Today it's my absolute pleasure to welcome crime fiction blogger turned author Steph Broadribb to the blog as part of the blog tour for her debut novel Deep Down Dead. Louise will be reviewing Deep Down Dead on Monday but today it's our chance to get to know a little more about Steph and her book 😉
As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.
Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Deep Down Dead is her debut novel. Watch out for Deep Blue Trouble in 2018!
If you had to give an elevator pitch for your debut novel Deep Down Dead, what would it be?
Where did the idea come from to create a series where the central character is a female bounty hunter?
I got the idea when I was out in the States. It was the month before I started the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Novels) at City University and I was visiting with family and travelling around. I had a pre-course assignment to do - writing a chapter that introduced a new character - and had to email it around the group before we met for the first lecture. It was when I was driving from the mountains of West Virginia and into rural Virginia that I had the idea - inspired by the discovery that the taillights on my hire car weren't working and finding out that the nearest place I could get them fixed was over a hundred miles away! I stayed overnight in a rather rundown motel and from then on only drove in daylight. But it got me thinking - what if you had to keep driving and your taillights were out? And what if you got pulled over by a State Trooper because of it? And what if when they leaned into the car to take your licence they heard a banging noise in the trunk from the person you'd put in there? It started thinking about the sort of person who might travel with a person in their trunk and why - and that's how Lori Anderson came about!
How did the title Deep Down Dead come about?
It was inspired by the secrets and emotions that Lori keeps hidden deep down, combined with my love for three word titles! I played around with a few options, but Deep Down Dead seemed to have a nice rhythm to it.
The cover for Deep Down Dead is certainly eye-catching, did you have any creative input into its creation?
I would love to be able to claim some credit for it, but creatively it was all Karen Sullivan and Mark Swan! They kept me involved and I got to say which of the range of options I liked (the final cover was my favourite) which was great. I loved how different it was to many covers and that it looked like a movie poster. There's something about the eyes looking out from the black cover that drew me to it.
Describe Lori Anderson in three words.
Independent. Passionate. Resourceful.
As a blogger who reviews crime fiction novels, how are you feeling now that the shoe is on the other foot and it's your own novel that's now out in the world being reviewed?
It's weird and also great! It's lovely to chat with readers and reviewers and I've been blown away by the response to Deep Down Dead so far. It's also really nerve-wracking because the story and characters that have lived inside my head for so long are now out in the world.
Were you surprised to receive such amazing jacket quotes from big-name crime writers? As someone noted, you got the ‘holy trinity’ of Lee Child, Mark Billingham and Ian Rankin!
I've been totally overwhelmed with the generosity of the crime writing world. Ian, Mark and Lee have been so lovely to give quotes for the book, as have a whole host of other fabulous crime writers. As a huge fan of the crime thriller genre it doesn't quite feel real yet that my writing heroes, whose books I've read and loved for years, have now read a book written by me!
Did you treat yourself to something special to celebrate your publishing deal with Orenda Books?
Not yet, but there's a gorgeous pair of Lucchese cowboy boots I've got my eye on ...
How long did it take to get published?
I'd been writing for about six years before I got the deal with Orenda Books. I've always read a lot of books, and the crime thriller genre is my passion, but being dyslexic I'd never thought of trying to write one. I got into writing via a short Open University course and starting writing short stories. I had some success in competitions, and decided to try and write a novel. I wrote a couple of 'practice novels' which will never see the light of day and learnt as much as I could by going to events like The Festival of Writing at York organised by The Writers Workshop, meeting some great people along the way. Then I applied to do the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) Novels at City University London and wrote Deep Down Dead as I did the course. I got the deal with Orenda Books shortly after finishing the course.
You’ve got very strong (and believable) characters. Did you have any particular inspirations?
I've long been a fan of screenwriter Callie Khouri (who wrote the iconic film Thelma & Louise) as she always creates such strong characters, both female and male, and often has female characters as the lead protagonist/s. From the start I wanted Lori to be the lead and to be independent and solving her own problems, no matter how tough that was, and as I wrote her I had the fantastic actor Connie Britton in my mind. In terms of inspirations in the thriller genre, I'm a huge fan of John D MacDonald's Travis McGee series, Lee Child's Jack Reacher series, and the more recent Carter Blake series by Mason Cross. They combine great characters with high action and twisty-turny plots - that was something I aspired to create in Deep Down Dead.
There is a big love story in the centre of the book, and it drives Lori to do things she may later regret … Was this always a crime novel? How did you so successfully marry two genres?
Well, I'm a sucker for a love story, but I didn't set out to write anything romantic. There's a lot of passion in Lori and JT's relationship, but that can work against them as well as for them. At the start of the book they've not seen each other for ten years, but all their emotions are still there just under the surface; that doesn't make things easy though. When they get together they're an explosive mix - like gasoline and fire!
Was there any part of the book that was harder to write than others?
I guess different parts of the book had different challenges, from making sure the geographical details were correct, to getting Lori's bounty hunting aspects right. The scene where Lori has to extract a bullet using only the equipment in her carryall and the trunk of the car was a challenge to write, but I enlisted a friend of mine from the military and checked out the practicalities of the scene with them to make it as authentic as possible.
If you could choose one book to recommend this year, what would it be?
My top reads of 2016 were REACHER SAID NOTHING by Andy Martin and TALL OAKS by Chris Whitaker. I've just started reading the early releases for 2017 and am loving BORN BAD by Marnie Riches, THE DAMSELFLY by SJI Hollliday, STASI WOLF by David Young and THE INTRUSIONS by Stav Sherez.
What do you read in your spare time?
I usually read crime thrillers, but I'll always read the latest Jilly Cooper book, and I've got Bryan Cranston's Life In Parts on my TBR pile at the moment.
Finally what can we expect from you next?
I'll be out and about at various crime fiction events this year, and I'm currently working on the next book in the Lori Anderson series - DEEP BLUE TROUBLE. In the meantime you can always catch me on Twitter!
Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that's when things start to go wrong.
The fugitive she's assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori's former mentor - the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past. Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida's biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where 'bad things never happen', but he's also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they're ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.