Phillipa (PD) Martin is the author of five crime fiction novels published in 13 countries. Her Sophie Anderson series – Body Count, The Murderers’ Club, Fan Mail, The Killing Hands and Kiss of Death – met with international acclaim. In 2011 she moved into ebooks, releasing Coming Home, Hell’s Fury and two novels for younger readers.
What is it about crime that’s so intriguing to so many people?
I think crime fiction portrays the dark side of humanity and allows people to dabble in that world – but to know it’s fiction. Truth is often stranger (and scarier!) than fiction, so crime fiction is a ‘safe’ exploration of the darkness. Depending on the sub-genre, it can also feed people’s interest in science (e.g. forensics), police procedures, and criminal psychology. And let’s face it, most good crime novels are great for suspense and making you want to keep turning the page, which is also appealing to lots of readers.
What’s some of the most interesting research you’ve done for your crime novels?
Oh, I’ve done lots of fun stuff! Like research body dump sites and visit the FBI in LA; interview criminal profilers; research and practice the art of lock-picking; and research obscure forensics like the ability to match lipstick from a crime scene to a particular brand and colour.
What’s the best tip you learned for crime writing when you were starting out?
Lots of my tips are probably more general writing craft (as opposed to crime writing). So for one of those I’d say to make sure you actually learn about writing craft. Even a ‘naturally gifted’ writer needs to know some of the tricks of the trade. It makes the path to publication a lot faster, that’s for sure. I wish I’d read more craft books and attended courses earlier in my writing career. In terms of crime writing I’d say: research, research, research.
Join PD Martin in her course Writing Crime on Saturday 17 June, 10am-4pm at the NSW Writers’ Centre.