CRIMINALLY GOOD: Interview with Rosie Claverton, author and screenwriter

Rosie Claverton, December 2013

So, who are you & what have you written?

I’m Rosie Claverton – screenwriter, novelist and junior psychiatrist. You might’ve caught me on Twitter banging on about mental health in fiction. I am the author of The Amy Lane Mysteries  and my latest novel is Captcha Thief.

Why do you write crime fiction?

Because I read crime fiction! I faffed around with writing other genres for a while, but realised that they didn’t resonate with me. When I turn on the TV or reach for a book, it’s crime that I go for. The thing that put me off was a creative crisis – was I capable of plotting an intricate mystery that wasn’t obvious or unsolvable? Once I’d plucked up the courage to try it, I found my home with crime.

Now I can’t really be without it. I’ve recently drafted an historical fantasy novel, and that ended up as a mystery. I was also struggling with a drama screenplay I’ve been developing over a number of years. How did I fix it? By introducing a murder. It seems I’ve developed a taste for killing off characters!

CaptchaThief_Cover_smallWhat informs your crime writing?

Some people start with a story they want to tell. I started with two characters I wanted to solve crimes with. I love playing with the unlikely duo of an agoraphobic hacker and a streetwise ex-con, and placing him in the position of her cleaner and then assistant. I use them to explore my favourite writing theme of identity – who am I, how do I fit into the world, what’s my purpose here?

I use my background as a psychiatrist to not only explore the mental health of my protagonist but also to think about what makes characters tick. Why do people commit terrible crimes? My pet peeve is the lazy stereotype of “Oh, he did it because he’s a psycho”. Writers can do better than that.

I also love to research. My search engine history has probably landed me on several watchlists. What I enjoy most is contacting experts in their fields and asking them to help me plot innovative crimes, and then solve them. I’ve spoken to computer crime lecturers, underwater forensics specialists, yachting enthusiasts, and local law enforcement about procedures, radio etiquette and where to land a smugglers’ boat in the dead of night.

What’s your usual writing routine?

I wrote the first two Amy Lane novels Binary Witness and Code Runner as NaNoWriMo novels, writing over two thousand words a day for a hectic month in November. After a while, I realised that wasn’t a particularly sustainable way of writing novels.

I now use the Pomodoro technique, writing in twenty-five-minute bursts with five-minute breaks in between. That turns an hour in the evening into two intense writing sessions. I also utilise my free weekends and long train journeys to write for long stretches, cup of tea in hand.

Which crime book do you wish YOU’D written, and why?

It has to be Murder on the Orient Express by the legendary Agatha Christie. That plot could only be done once, and she did it spectacularly, in the Golden Age of mystery, when everything was possible.

Though, to be honest, I’m in awe of any writer who fools me right until the end – and then makes me curse myself for not having seen it all along. That’s the true joy of a good mystery.

Did you know? It’s Launch Day for Rosie’s latest in the Amy Lane mysteries, CAPTCHA THIEF, today!

Have a fab time, Rosie. Read my reviews for her previous two books in The Amy Lane Mysteries:

I reviewed Rosie Claverton’s BINARY WITNESS (Amy Lane, Book 1) as ‘authentic, intriguing #crime fiction I can see on screen’. READ MORE.

I reviewed CODE RUNNER by Rosie Claverton (Amy Lane, Book 2) is ‘reminiscent of THE FUGITIVE and Geoffrey Household’s ROGUE MALE’. READ MORE.

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