Author Q&A: Chris Carter – Author of The Caller @simonschusterUK ‏

So. This is a bit of a change for me as I normally shy away from anything too technical. However, if you are offered the opportunity to pester, I mean ask very important and highly intelligent questions of an author like Chris Carter, you can’t really turn it down now can you? His latest book, The Caller, the eighth in the highly successful and downright fabulous Robert Hunter series is released today in paperback.

Now when I say highly intelligent questions, that may have been the intention when I agreed to this, but I am hopeless at that kind of thing. However, Mr Carter kindly found the time to indulge me and answer my considerably less intelligent questions, including divulging his opinions on the British institution that is the Jaffa Cake. Prepare yourselves folks – his thoughts are somewhat controversial …

Firstly Chris, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Much appreciated.


Firstly, can you tell us all a little bit about yourself. Anything you want to share that’s not on the official bio? Is there anything about you that surprises people?

There’s nothing really special about me.  I’m just a guy who one day decided to write crime fiction novels and got lucky.  Not really much else to share.  My life is an open book.  Well, there’s one thing that’s not in my bio – the first twelve crime scenes I attended as a criminal psychologist, I puked my guts out outside.

People say that I am funny as a person.  I guess that surprises many people who know me only as a writer of quite gory crime fiction novels.  Most people expect me to be quite serious and all.  Big disappointment there.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Dancing.  I love to go clubbing, once there I hit the dance floor and I’m off.  I’ll dance like an idiot all night.

Can you tell us the best compliment you’ve ever had for your work?

A reviewer once wrote that I was the most talented crime thriller writer of my generation.  I think that that was without a doubt the most flattering compliment I have ever received.

And the funniest criticism?

From the top of my head I think it was – I could write a better book tied up and locked inside a coffin with no light.

I’ve seen in prior interviews that being a writer was not something you’d even planned upon but something that came from an idea for a book and developed from there. Did that book ever see the light of day or is it hidden away in ‘the drawer that must not be opened’?

No, I never actually wrote that book.  Though I did tell my editor what the story was about a while ago and she too said that the story sounded good and that I should one day write it.  So no, the story isn’t locked away.  It’s still in my head.  Maybe one day it will become a book.

From your bio you seem to have had a really interesting variety of jobs – from Criminal Psychologist through to Glam Rock Musician! Clearly the Criminal Psychology has helped inform your writing, your protagonist Robert Hunter having that very same skill set, but have you ever found a way to utilise your knowledge of Glam Rock while plotting?

Not as such, but I do tend to mention at least one rock band in every novel.  It’s my little contribution to the rock world, I guess.

It’s probably fair to say that your work touches on the darker side of the crime genre. I love this by the way and also the fact you are not afraid to step away from the usual and expected when writing your antagonists. Without giving anything away I think that ‘The Crucifix Killer’ was a brilliant example of this and a daring move for a first book. Was this a conscious decision or something that naturally evolved in your writing from your own experience in psychology?

No, it was not a conscious decision at all.  When I wrote The Crucifix Killer, all I wanted to do was write a good story, something that I would enjoy reading.  That was it.  I had no experience.  I had never taken a creative writing class, or any kind of writing class for that matter.  I had never even written a short story before.  I literally just went with what my head was telling me and that’s why I was so surprised with all the reviews for my first novel.  All that – thinking outside the box and moving a few goal posts happened by accident.

Looking as an outsider, it seems as though Police procedure and process is constantly evolving and changing. How do you approach research for your novels to keep them feeling authentic?

I guess I’m a little like Hunter.  I read a lot.  There are certain websites that deal with those exact themes, always uploading real cases and how the police and the detectives went about solving the cases.  I learn a lot from those articles.

Where do you get the inspiration for some of your plot lines from? Is any of it real life or all fiction?

All of my plots are actually a combination of reality and fiction.  The truth is that I am always looking for different ideas.  Sometimes I will read something on a newspaper, or see something in a movie or on the streets, or hear something on the radio that will sparkle some new idea in my brain.  I then usually add to it to come up with the entire plot.

The Caller is the eighth Robert Hunter novel and I love the dynamic you have created between the two lead Detectives. For the uninitiated i.e. those who perhaps haven’t had the pleasure of reading your work before, without spoilers can you tell us a little bit about your central protagonists, Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia? What have people been missing?

It’s quite hard for me to try to talk about Hunter and Garcia without writing overwriting, so I will keep this very simple.  I guess that what has won readers over about my two protagonists – Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia – is the fact that I have tried my best to keep them as real as possible.  Yes, Hunter has a high IQ and a very analytical mind, which of course helps him in all the investigations, but he’s not self-absorbed or egocentric.  In fact, I write him as one of the most common people one could meet, with the sot of common problems we all face.  His relationship with Garcia tends to be a little funny, simply because Hunter is not a “joke” person and Garcia is.

Anyway, if you haven’t read any of the books in the series, grab one.  You might just like it