In his own words, In Ink: Dave Sivers, Crime Author is my latest guest…
I am delighted to host the fab crime author, DAVE SIVERS, today on the third of his appearances on his blog tour in support of his latest novel, In Ink which is published on 15th May 2010.
Those writers among us know how difficult it is to organise a tour under normal circumstances, but now we are all in lockdown due to the C-19 virus wreaking havoc throughout the globe, these tours are all the more important because writers can no longer appear in person to give talks, and attend festivals, where new readers and fans can connect with their favourite authors.
It is, therefore, my great pleasure to invite him to tell you about his writing; but first here is a little about him.
Dave Sivers grew up in West London and has been writing all his life. His books include the popular crime series featuring the Aylesbury Vale detectives, DI Lizzie Archer, and DS Dan Baines. The Scars Beneath the Soul and Dead in Deep Water were both top three bestsellers in the Amazon Kindle Serial Killers chart.
His next novel, In Ink, introducing DI Nathan Quarrel, will be published this year. Dave lives in Buckinghamshire with his wife, Chris, and is a founder of the annual BeaconLit festival of books and writing.
You can find out more about Dave and his books here: http://www.davesivers.co.uk
But before you run off do read on and learn more:
Let’s get to know why and how Dave writes:
New Characters, New Settings – and ‘Inventing’ Chiltern Noir
When I first decided I wanted to write crime fiction, I wanted to understand a lot more about the genre. I’d read a lot of crime and thriller books, but what made them tick?
So I started attending crime fiction festivals and events, starting with the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing festival in Harrogate. I started going in its second year and have only missed a couple since. It’s huge now.
These events are in some ways better, I’d argue, than a crime writing course. Sure, they don’t teach you the writing side, but you get exposed to an array of crime writers talking about all sorts of aspects of the genre: cops vs amateur sleuths; the treatment of women in crime fiction, as protagonists and victims; domestic noir; sex and violence; city vs country…
Ah, yes. City vs country. I knew I wanted to write a series, and I was keen to set it in Buckinghamshire’s Aylesbury Vale, where I live, and an area I adore. Only I went to this session on city vs country and what the panel seemed to be saying was that gritty crime needed to be set in an urban jungle; the more rural setting was for cosy crime, with old ladies and hats and cats. Maybe Midsomer Murders.
Cosy wasn’t what I wanted to write at all. But then I discovered Stephen Booth’s Cooper and Fry series set in rural Derbyshire. The books are in no way cosy and reminded me that dark things can happen to people anywhere. A few years – and a few false starts – later, DI Lizzie Archer and DS Dan Baines popped into my head and I had my detective partnership to write about in my chosen setting.
Over five books, Archer, Baines, and other regular characters have cracked cases, battled personal demons, had sometimes tangled private lives, and otherwise grown and developed. I know from feedback that people like following these characters and exploring the towns and villages of the Chilterns region.
Those characters still have stories to tell. I haven’t finished with them. But a couple of years ago, I started hankering after the buzz of creating and getting to know new characters. A few ideas buzzed around in my head and then, in 2019, serendipity took a hand.
First, a chance encounter with some irritating tourists on a nice walk in New Zealand spun off into an idea for a serial killer. I can’t help it. I’m a crime writer. I’m the guy who walks past somewhere and thinks it would make a great body dump.
I was working on Too Long Gone, Archer and Baines book 5 at the time, but somehow I didn’t see – or maybe didn’t want to see – this killer as an Archer and Baines story.
As I worked on Too Long Gone, the new idea continued to percolate. Then I went to the monthly meeting of my writers group, Chiltern Writers, which happened to be a mini-workshop by the author and tutor Julie Cohen on character creation. The idea was to create a fairly well developed character inside an hour from a series of prompts.
One of the first prompts was to draw two letters from a hat, and these were the initials of your character. I got ‘N’ and ‘Q’. It could have been Nicola Quinn, or Nigel Quartermaine but, for some reason, Nathan Quarrel came into my head, so I went with that. By the end of Julie’s workshop, I thought I knew a fair bit about Nate: I knew he was very tall and lanky, a barely tamed head of hair that had turned prematurely grey; I knew his hopes and fears, and a few things more besides that I can’t mention here without spoilers. I had an age for him, also a result of a workshop prompt, although I subsequently needed to revise this.
I knew he was the man to investigate my serial killer.
So I had a case and a protagonist. But where to set it? I thought maybe London – was it time to embrace the gritty city? But one of the things I’ve discovered from writing Archer and Baines is that I’m interested in the notion of bad things happening in nice, ordinary places. Because they do, of course they do. How often does someone on the news say, “We never thought this could happen in a place like this”?
And so, in the end, I based Quarrel and his team just over the border from Aylesbury Vale, in the Borough of Dacorum, in West Hertfordshire. My detectives operate from Hemel Hempstead, set up as a new town in the 60s and now with a population of just under 100,000. The borough also has some great market towns and an array of villages. It’s also not a complete stranger to serial killers – the ‘Teacup Poisoner’, Graham Young, resumed his criminal career at – incredibly – a laboratory in Bovingdon in the early 70s after his release from Broadmoor.
I chose to set a lot of the action in Tring, a pleasant, quiet market town not far from where the Herts, Bucks, and Beds borders meet. It’s a quiet town, with a lot of history. In its heart stands the Norman Church of St Peter and St. Paul’s, and the town centre sits within a conservation area known as Tring Triangle, which sets strict limits on changes to the local landscape. As a result, many of the buildings are centuries old, retaining their original form. It’s the perfect ordinary place for extraordinary things to happen in.
Perhaps the greatest impact on the town’s came in the late 19th Century with the arrival of the aristocratic Rothschild family, who dominated the world’s finance and banking industry. They provided employment and housing, and improved social welfare. Their former mansion is now an Arts Educational School, and their legacy can be seen everywhere, including the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum (now part of the Natural History Museum). Lionel Walter Rothschild’s private collection, started when he was seven, included 2,000 mounted mammals, a similar number of mounted birds, two million butterflies and moths, 144 giant tortoises, 200,000 birds’ eggs and 30,000 books. The Rothschild’s benevolence can also be seen in the 300-acre Tring Park, with its avenue of lime trees and stunning landscape, now managed by the Woodland Trust.
Away from the main town, Tring has some lush countryside plus stretches of water such as its reservoirs and the canal.
Writing a new area, even one you know, involves a lot of research and with it comes the temptation to stick in too much of what you discover. I’m lucky to have critical ‘beta readers’ to rein me in.
Being so close to Aylesbury Vale also meant I could nod to my more established area. There’s even a brief mention of an Archer and Baines team member! And, of course, it’s in the beautiful Chilterns, just like the Vale.
Maybe I’ve accidentally invented Chiltern Noir.
A cruel death. A macabre calling card.
A killer on a mission.
A body is found outside a church in a small Hertfordshire town. Alastair Murdoch suffered before he died. But what really disturbs DI Nathan Quarrel is the Tarot card motif adorning the body: The Fool.
Just 24 hours later, another body turns up.
A different card, but from the same pack.
Unless Quarrel can decipher the meaning behind the cards and the connection between the victims, more will follow in a twisted agenda of abduction, pain and death.
PRAISE FOR DAVE SIVERS:
‘Fabulous stuff – as good as Peter Robinson’ – Christina Jones, bestselling author
‘Sivers is alongside the likes of McDermid and Billingham in terms of giving you characters you just long to know more about’ – Robert F Barker, author of the Jamie Carver series
Thanks so much for your highly informative blog post Dave, I found it fascinating, but then I love taking photos of my crime scenes and story locations too. Great shots and locations by the way. Congrats to you and your photographers.
Wishing you much success with your writing and with In Ink, Dave, I have enjoyed having you as my guest. I hope to get to your festival next year.
I hope everyone has enjoyed your visit with me and will be so kind as to leave their thoughts and comments for you to read. Don’t be shy everyone, let us know you popped in.
Dave is also appearing on the following blogs as part of his tour so do catch up with him again: