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Friday, 19 October 2018

ℚ♫ Dead in the Dark: Cooper & Fry Mysteries [17] - Stephen Booth

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Dead in the Dark (13 July 2017, Witness Impulse, 368 pages), a Mystery, book seventeen in the Cooper & Fry Mysteries series.

"The Peak District setting is as striking as ever . . . the ever-present threat of violence will get under your skin." ~ Real Crime

"Clever, beautifully written and superbly plotted, this is an entertaining page-turner with a compelling twist in the tail."
 ~ Lancashire Evening Post 

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome back to fellow Brit Stephen Booth; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

To begin, as we love music, Stephen has shared with us his music playlist for Dead in the Dark - enjoy!

What compelled you to write this particular story, Dead in the Dark ?

"I try very hard to make each Cooper & Fry story a little different from the usual murder mystery format. In this case, I was interested in the idea of trying to get a conviction for murder without a body.

I’ve talked to readers of crime fiction for nearly 20 years now at events, and I’ve learned that many of them think the way to get away with murder is to make sure the body is never found. This used to be true in the UK, as a result of a miscarriage of justice way back in the 17th century – a notorious case known as the Campden Wonder, when three people were hanged for murder, only for the alleged victim to turn up alive and well two years later!

Campden House Estate Campden House Estate, Chipping Campden
For centuries, courts took the view that there had to be a body (resulting in some inventive ways of disposal). But advances in forensic science now make it possible to achieve a murder conviction without the body being found. The trouble is, you only need one convincing witness to put enough doubt into a jury’s mind…"
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"I think it’s inevitable that there’s always a little bit of me in the characters. I certainly have a few things in common with both of my two series protagonists, Ben Cooper and Diane Fry.

Often a book will reflect something that has been on my mind, or that’s happening in the world around me - a subject I want to explore more closely. I can do that through my characters.

In ‘Dead in the Dark’ one topic is what we’ve come to call ‘Brexit’ – the vote by British people to leave the European Union, and its impact on relations between different communities. I was previously a journalist, which gives me very little expertise in anything, except an interest in people and a passion for research."
Brexit Britain

Ah, the B-word... we are in London and can understand what you are talking about only two well.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Dead in the Dark?

"My Cooper & Fry novels are generally set in the Peak District, a wonderful national park which lies mostly within the county of Derbyshire. But there are areas of the county which couldn’t be more different, in particular some former coal mining communities on the eastern border.

For contrast in ‘Dead in the Dark’, I sent Detective Sergeant Diane Fry to investigate a murder in a small town called Shirebrook, which declined badly after losing its coal industry some years ago. What surprised was the way the town has transformed from a traditional mining community into a town where fifty percent of the population now consists of East European migrant workers, mostly from Poland, who have taken advantage of free movement in the European Union.

As a result, many of the shops in Shirebrook are Polish, the signs are written in Polish, and schoolchildren passing in the street are likely to be speaking Polish. The culture is now very different, and the speed of the transformation in some British towns has been amazing."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for ‘Dead in the Dark’ - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"My publishers design the covers, but I’m thrilled with the US design for ‘Dead in the Dark’, which features a genuine Peak District landscape. I think it’s really atmospheric, and I love the way the twisty road leads you right into the book."

UK Cover
US Cover
Why should we read Dead in the Dark and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your series unique?
"The Cooper & Fry series is rooted in a very distinctive and beautiful part of England which is soaked in character, history and atmosphere. The Peak District alone makes this series worth a try!

In a way, the landscape plays as important a role as the two protagonists, Ben Cooper and Diane Fry, whose lives have continually brought readers back to the next book, and the next one after that. Cooper and Fry are as real as I can make them, and I think that resonates with readers."
Can you tell us something quirky about Dead in the Dark , its story and characters?
"A character in ‘Dead in the Dark’, Evan Slaney, is a big Sherlock Holmes fan.

One of the books Ben Cooper notices on the shelves in his Derbyshire home is ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell’ - a recent Holmes story written by my friend Paul Kane, who is a Derbyshire author."
Who would you recommend Dead in the Dark to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"The only warning I have is for anyone with a phobia about caves! I find them scary places myself, and in particular their total darkness, which is something we rarely experience anywhere else. There’s something about real darkness which kicks the human imagination into overdrive.

Otherwise, I think readers of British mysteries will particularly enjoy ‘Dead in the Dark’. I don’t write graphic violence, or sex, or swearing. My Cooper & Fry novels fall into a very British tradition focusing on detectives in a small town/rural setting, and they feature a fascinating part of the English landscape in the form of the beautiful and atmospheric Peak District."
If you could / wished to turn Dead in the Dark and the Cooper & Fry Mysteries series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I’ve been asked this kind of question often, especially when Cooper & Fry are currently in development for a TV series. But I really have no idea!

My characters are very clear in my mind, and there are no actors just like them. Fortunately, casting is someone else’s job! The only red line for me would be the location – it has to be the Peak District."

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer?

"Time management.

Crime writers are very much in demand, and there’s a high expectation for us to be out there touring, taking part in festivals, doing signings and interviews, and all that promotional stuff, as well being active on social media, blogging, sending out newsletters, replying to readers’ emails… the list is endless.

I love doing events, and I think contact with readers is vital – they are the most important people to me as a writer. But there’s a balance to be struck between that and leaving yourself enough time to write the next book.

It’s difficult, particularly in the early stages of a writer’s career, when you have to work so hard to be seen and get your name known. Luckily, I’m a full-time writer, and I have been for nearly 20 years, so I’m able to organise my life around those various commitments."
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
"I wrote my first ‘novel’ when I was 12 years old, and I gave it to my older brother to read, who was then aged 17. He was completely dismissive and contemptuous of the whole thing, and he remains to this day the worst critic I’ve ever had!

But that was a great lesson to learn as a writer at such an early age, and no criticism has bothered me since. I tend to think bad reviews tell you more about the reviewer than about the book!

I get a lot of nice comments and emails from readers, but now and then someone will write to tell me how reading one of my books had changed their life, or got them through a really difficult time. Just one email like that makes it all worthwhile."
What is in store next?
"There’s another Cooper & Fry novel on the way – the 18th in the series, called ‘Fall Down Dead’. But I have lots of ideas for different stories which I haven’t had time to work on, so who knows what might come after that?"
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"Sorry I’m not in the photo (because he’s occupied my chair!), but this young man is special to me. This is Barnaby."
Typical cat ;-) Hello Barnaby, lovely to see you again! Lots of head-scratches and belly rubs to you :-)
Thank you for sharing Barnaby with us, and I hope you are having a great tour.

How do you prove a murder without a body?

Dead in the Dark
Available NOW!

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CMash said...

Fantastic interview. Really enjoyed it!

Stephen Booth said...

Many thanks for the interview. It was great fun! :)