Quentin Bates tells Crime Time that his latest Icelandic-set book, Chilled to the Bone, was written in a tearing hurry over several months last summer after the original book didn’t work out.
‘I don’t know if I was being over-ambitious, or precisely what went wrong, but the only real option was to dump the original and start again with an outline and an intro that I already had. It was a hectic few months, but I’d like to think that some of that energy comes through in the book – not that I can tell, still being too close to it.’
‘The book is set in the depths of the Reykjavík winter at that uncomfortable time of year just before the first post-Christmas Visa statement shows up and kicks off with the death of an elderly shipowner in a smart Reykjavík hotel,’ he said.
Although there is no foul play suspected, things don’t smell right and the rotund heroine of the series, Sergeant Gunnhildur Gísladóttir, starts sniffing around the circumstances of the man’s embarrassing death. Needless to say, she finds herself with a can of worms that involves blackmail and murder, and a bondage scene that operates via a shadowy internet site.
‘I didn’t want to use something that already existed or that someone else might want to use in future, so I had to buy the domain name. But if you go to www.personal.is, there’s no dodgy dating website there, just a redirect to my own webpage.’
‘The setting in Iceland is different and comes with its own difficulties. I’ve had quite a few comments from people who tell me that the names in the books are hard to deal with, and there’s not a lot I can do about it. But it intrigues me, as I don’t hear Icelandic authors in translation getting the same criticism. The names have been simplified as far as they can be and believe me, I could have made them so much more complex,’ Bates said.
‘But I couldn’t resist giving the villain in Chilled to the Bone a name that is such a jaw-cracker that I would defy any non-Icelander to pronounce it. I was expecting my editor to tell me to change it, but as she didn’t say anything, I left it. Fortunately, this character has a short and easy nickname, and his formal full name only appears a few times, but it’s very much part of his character.’
As well as Chilled to the Bone, the first two books, Frozen Out and Cold Comfort, are now being read by Mel Hudson and they will be available as audio books from audible.co.uk. Oddly, it’s Chilled to the Bone, the latest in the series that will appear first as Audible wanted it to be close to the book’s publication date, with the other two set to follow later this year.
‘Chilled to the Bone was recorded in three days before Easter and I had a long talk with Mel beforehand to go through the character and place names, and I’m looking forward to hearing the results. Characters get a touch of an accent to differentiate them, and I gather that the villain (the one with the tongue-twister name that she coped with remarkably
well) has a Sean Bean tone, ‘sinister Sheffield’ as she described it.’
Chilled to the Bone is available on Kindle already and the print version is released on the 18th April