Apr 20, 2015

Welsh Week: An Interview with Emma Kavanagh

An Interview with Emma Kavanagh

1) Could you tell my readers a bit more about yourself?

I am a police and military psychologist and for many years I trained officers in the psychology of critical incidents, helping them to understand what happens in the brain when we are in a life or death situation. I live in Swansea with my husband and my two young sons, aged three and seven months. Hidden is my second novel.

2) Where do you find your inspiration?

I am fascinated by psychology and this fascination is a tremendous asset when it comes to my writing. I often find inspiration from true crimes and the behaviour of people in real life situations. There is no behaviour so extreme that someone, somewhere hasn’t done it. What more inspiration could a writer want?

3) You've done a lot of research for this book, could you tell more about that?
I began by doing a huge amount of research into the psychology of mass killers and spree shooters. The shooter was always going to be the lynchpin for the entire novel and so it was tremendously important to me that I reflected this person as realistically as possible. I read up as much as I could on real life instances of this so I could begin to gain some kind of understanding as to what motivates these people.

4) The weather plays an important role in Hidden, especially the Welsh rain. That makes the story quite unique and it stands out when you compare it to other thrillers, because of conditions that just aren't there anywhere else. Did you build the story around that and was it a conscious decision to use it?

I think weather is important in a story. Throughout much of Hidden, there is a heatwave. The heat builds and builds and builds - a shock to a coastal town in Wales that isn’t used to such temperatures - and then, finally, ruptures into rain. I wanted that sense of a pot boiling that you get as the temperature climbs, because it is very much what is happening for the shooter as the world seems to push him closer and closer towards a truly horrific act.

5) What's your favourite place in Wales to visit? And would you ever use it for a story?
That’s a tough one. There are so many places I could pick. One of my favourite places is the Brecon Beacons. It is so exceptionally beautiful and rugged and wild. I certainly have considered using it for a story, although it would have to be something that could equal it in its ruggedness. 

6) Where did you learn to write and is there any advice you have for aspiring writers?
I have always written, so the art of it is something that I seem to have naturally understood. However, the craft of it - the actual physical putting together of a book - is something quite different. I learned to do that through writers’ guide books. I have dozens of them. My philosophy is, you never know all there is to know about writing. And that would be my advice - never think you know it all. You probably don’t, so always be prepared to keep learning. It will only make your writing better.

7) It must have been quite difficult to make situations that aren't part of your own everyday life, like being part of a police team, being part of a medical department, etc. feel like you know everything about them, how do you do it?
Much of the procedure involved in Hidden (especially in terms of firearms policing) comes from my own experiences within this field. But there are other areas of policing where my knowledge is far more patchy. For this I have a wealth of people to whom I can turn - my best friend is a police officer. That helps! For Hidden, I also needed an understanding of crime reporting and medical procedure. I have always found that people can be incredibly generous with their knowledge if you just ask. So I spent a couple of hours chatting over coffee with my GP and the crime reporter for The Evening Post in Swansea, which enabled me to get a clearer idea of where I needed to go. They were also kind enough to answer my follow up questions whenever they occurred to me.

Welsh Week Review

8) Are you working on something new and will that be a thriller again?
I am currently working on book 3, which has a working title of The Missing Hours. It is another psychological thriller, but this time set within the world of kidnap and ransom. Although, it does have police in it. Obviously.

9) Your tweets are really funny, is there a chance you'd use that sense of humour for a book?
This is the weird thing about crime writers - when you meet them in person they’re often really funny! I suppose you have to be when you spend as much time thinking dark, dark thoughts as we do. I have often thought that I’d like to write something a little more humorous, but at the moment the stories that keep coming to me are of the dark and twisty nature. Ah, well. Such is life.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing interview. I love reading about authors.


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