Short, Sharp Interview: Quentin Bates

PDB: Can you pitch CHILLED TO THE BONE in 25 words or less?

If you don’t want your wife to know you’re being blackmailed or find yourself embarrassingly dead, mind where you put it to start with…

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I’ve been reading books by Jakob Arjouni, a German writer of Turkish origin, who died not long ago, tragically young. Dark, fast stuff. Also books by Dominique Manotti, a French writer who has a few books translated into English. Dead Horsemeat and The Lorraine Connection were both excellent. I daren’t start the others as I know that’s a day gone and I have stuff to do at the moment.

On the box, Engrenages (Spiral) is bloody brilliant, streets ahead of anything I’ve seen for a long time. Laure Berthaud gives Sara Lund a real run for her money, and for my money Laure has the edge.

Music, I’m already mourning the imminent passing of the unique and magnificent Wilko Johnson, who has just finished the farewell tour he organised when he found out he was suffering from cancer and had just weeks to live. A giant of a man.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

I hope so, but probably not. It’s not easy to read something these days without looking at the nuts and bolts of how it’s put together. Although with something that’s really, really good, you just get swept away with it and don’t think about the mechanics until afterwards.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

No. Well, not at the moment. As things are I have enough on my plate and daren’t go down any new avenues just yet.

PDB: How much research goes into your writing?

Not a great deal. I have a day job as well and don’t have the opportunity to do reams of in-depth research. I have a couple of sources I can go to for technical stuff, but that’s about as far as it goes. What is important is to spend some time in Iceland and get the feel for the place and what’s going on.

I spend a week or two doing day job stuff and mooching, seeing friends and relatives, reading the papers with steam radio on in the background, chatting to the fishermen at the quay, taxi drivers, the guy who runs the dockside caff, eavesdropping to get a feeling for what people really think and what their opinions and fears are. Then I go home and write about it.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you?

I have no idea… I do Facebook and Twitter. Twitter tends to be more fun as it’s Facebook’s less prim distant cousin, but Facebook is probably more useful as publicity. I blog regularly at the International Crime Authors Reality Check  alongside Barbara Nadel, Christopher G Moore and others, and occasionally on my own sadly-neglected blog.

Social media is great fun and it has found me some brilliant friends. I spend more time on it than I should and it can become a terrible thief of time if allowed to. As for useful? I’ve absolutely no idea how many books my Tweets and blogs sell and it’s something that’s probably impossible to figure out, but these days social media is something a fairly new writer can’t afford to neglect.

PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2013?

There’s CrimeFest at the end of May. I’m not sure what happens after that. I’d love to be able to say that I’m working on the next book, but at the moment that’s not really the case. I’ve been working on outlines and have opening sequences for several, although I’m not sure which of them might turn into the next one.

I’d like to do another e-book like Winterlude, the one that was published in January. It was a new experience to write at that length and while it was restricting in some ways, it was very liberating in others. So I’m hoping there’s a novel and an e-book to be had out of the handful of ideas I’m tinkering with.

PDB: Where can people find out more about your work?

There’s my web site,  a Facebook page  and I can be found on twitter as @graskeggur. It’s all there on Amazon, although for some reason on the US Amazon site you do have to hunt around for it.

Part of the plot of Chilled to the Bone centres partly around a dodgy dating web site, personal.is, and as I didn’t want to upset anyone by using an existing domain name, I had to buy it. But if you click on it, personal.is will only take you to my website, which is currently being revamped and may even be finished by now.

QUENTIN BATES GUEST-BLOGS ABOUT INTERNATIONAL CRIME FICTION OVER AT NOIR NATION.