Today we’re sitting in a crowded train station waiting to chat with crime and thriller author Gary Kemble, author of Bad Blood – the second novel in his Harry Hendrick series. When he arrives, we’re not supposed to turn around so we don’t draw suspicion.
Hi Gary. (Is that you Gary? Okay. Good.) So for those readers who haven't read Bad Blood yet, can you tell us what it's about in under 58 words?
“Freelance journalist Harry Hendrick is blackmailed by the police into investigating a series of bizarre suicides. Those investigations lead him into the web of Mistress Hel, who plies her dark arts from her luxurious suburban lair. With continuing challenges in his personal and professional life, can Harry resist her seductive power? Or the thrill of danger itself?”
So nothing to do with Taylor Swift then. Good to know. So, how did the idea for this book form?
“The original concept was much darker. It was a straight literature novel about a man dealing with the grief of losing his wife and daughter in a car crash while he’s at a BDSM session with a professional dominatrix.
“I couldn’t imagine myself actually writing that book. I was scouting around for an idea for the next Harry Hendrick book and with a bit of tweaking and a hefty dose of dark magic, it was a good fit.”
Tell us: what draws you to writing crime/thriller stories?
“I’ve always been drawn to the dark side. I was penning stories about zombies and murderous aliens when I was in primary school. I’m not sure why I’m drawn to horror. It’s just my thing.”
And we’re glad for it. So, do you have a solution to the mystery before you start writing, or do you write your way to an outcome?
“I’m a ‘plotter’ [plotting things in advance]. Early on I tried being a ‘pantser’ [writing by the seat of your pants] but I lost so many stories about two-thirds through that I realised, for novel-length projects at least, I needed to have a plan. The plan changes as I write, but having a basic structure is really important to me.”
When you are writing, what's your typical day like?
“I work full-time and have two kids, so my writing usually happens in the evening after they’ve gone to bed, and I try and get in a session or two on the weekend as well. I’ve got my chapters planned out, and I’m thinking about them beforehand, so when I sit down to write I generally know what I’m going to write. In a good one-hour session I can pound out up to 2,000 words. (I write very rough first drafts, and refine them during the drafting and editing process).”
Impressive – and proof that you can have a job, a family and a writing career. So what's next for you?
“My family and I have just moved back to Brisbane after two years in Scotland, so that’s taking up a lot of my time currently, but I’m working on Stone Cold, which is the third book in the Harry Hendrick series. I’ve also been working on a concept for book four (if the series gets that far), tentatively titled Dark Matter.”
What's your advice for aspiring writers who hope to publish a book one day?
“My main piece of advice would be never give up. Writers take different paths to ‘success’ (add your own definition) but the one thing they all have in common is they didn’t give up.
“Write every day, or at least keep your head in the story every day by making some notes or thinking about it.
“Finally, when things aren’t going well writing-wise, don’t be too hard on yourself. Yes, writing is important and you have prioritise it, but sometimes life gets in the way.”
Very level-headed advice. Thanks for your time today. Now, do we get up and leave first or do y– Oh, he’s already gone.