Val Penny on Hunter’s Chase by Dave Rigby
This article was initially published on 07 January 2018 on Yorkshire Writers’ Lunch at https://yorkshirewriterslunch.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/dave-rigby-interviews-val-penny
|Posted: 07 Jan 2018 10:30 PM PST
To start things off Val, can I ask how you began writing fiction? Was there a specific trigger?
There was indeed a trigger, I began writing my first novel when I was being treated for breast cancer. I had taken early retirement and was beginning to wonder how I had ever had time to work when I received the unwelcome diagnosis of breast cancer. As my treatment proceeded, I started to blog about my experience. My writing here still receives considerable attention:. I found my treatment very tiring and had little energy to do anything but read, so I started reviewing the books I read on .I have always enjoyed reading crime fiction and I began to think that, as I had the time, I would try my hand at writing a crime fiction novel. It was not an easy task, and it took a lot longer than I thought it would, but the result was Hunter’s Chase.
The novel features DI Hunter Wilson. How would you describe him?
Hunter Wilson, like all my characters in Hunter’s Chase, is a combination of several people that I have found interesting. I needed my main protagonist to have certain characteristics including patience, perseverance and a desire to achieve justice for those who could not attain that for themselves. Hunter is a compassionate man who fights for the underdog and is a fine team player. These are important qualities in my main character. But I also needed Hunter to have flaws. Everybody has faults and to make Hunter believable, he had to have them too. He is not a saint. He is divorced, he is untidy, he likes to win, he bears a grudge.
How did you first come up with the plot for the book and how did it develop from those initial ideas?
The original idea came from a former employee of mine. She had worked in a lawyer’s office, in the north of Edinburgh, where they specialised in criminal law and when she came to work for me in a rather different type of office in a rather elegant part of Edinburgh city centre. The comment my employee made was “It is lovely not to work in a place where you smell the clients before you see them!” It was this comment gave me a kernel of an idea that formed the basis of the Johnson family in Hunter’s Chase from that central family and their story, my novel evolved from there.
To what extent is a sense of place important in your books and how do you create this?
I chose Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland as the setting for Hunter’s Chase. Setting is most important to a novel and Edinburgh is a beautiful city of around half a million people. It is big enough so that anything that I want to happen in my novels can happen, but it is also a small enough city that many people in the city know each other. The main protagonist of ‘Hunter’s Chase’ is Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson. He lives in Leith, an area to the north of the City and drinks in his local pub, the Persevere Bar. His home is also close to the Hibernian (‘Hibs’) football ground. The other main character, Detective Constable Tim Myerscough lives across the city from Hunter, in the south-west of the city. He moves into a flat Gillespie Crescent between Tollcross and Bruntsfield. His local pub in the Golf Tavern, off the Bruntsfield Links. DC Tim Myerscough’s father, Sir Peter Myerscough, lives even further to the south in the Morningside district of Edinburgh. From his large house he has fine views across the Pentland Hills.
Plot, character, setting, theme, genre…which of these do you focus on initially when you are developing a new book?
My novels fall squarely within the genre of crime thrillers. I first draft out a rough idea of the plot of my novel. That tells me who I need to populate the story and make it come to life. InHunter’s Chase, DI Hunter Wilson struggles to ensure the crime in Edinburgh does not go unpunished. Hunter’s Chase introduces a new detective, DI Hunter Wilson into the ‘Tartan Noire’ genre. I am delighted to be compared to other proponents of Tartan Noire such as Ian Rankin, Alex Grey and Quintin Jardine. I think all crime novels explore the triumph of good over evil. The readers know the criminals will not succeed. Still, the thrill of the chase and the problems overcome to achieve justice for the victims must enthral and satisfy the readers.
How do you come up with names for your characters?
I have always been interested in names and this interest has stood me in good stead when populating my novel with characters. In many cases, the characters told me their own names. Hunter Wilson, for example: reflects the fine Scottish tradition of using surnames as first names. Wilson is a popular Scottish surname and I do like the conceit of having an investigating detective who goes by the name of Hunter. Meera Sharma is another character who told me her own name. I once knew a very pretty girl whose name was Meera. I partnered the first name with the name Sharma because I thought it had a good ring to it. As for Timothy Myerscough, I have been savouring the name Myerscough for over twenty-five years and the first name Timothy balanced it nicely. Names for the characters come easily to me and I enjoy finding names for my characters very much.
I see from your biographical details that you have a background in law – both in practice and in teaching. How has this influenced your writing?
I write crime fiction, but I was never involved in the practice of Criminal Law. Indeed, I only passed my Criminal Law exams at university by promising the Professor that I would never work in that field! However, I did meet many policemen and sat through many court cases. There is no doubt that my background fired my interest in crime novels.
Do you have a regular writing regime? What would a typical writing day look like and do you have things which help you along, such as a regular supply of coffee, music, or a stimulating view from the window?
I usually write in the afternoons. In the mornings I take care of the regular household and social matters that I need to deal with. In the evenings, I tutor local children for their English exams at school, so in the afternoons, when I have the house to myself, I write. I find Earl Grey Tea, quiet, familiar music and watching my cats all help in their own way if I have a block in my flow. However, most help is afforded to me by chocolate. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it!
And, can I ask, is there a new book in the pipeline?
Only this week, I heard from my publishers, Crooked Cat Books, that they have accepted the sequel to Hunter’s Chase: Hunter’s Revenge. It is very early days, but we are aiming to get the novel completed and edited with a view to publication during August or September 2018.
Thanks very much for answering our questions and good luck with ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and your future projects.
Thank you for allowing me to visit the blog today, Dave. I really appreciate it. I can be contacted on social media at:
Friends of Hunter’s Chase –
Val was interviewed by Yorkshire Writers’ Lunch member, Dave Rigby.
Catch my interview with Dave Rigby
My interview with Dave Rigby about writing ‘Hunter’s Chase’ is out today!
5* Review of @Hunter’s Chase’ on Amazon by Katie
Katie enjoyed reading the crime thriller published by Crooked Cat Books, Hunter’s Chase and gave the novel a 5* review on Amazon. Thank you, Katie
“A thrilling read, written in an authentic and witty voice.” Katie
I remember when my younger sister and I were little girls our Mum used to make time to sit and read us stories on a Sunday afternoon. These were not like bed-time stories, on a Sunday we would get to sit in the ‘good’ living room and she would read us books including ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens, ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ by H. Rider Haggard,’Swallows Amazons by Arthur Ransome and ‘Emma’ by Jane Austin.
We loved listening to the stories but after we were in bed, having heard another story, my sister often could not get to sleep right away, so I would make up my own stories to tell her until she fell asleep. The first book I ever wrote was one of these stories, an adventure entitled ‘The Douglas Family’. I was about 9. I always planned to write a sequel, maybe one day I will.
Only years later was I converted to the world of blogging.
It is often said that when we are teenagers we rebel and when we grow older we become ourselves again. It was certainly true of me! I have always read voraciously but my writing, for many years was confined to studies, work and journals. However, when I was older, I contracted breast cancer. My way of coping was to revert to type. I read all I could about the disease and began to blog about my journey at www.survivingbreastcancer.com.
However, I have also always enjoyed good food and loved to travel. It is said I would go to the opening of a paper bag! So I decided to start another blog to encompass these interests. Whenever I go anywhere, or go out to eat, I will share the experience here at www.hotelandrestaurantreviews.com – to date it has not resulted in free meals, but I live in hope.
It was also during the time that I was recovering from cancer that I began my book review site. For almost a year I was too ill, first from the disease and then from the cure, to do very much. However, I could read: and I did, even more than I ever had. It seemed sensible to extend my blogging to include reviews of the books I was reading, so my third blog, www.bookreviewstoday.info was born. I began to get asked by writers to review their books and I am always happy to do that. I do not make a charge, but I receive many excellent novels and biographies in return for my honest reviews.
I always enjoy reading books by writers that are new to me, as well as those with whose work I am familiar. I just like to read. I have always found that reading can take you to a all kinds of places to meet different people. Perhaps it is my love of travel, this time through the medium of the written word. This was a great way for me to escape, especially from myself, when I was ill.
When I am reading a book review, I am looking for an honest opinion about the book. I also like to learn a bit about the author, their background and how they came to write the novel. It is also important that any review, like any other piece of writing holds my interest but please, please don’t spoil my enjoyment of the story by telling me what happens! That really upsets me.
My own debut crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ is to be published by Crooked Cats Books in February next year, so I will have to get used to being on the other side of reviews. That is a daunting feeling.
Individual aspects of creating a novel are interesting. Setting is very important to me in my writing, even when I wrote ‘The Douglas Family’ for my sister all those years ago, I could visualise the house the family lived in, each room and the garden in which they had so many of their adventures.
In ‘Hunter’s Chase’ my story is set in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Crooked Cat Books will publish the novel on 02.02.2018. I did consider creating an imaginary town for him. However, I know the city of Edinburgh well as I lived there for many years and it has everything a writer could need. It is a diverse city with all different kinds of buildings and people. It is small enough that characters can move around it quickly and large enough for it to be credible that anything I want to happen there, could happen.
Edinburgh is also a beautiful city with a castle, a palace and a cathedral, wealthy homes, horrible slums, fine restaurants, fast food outlets and idiosyncratic pubs. It is home to an Olympic size pool, the National Rugby Team and two famous football teams. It is also home to The Edinburgh International Festivals, what more could I or my characters want?
Edinburgh, The Setting for ‘Hunter’s Chase’
I chose Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, as the setting for my novel ‘Hunter’s Chase’. The book will be published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. Edinburgh is a beautiful city of around half a million people. The city is situated on the south banks of the Firth of Forth. There are some lovely views across the Forth from Edinburgh to the county of Fife on the north of the river. There are three bridges crossing the Firth of Forth: the oldest is the Forth Rail Bridge, built in the nineteenth century, the Forth Road Bridge was built in the twentieth century and the most modern, a bridge for road traffic was completed in the early part of this century, named the Queensferry Crossing.
The delegated parliament of Scotland, that has wide powers over how the people are governed, meets in the Scottish Parliament Building, in the Holyrood district of the city. Following a referendum in 1997, in which the Scottish electorate voted for devolution, the current Parliament was convened by the Scotland Act of 1998 which sets out its powers as a devolved legislature. Since September 2004, the official home of the Scottish Parliament has been a new Scottish Parliament Building in the Holyrood area of Edinburgh. The Scottish Parliament building was designed by Spanish architect Enric Miralles. There was much concern at the time as the building was completed many years late and several times over budget.
The main protagonist of ‘Hunter’s Chase’ is Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson. He lives in Leith, an area to the north of the City and drinks in his local pub, the Persevere Bar. His home is also close to one of the main soccer grounds in Edinburgh, the Hibernian Football Ground. Hibernian Football Club, commonly known as Hibs, is a Scottish professional football club based in Leith.
The other main character, Detective Constable Tim Myerscough lives across the city from Hunter, in the south-west of the city. He moves into a flat Gillespie Crescent between Tollcross and Bruntsfield. His local pub in the Golf Tavern, off the Bruntsfield Links.
A wonderful free activity to do all year round is to play golf on Brunstfield Links. It is believed to be one of the oldest sites of golf as it pre-dates the seventeenth century, the short hole course was founded in 1895. Situated south of Melville Drive, there are two courses available to play on. A summer short 36 hole course (open end of April to September) and a 9 hole winter course (open October to end of April).
DC Tim Myerscough’s father, Sir Peter Myerscough, lives even further to the south in the Morningside district of Edinburgh. From his large house he has fine views across the Pentland Hills. The Pentland hills are situated just outside of Edinburgh. The reservoirs are picturesque and each hill is slightly different. If you are fit enough, you can go on top of all of the hills in one day.
Edinburgh is such a diverse and cultural city, home to The Edinburgh International Festivals that represent all aspects of art, three universities and several colleges and the Scottish national rugby ground at Murrayfield. It is the perfect place to situate ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and the mysteries DI Hunter Wilson has to solve.
More About a Main Character in ‘Hunter’s Chase’
One of the main characters of my new novel ‘Hunter’s Chase is Detective Constable Tim Myerscough. The book will be published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. In the meantime, let me tell you a bit about Tim.
Like me, Tim is a cat lover. I have owned and bred cats all my life, but I have never owned a pedigree cat. My cats have always been ‘history of cat in one volume’.
Tim, however, has a beautiful Burmese pedigree cat named Lucy. Burmese cats have short, silky and shiny coat that can be dark brown, champagne, platinum, blue or creamy brown in colour: Lucy is a blue Burmese.
As is usual for her breed, Lucy is portrayed as friendly and curious. She is also is highly intelligent and seeks out human companionship. This reflects Tim’s character well too. Lucy adores Tim and when he is sitting down, she wants to be on his lap or right next to him, waiting expectantly to be petted. She gets huffy if Tim ignores her and, when she is sleeping, she is happiest curled up on his bed beside him.
Slang Names for Police Officers in Scotland
Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is the main protagonist of my debut crime novel ‘Hunter’s Chase’ that is to be published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. When I was writing the book, I had to consider various words that are used to describe police officers by those people in Scotland who are not members of the force.
The oldest ones I came across were ‘bobbies’ and ‘peelers’. The metropolitan Police Force in London, England was established by Sir Robert Peel who lived from 1788-1850. He served as a member of the Conservative party and was Prime Minister of The United Kingdom twice: The first time from 1834-35 and later from 1841-1846. However, it was when he was Home Secretary (1822–1827), that he reformed and liberalised the criminal law and created the modern police force, leading to a new type of officer known in tribute to him as “bobbies” (Bobby being a contraction of his first name, Robert) and “peelers” (an obvious corruption of his surname).
Another common slang term for police officers in Scotland is “copper”. There is a common but mistaken belief that it refers to the police uniform’s buttons or badge being made of copper, however, it was originally used in Britain to mean “someone who captures”. In British English, the term cop is recorded (Shorter Oxford Dictionary) in the sense of ‘to capture’ from 1704, derived from the Latin capere via the Old French caper. The term “copper” is often abbreviated to “cop”.
“Filth” has moved from literature to common usage in the United Kingdom. In fact it is normally used as “The Filth”, meaning the police. The inspiration for this is the novel by Scottish author Irvine Welsh, “Filth”. Another slang term for police officers is “fuzz” or “the fuzz”. This term also found its way into art as the title of the 2009 comedy film “Hot Fuzz”. “Plod” or “the Plod” is another nickname for police officers that finds its source in British fiction. In this case, the children’s author Enid Blyton wrote stories about her character Noddy who lived in Toytown where Mr Plod was the policeman.
The phrase “the long arm of the law” is probably the source of the slang term for the police “the law”. The idea of the phrase is that no matter how far they run, all criminals are eventually caught and prosecuted successfully. Certainly, my characters DI Hunter Wilson and the members of his team are keen to ensure that this was true.
“Pig” is another derogatory term for the police in common use in Scotland. It was frequently used during the 19th century but disappeared for a while, and reappeared during the 20th and 21st century. It became frequently used again during the 1960s and 1970s in the underground and anti-establishment culture. However, in Glasgow, Scotland the term “polis” (with the emphasis on the ‘o’) is common too. As my novel ‘Hunter’s Chase’ is set in Edinburgh, I avoided that Glasgow slang.
There are certainly many slang terms and nicknames for police officers in use in Scotland, most of them are derogatory and used freely and interchangeably by those outwith the police force.
Thirty-three Connection Support the Launch of ‘Hunter’s Chase’
Fabulous news! the Edinburgh band Thirty-three Connection have agreed that I can use their hit single ‘In the Rain’ during the online launch of ‘Hunter’s Chase’ when it is published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. You can hear the track and watch the official video on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFF2_JrN8O0
I last heard Thirty-three Connection in concert in Edinburgh and thought their most recent hit, ‘In the Rain’ was the perfect music for my new novel set in the short autumnal days of an Edinburgh November.
I hope you will think so too. You will find Thirty-three Connection on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pg/thirtythreeconnection/photos/?ref=page_internal
Hunter’s Chase will be published on 2 February, 2018
Hunter by name – hunter by nature.
Newly promoted Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson faces down his former Chief Constable and finds a serial killer in this exciting debut crime novel.
The book, set in Edinburgh, Scotland, is written by Val Penny and published by Crooked Cat Books.
Look forward to getting your copy early in 2018.
Please also join the Facebook group – Friends of Hunter’s Chase – you will find it at https://www.facebook.com/groups/296295777444303/ . I look forward to chatting with you there.