Blog Tour – Q&A
Welcome to another exciting crime/thriller interview here on Always Trust In Books. I had the fantastic opportunity of putting some questions to debut writer Claire Kittridge. This Dark Place is Claire’s first foray into the Crime-Thriller genre and I am excited to read it. Claire answered my questions passionately and with great enthusiasm which I really appreciated. Enjoy the blog tour Q&A and make sure to check out all the other blog posts on the tour for more reviews and information about This Dark Place!
15.04.2018 / Delicate Prey Publishing / Crime-Thriller / Paperback / 250pp / 978-0999897614
About Claire Kittridge
Claire Kittridge grew up in Brooklyn, NY. An avid reader, triathlete, and boxing fan, she fell in love with England and its great fictional detectives while travelling around Britain as a teenager. Claire lives in New York City with her cat, Chairman Meow.
About This Dark Place
Priscilla’s body lay motionless on the couch in front of her. They were blood sisters, but Avery never thought it would end like this – thrust against her will into this dark place.
When the brutal death of a young American theater student in London is splashed across headlines worldwide, NYPD Detective Kelly Moore flies across the Atlantic to join a crack team of British investigators on the case.
Together with the London Metropolitan Police, Kelly must track down a twisted killer who seems to know her every move. As the body count rises, and panic spreads, the killer threatens to make Kelly the next victim.
In a heart-racing game of cat and mouse, Kelly must outwit this elusive master of surveillance – who might be the last person she suspects.
From debut author, Claire Kittridge, comes this page-turning, unputdownable thriller. This Dark Place is the first novel in the Detective Kelly Moore series, introducing a tough streetwise cop who will go to any lengths to catch a killer
Thank you Claire for taking some time to answer a few questions about your debut novel This Dark Place.
Could you give us your own personal overview of what we should expect in within?
Thank you for having me here! This Dark Place is a fast-paced thriller that’s set in London. The protagonist, NYPD Detective Kelly Moore, is a tough gal from NY city who is strong and smart but also impulsive and vulnerable. She’s been sent across the pond because a well-connected American’s daughter has died under very suspicious circumstances. From there, Kelly gets swept into tracking a killer through a dangerous underworld while forging relationships with her colleagues the London Met Police.
What was your initial inspiration for This Dark Place?
I was at traffic court in lower Manhattan—fighting a ticket for riding my bicycle through a red light, but that’s another story—and I saw this super cool police officer. She was in uniform, wearing tons of gear—flashlight, radio, pistol, notebook—and she had an asymmetrical haircut with a bright magenta streak dyed into the top. I’m always observing people and making notes for characters. I knew straightaway that she was a bad-ass. She became the inspiration for Detective Kelly Moore.
How does it feel to have your debut out there for everyone to read?
Stuart, it feels Amazing!! My head is spinning with excitement. It’s like waking up to find that it’s my birthday every day. I also can’t say enough about how supportive the whole community of crime fiction readers and writers has been. I’m blown away by everyone’s kindness and enthusiasm! Writing the book was a labor of love, and it’s the most fulfilling feeling to hear people talk about it, and to see it out in the world.
Can you give us a few details about some of the interesting concepts and ideas that you explore within your novel?
That’s such a great question. While the core of the story is about chasing after a person with a very twisted sense of the world, there are a few other ideas that are really important to the character of the book. At the center of This Dark Place are a pair of close friendships between women. The first relationship is between Priscilla and Avery, lifelong friends. One dies tragically and her friend is accused of her murder. The second friendship is one that develops between Kelly and Sam, one of her female colleagues at the London Met.
I’ve had a really close friend since childhood that grew up with a very different kind of life than I did, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how close bonds can save you, and also how they can sink you. That’s especially true when people come from different class backgrounds or different cultures. In my case we’re still close after all these years. She’s like a sister to me. But we’ve all had friends that go down a path where you feel like you can’t protect them.
Another thread of the book looks at the surveillance culture that we live in, especially in big cities. I was surprised to find out that London has even more cameras on the street than New York. In both places CCTV is ubiquitous. I’ve read a lot of books where the police use CCTV to track down a killer, but I hadn’t seen too many books where the killer uses surveillance to manipulate his victims (and even the police). I think it dehumanizes us, being watched all the time, coupled with so many people always looking at screens constantly. Our children are being taught to live voyeuristically. At a distance from other people.
Is there a particular element of the novel you especially enjoyed writing about in This Dark Place?
Some of the shorter passages and scenes were the most fun for me to write. Kelly has an ex, Tommy Hunter, that she’s still got on her mind. Writing Kelly’s thoughts about him was great fun because I know so many men like Tommy here in New York. Writing the sexy bits can be a blast. I also had great fun writing a scene where Kelly goes to hit the heavy-bag at a local boxing gym. Upcoming books will definitely have more boxing and more Tommy Hunter.
What sort of challenges did you face when writing about an NYPD officer working alongside the London Met?
I did a lot of research, talking with people, finding resources online. It sounds obvious to say, but everything is so similar but at the same time so different. Procedures, terminology, laws. I had to find out the difference between a solicitor and a barrister. But those differences are mostly technical, the real things about people are universal; their hopes, their desires.
Had you always planned to become an author?
Pretty much, yes. I first started writing in earnest when I was about nine years old. I had to stay home from school for a week because I was sick, and from some mixture of boredom, delirium, and inexplicable compulsion, I wrote, designed and illustrated my first ‘novel’. It was about a crime-fighting turtle who wore a fedora and smoked a cigar. My dad was an old movie buff. I watched a lot of James Cagney and Edgar G. Robinson as a kid. From that point on, I was hooked.
Are there any authors that influence your writing?
I’m a huge fan of Patricia Highsmith; not only the Ripley books but also titles like The Price of Salt, which is just so moving. Her pacing is perfect and the characters are so well-drawn. Jim Thompson has also been a huge influence. He gets so much information onto the page using so few words. I’m always aspiring for that. More recently, I’ve been completely addicted to reading contemporary British thrillers by Robert Bryndza and Angela Marsons. Their detectives are up there with the all-time classics!
How long did it take you to plan and write This Dark Place?
Ages ago, I wrote a note in my journal about taking a New York City cop and throwing her into a foreign setting like London. Then I saw the police officer described above and had my Aha! moment. That idea sat around gnawing at me and growing in my notebooks for a long time until I was introduced to Marc Lepson, who was just starting Delicate Prey Publishing. We discussed my idea, showed him what I had written, and This Dark Place was born! I started writing the book in earnest at that time. Over the course of the next year and a half, the book went through several major revisions until it was finally ready to go to press.
Can you tell us in five words what being an author/writer means to you?
There’s never a day off
Did you take the time to celebrate finishing your novel?
Yes, well…I guess ‘never a day off’ is an exaggeration! I have a soft spot for French food, so when the final proofs were in, I went with the love of my life to a place where we only go for special occasions. But actually, it wasn’t a whole day off, just the evening.
Have you got a hobby/activity you do to wind down from all the writing?
Boxing has become my passion—second only to writing. I started training while I was working on the first draft of This Dark Place. It’s the best workout I’ve ever done and so fun! The boxing community is fantastic. Similar to the writing community; amazingly supportive and tightly knit. I couldn’t resist giving Kelly Moore a boxing habit too.
Finally, have you read a book/article recently that you would personally recommend to the readers of this post?
Can I recommend two? One is old and the other is new. I recently read Dorothy B. Hughes ‘The Expendable Man’. It was written in the early 60s, and it is particularly American. It’s a subtly horrifying psychological murder mystery about a person in the wrong place at the wrong time. The other book just came out in 2018; Lisa Regan’s Vanishing Girls. It’s non-stop action and drama. Her character Detective Josie Quinn is my newest girl-crush.
Thank you to Claire Kittridge for taking the time to talk about her debut novel This Dark Place. And thank you to everyone who has stopped by to find out some details about her book. I loved the idea of a NYPD officer coming over to the UK to work with the Metropolitan Police in London. I can’t wait to read This Dark Place as I have heard great things about it. This was definitely a successful interview and I though Claire gave us some great answers. I hope you all enjoyed the Q&A too and go pick yourself up a copy of This Dark Place.