I first met Rebecca Bradley at the Harrogate International Crime Writing festival in 2011. Our meeting was brief but in 2012, we met again in Harrogate and had a chance to sit down and have a good old chat about writing and the challenges and joys we find in our own journeys as authors. Like this blog, she is a crime writer and has written a novel which she hopes will be picked up for publication. Rebecca is also working on a second novel. She also runs and maintains the blog http://rebeccabradleycrime.com/ and she has kindly and generously agreed to be interviewed.
I present you a name and a talent to look out for in the future, Rebecca Bradley:
Who is Rebecca Bradley and where do you come from?
Rebecca Bradley is a person who has now reverted to lying about her age as she has now realised how fast life passes by! It is this very passing that prompted me to start writing. It was at the end of 2010 that I actually got my bum on the seat and started typing. Like many people, I have always wanted to write a novel, but it is the bum in the seat that matters. So, as you can see, I came to writing very late. I work full time and have a family, so I write a little in the evenings and also at a weekend.
I don’t have a real feeling of roots anywhere to be honest, so I couldn’t do that part of your question justice. What I do know is that roots are about feelings rather than geography and this is also how I feel in my writing which I’ll go on to explain shortly.
Why is crime fiction your chosen genre?
I’m fascinated with people and you see people at their most vulnerable, their worst and also their best, in the dire circumstances that crime brings. It’s not predictable and there is a massive scope to explore situations, reactions and emotions. It’s brilliant.
As musicians grow older, their music tends to become mellower and less angst-ridden but that’s not what happens with crime writers, or any writer. Why do you think that is?
Are you sure it doesn’t get more angsty? Don’t we have to push our protagonists harder just for the fun of it, to see how they cope? I think crime writers tend to be pretty level headed people. We let so much crap just stream out of our heads that the only thing left in there is, well, not a lot else!
What is the most inspiring book (any genre) you have read and why?
A recent book I read was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and it had me sobbing buckets and I mean, absolute buckets by the end. I was also clutching the book as I did this. Can I admit to this?
The book is about a young girl who goes to care for a quadraplegic man who she realises was once a full of life and energy man until an accident took it all away and all that is left is anger. It’s about how he copes with it and how she learns to cope with both him and it and together how they work through it. Really, I have never been so sucked into a book. Fantastically well written and not all doom and gloom. The female protagonist was funny and hopeless in parts as she learnt was she needed to do to care for him. A great read.
What do you look for in a movie?
I love The Negotiator. So can I have Kevin Spacey in a police bullet proof jacket please, looking all hot and hard and as though he knows what he’s doing?
If I can’t have that, I like action, good looking heroes, well made chick flicks, oh yes, and Keven Spacey in a police jacket.
Apart from being a ‘good read’, what feelings would you like your readers to come away with after having read your work?
What kind of writing annoys you the most and why?
I hate questions like this. I don’t like to say things about the way someone else writes. I know it’s a damn hard business writing. It’s your life and soul you’re putting in to it and whomever reads it, is reading it subjectively, so whatever I dislike someone else loves, so I really won’t say anything against someone else writing. It’s their baby. It’s like saying – my, your baby is damn ugly!
Is this modern age, writers are having to engage with social media and become their own self-promoters in a way that didn’t exist even 5 years ago. Is there still room for the talented misanthrope or does success now depend on being socially adept?
Firstly, I had to look up misanthrope (I’m really quite thick even though I write!)
I’m new to all this, but from what I’ve seen, it helps to have an online profile. Without seeing sales figures of authors who and who do not have an online profile, I’m not sure I can say what is happening in this section of the publishing world, other than I have heard that publishing houses and agents have asked their authors to get an online profile, so it is becoming more and more important. Because of Twitter and Facebook, fans are feeling able to connect with their favourite authors and I don’t think that’s a bad think. Just don’t tweet when you’re drunk, angry or feeling blue.
It’s often said that modern technology poses a threat to crime fiction set in modern times . Its indeed a reason many writers give for setting their work in the past. Do you think this is true or should modern writers make an effort and embrace the times we live in?
A couple of years ago, I set about reading the Kay Scarpetta books, written by Patricia Cornwell, from beginning to end. The first couple of books were really odd to read as the technology was so old and decrepit. Yet in the book, at that stage, I think it was start of the art, so I think you have to tread a fine line if you want your books to age well. For instance, in the first book I have written, I have mentioned social networking sites, but I haven’t specifically named the current ones we use as I guess in ten years time, it could be something completely different. We have to be careful. We can date before we’ve even finished a book, things move that fast now.
What do some writer’s stand the test of time (such as Christie) and others don’t? (such as Gladys Mitchell) Is it really down to luck or zeitgeist or some other factor?
I’m not an analyser. I read what I enjoy and don’t worry about what’s popular and what’s not and why they are or not. I leave other people to argue those points while I just get on with reading what I want to read.
What led you to believe in yourself as a novelist?
Am I supposed to believe in myself?
Do you set in your work in a location you know well or somewhere else? Do you think location ultimately matters?
I know there is a belief that location can work as another character, but for me, it’s all about the people and I want my readers to feel they are there and not have to transport themselves somewhere else. People are so complex, and how they deal with outside the norm, circumstances, can very from person to person and that’s what I love to explore. I don’t know if you saw, or can remember it, but there is a clip of 1970’s Met cops interviewing a female rape victim and because she wasn’t crying and shaking and acting as they thought she should be, they shouted at her and treated her as though she was lying. When that video came to light, it was a first step for a change in policing and also for crime writers I expect, in recognising human behaviour changes when faced with situations out of our usual day to day routines. I haven’t gone in to detail on location. It could be any dirty city street anywhere. We all know the types of places.
Which crime novelists occupy the most of your bookshelves?
Karin Slaughter. I’m a huge fan of hers. She is really character driven. Her stories and plots are strong, but hell, her characters are gold. If you have never read any of hers I would suggest you read from the beginning as you really do need to understand who these people are and how they got to be where they are together. She mixes story and character together flawlessly.
Any embarrassing novel-buying moments you’d like to share?
I can categorically state, I have not been out and bought, or downloaded, fifty shades. 🙂
Do you have much creative input in your cover design?
I’m not at that stage yet.
If you could spend a day as anyone, real or fictional, contemporary or historical, who would you chose and why?
I think I would spend a day as myself as a child so I could be at a family gathering with family now lost to me.
Does crime fiction have a responsibility to expose to public consciously, unsavoury aspects of society that are misunderstood and hidden and can crime fiction play a part in changing society for the better?
This is a big question. How can the news be failing to do this already when we live in the world we live in? If people still need exposing to unsavoury aspects of society, then I think they are forcefully pushing their own heads down in to the sand and don’t want to look. We write about the stuff that is out there, that is reported upon, with organisations set up to support and help prevent the many things we write about. It’s all out there. People would rather not know and think if it’s in a fiction book, then that’s all it is, fiction.
And last but not least, what would your final meal be in the condemned cell?
Chinese takeaway followed by a roast dinner 🙂 which I’d never be capable of eating!
My many thanks to Rebecca for sparing the time for this interview.
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