Hello my fellow wordsmiths and page turners,
Today we are having a brief discussion with a returning author Mr Nick Quantrill, those of you with a good memory will remember him from a Crime writing panel that I covered back in 2015. However this time we will be talking about his creative experiences, and achievements throughout lockdown. We will also be discussing how the Lockdown has effected his creative process.
Right! that’s enough waffle from me, lets get on with the interview!
1, Hello Nick, can you please introduce yourself to our readers, and tell us a little about your early career and experiences up to this point?
Hello! I’m Nick Quantrill, a crime writer from Hull. The fourth in my series of Joe Geraghty Private Investigator novels, ‘Sound of the Sinners’, is published by Fahrenheit Press, 28th August. I’m also the co-founder and director of Hull Noir, a crime writing festival which is programmed and presented in the city. Our June festival was naturally cancelled, but we hope to welcome crime readers to the festival next March.
2, The Lockdown has been difficult for all of us, would you say the ‘experience’ has had a profound effect on yourself and how you perceive your work, and if so how?
I maybe wouldn’t say ‘profound’, but lockdown has certainly made me appreciate writing more for what it is. It’s great to be published, and I don’t take that for granted, but actually having a craft to pursue has been very welcome. We talk (rightly) about the material effects of lockdown – personal bereavements, deaths in the country and job losses, but the mental health aspect is maybe not as present in the conversation. I imagine for a lot of people, having a wide chasm of time to suddenly fill isn’t the dream they maybe thought it was. I feel fortunate to have side-stepped that problem.
3, What have you been doing to recharge your creative batteries, especially as there has been no Football?
In some ways, nothing has really changed for me. My diary has completely emptied, but I’ve had no problem with continuing to write. Reading initially proved to be tricky, but reading books outside of my comfort zone helped get over that issue. Other than that, I did the same as a lot of people – plenty of Zoon quizzes (with the lads I watch football with) and more walking in the local area. I kind of started an informal project taking photographs of things we often miss in our neighbourhoods and posting them to social media. I’ve also watched a bit more TV, which maybe sounds lazy, but it’s inspiring to pick apart high quality writing on the screen.
4, Interesting, what TV programmes and Films have you been watching, and subsequently picking apart?
I’m a box-set watcher, so have been catching up on a few things I’ve missed. I enjoyed ‘City on a Hill’, set in early-1990s Boston and starring Kevin Bacon. As per, he’s a bit over the top, but it was a show with high-stakes and tension, as well as being really well written. I also caught up with ‘The Newsroom,’ by Aaron Sorkin. It was partly-research, but even though it’s six/seven years old and the media is constantly evolving, it holds up. Loads of excellent TV around at the moment.
5, Would you say that the current socio-political environment has influenced your work, if so how, and can we expect to see a story or series about lockdown crimes?
I really hope readers pick up on the socio-political environment of my work – the aim is that
the Geraghty novels reflect the city and it becomes a character in its own right. The first three follow Hull’s journey from ‘UK Crap Town’ to ‘UK City of Culture’, so ‘Sound of the Sinners’ reflects on the aftermath of the big culture period. It looks at the winners and losers from such a process and how the city continues to change, whether that’s for perceived good or bad. In respect of lockdown, no… I won’t be writing directly about it, and I don’t think many writers will. Fundamentally, I don’t think people will want to read about it just yet. I suspect it’ll be there in the background, like the way people talk about the weather, but I reckon we might see more historical novels about plagues and pandemics that let the reader draw their own line to the present day.
6, What do you think the ideal crime to commit during lockdown would be, and how would you do it? (please note that anything you do say will not be held against you)
Ha! If I knew that, I’d be playing my cards close to my chest and planning a novel around it! I think it’s a scenario that naturally plays to the strengths of those who write domestic noir and stories that happen in the home. I did consider writing a Geraghty short story during lockdown, but didn’t manage to figure out a plausible scenario. The moment has probably passed, but it’s certainly posing challenges to all crime writers who want to reflect the world around them. It often takes a year to write a novel and then maybe another year to see it in – who knows what the world will look like in 2021?
7, When I first contacted you, you told me that you were working on a collaborative short film called “Plender”. What were the main difficulties of filming this during lockdown? Is the final piece what you all first envisioned, and can we expect to see more of this type of story narrative from yourself?
It was a slightly tricky beast to produce, as it was a lockdown project. Under normal circumstances, the team of us working on it would have met up and thrashed the details out. Instead, we had to do it all via Zoom. In some respects, the final film maybe wasn’t what we initially envisioned, but this is the beauty of partnering with other people. We worked with Dave Lee, a brilliant Hull-based filmmaker, and we thought the film might be quite dark, possibly even black and white. Dave showed us a rough cut and argued that the use of vibrant colours really added to it, a counter-point to the creeping darkness of the words. We watched it, thought about it, and ultimately agreed. We’re delighted with Dave’s work and the read of the text from Matt Sutton. Will we do more? I’m sure we’d love to and there’s a brilliant one to be made by adapting ‘GBH’ by Ted Lewis. However, you need funding to do it
and this one came via the Arts Council England’s emergency Covid response fund, something designed to keep the creative industries ticking over.
8, You said previously that you have been taking photographs around the city, are you looking to incorporate these these Photographs into any future projects, perhaps one similar to Plender?
Maybe now and again, but I’m trying remain more vigilant to this kind of thing. If nothing else, it was a strangely positive thing to do during lockdown and a reminder to be more in the moment and appreciative.
9, I know that you have been in a number of Zoom like book talks over the lockdown period, how did you find this experience, and do you think these will become a more regular occurrence even after lockdown has occurred?
It’s been quite the unexpected development! Like many, I’d never heard of Zoom pre-lockdown. Now it’s a way of life. It’s slightly strange to be holding or taking part in a discussion with people several hundred miles away, but it works. You maybe lose a little bit of intimacy from reading the body language when on a stage together and you don’t get the same type of audience interaction, but these events are open to a far wider audience than previously. I think a lot of festivals will look to integrate an online strand alongside their regular offerings in the future as everyone grows more comfortable with the format.
10, As you said unfortunately the Crime Noir festival was cancelled this year, but what events can we expect to see in the future?
That’s right. We had to cancel our initial plans for hosting Hull Noir in June. With hindsight, it obviously couldn’t go ahead, but at the time it was a bit stressful. All being well, we’ll be hosting 20 or so top crime authors in March. They’ll talk about their work via a series of panels. Our Festival Read, ‘Plender’ by Ted Lewis, will go out to book groups for discussion and we plan to offer crime writing workshops to encourage new talent to emerge. Fingers crossed!
Unfortunately this concludes today’s interview with Nick Quantrill. Thank you again Nick, for agreeing to participate and I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Nicks work, and love a good crime story you should look into his Geraghty novels. They are very good and I will be covering the series on the blog shortly. If you are interested please go and check this out, also for those of you who want to see Nick’s most recent collaboration ‘Plender’ which we covered in this interview please find the video below:
Until next time, read more books