Monday 11 December 2017

Write side... with crime novelist Sam Blake


Sam Blake
Sam Blake
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

Crime novelist Sam Blake on her kickboxing garda Cathy Connolly and what makes a good story.

How did you create your main character, Garda Cathy Connolly?

For my first book, Little Bones, I had an idea about bones being found in a wedding dress. Cathy just walked into the story at the start. She popped up and I found her a lovely character to write.

So what is she like?

She is 25, and has thick, dark, curly hair. She is very fit and focused. She is a champion kick-boxer from a working-class background in Sallynoggin.

And does she re-appear in your new novel, In Deep Water?

Yes, Cathy's best friend and sparring partner, Sarah-Jane, daughter of a Pulitzer-winning American war correspondent, goes missing. Cathy finds her room has been broken into and that's when an investigation kicks off.

Does it help having a retired garda as a husband?

Yes, I am keen on getting the details right - the policing and forensics. A couple of my husband's colleagues from Special Branch read things through. It's invaluable.

As well as being a novelist, you are known as a literary scout. What does that entail?

I am always on the look-out for writing talent. I have organised workshops for new writers. In a very unofficial way I started introducing people to editors and literary agents, and I found they were being signed up. I set up my own consultancy and I have a long list of people I have found publishers for.

What makes a good story?

There has to be an emotional connection with the story. It needs something that hooks you in and holds your attention. There should be cliffhangers at the end of every chapter. There should be lots of questions thrown up and characters you want to know more about.

And your own favourite book?

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. It is beautifully written and has everything - including romance and crime.

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