Usually, I don’t write posts about books on Joyful Antidotes when I haven’t read them myself yet. But lately I’ve been breaking out of my comfort zone and do you know what I have been really enjoying? Interviews with authors before reading the book. Hearing their through process before and while writing and also learning more about the author as a person provides a great insight into their work. Today I am going to bring you an interview with Emma Salisbury, author of Absent, and needless to say I am psyched about this new release!
Before we dive in, a bit about Absent:
When he stopped a serial killer in his tracks the year before, DS Kevin Coupland had thought that would be the end of it, little realising his own personal nightmare has only just begun.
A child’s body is discovered in a sports bag, kicking off a major investigation for Salford Precinct’s murder squad. Soon the National Crime Agency roll into town and Coupland is under strict instructions to play nice. He’s got enough on his plate to worry about politics. A shock discovery in his personal life is starting to take its toll, causing him to make decisions that bring him to the attention of the powers that be for all the wrong reasons.
DS Alex Moreton returns from maternity leave to find her partner deeply troubled, but with a cold case to review she’s in no position to prevent him hitting the self-destruct button. As he hunts down the child’s killer Coupland is forced to reflect upon his own life and find an answer to a question he’s long been avoiding…
Emma, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. Let me jump right in with the first question. I love hearing about author’s career progression (hoping one day I will actually start writing the books in my own head). Can you tell us a bit more about your journey selling ladies knickers to becoming a writer?
I’d be happy to! I loved English Literature at school, it was my favourite – and best – subject, however, kids from my estate didn’t go to university, let alone consider careers around writing. I had a Saturday job selling ladies knickers on Grey Mare Lane market, cold long days but it gave me confidence. Before that I’d been quite shy and would never have instigated a conversation. Suddenly I was booming out as passers-by ‘Five for a pound, love!’ When I left school I worked in a factory packing boiler-suits before getting a job at an insurance brokers. I moved companies quite a lot, making some good friends along the way. I was a hard worker but got itchy feet. I had put away all thoughts of ever writing, and instead devoured every fiction paperback that crossed my path. Like most avid readers, I loved being transported into different worlds, albeit temporarily. I began dabbling with a few story ideas twelve years ago, but didn’t feel I had any real depth. I’d been writing rom-com type stories, and it just wasn’t working for me. I started writing a mystery novel, and although I have never let it see the light of day it made me realise I had to write what I enjoy reading, and I have always loved crime fiction. By then I was working for a housing association working with young offenders and socially excluded young men and got to observe the criminal justice system close up and also saw the view from the other side – how hard it was to make a fresh start when your past keeps pulling you back. My job gave me a lot of material to work with, and well, as they say, the rest is history.
For anyone reading who is new to your work, can you tell them what to expect from the DS Coupland series?
It’s a police procedural series set in fictional Salford Precinct station. Over worked, over weight and over forty DS Kevin Coupland is trying hard to hang onto his stripes. The world has moved on since he joined up: Mobile phones and social media. Cyber-crime and grooming. The public are told to ring Crimestoppers rather than go to their local station, and the eyes and ears of community policing have been replaced by CCTV. He follows the rule book, but doesn’t give a toss about ruffling feathers to put someone away – regardless of what side of the thin blue line they stand on.
Absent is the fourth book in the DS Coupland series. Are you still drawing from your experience working with a housing association supporting socially excluded men and women with their return to society?
No so much now, since I started the series I have got to know several serving and ex police officers who are more than happy to share anecdotes with me! Also, Coupland has become a fully formed character in my head so he goes about and does his own thing anyway.
Without any spoilers, can you tell us one of your favourite scenes in the book?
Ah, well, I’m afraid my top favourite scene might give away the ending. However I do like one scene where Coupland goes to a notorious gangster’s pub and they have a stand-off. There’s humour there to lift the threat, but it’s very realistic.
Why do you think readers will enjoy Absent?
If you enjoy crime fiction that packs a punch then Absent delivers. It explores how someone can go missing without anyone seemingly noticing. I am told I write very realistically about modern day policing and the issues faced by those serving on the front line, with a good mystery and gallows humour thrown in.
What are the struggles of writing a series? Do you worry that the latest book isn’t as good as the last
Yes, I always worry – time will tell on that one! The main struggle I would imagine is coming up with believable plots but that hasn’t happened so far and I have drafted out a story arc for Coupland that will, shall we say, keep him busy for some time…
How much research goes into writing a crime series?
A lot! Not just the factual research that gives you the nuts and bolts of the plot – but also the anecdotal research that can make a difference between something coming across as believable or not.
What makes your books stand out from others in the crime genre?
I focus a lot on the ‘why’-dunnit, rather than the ‘who’. I like to challenge perceptions, and nothing gives me greater pleasure than when readers tells me they have started to see something in a completely different way after reading one of my books.
Can you ever imagine yourself writing books in another genre?
No, I love writing crime fiction.
Any words of advice for aspiring authors?
Make sure your work is the best it can be.
Don’t give up. Keep going. If you want to get a book published you have to write it first!
Intrigued. Pick up your copy of Absent here.