Saturday, December 14, 2019

Mystery and suspense

Today on the blog I am pleased to shout about a new book from Christine Poulson, the art historian who turned to crime. Her latest novel, An air that kills, out last month, is the third in a series about medical scientist Katie Flanagan. 

Chrissie is here on the blog today, answering some questions I put to her. If you want to ask her something yourself then please comment at the bottom. It will find it's way to her and she will post an answer below.

Where do you get your ideas?

I got the idea for An Air that Kills on 10th February 2018 when I read this headline on the front page of the Guardian: ‘Blunders exposed scientists to killer bugs.’ The piece that followed made hair-raising reading. It claimed that breaches of protocol had led to dengue virus - which kills around 20,000 people worldwide every year - being sent through the ordinary post and to students studying live meningitis pathogens that they mistakenly thought had been killed by heat treatment. As soon as I read it, I knew where my character, Katie Flanagan, was going next: I was going to send her undercover to a high security lab where the scientists were as dangerous as the diseases.

How long did it take you to write the novel?

I finished writing it at the end of June 2019, so that is about 17 months. I think that is pretty standard for me. I'm a slow writer and have never been one of those writers who can turn out a book a year. And in the past, I haven't written during the school holidays, but now that my daughter is older, that is changing.

You've had squillions of short stories published as well as your many novels. Which do you most enjoy writing?

Hard to say. I like the way that you can inhabit a novel over a period of time and get absorbed in the characters and the places that you're writing about. But I do also love the change of pace that the short story offers and the freedom to experiment with things that I couldn’t sustain for a whole novel. I once wrote a short story from the point of view of a fish (you can read it for free on my web-site). More recently I wrote a short story entirely composed of receipts and other financial documents, and it was short-listed for a Crime Writers Association dagger award.

And do you prefer writing standalone novels, or a series about the same character?

I've only ever written one standalone, Invisible, a suspense novel that came out in 2014. It is a novel that is close to my heart. But I have to say that writing a series comes more naturally to me and I enjoy reading them too.  I like to get really invested in the characters, both as a reader and a writer. It's also seems to be what publishers want. I have two more ideas for Katie Flanagan novels, so hopefully there are more to come.

What single thing would make your writing life easier?

A combined housekeeper and personal chef!

Thanks, Chrissie, and good luck with sales!


Christine said...

Thank you!

Margot Kinberg said...

What a great interview - thanks, both! I'd like a housekeeper/chef, too! In all seriousness, I think it's fascinating you got your idea from a real-life incident. The world is full of inspiration for writers, and real events like that one can be great sources of ideas. I wish you much success with An Air That Kills. Oh, and I don't crank out a novel a year, either...

Christine said...

Thanks so much, Margot. So kind of you.