Hello and welcome to another Author Influences. I’m chuffed to be joined today by crime writer and fellow Hullian (is that what you call people from Hull?) Nick Quantrill to talk books.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was a big reader as a child and would make my mum take me to the local library every week. I loved the Famous Five, devoured them all, and couldn’t be more delighted that my six-year-old daughter is discovering them and their brilliance. From there I moved on to Sherlock Holmes, so I guess crime stories are in my blood…
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
There’s a loaded question! I don’t recall massively enjoying English at school, but like a lot of teenage boys, I simply stopped reading for pleasure, unable to find books that appealed to me at the time. Maybe it was the sense of enforced reading and other things in life becoming more interesting, but I guess the reading bug was always there, even if it was dormant for a few years.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I’m proud to say I’m a crime writer and love reading around the genre. The beauty of it is that it’s so varied. One week it might be a Lee Child thriller, the next it might be a psychological novel or a police procedural. The choice is endless. It was always going to be crime when I started to write. I see the reading I did in my twenties as my apprenticeship.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’ve dabbled with writing for children and it was definitely fun. I’d also really like to try to write a non-fiction book. I’ve lived with Nick Triplow’s Getting Carter project for a decade, so have seen the effort that goes into such a thing. It clearly needs to be a subject you’re passionate about, but I keep looking around…
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
In many ways it was Ian Rankin. I love the way he blends together razor sharp views on society with such a strong sense of place. His work sets the bar, in my opinion. Maybe the actual prompt was reading a really bad crime novel and thinking I could do better, that it couldn’t be that hard … turns out it is incredibly hard…
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
I have so many favourites! From the big hitters, Rankin, Child and Connelly are must buys. I’m also a huge fan of Graham Hurley and will buy anything he writes. Lesser well-known, but Ray Banks is a brilliant modern noir writer. He keeps a low profile, but a new book from him is an event in my world.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
I think it’s largely as above, but a recently blagged a copy of Eva Dolan’s new one, This Is How It Ends. It’s so sharp and astute. Her eye for what’s happening in the world and what needs exploring in crime fiction is exceptional. On a wider note, Grapes of Wrath and To Kill A Mocking Bird still resonate with their power and anger. Who wouldn’t want to leave a legacy like that behind?
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Ha! I think when you write about a specific, real life location like I do with Hull, you can’t help but be influenced by events and people. I’m fortunate that the city has changed hugely over the last decade – from UK Crap Town to UK City of Culture – so I’ve had plenty of material to go at from regeneration to cigarette smuggling. Follow the money…
A huge thanks for taking part, Nick. I’m also a fan of Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Nick’s latest book The Dead Can’t Talk is out now. Here’s what it’s about…
How far will Anna Stone, a disillusioned police officer on the brink of leaving her job, go to uncover the truth about her sister’s disappearance? Approached by Luke Carver, an ex-Army drifter she’s previously sent to prison, he claims to have information which will help her. As the trail leads from Hull and the Humber’s desperate and downtrodden to its great and good, an unsolved murder twenty-five years ago places their lives in danger, leaving Stone to decide if she can really trust a man who has his own reasons for helping.
Nick Quantrill was born and raised in Hull, an isolated industrial city in East Yorkshire. His crime novels are published by Caffeine Nights, the latest being The Dead Can’t Talk. A prolific short story writer, Nick’s work has appeared in various volumes of The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime. Nick is also the co-founder of the Hull Noir festival and regularly writes for the official 2017 UK City of Culture website.