Today I’m very pleased to welcome author James Craig to the blog. James is the author of the best selling Inspector Carlyle series. His new series featuring Kriminalinspektor Max Drescher is published by Fahrenheit Press on 10th September 2015.
Tell us a little about A Slow Death.
It’s a year after the fall of the Wall. Berlin is a city in flux and on edge. Political conflict and criminal activity go hand in hand. Max Drescher is a Kriminalinspektor in the Criminal Investigation Divisions. He has to try a deal with a particularly heinous crime – the massacre of an entire family – while beset by a series of problems of his own.
Your previous novels featured Inspector John Carlyle. Your new book introduces Kriminalinspektor Max Drescher. Was there any fear in departing from ‘what you know’ and starting a new character? What inspired the new series?
Berlin came first.
I am a huge fan of Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels and I had wanted to write a story based in Berlin for a long time. Bernie operates in the time of the Nazi regime – a brilliant scenario when you think about it; how can you be a cop when the criminals are the ones so obviously in charge.
Then came the Wall. Of course I had to find my own time frame. In some ways, the 70s seemed the mirror to the 1930s, with a society struggling to deal with the aftershocks of Nazism. Then I realised the Berlin wall could bookend a series brilliantly, going up in ’61 and going down in ’89, that gave me a 30-year timeframe in which to set a new series.
Whilst A Slow Death is the first in the Drescher series it actually features his last case. Future books will trace his story back to pre-unification Berlin in the 1970s. Why did you decide to follow this unusual path?
First there was Berlin. Then there was the Wall. Then there was Max.
Like all good characters, Max seems to grow organically from the page. It was only as I got into A Slow Death and his backstory began to emerge that I began to sketch out the ‘hooks’ for each book. Once I had the chronology in my head, I decided to tell his tale backwards.
Is there a sense of freedom to write a series? By this I mean does the story arc flow more freely when you know how your characters will act or can they inversely inhibit the story?
Definitely. It makes it easier if you are staring at that blank Page 1 and thinking urrgh. At least you’re not completely starting from scratch.
Beyond that, however, you want to spend time with the same characters. In some ways, I have more time for Max – knackered, heartbroken old Max – than I do for that grumpy sod Inspector Carlyle. In both cases, however, there is a deep well of affection you want to come coming back to them, if only to see what the silly sods are up to now.
On a lighter note, who do you turn to for reading pleasure? Are there any particular genres or authors you always rely on to entertain you?
I read crime fiction, as you would expect. As I mentioned, Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels are always top of my list.
I’m currently reading Don Winslow’s Cartel, the follow up to The Power of the Dog, which is insanely good.
You must have answered a few of these Q&As. What question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
That is a great question, surprisingly tricky to answer.
I guess the question I wouldn’t mind would be Would you like a high six figure advance for your next masterpiece?
You know what the answer would be.
A Slow Death is available to purchase now from Amazon