your books, you make Christchurch look very bleak. Is the city
really that way? Or do you just see it that way?
This is something I get asked a lot. Christchurch
is a fantastic city, I love living here, and I don't see it
in the dark way I write about it. I take everything bad I've
learned about Christchurch and I exaggerate it for the books
to create an atmosphere more suitable for a crime novel. Remember,
it's not me who sees Christchurch so darkly - it's the characters.
The books are written from the point of view of a serial killer,
or from characters who have suffered and are still suffering,
whose lives are in danger. Christchurch is nowhere as bad as
I paint it to be - but it definitely has its dark underbelly,
and it's absolutely a perfect backdrop for my characters to
live and play in. I like having Christchurch as a 'character'
in the books now, almost an entity that makes the other players
inspired you to become a writer?
always wanted to be a writer – ever since primary school.
I never really thought I’d do it, though. It wasn’t
so much that I got inspired by any one thing, it was more that
writing had always been my passion – and then one day
about fifteen years ago, I decided to take that step and begin
working on a book.
Each of your novels focuses on a different protagonist. In the
crime genre, it is typical to have a recurring character through
all novels – would you consider developing a character like
the moment the three books have an overlapping timeline, so
some characters from one will appear in the other, and actions
of one character will create problems for the other characters
in other books. I do have a leading character that I want to
bring back again and again.
are your favourite crime novelists?
are lots. But my favourite three are John Connolly, Lee Child,
and Michael Connelly. I would never have become a crime writer
if it weren’t for these guys.
you ever consider writing in another genre?
not sure. I think so. All I know for sure is it wouldn’t
novels have a cinematic quality – would you consider allowing
them to be developed into films?
Anybody have Peter Jackson’s cell number?
spend a lot of time renovating property – is it easier than
constructing a novel?
A lot easier. Plus you get to see short term gains – you
can finish installing a new kitchen or landscaping a garden
and you get to see a result. Writing is hard. I could spend
the next six months writing a novel that nobody would like and
would never get published, and all I’d have managed to
do was waste six months – and when you start a new book
with that knowledge… well, it can be tough.
you couldn’t be a writer anymore, what else would you do?
don’t know. I guess I’d become a book reviewer.
Those guys seem to have a lot of fun.
it hard to stay motivated?
and no. It depends on what else is going on around me. I have
no real schedule I stick to. I might not write for a month.
Then other times I'll be writing all day up to two or three
in the morning.
base any characters on real people?
got warned about that years ago –you do that, then your
friends wonder if this is how you see them. Some of the random
people I see in the city are in there, just background characters,
like the guy riding his bike with a cardboard tube extended
from his nose down to a bag of glue that enabled him to 'multitask'.
You see these things and think 'man, I never could have come
up with that!' There are a lot of real people I've met over
the last year or two I'd like to put into the book - but I'm
sure they wouldn't be too happy about the way I portray them. However some characters have been inspired by real people – but certainly not based on them.
much of the characters are in you? Especially Joe from The Cleaner.
depends on the character. For the most part, many of the leading
characters share some of my views on the world, or on life.
Joe is different. I don't share much in common with him - perhaps
some of the humour - but nothing more. I hate to think anybody
shares the same views he has. As for other characters, like
Theodore Tate, or Charlie Feldman - again I share a lot of their
views. Would I behave the same way these men have done in the
same circumstances? I don't know. Probably not. I think I'd
like to behave more like these characters - but the closest
I can get is writing about them.
you nervous when a new book comes out? Or a previous book comes
out for the first time in another country?
I don't know if that feeling will ever go away. I hope so. At
this stage I freak out with every book release, here or in any
other country. I keep hoping for the best and keep expecting
the worse. The thing I fear the most is waking up one day to
find out that the reviews are telling me I need to get another
you know what's going to happen in your stories before you begin
on the story. Sometimes I don't have any direction at all. All
I have is genre. I don't know what characters are going to be
in it, what their point is, what they're all striving towards.
I get a better feel for it as I get further into the story.
I get more control over the situations I'm creating, and with
some serious rewriting it all comes together nicely. Other times
I plan most of it out before going to far into it.
And finally, what would your top tips be for aspiring novelists?
every day. Even if it’s only a hundred words – just
get that story moving. And rewrites make a huge difference –
I can rewrite a book half a dozen times before I’ll even
let any friends look at it – and maybe another half a
dozen times before sending it to my publisher. It’s hard
work – but the payoff is worth it when you see the book
getting better and better.