affairs articles; memories from the past and historical events or things that puzzle or fascinate me. I am never without a notebook. I never know when I will see or overhear something that I can subsequently use in a novel. Once I begin to exercise my creative muscles, I often find that they run into stories demanding to be told.
I can confirm that the research you do for crime novels and for academic purposes are equally satisfying. The research for a crime novel is also extremely diverse. It may involve visiting prisons, refuges, police stations or drug dens. Police are often very willing to be of assistance to crime writers, even if it is just to avoid being irritated when otherwise the writers would get police procedures wrong! When you are writing a novel, no information or experience is wasted!
4) What’s your usual writing routine?
It has taken me some years to develop a writing routine that works properly for me in real life. However, I now settled into a sensible working day. In the morning, I exchange contact with my readers through social media. This allows me to tell them what I am doing in my writing life and learn their views of my books. I also deal with any emails that have come in overnight and need attention. After lunch, I settle down to write for five hours and that leaves the evening free to relax with my family.
5) Which crime book do you wish YOU’D written and why?
The first adult crime novels I read, like many people I suspect, were those written by Agatha Christie. She is the mistress of plot construction and deflection. I would have been proud to write any of her novels, but I particularly like the setting of Death on the Nile. The way this story weaves around the different historical Egyptian sites and the clues and red herrings sweep through each different character in turn is delicious. It is a fine neat plot with a satisfying conclusion. No crime writer can hope to achieve more.
The honesty of this interview shines through. So refreshing. Thanks Lucy for making it happen.