Tpo coincide with the release of Black Summer, I’m so excited today to be bringing you an interview with M.W. Craven – author of Black Summer (and much more). Anyone I interact with regularly will be above to tell you that I adore the Washington Poe novels The Puppet Show and Black Summer (click to check out my reviews) although they will also tell you I am #teamTilly all the way. If you haven’t read these books and love dark and intricate thrillers then I urge you to grab a copy and block out a few hours of reading time.
After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .
Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.
So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.
Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?
And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.
Interview with M.W. Craven
Q1. I love Poe and Bradshaw but I’m definitely #teamtilly. Where did your inspiration for her character come from?
I’d initially written Tilly as much more streetwise and sassy, but when I had worked out the provenance of Poe’s first name – you can’t call a Cumbrian Washington without explaining why – he became a lot darker than I’d intended. To balance this out I rewrote Tilly as far lighter. The result is the Tilly readers seems to love. She’s certainly my favourite character to write and sometimes I’ll construct an entire character just to give her one funny line.
Q2. Who would you see playing Poe and Bradshaw in a film version of the books?
Can’t really answer this as I know who Studio Lambert – the TV production company hoping to bring Poe and Tilly to the small screen – are gunning for and that’s all I see now. But they have them both down to a tee.
I have to say that I am super excited to hear this.
Q3. You’re either a genius or a terrifying lunatic. Where did you find the ideas for the weird and wonderful ideas for murder in Black Summer?
Like all my books – apart from the 4th as it happens, which was heavily plotted – I don’t really plot as such. I have a few things I know will happen but otherwise I trust that I’ll think of something at the right time. With Black Summer I had a lot of fun as Mrs C and I enjoy going to these type of restaurants anyway, so it was interesting to put a murder in the mix of it all.
Q4. The attention to detail in you books is flawless. How long does it take you to research facts for each novel? And how do you do the research?
There was one bit of science that troubled me throughout the book but luckily I have a whole range of people I can call on. In this instance I asked my niece who, at the time, was studying a biological science degree at Oxford. She took my problem to one of her professors who offered a suggestion. After I’d tinkered with it so it fit with the plot, I reran it past a few people until I was sure it was factually correct. Ordinarily though it’s not quite so complex – a few research books and a couple of hours on the internet is normally sufficient.
Q5. Do you have a writing process or a specific way of working?
I always start the new Poe book on December 1st – so I started Poe 5 yesterday – but otherwise I try to work 10-6 (ish) Monday to Friday. I always sit at my desk and I always have music on – either punk or metal.
Q6. Which authors have you been inspired by?
Michael Connelly has been a huge influence on my work I think, as has Terry Pratchett. The former for his genius character Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch and completely believable stories, the latter for his use of sly humour and satire. I’m also a big Arthur Conan Doyle fan and I think there’s probably a bit of Sherlock in Poe, particularly the way he can think his way around problems.
Q7. What do you like to do when you aren’t plotting murder?
Reading obviously. Going to gigs – we flew to Vegas this year to see Iron Maiden – and walking my spaniel, the real life ‘Edgar’. I also enjoy cooking and I’m a bit of a real ale nerd. Soup beer my friend Crawford calls it – which is why I named an unpleasant looking character after him in Black Summer . . .
Author Bio – M. W. Craven
M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .
M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.