A quick background check reveals that Nick is a man of many talents – as his bio attests:
Nick Quantrill was born and raised in Hull, an isolated industrial city in East Yorkshire. His most recent crime novel, The Dead Can’t Talk, was published in May 2016 by Caffeine Nights. The Joe Geraghty trilogy, Broken Dreams (2010), The Late Greats (2012) and The Crooked Beat (2013) are also published by Caffeine Nights. His gritty standalone novella, Bang Bang You’re Dead (2012) is published by Byker Books.
A prolific short story writer, Nick’s work has appeared in Volumes Eight, Nine and Ten of The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime alongside the genre’s most respected names. In 2011, Nick became the first person to hold the role of Writer in Residence at Hull Kingston Rovers, contributing sports-based fiction to the match day programme and assisting with the club’s literacy programme. His first story for children is included in the Toad Tales anthology published by Wrecking Ball.
With a growing reputation as an event chair at prestigious showpieces such as Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and Iceland Noir, Nick has interviewed a series of writers on stage including Lee Child, Martina Cole, Val McDermid, Peter Robinson and Mark Billingham.
When not writing fiction, Nick pens reviews and essays for a variety of football and music websites. He lives in Hull with his wife, daughter, cat and the constant fear Hull City will let him down.
So, with the interview tape running and the formalities dispensed with, let’s get on with the 5WH interview:
Who on earth are you?
Good question! Essentially, I’m an idiot from the much-maligned, post-industrial outpost of Hull who thought writing crime novels would be a good idea. Of course, like all other writers there’s other stuff going on. I’ve fallen into chairing events at literary festivals, and more surprisingly, have grown to really love it. I’m also co-producing a crime festival for later this year, doing a bit of freelance journalism and dabbling with a real (part-time) job, so keeping out of mischief…
What do you prefer writing in – first or third person?
I’ve tried both. My first three novels feature a small time Private Investigator, Joe Geraghty, and are all in the first person. More recently, the first novel featuring Anna Stone, a disillusioned cop, and Luke Carver, an ex-Army drifter fresh out of prison, is written in the third person. Having two protagonists meant I had to mix it up. First person is great for being inside one head all the way through a story, really getting to the nitty gritty, so it suits the loner PI. It was never really going to work when faced with two protagonists. If I had to choose, I lean to first person. I like the immediacy of it. The novel I’m working on is back to it.
There was never really one defining moment. I know a lot of authors speak of a life-long passion and desire to write, but art never figured that highly for me as a child in 1980’s Hull. I was very much encouraged to do well in more traditional areas. But I was always a big reader, moving on to crime novels in my mid-twenties. I was studying for a degree in Criminology with The Open University at the time, so I could see that what I was learning about in theory was being presented in a more engaging way in the crime novel. The idea that maybe I could give it a go started to nag at me from that point, as I wondered just how hard it could be? Turns out, it’s rock hard.
Why on earth do you want to write about Hull?
I suppose the short answer is that Hull is my home city, so it felt like the natural thing to do. I do want it to be known that I started writing about the place well before it became trendy and all cultured. Writing about the city helps me make sense of it, too, which felt important when I started. In fact, I never considered writing about anywhere else. That said, the novel I’m working on is set around Yorkshire and The North and largely avoids my home city, so it’s a different challenge.
Where is the best place you’ve done an event?
Events really are one of the joys of the job. As you know, Michael, we spend most of our time working in our pants and are largely feral beasts, so it’s a privilege to get out and meet readers and other writers. I’ve been more than fortunate, really – I’ve shared the stage with Lee Child in Harrogate and flown out to Reykjavik, but I genuinely love going to an unknown town for the first time, especially if it’s a place I wouldn’t normally have a reason to visit. It’s a great way to roam this green and pleasant land.
I think all writers have to be open to ideas, so that means you get to legitimately earwig on conversations, be nosy and steal character traits from people you know. I’m also a big fan of Ian Rankin’s method of keeping a cuttings file. Newspapers can be a great source of ideas and can help tease plot ideas out. Stories are everywhere. Weighing up which ideas can sustain a novel is the tricky part, but I figure if something sounds interesting to me a day/week/month down the line, I might just be in business.
The Dead Can’t Talk, Nick’s punchy, thrilling novel featuring his new protagonists Carver and Stone is out now in paperback and eBook. Here be the blurb:
A CITY CAN’T KEEP ITS SECRETS FOREVER.
How far will Anna Stone, a disillusioned police officer on the brink of leaving her job, go to uncover the truth about her sister’s disappearance?
Approached by Luke Carver, an ex-Army drifter she’s previously sent to prison, he claims to have information which will help her. As the trail leads from Hull and the Humber’s desperate and downtrodden to its great and good, an unsolved murder twenty-five years ago places their lives in danger, leaving Stone to decide if she can really trust a man who has his own reasons for helping.