Book Nerd Interview
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Well, readers who haven’t seen my author bio might be surprised to learn that I live and work in Burundi, in Central Africa. I’m in the humanitarian and development field, and I’ve spent much of the last ten years working in and on the continent. So that’s led to a certain amount of African flavour in my work, especially the Lenoir series.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
How to think. The real value of an education, I believe, lies less in what you learn than how you learn – especially nowadays, with the world changing as rapidly as it does, and information being so easy to obtain. School taught me to think critically, to examine the facts before me and analyse them, to ask the right questions rather than repeat the right answers. That’s turned out to be tremendously valuable – not only in life, but in my writing, since those are precisely the faculties a good detective needs to have.
Did you learn anything from writing the Nicolas Lenoir Series and what was it?
Oh, so much. Darkwalker (Book 1 of the Lenoir series) was my first novel, so there was a lot of learning going on there, some of it painful. I’ll always be refining my craft, but there was definitely a big levelling up that came with Darkwalker. I’ve become much more analytical about storytelling, what works and why. It’s changed the way I write, but also the way I read, watch movies – basically the way I experience storytelling in any form. Bit of a double-edged sword, that – you can spiral into hypercriticism so easily – but it’s certainly improved my writing.
What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Nicolas?
I guess I’d say the most surprising thing was how naturally it came writing from the point of view of a guy – and doing it convincingly, at least if reviews are anything to go by. It’s funny, but I didn’t really think about it until after the book was finished, and then I kind of descended into mild panic, worrying if it would sound authentic. I had similar worries about writing a nine year-old (Zach), but that seems to have worked out too. Turns out I pay closer attention to others than I thought.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
That’s easy – I’d have Lenoir sit down with Sherlock Holmes. I’d love to see what they made of each other. As I’ve said elsewhere, I think there would be mutual respect, but I don’t imagine they’d get on terribly well. Two misanthropes, arrogant to the hilt… I’d love to grab a bucket of popcorn and listen to them go at it.
Which character have you enjoyed getting to know the most over the course of writing the Nicolas Lenoir Series?
Zach. He’s just a delight to write. He’s one of those characters that’s had his own voice from the moment he appeared, and his own direction too, to the extent that sometimes it feels like he’s calling the shots instead of me. He’s such a compelling combination of innocence and street wisdom, a portrait I think I’ve been secretly carrying around with me for some time, from my day job.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I could never choose, because I admire so many different writers for different reasons. I love Elmore Leonard for his lean prose. Guy Gavriel Kay for his sweeping, evocative storytelling. Rohinton Mistry for his emotional gut-punches. Jonathan Safran Foer for his voice. I could go on and on…
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Take books on their own terms. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a reviewer blast their so-called favourite authors for not writing something tailor-made for their individual reading expectations. This puzzles me – as a writer, but especially as a reader. Approaching books with a narrow set of expectations means you’re bound to be disappointed much of the time. Where does that get fun? Books, like people, should be approached with an open mind. You might not end up liking them, but at least you gave them a fair shot.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
“Does this make me look fat?”
What is your happiest childhood memory?
If I say playing with Star Wars and G.I. Joe, will you judge me?
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I don’t know if I’d call any of my summer jobs “memorable”, at least not in a good way. I do recall getting into a legendary rubber band shoot-out with my boss at an office job I once had (the head of the company, no less), people ducking in their cubicles all around us. We were picking rubber bands up off the floor for days.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I would never have chosen to be a teenager.
When was the last time you cried?
Last weekend, while I was writing the opening scene of The Bloodsworn, the final installment in the Bloodbound trilogy, which I write as Erin Lindsey. I’ve never done that before – made myself cry while writing – and it actually kind of wrecked me. I was grumpy all weekend. Not sure how wise it is to open a book with something that gut-wrenching… I guess we’ll see!
Where can readers stalk you?
On the web: www.eltettensor.com
Having barely escaped the clutches of the Darkwalker, Inspector Nicolas Lenoir throws himself into his work with a determination he hasn’t known in years. But his legendary skills are about to be put to the test. A horrific disease is ravaging the city—and all signs point to it having been deliberately unleashed.
With a mass murderer on the loose, a rising body count, and every hound in the city on quarantine duty, the streets of Kennian are descending into mayhem, while Lenoir and his partner, Sergeant Bran Kody, are running out of time to catch a killer and find a cure.
Only one ray of hope exists: the nomadic Adali, famed for their arcane healing skills, claim to have a cure. But dark magic comes at a price, one even the dying may be unwilling to pay. All that’s left to Lenoir is a desperate gamble. And when the ashes settle, the city of Kennian will be changed forever...