Today we are meeting Chris Curran and Abbie Frost, talking about her books.
Which do you like to write, series or standalones?
I write standalones, probably because my first loves in crime fiction were standalones. Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel by the wonderful Daphne Du Maurier, Mary Stewart’s romantic thrillers and the sinister fiction of Patricia Highsmith. Even with writers like Ruth Rendell I preferred her standalones, like A Dark Adapted Eye (often written as Barbara Vine), rather than the Inspector Wexfords.
Later of course I came to appreciate the joys of a series. There’s something enormously satisfying about following a detective, professional or amateur, through a series of books. In effect you get two stories for the price of one: the immediate crime the sleuth is tasked with solving and the ongoing saga of their own complex, and often troubled, life.
However, so far, I’ve stuck with writing standalones. I did have a major police character, a family liaison officer called Loretta, in my third novel, Her Deadly Secret, and she proved so popular with readers I have considered featuring her in a series – we’ll see.
The special thing about standalones is that the reader can’t rely on anything. Even the narrator could be a killer (and I love an unreliable narrator!). Above all no character is safe, which adds an extra frisson to the whole thing.
Is there anything you wouldn’t write about?
I was asked this on a panel with two other crime writers recently and they both said they would never harm an animal in their books. Well, at the risk of alienating readers, I did actually kill a stray cat in one of my novels – a book where several people also die. The cat’s death was comparatively gentle and the animal didn’t really suffer. But, while no one seemed to have any sympathy for the humans, a couple of reviewers were outraged, not only that I let the cat die, but also that I hadn’t shown anyone feeding it!
Death and violence are givens in crime fiction and, as I said, no character is safe in my novels. So there’s probably not much I wouldn’t mention if it happens in real life. I do draw the line at graphic descriptions of violence, death or torture. I can’t bear to read that kind of thing myself and couldn’t face writing it.
What do you like to do to relax when not writing?
When we’re not under restrictions I love to go out for drinks and meals with friends and family. At the moment I have to settle for long walks with my husband. We live by the sea and there are lots of lovely places close by, so that is a real blessing.
Who is your favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?
I have to cheat here and mention two because there is one relatively minor character who gave me so much pleasure as he developed. He is Bill from my second novel, Her Turn to Cry. The book is set in the 1960s and Bill started as just a scary gangster threatening my main characters. As I wrote however something magical happened and he became more and more complex and human. In the end he turned out to be utterly pivotal to the resolution of the story, which was totally unplanned.
But the character I absolutely love, and the one many readers have really taken to, has to be Joe from my third Chris Curran novel, Her Deadly Secret. Although I never base my characters on real people, Joe has a lot in common with my husband. That didn’t stop me putting him through some awful traumas!
Who is your least favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?
In my Chris Curran books my villains would never think of themselves as baddies and are certainly not serial killer type psychopaths. They’ve often killed someone (or even more than one person) almost by accident – at least in their own minds! And readers not infrequently tell me they feel sympathy for them. This certainly happened with the murderer in my most recent Chris Curran novel, All the Little Lies. Several people have told me they were really upset when they found out whodunnit. And I have to say I felt the same!
However, I think the villain in my latest book, The Guesthouse, which is published under the name Abbie Frost, is as evil as they come and has few redeeming features.
Tell us about your last book…
The Guesthouse is a dark and gothic take on the country house murder mystery. The title refers to a remote mansion, on the coast of County Mayo in Ireland, that has been turned into a B&B. Hannah visits the place when she is trying to recover from the death of her boyfriend. Along with the other guests she soon discovers that they all have some connection to the house itself – and that they are unlikely to leave alive.
What’s coming next…
I don’t want to say too much about the book I’m editing at the moment, but it is a Chris Curran title. It’s about a young actress who joins a theatre group in the depths of the Gloucestershire countryside. They are plagued by a series of practical jokes that become progressively more dangerous.
And I’ve just started what I hope will be the next Abbie Frost. It’s set in an abandoned holiday camp on the coast not far from where I live. And it’s seriously creepy!
Chris Curran/Abbie Frost was born in London, but has lived in Hastings for more than twenty years. She has worked, amongst other things, as a teacher, a lecturer, an editor and an actor.
As Chris Curran she has written five psychological suspense novels for Harper Collins. Chris is lover of gothic fiction. So, for her most recent book, she decided to try something even darker than usual. This turned out to be The Guesthouse, which was published under the name Abbie Frost.
Follow Chris/Abbie on Twitter: @FrostyAbbie
Thank for taking the time to talk to us, and best of luck with The Guesthouse and all future releases.
Tomorrow we’re talking to Tina Baker.