By PD Martin
Today I’d like to welcome fellow Aussie crime writer, Katherine Howell to Murderati. Katherine is an ex-paramedic turned author who uses her own expertise to create realistic characters and scenarios. So far, she’s won two Davitt Awards (Sisters in Crime Australia) and has recently hit the best seller lists here in Oz.
Her third novel, Cold Justice, has just been released in the UK. In Cold Justice, Detective Ella Marconi is on the trail of a cold case, an eighteen-year-old murder. Katherine is giving away three signed copies of Cold Justice to Murderati readers…scroll to the bottom for more information.
Katherine also has ties to other members of the Murderati gang, namely Tess Gerritsen – who had the following to say: “COLD JUSTICE races like a speeding ambulance, delivering so many surprises and thrills that you’ll scarcely have time to breathe. This was one of my favorite books of the year. Katherine Howell has written a real winner!” Katherine is delighted to be interviewing Tess in Melbourne at a Sisters in Crime dinner on Saturday 27 August. You can find out more at the Sisters in Crime website. I’ll be there 🙂
You use paramedics and police almost equally in your books. Can you tell us why you decided to do that?
I always wanted to write a crime series, partly because it’s what I love reading and partly because the idea of developing characters over a number of books really appealed to me. But I started the early drafts of Frantic with paramedic Sophie as the main character and no cop in sight! I felt I couldn’t write a cop point of view because I didn’t know the police world the same way that I knew paramedic life and worried about being able to portray it with convincing detail. I realised, though, that the story would be so much deeper and stronger if I could build the POV in, and also it was going to be a stretch to have a paramedic coming back in each book, especially if I was going to have her solve crimes! I needed to pull myself together and just do it. I have a number of cop friends who help with the facts of the job and draw on my own experience in being called as a paramedic to police stations and the cells and so on too.
And so Detective Ella Marconi was born. She’s about half of each book that I write. The stories involve one and sometimes two paramedics who get caught up in crime in varying ways—sometimes they’re called to a homicide scene, sometimes they find a body, sometimes they’re involved personally—then Ella is one of the investigators called in on the case.
What differences do you find writing a paramedic versus cop?
The main difference is their role in the story: Ella investigates and is fairly distanced emotionally, while the paramedics are caught up and drawn in and often are very emotionally involved. The way I write each point of view differs too: I’m very comfortable writing the paramedic scenes because of my years of experience there, but with the police scenes I’m continually questioning my detective friends over each little detail: what would the detectives say here? What would they do next?
Is Cold Justice based on something that happened to you while you were working as a paramedic?
Paramedic Georgie in Cold Justice was viciously bullied at her previous station, and when I was writing the book there were many reports in the media about bullying cases in the ambulance service and their subsequent investigations. None of this was news to me or to paramedics I knew, however. The things that happen to Georgie are a combination of tweaked stories that I’d heard, made-up events, plus a few of my own experiences. The plot however is fictional. While I use some elements of particular cases that I did (such as a burns case in The Darkest Hour), none of the plots as a whole are based on anything I did.
To date, your books are published in several countries, but not the US. How can American readers get copies?
There are some copies on Amazon, including for Kindle. I’ve heard that once you hit check-out you can’t actually get it due to territorial restrictions, but I know my Australian publisher was working to sell the ebook rights so maybe they’re now accessible. (If someone out there buys one, or can’t, could you let me know in the comments please?) Otherwise check out the Australian publisher’s site (www.panmacmillan.com) or any of the online booksellers. Or contact my partner’s bookshop (www.lovethatbook.com.au) and I’ll even sign a copy to you before it hits the post! If all else fails, you can read the first chapters at least on my website www.katherinehowell.com.
Tell us a bit about your writing day and space.
I have an office at home and I write at the computer (though now and again I like to take a notebook and sit in the sun). I get in there about eight or nine but I write best in the afternoons so unless I have a looming deadline I tend to spend the morning dealing with emails and working on whatever author talks or workshops I have coming up, and uni research (I’m doing a PhD in writing at the moment too). I have a big corner desk currently covered in edit notes and reports. My window looks out onto the garden, and in the co-worker department I have a big, fat, long-haired cat who sleeps in her bed on my desk and a Chihuahua pup who sleeps in a blanket on my lap. Lazy girls.
Win your copy
Win a signed copy of Cold Justice by guessing which of the following statements about Katherine is a lie. The first three correct guesses will win!
- I used to have a pet goat whose name was Boris.
- I have a tiny tattoo of a bluebird on my hip.
- I was in an ambulance crash once and was unrestrained in the back at the time; but the only injury I got was a fat lip.
- Once, while I was travelling alone back from the UK, I ran into my sister in Singapore Airport.
- At one of the Davitt award ceremonies I had to leave proceedings to play paramedic for a woman who’d collapsed in the toilet.
Thanks to Katherine for being my guest today! She’ll be online to respond to comments and of course to check for winners.