After reading Anne Perry’s short story, Shutter Speed, in Killer Nashville Noir: Cold Blooded, I was delighted to interview her. It was remarkable to me how much the story managed to fit in, and how well.
Many of you will know Ms. Perry from her bestselling series featuring William Monk in one, and Thomas Pitt in the other. Her historical mysteries will engage you and leave you thoughtful as well. While this was the first I’ve read from his author, I will definitely be reading more.
Killer Nashville Noire: Cold Blooded is currently on a book tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour runs through the month of November. I hope you will stop by the Tour page to see the various stops on the tour. You can check the links past and future to learn more about the book.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Ms. Perry.
Having finished your short story in Cold Blooded, I have to say it has stayed on my mind. It’s a wonder to see how much thought you provoked in such a limited number of pages!
First, can we start with the conference itself. How did you first become involved with Killer Nashville?
I was invited by Clay to attend, and I came all the way from Scotland, where I lived at the time. Unfortunately I have been only once, so far.
Is this your first year or do you attend annually?
This year I could not come, regrettably had conflicting event arranged long ago.
What is your favorite part of the event?
The wonderful good fellowship, hospitality cannot be beaten.
Can you share a little of your background with us? Such as how and when did you decide to write...
I always intended to write, but kept putting it off. Then got scores of rejections, but never had the sense to know I was beaten, Then finally, after many years it happened. To anybody out there listening, Never give up.
What drew you to historical fiction?
History is one great story, For fictional purposes, setting a story back a bit means you can look at certain issues more clearly. Love that!
You have so many books already published, especially in your two popular series. You must know your characters so well by now. Do they ever lead you somewhere you don’t expect?
If they don’t do something I don’t expect, then they probably won’t surprise the reader either. Always experiencing something new myself, learning something. Use it all in stories. .
How developed were the featured characters before you began writing their stories?
They definitely grew as I worked with them. Monk was fairly well developed from the start, but he has still grown. Pitt has to grow as he becomes more and more uncomfortable with challenges to his judgement and morality. No change, no growth, no story.
Do you find yourself immersed in the era as you write?
Pretty much, but I take the moral problems from today’s headlines. We have not solved so many of our problems, unfortunately.
With all the time you have spent in the mid to late 1800’s with your novels, is it easier to since you know the setting so well. Or does that make it more difficult in some ways?
Easier in the day to day living, harder to find something new to say, a new background against which to set the problem.
Does the brevity of a short story make it more difficult to write?
Not really, it is a wonderful medium in which to see if you like a character and setting. I have ideas about making the character in Shutter Speed the centre of a series The 1930s are a marvellous period: the music, the clothes, films, scandals, and all the time the desperate political situation growing darker and darker while we dance on the edge of the precipice! Can’t beat it!.
Is your short story in the Killer Nashville Noir leading to a coming book? Will we see the characters again? I was certainly curious to know what comes next I guess the last answer sort of provides this one!
Might change some things about her, but essentially not character of occupation. Just age and name, i think..
I found that parts of your story, while historic, mirror society today as well. Is that your intention or is it simply human nature?
That is VERY much my intention. Glad it occurred to you. Thank you for mentioning it.
What is the easiest part of writing to you?
Dialogue, when I get a roll on. Quarrels, trials etc. Love them.
What is the most difficult?
Get mired down when I haven’t planned it well enough, and hate copy editing.
What is your biggest distraction when you are writing and how do you handle it?
Worrying about something I can’t fix, in daily life. Don’t handle it very well. Too much imagination, can always think of all the possible things that can go wrong.
Do you have a set schedule for writing? That is, a number of words a day, certain hours?
Usually work all day, apart from necessary chores, six days a week. Like to do at least 12 to 15 pages as they would be if typed. Can only think with a pen in my hand. Now getting used to the Dragon speak dictation! Best distraction of all? A really great conversation with a friend. Fix the world Or talk about it.
Are you an outliner or do the characters drive the story as you go?
Definitely outline, in great detail. The more I do that, the better the result. Write out backstory too.
Do you have a favorite of your own books? A character?
Favourite book would be one of the two Fantasies, Tathea, and Come Armageddon. Because in them I have been as poetic as I wanted, and I set out my beliefs about man and God etc. Favourite character, Great Aunt Vespasia, from the Pitt series. But I love most of them, even if I don’t mean to when I set out.
As you write, do you find you have ten new or different plots floating around in your mind all at once, or are you able to control that to concentrate on one?
Have to think of future stories, but mostly I think of what I am doing. I don’t multitask well.
How do you handle all the ideas you think of?
Make notes. Then can’t read them!
What are you reading now?
My Sister’s Grave, by Robert Dugoni.
What are you working on currently?
Pitt story for 2017.
Thanks for asking me. Anne
Thank you, Anne, for sharing with us. I’m looking forward to reading more.