Every week we feature a Q&A session with a Crime Cymru author. This week, we talk to Stephen Puleston, who writes two series set at opposite ends of Wales.
What’s your connection to Wales?
I was born in Holyhead on the island of Anglesey. I have lived most of my adult life on the island and I am a proud native Welsh speaker.
What could you not live without?
Inspector Drake one of my fictional detectives suffers from OCD and obsesses about decent coffee. Thankfully, it is the one trait I share with him. I enjoy the ritual of grinding coffee beans and making a fresh cup a few times a day.
How many times had you gone over and redrafted your book before sending it out? Betas? Edited?
It depends – I know that’s a bit of a copout. My first novel in the Inspector Drake series went through 15 different versions. These days I tend to plan the first draft and then write a complete version which goes to the editor for a structural edit. Once she works her magic the novel is rewritten and then returned to her for a line by line. The final part of the processes is a proofreader. So I guess that makes for four versions. I also have a team of advanced readers who give me feedback before publication.
Do you write longhand in notebooks, use a laptop or both?
I use a computer and if I’m away I’ll use a laptop.
Most writers think getting an agent is the golden key to traditional publication. Would you agree?
Having an agent is certainly key to a traditional publishing deal. But since the advent of self-publishing and Amazon Kindle it has been so much easier to publish independently without the needs for a traditional publishing deal. The world of publishing has changed out of all recognition in the last seven years.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people?
I don’t think I base any specific character or event on real life people or events. I worked for many years as a solicitor and some of my experiences in the criminal courts inevitably influence the way I write and colour some of the events and plots in my books.
Where did you get the inspiration for your latest story?
I like to have some theme or thread running through each of my books – something that mirrors contemporary society. This is not intended to make the book highbrow in any way but it’s a mechanism I find useful. I’m finishing the fourth Inspector John Marco novel based in Cardiff at the moment and the storyline is inspired by the prevalence of domestic violence in our society and its impact after the Covid lockdown restrictions have eased.
Why did you pick your genre?
I love reading crime fiction and as I have a background in the law choosing to write crime novels felt a natural development.
Do you think of the twists first then the story, or does this change every time?
Some of the twists are mapped out at the beginning of the book but most will occur to me as I’m writing and as the characters take charge of the plot.
Do you read other novels while you’re working? If so, what is your preferred genre?
I read regularly – usually the books in the crime genre or thrillers or psychological dramas. I also enjoy women’s fiction.
How important is organisation and time management to your writing career?
Crucial. I tried to impose deadlines for first drafts, working on my post structural edit and planning launches. Having to organise everything means that time management is crucial to getting everything organised in good time for publication date.
Can you visualise your characters? If so – which actors would play your two favourites?
I do visualise my characters and Matthew Rhys would be my chosen actor to play Inspector Ian Drake and probably Richard Harrington to play Inspector Marco in Cardiff.
Who have been the biggest influences on your writing?
Some of my favourite authors have been the biggest influences on my writing – Ian Rankin and Val McDermott and Peter Robinson are all in that category. Also I immensely enjoy the novels of Raymond Chandler and Michael Connelly.
What’s coming up for you this/next year?
I’ll be publishing an Inspector Marco novel in October and probably another towards the middle of next year. The pandemic lockdown has meant that I’ve been able to increase my word count which means that next year I shall also be having holidays too.
What is your favourite:
Ice cream flavour: Salted caramel
Book: The Big Sleep
Actor: Tom Hardy
Band/singer: Bruce Springsteen
Read more about Stephen Puleston
To discover Stephen’s books, follow the link here to his Amazon page