Friday, July 19, 2013

Interview with Christopher Abbott

You debut novel, Sir Laurence Dies has been doing rather well. You broke into the Amazon top 50 this past week. You must be delighted with the way it has been received.

Yes, very much so. I have been extremely pleased by the sales, which just seem to be getting better and better. I am averaging eight books a day now… that may not sound like a lot to some people, but it is bloody fantastic as far as I am concerned, because this time last month, my average was five.

I am sure that you have other Straay novels and story lines in you, but do you plan to write other characters also?

At the moment, I plan to write Doctor Straay novels until I decide to write something else. I love him and I want to make him as popular as other Detectives…  So to be honest, I am not planning to write anything (fictional) other than Straay novels for the foreseeable future.

Having one successful character, and written in a way that can easily lead on to a long running series of novels and stories, do you find yourself comparing other characters to Straay, and or Drake?

Not yet, my characters are brand new. They haven’t lived long enough for that to happen. At the moment I’m still trying to develop them so they stand on their own two feet, then they will be truly unique!

A lot of writers suffer from doubt, that inner conflict, yet your characters – Straay in particular – never do. Is that a reflection of you?

Hell no! Haha! Sorry… I’m full of doubt and inner conflict, and I should probably address that in Straay too – well maybe – but his confidence is mine. He is an extravert, and so am I, and I do share some commonality with him, but when it comes to his intelligence, he’s the winner there!

Balancing work, home and writing, is a difficult thing. How do you go about it?

It’s not always easy, but life for me is pretty straightforward. I don’t have to worry about anyone but me (except for friends) and because of that, I pretty much do what I like, when I like – when I’m not working!

The concept of being a full time writer is daunting to some; the pressure and expectancy. What side of the line do you fall?

I would LOVE to be a full time writer… there, I said it!

Do you find it more fun to write the hero or the villain?

I don’t know. I enjoy all the characters I write. A lot of my characters are based on people I have actually met in real life, especially the odd ones, and the traits I observe in them get filed away for future characters. In that regard, people watching, I share that with my lead character.

When it comes to editing, do you go chapter-by-chapter or do you write the whole novel and edit in one hit?

I am a chapter-by-chapter man. I write in the evening and edit the following morning!

Do you research your work in advance or write the basics and flesh out the details accurately during the editing stage?

I research everyday – every hour, honestly. I do a lot of research before I start, and then I do a lot of typing and go back to fix things (which is why I sometimes get into trouble!) – I also have a proof reader who tries to catch the things I miss too!

How have you developed as a writer over the course of writing and publishing your first book?

I think I have developed hugely. I know now that I can do it! Before I published a book, it was always one of those – oh I’d love to do it, but I don’t think I could… Now I have and it’s like, well actually that wasn’t too hard at all (that’s a bloody lie!) it IS hard, but actually finishing the book was, at least for me, one of the biggest battles. Editing and all that fun stuff is hard too – but you have that pride that says: ‘I bloody did it!’ It’s a HUGE confidence booster and now I’m not thinking – will I be able to – I’m thinking, ‘what size do I want this book to be!’

Do you have any of the standard writing idiosyncrasies?

I don’t know… I subscribe to the “narrative push” technique!

Being a long-time fan of murder mystery fiction, is there any one villain that you have read about who would give Dr. Straay a run for his money?

I don’t know if I can answer that. Would Poirot have foiled Moriarty? I know what Straay would do if I wrote him, but if you wrote a Straay story, I wonder how different he would be, and what traits he would develop from your writing style? Interesting thought! – A very interesting thought. Maybe we have stumbled onto something; a novel writing round robin.

Does writing come naturally to you? Is it an easy process for you to get caught up in?
      Yes I love it, as soon as I start, I type away for hours. I walk outside, smoke (I know it is a bad habit) and think, then come back add something, walk away again – especially if I have 1001 ideas screaming at me! I find it very easy to sit and write. I have not yet found myself sat at a screen poised with nothing.

Your characters are always well fleshed out and fully rounded. Do they define themselves as your write, or do you have them fully scripted before you even begin working on the novel itself?

I write little biographies about each character in advance such as age, likes, dislikes, anthropomorphic details, et cetera. Then as the story develops, or a scene changes, I might add or change things slightly. I also write an actor next to the names, so that I can imagine them a little more fully as if someone was playing them. That also helps me to write the dialogue – Lady Agatha, for example, is played by Dame Maggie Smith in my mind!

I am a big Dame Maggie Smith fan, and could really see her playing the role of Lady Agatha.

Thank you for your time today Christopher.


You can find Christopher Abbott on Facebook, Twitter or through his blog

Grab your copy of ‘Sir Laurence Dies’ here

Christopher D. Abbott has a background in human behavioural studies. Having worked in IT, communications, safety and health, and sales, he has gained a good understanding about people and their behaviours. This has led to his interest in psychology. For many years, he has been an avid reader of crime fiction. Christopher has taken creative writing courses and from this, his ambition has always been to publish a character driven crime story, in the style of the great Agatha Christie. Christopher loves quirky characters, such as Rodney David Wingfield’s Inspector “Jack” Frost, along with Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The Idea of Doctor Pieter Straay, his Dutch Criminal Psychologist, came about by integrating the qualities he admired best in the three previous characters.

Christopher grew up in England and moved to the United States in 2010. He currently resides in Connecticut. He loves to write and play music, which has been as much of a passion for him as writing is. He also enjoys cooking and is currently working on his next Doctor Straay novel. 

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