This month's guest is crime author Noelle Holten. I got to know Noelle in 2011 when I first published Taunting the Dead. She was one of the first people to reach out to me after reading and reviewing it. We've been friends ever since.
We finally met in 2015 and well, to say it was a bit emotional was an understatement. Noelle was teary and I gave her the biggest hug. She's such a warm and caring person - the whole crime family loves her pasison and oomph.
It makes me so proud to see she has three books out in a series now. Very much like me, Noelle persevered behind the scenes, writing alongside working full-time. She sets a good example for writers 'getting it done.'
Over to you, Noelle. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
In high school I had a brief moment where I did want to be a writer, but that was crushed when a teacher thought a piece I wrote must have been plagiarised because she thought it was ‘too good’ to have come from me. (shock and outrage from Mel!)
So instead I continued reading and focused on working WITH offenders rather than writing ABOUT them. Then fast forward 26+ years, and after leaving an extremely abusive relationship and wanting to find myself again, I started reading more books on writing and wrote the prologue to Dead Inside while wondering if I could, at my age (mid 40's) actually write a book.
I attended Crime & Publishment in 2017 - a weekend writing course organised and run by Graham Smith and Michael J Malone - and received such encouraging feedback on my prologue that I went away and finished the first draft of Dead Inside in about 10 weeks.
I had the bug and wanted to write more. I pitched Dead Inside at Harrogate 2018 and after getting a few offers, I signed with Killer Reads (now One More Chapter) and I’m currently writing the fifth book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series!
Why do you write crime fiction (what it is about it that makes you tick?)
It may be a cliche, but I write what I know or more specifically, I write what I know about - crime. Crime fiction has been part of my life since I could read. I also worked as a (Senior) Probation Officer for 18 years. It seemed a natural progression - I’m obsessed with all things crime and couldn’t see myself writing anything else.
Dead Inside - Noelle's debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.
A murdered woman…
When the body of a young woman is found in a local park, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she’s dealing with no ordinary killer. The murder victim has been disfigured; her outfit changed to resemble someone else. Someone Maggie knows all too well…her close friend Dr Kate Moloney.
A determined detective…
Maggie is determined to keep her friend safe, but with Kate already struggling with a threatening stalker, Maggie now fears Kate’s life is in real danger. Who else would want to harm Kate and why else would the killer be turning his victims into exact replicas – his living dolls?
Can Maggie find the depraved killer? Or will Kate become his next living doll?
Who is your favourite author and your favourite book of theirs?
There are far too many for me to mention (and you, Mel, are included on that list!) I’m a HUGE fan of Ian Rankin’s REBUS series and anything written by Martina Cole. I’m also a big fan of Kathy Reichs and Karin Slaughter. I’ll stop there because I literally could write a novel about all the authors whose books have been a great escape and massive influence for me!
Which is your favourite characters in all of your books so far?
Of course I love my main character, Maggie Jamieson but I also love Dr Kate Moloney as she allows me to continue my obsession with offender profiling. But there’s a new-ish character who popped up in the earlier books and has taken on a bigger role in the book I recently finished and the one I’m currently writing - a gobby journalist - Julie Noble... and she is fun to write...she may be my new favourite!
How do you stay disciplined to write so many books a year?
I write for one hour every-single-day and usually manage 1K in that hour. My writing 'day' starts after I finish my day job - so the evenings are when I write the most. I stick to that routine because it’s what works for me. When I am coming towards the end of the novel, I may write for a little longer on the weekends but having only to write an hour a day allows me time to do other things I enjoy too. Edits are a different matter. I do as much as I can in as short a period as I can.
Which of your books would you like to see as a film…
Dead Inside - because it is such a personal story and the start of it all. I also think there is so much potential to spin it off into a series... if anyone from Netflix is reading this, call me... I have the rights! Who knows... it could happen one day!
What are you reading now, or what have you read last?
I’ve just started Carol Wyers An Eye for an Eye and it’s REALLY good so far!
What’s your favourite snack while you’re writing?
Coffee and maybe peanut M&M’s ... but mainly just lots of coffee!
Dead Perfect and Dead Wrong - book 2 and 3, featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.
Would you ever write in another genre?
Probably not. I don’t read enough in other genres and crime is my interest. I do have an idea for a psychological thriller... so that could happen!
Do you have a standalone book that you would love to revisit in a sequel?
No. Just the one series - The psychological thriller idea would be a standalone but I don’t have much more than the idea so far.
What was the best piece of writing advice you have been given?
Find what works for you
I asked for and was given a lot of amazing advice - but not everything worked for me, I took the bits that did and I think that's important because you can easily become overwhelmed with a lot of conflicting advice - write everyday, write when you can. Edit as you write. just write, edit later. etc... I listened to all the advice I was given and then took the bits that worked best for me.
Do you treat yourself when you publish a book?
I do! I buy myself a charm or piece of jewellery that relates to each book. As Dead Inside was my debut, I bought a book charm. For Dead Wrong, I bought a charm of the scales of justice and for Dead Perfect, I bought a bracelet with the infinity symbol. I also buy a new phone cover with the current book image on the back.
Which genres do you read in?
All things crime - thrillers, conspiracy, action, psychological ... as long as there is a crime at the heart of it. I do read other genres, but those are mainly for work and are a great escape / break away to clear my head. But I wouldn’t be a #CrimeBookJunkie if crime wasn’t my passion!
Thank you so much for the interview, Noelle. The best of luck with your writing and DS Maggie Jamieson!
Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA's - Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice - and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle's hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog.