I turned the tables on Christoph (who recently interviewed me: https://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/mystery-mondays-interview-with-n-a-grainger) and asked him to answer some of the questions he sends out to other authors when he does the interviewing.
Imagine we are sitting in an old pub somewhere in Wales, fire in the fireplace, noise bustling around us, and pints of semi-warm, flat British beer or maybe some good stout on the table. Maybe a packet of crisps, too?
NG: Tell me about the concept behind your books. How did you get the idea?
CF: I always wanted to write something more humorous than my historical fiction and dramas and the character of Bebe Bollinger has been in my head for a long time. She didn’t fit the other books, so when we were snowed in a few years back, I began to see the situation through her eyes. The murder plot came to me because of my partner’s love for cosy mysteries. Throw in a few odd ball characters and an unusual detective and you have all the ingredients.
NG: Well, you’ve certainly created a memorable character and I see from the book title that Bebe will be back! Who is your favourite Detective?
CF: Miss Marple, played by Margaret Rutherford. Always was and always will be.
NG: I agree with you there. I loved her as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit. Tell us about Bebe, your main character.
CF: Bebe Bollinger had a few chart hits in the 70ies and 80ies and has wanted to return to the limelight for some time. Plagued by a daughter likely to cause a scandal, a lazy agent and some quirky neighbours the last thing she needs is a murder in her hamlet.
Beth Cooper, the assigned detective, has recently been dumped by her girlfriend, sways between drink and chanting and has her boss breathing down her neck. The last thing she needs is another difficult murder case.
NG: Both of these women bring great tension to the story in different ways. Who would you cast to play the characters in a movie?
CF: I would prefer to cast someone against type in those roles. Quite often the best performances are those by people who weren’t the obvious choice for those roles. I could imagine Brenda Blethyn, Miranda Richardson or Barbara Hershey make this a huge success, but naturally, Bette Midler or Tina Fey (with age makeup) could play Bebe well.
Ruth Jones or Eve Myles would be my favourites for Beth Cooper, but maybe Jennifer Lawrence or Miranda Hart could do the job just as well.
NG: These are all great choices. I can see Bette Midler really taking on Bebe and playing her over-the-top personality to a T. Your dominant characters are mainly women, but do you think you have any of their qualities? How so?
CF: In this book I don’t think I am quite like any of the characters, which is what I enjoyed the most. The genre allows for some extra flamboyancy and over the top characterization. A dear friend said that my character came through in the book, but it hasn’t manifested itself in one specific person in the novel.
NG: Do you throw in Red Herrings?
CF: Yes, as many as I can.
NG: Having read the book, I can vouch for that! Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you plot the entire novel and know who did it before you start, or can that change?
CF: I have a basic plot outline but my writing and characters are both very dynamic and it changes several times throughout the book. In this particular case, I wrote it with four possible endings in mind and threw in hints and possibilities for all of the variations throughout. When I reached 87 of 100, two options were no longer possible and I settled for one. I then had to go back and delete what was now redundant and add a few bits and bobs. It’s hard work for the editing team but more fun to write. If I didn’t know who did it, then the readers should find it also more difficult than if I knew from chapter one.
NG: I completely agree. It’s so much more fun writing when you yourself aren’t sure who ‘dunnit’. What are you working on now?
CF: I’m currently working on the sequel The Healer, my psychological thriller about a faith healer. This time the characters meet again in the Caribbean to pick up the loose ends from book one. And I’m jotting down various ideas for the next Bebe book. So far, feedback and sales have been better than I anticipated and I have a lot of ideas for more Bebe adventures.
NG: I’m glad to hear that – I want to read more of her. I plan to read The Healer soon, too. What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I walk my dogs, cycle, feed the animals, do jigsaws, organise book fairs and festivals, read, socialise and am politically active, too. Never a dull moment, not enough hours in the day.
NG: What makes you laugh?
CF: Silly comedy, slap stick, adolescent humour.
NG: Some of that comes through in The Body in the Snow! If you could invite anyone past or present to have dinner with you, who would you ask?
CF: I like a good debate and would love to put the world to rights with Putin, May, Trump, Clinton and Merkel. Maybe Bobby Carnivale and Mark Wahlberg to look at, Tina Fey and Amy Shumer for the humour.
NG: Funny you should mention Bobby Carnivale. I’ve followed him since he first appeared on TV in Third Watch. He’s blowing it out of the water in Boardwalk Empire. As for Mark Wahlberg…
Thanks so much for taking time to chat with me today, Christoph. The beer’s on me!
Here is where you can contact Chrstoph:
Twitter: @CFFBooks, @WriterCFischer
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/106213860775307052243