One of my favourite authors is Christine Poulson – who for a long time combined a career as an academic and art historian with writing excellent modern mysteries. We got to know each other online because of my enthusiasm for her books – and so she is now a friend. We share a lot of tastes in books, and have done joint blog booklists and joint reviews. You can see some of her appearances at Clothes in Books here. (We both enjoy these projects enormously, but we actually wish we could disagree more. One time, with a whole world of books to choose from, and no conferring, our lists were pretty much identical…)
She has a new book out this week, Deep Water, the first book in a new series. I am looking forward to reading it, and will blog on it then, but thought it would be a good idea to mark its publication with an interview with the author, and Chrissie graciously agreed. So here we go:
Moira: So – I have my copy but haven’t read it yet. I don’t need any persuading, but how would you sell your book to other readers, what’s it about?
Christine: A cure for obesity, worth billions. A death in a clinical trial. When patent lawyer Daniel Marchmont agrees to act for Calliope Biotech, he doesn’t know what he’s getting into. The first lawyer on the case is dead, and a vital lab book is missing. Daniel and his wife Rachel are hoping biotechnology will also provide a cure for their daughter Chloe, who suffers from a devastating genetic disorder. But events take a turn they could not have anticipated . . .
Meanwhile researcher Katie Flanagan working alone at night in the lab begins to suspect that something sinister is going on . .
M: Sounds most intriguing. A departure from your academic mysteries, but does it have similarities with your 2014 standalone book, Invisible?
C: My first thought was that they are both suspense novels rather than whodunits, but don’t otherwise have a lot in common. On reflection though, I see that they both have at their heart the parent-child relationship, which I find endlessly fascinating. In both the natural protectiveness of parents towards their children is heightened – perhaps even distorted - by their circumstances. In Invisible, Lisa has a son with cerebral palsy, while in Deep Water, Daniel and Rachel are desperate for a cure for their daughter’s rare blood disease.
M: You have had a very difficult few months: your husband the distinguished architectural historian Peter Blundell Jones died after a very short illness. That must be very hard. Was he a helpful reader of your crime novels?
C: Peter could always tell me what kind of car my characters would drive, something I didn’t have a clue about! And I could rely on him for advice about anything technical. As for reading what I had written, he could be a pretty fierce critic and I used to save him up for my final drafts.
But perhaps what I will most miss is his robust attitude and his belief in me. Some years ago I was asked to contribute to an anthology of horror stories. I was inclined to say no, feeling that it wasn’t really my thing and I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Peter wasn’t having any of it. ‘You’re a writer, aren’t you?’ he said. ‘So write something!’ And I did.
M: Do you have a regular writing routine?
C: Yes, I try to keep every morning clear when I’m writing. Ideally I go straight to my desk after breakfast and don’t even look at my emails until I have a break mid-morning. How often do I do that? Well, I did say ideally . . .
M: You were an art historian and academic – have you given up the day job... ?
C: It is quite a while since I did any teaching or wrote an academic paper. But art is still very important to me. I love visiting galleries and exhibitions. I found teaching rewarding, but it is a luxurious feeling, knowing that I don’t have to explain anything to anyone any more.
M: Your new book is first of a series, which is good news. But – and I know this might be a question an author hates – is there any chance of a return of Cassandra James, your wonderful Cambridge University sleuth...?
C: You’re not the first to ask me this, and I am always flattered. I have a very soft spot for Cassandra. But I am up against the realities of publishing. Publishers don’t like to take on books mid series – unless of course they have been hugely successful. And Robert Hale who published the Cassandra James books are no longer in business. So I doubt if there are going to be any more. Short stories are another matter and I would love to revisit Cassandra in that form.
M: Thanks Chrissie, and good luck with the new book.
Deep Water is available in Paperback fromLion Fiction | Book Depository | Amazon | Hive | Waterstones
And in eBook from Kindle | Kobo
And in eBook from Kindle | Kobo