Nick Quantrill works with numbers by day and with words by night. He won the Harper Collins Crime Tour Short Story Competition in 2006 with an entry called Punishment; his first ever short fiction piece. This success was rewarded by his work being published in the specialist magazine Crime Time distributed nationwide. He was also shortlisted for Making Waves (BBC Radio Humberside)
Nick recently signed contracts with Caffeine Nights Publishing for his latest novel Broken Dreams, featuring his new sleuth Joe Geraghty. Joe is a Private Investigator working out of a small fictional office in Hull's old town.
I caught up with Nick just as final decisions were being made on the all important front cover image.
I began by asking him why he had moved away from D.S. Colman the police detective from previous works Complicity and Black and White.
'Black and White started off as a novela that over time developed and grew into a full length novel. I now refer to it as the lost novel. It was a year's work but I wasn't really happy with the end result. I couldn't get under his skin, D.S. Colman.
Although I had contacts within the force, I found I was still second guessing things like police procedure, those particular details that lend authenticity to a crime story. My new character Joe Geraghty is not bound by these rules, he is more a work of imagination than imitation.'
You refer to it as the lost novel why?
'Because I wasn't happy with it.
I chose not to publish it but to give it away free.'
This act of altruism proved fruitful and Nick received much positive feedback from readers. It appears many were drawn in by the locality, the familiar backdrop of Hull in which the drama played out.
Nicks new book Broken Dreams explores the changing face of Hull, its lost heritage, its sense of self as he weaves a tale that reaches back from the here and now to a time when the city had a thriving fishing industry.
In January 2008 he was moved by and subsequently inspired to write Broken Dreams after reading about the events surrounding the Triple Trawler Tragedy. He began to research the history of the fishing industry, the families it supported and the devastating effect government fish quotas had on the communities and the industry as a whole.
Nick found visits to the Arctic Corsair offered valuable insight for revealing what life was like for city struggling to survive in the seventies.
Even now he feels the city does not do enough to commemorate its fishing heritage, wrapped up as it is, in its own self important regeneration.
I asked Nick about his method of writing, his approach to the craft. I found to my surprise that he writes using Excel spreadsheets, plotting out three chapters at a time.
'This helps with organising plot details,' he explains. 'It gives me room to manoeuvre, lets me feel like I'm in control of it. I can ask questions, pose problems, leave red herrings. During the day I often use my mobile phone to jot down plot ideas then in the evening I can work out just how they will fit into the narrative.
With Broken Dreams I pretty much had my beginning and ending straight away, it took fourteen months to work out the bit in between. I did start by writing Broken Dreams in the third person like I had done Black and White, but after a few chapters I found writing in the first person more suited to the noir genre.
The popularity of Crime Fiction is borne out of a time when masses of people moved away from the cities to the relative safety of suburbia. They found they still needed the thrill of danger, the frisson of violence to sate their curiosity. Crime fiction allows the reader to satisfy their desire by giving them a vicarious insight into the criminal underworld all from the comfort of their armchair.
You wouldn't want to walk down the same streets as these characters but you can read all about them.'
Unsurprisingly, Nick is a fan of the Noir Fiction classic, The Long Goodbye, saying it is Marlowe's finest work. He also enthuses about the author George Pelicarnos, particularly the nature of smaller crimes his books explore.
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