For the sixth in this regular series of quickfire author interviews, I put the 9mm questions to modern day Kiwi crime queen Vanda Symon, who has published three novels starring the fiesty sole charge policewoman turned detective-on-the-rise Sam Shephard. Both a writer and a fan of crime fiction, Symon also regularly blogs on the subject at Overkill.
I've read and enjoyed all three Sam Shephard novels thusfar (OVERKILL, THE RINGMASTER, and CONTAINMENT), and am greatly looking forward to the release of BOUND later this year.
But for now, I'll leave you with Vanda Symon herself:
At the moment, courtesy of my Ngaio Marsh obsession, my favourite recurring crime fiction detective is Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn. I’m also rather fond of his side kicks Troy, and Fox.
What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
The first chapter book I remember making a huge impact on me was TH White’s The Sword in the Stone, which is a comical look at the life of King Arthur as a boy and Merlin. This book spurred a love of all things medieval and historic to the point that it made me take up calligraphy and make my own illuminated manuscripts, and take up fencing as a sport. I was never going to be the fair damsel in distress though, no, I wanted to be the knightess on horseback dishing out the business with my sword!
Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
I basically went straight into novel writing, and Overkill was my first attempt.
Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
As I mentioned earlier, I love fencing and spend my Saturday mornings elegantly trying to run people through with my sword. I am also addicted to cooking and baking, sewing, gardening, making stuff and playing Lego with the kids.
What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
Pack a picnic lunch and head to the Botanic Gardens. After you’ve roamed around the upper gardens, Rhododendron Dell and the Aviary, head back down to the lower gardens and grab yourself an ice cream at the kiosk. If you hit the right day there will be live music and you can kick back on the grass and soak up the atmosphere.
If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you? Kate Winslett, but she’ll need a few extra kilograms and a fuzzy curly wig.
Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?
Overkill, because it was my first and it set me on my way.
What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
Being of the sceptical ilk I didn’t believe it until the signatures were on the paper, at which point I cried a lot, cheered a lot and drank wine. I also cried when the first printed copy arrived in my letter box. And I cried when I first saw it in the shops. Do you see a pattern here...
What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
Before a talk to a large woman’s group I had a lady take me aside and ask me why I thought it was necessary to have so much swearing in my books. She really took me to task, and I hadn’t even had a chance to talk yet!
Thank you Vanda Symon. We appreciate you taking the time to talk with Crime Watch.
So what do you think of Vanda Symon's answers? Have you read any of her Sam Shephard thrillers? If so, what did you think? Do mysteries set in the deep South of New Zealand sound appealing? Feedback, thoughts, and comments greatly appreciated.