Today I’m delighted to be hosting the last stop on THE GIRL WHO BROKE THE RULES Blog Tour and to welcome the fabulous Marnie Riches to the CTG blog for a chat about her wonderful Georgina McKenzie thriller series.
So, to the questions …
Your second book in the Georgina “George” McKenzie thriller series – THE GIRL WHO BROKE THE RULES – came out in August, can you tell us a bit about it?
The Girl Who Broke the Rules sees George studying in the UK for her PhD in criminology. Interviewing violent sexual offenders on their use of pornography during the day, she is working as a cleaner in a Soho strip club by night to fund her studies. But when the mutilated bodies of two working girls are found in Amsterdam’s red light district – seemingly sexually motivated murders – and Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen calls on her criminology expertise, George is only too happy to work as a consultant for her old friend. The hunt for The Butcher takes George and van den Bergen through the seedy underworlds of Amsterdam and London’s Soho, where they rub shoulders with human traffickers, a backstreet surgeon and a leading pornographer. Hitting dead end after dead end, eventually George seeks the guidance of one of Broadmoor Hospital’s most infamous patients – the dangerously charming and warped serial killer, Dr. Silas Holm.
The series is set primarily in Holland, what was it that attracted you to setting a thriller there?
As a student of Dutch, I lived in the Netherlands for a year in the early nineties. Particularly after seeing the popularity of Stockholm and Oslo in Scandi-Noir crime fiction, when it came to write my own crime thriller, Amsterdam seemed like a perfect location. It’s stunningly beautiful, with architecture and a rich cultural history to die for. But pay a visit to the coffee shops and take a stroll past the prostitutes’ booths and sex shops of the red-light-district and you can imagine so many stories springing from those red-lit alleyways and canalside brothels…
How did you get into writing thrillers – what was it about the genre that attracted you?
I have always loved thrillers. As a child, I read Peter Benchley’s Jaws and adored the adrenalin rush of turning those pages. Then, when The Silence of the Lambs came out, I was hooked for life – utterly seduced by the evil genius of Hannibal Lecter and the inventive sadism of Jame Gumb. It was terrible perfection! With crime thrillers, I love the sense, as a reader, of having a jigsaw puzzle to piece together. It’s always a challenge to see if I can solve the mystery before the narrator gives me the answers. I love a killer twist. There’s a certain escapism in the violence for a big softy like me, and principally, crime thrillers are stimulating political and anthropological portraits of our world. All of these elements also appeal to me as a writer, except I’m in the driving seat, deciding what form the action, the twists and the violent intrigue should take!
Do you have a favourite crime/thriller novel or a crime writing hero/heroine?
Favourite thriller is The Silence of the Lambs. Favourite heroine is Lisbeth Salander because she’s unusual, insanely bright and a kickass rebel. Easy! Favourite anti-hero is Hannibal Lecter because he’s such an elegant, evil charmer. I’m not sure about a true hero. I often find heroes in the thrillers I’ve read a little Alpha Male for me. Even Harry Hole has a bit too much testosterone going on. So, I’ll be cheeky and say van den Bergen, because he’s exactly the sort of man I wanted in a hero.
What about your own writing process – do you plot everything out first or dive right in?
Working with a structured two to six page synopsis as a guide, I write the first draft in one go. A novel usually takes me about a month to research and three months to do the actual writing. When the first draft is finished, I give myself a month to edit. I tweak and refine, chop out the rubbish and then replot the whole thing to ensure the high points are in the correct places. Then, I polish again and send my manuscript out to my agent and my editor.
When you write do you picture actors in the roles – if so (or even if not!) who would you be your dream cast for George McKenzie and Chief Inspector van den Bergen?
I never picture actors in the roles when I’m writing. My characters exist as real people in my head. But I have recently been asked the question several times – who would I like to see playing George and van den Bergen on the big screen? George is an outspoken London girl, so the actress would have to have real screen presence. Marsha Thomason, maybe or Naomie Harris. Perhaps Nathalie Emmanuel. As for van den Bergen, I was thinking the other day that if you gave George Clooney grey contact lenses, he might do! He has that silver fox thing, going on, although he’s a bit beefy. It would have to be an attractive, ageing man who could play a miserable bastard beautifully.
What advice would you give a writer aspiring to publication?
Principally, write a lot. Write as much shit as you can until you get really good. Then, brace yourself, because you’ll get rejection after rejection. Grow a thick skin. Believe in your story. Try to attain the same standards as your literary heroes. Mainly, never give up. You’ve got to really want to get published because it’s very, very hard. Only a lucky few have their first attempts picked up. Most toil on for decades. I’d been writing seriously for just shy of ten years and had penned thirteen novels before my “debut” came out! Six were published children’s books but the rest…just practice!
And, finally, what does the rest of 2015 have in store for you?
The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows should be out in November 2015 – I’m writing the final scenes now. When that manuscript is handed in, I’m going to take some time off and kick around some new ideas. I have a contemporary women’s novel on submission to editors. It’s a funny story about mid-life crisis, so fingers crossed, we’ll see that on shelves by late 2016. And, of course, I’m going to be talking to readers and bloggers on social media about my thrillers, because the whole point of writing them was to see them read and enjoyed!
A massive thank you to the wonderful Marnie Riches for dropping by the CTG blog and letting me ask her so many questions.
You can check out my review of the first book in the Georgina “George” McKenzie thriller series – THE GIRL WHO WOULDN’T DIE – here.
Here’s what the blurb says about THE GIRL WHO BROKE THE RULES: “When the mutilated bodies of two sex-workers are found in Amsterdam, Chief Inspector van den Bergen must find a brutal murderer before the red-light-district erupts into panic. Georgina McKenzie is conducting research into pornography among the UK’s most violent sex-offenders but once van den Bergen calls on her criminology expertise, she is only too happy to come running. The rising death toll forces George and van den Bergen to navigate the labyrinthine worlds of Soho strip-club sleaze and trans-national human trafficking. And with the case growing ever more complicated, George must walk the halls of Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, seeking advice from the brilliant serial murderer, Dr. Silas Holm…”
To find out more about Marnie Riches hop over t0 her website www.marnieriches.com and follow her on Twitter @Marnie_Riches
If you’d like to see THE GIRL WHO BROKE THE RULES on Amazon click on the book cover below:
And be sure to visit all the other fabulous tour stops on THE GIRL WHO BROKE THE RULES Blog Tour …