Interview with writer and crime fiction guru Noelle Holten
Bestselling author, Noelle Holten is one of the most knowledgeable and highly qualified figures in the world of crime writing. An award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk, she is also the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher, and was a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Formerly a senior probation officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse, Holten has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology.
Highly acclaimed, Dead Inside was Holten’s debut novel published by One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK and the first in a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.
Her second book in the series Dead Wrong is out in eBook March 14th and paperback May 14th 2020
Here’s a taster…
The serial killer is behind bars. But the murders are just beginning…DC Maggie Jamieson’s past comes back to haunt her in this dark and gripping serial killer thriller. Three missing women running out of time…
They were abducted years ago. Notorious serial killer Bill Raven admitted to killing them and was sentenced to life. The case was closed – at least DC Maggie Jamieson thought it was…
But now one of them has been found, dismembered and dumped in a bin bag in town. Forensics reveal that she died just two days ago, when Raven was behind bars, so Maggie has a second killer to find. Because even if the other missing women are still alive, one thing’s for certain: they don’t have long left to live…
Noelle found some time in her busy schedule for an interview with The Crime Hub.
Could you tell us something about your character, DC Maggie Jamieson? Was she a someone you had in your head for a long time before putting pen to paper?
DC Maggie Jamieson was actually a secondary character. When I wrote Dead Inside, the story was Lucy’s – the Probation Officer but my editor felt that the series should be more of a police procedural and so Maggie was introduced earlier on in my debut. Maggie is a police officer who goes with her gut and often conflicts with her colleagues because of her stubborn nature. A bit of a marmite character but I absolutely adore her as she has her own vulnerabilities which will become more apparent as the series moves on. I’m still learning a lot about Maggie myself. She can be quite feisty, wanting her voice heard and I think readers will either love her or loathe her.
A probation officer also featured in your first novel, was it important to you to bring your knowledge of this world to your novels?
Absolutely! I think the public (and readers) don’t understand how much involvement probation officers have when it comes to working with offenders. In fact, they are probably the only agency in the criminal justice system who works with an individual from the moment they are charged/appear in court all the way through to the end of their sentence. The series will see multi-agency working to solve crimes, although the police will be the lead agency.
You’re highly trained in the real world of crime but you are also a successful fiction writer. Which comes first in a crime novel – a good story or authenticity? Does it matter if accurate procedures and processes in the criminal justice system are sacrificed or twisted to improve the plot?
I think a balance of both (for me anyway) is what is important. I do use some poetic licence at times, as sometimes procedure and policy can be quite boring – and take ages – so I move things along but try to remain as authentic as possible. I still read a lot about what is currently happening with the police, probation and other agencies as I am a bit of a geek – so I try to ensure that for the most part, this is accurate within my stories to give it that level of authenticity.
No one in the publishing world has read and reviewed more crime fiction novels than you. Is there a basic formula for a bestseller, or even a list of basic, must have ingredients?
You totally flatter me and I’m not sure that it’s true – but thank you! I am a huge fan of all things crime fiction and have been for way too many years to mention.
I wish I knew the answer to this as I would be flying in the charts and my publisher would be very happy! For me, a good crime novel needs to grab the reader immediately – whether that be the first line or the first chapter. There needs to be a good pace in the story – something that keeps you wanting to turn those pages and get to the end and I think that there has to be some sort of resolution but also a great hook at the end to keep the reader wanting to go out and buy the next book in the series. It doesn’t have to be a cliff-hanger – I love them, but a lot of readers don’t – but an OMG moment that has the reader racing to see if the next book is available.
In my series, I always resolve the main case – but leave a teaser final chapter for what you can expect next. Every reader is different and it would be hard to please everyone, but this is what I do and so far…it is working!
Who are your favourite crime writers?
This could take a very long time … there are so many great writers out there, but I have to give a big shout out to the crime authors I work with at Bookouture – huge talent and before I started working with them, I was a massive fan of their crime novels and psychological thrillers…I even dab on the lighter side too!
But if I had to name a few authors who I ALWAYS race to pre order, it would have to be: Ian Rankin, Martina Cole, Craig Russell, Will Dean, C.J. Tudor, Stuart MacBride, Steph Broadribb, Mel Sherratt, M.A. Comley, Lynda LaPlante, Patricia Cornwell, C.L.Taylor, M.W. Craven, Howard Linskey, Robert Bryndza, Michael J Malone, Douglas Skelton, Gordon Brown, Alex Kane, Caroline Mitchell, Paul Hardisty, Liz Nugent, Kimberley Chambers, Steve Cavanagh, Luca Veste, Harlan Coben, Craig Robertson, Alexandra Sokoloff, Tony Kent, Rachel Amphlett, – oh this is so hard but there are so many more.
My TBR is ridiculous and I’ve come across so many new authors too – I feel bad as I would love to mention them all, but that is definitely a good start. You can actually see all the authors I read and love on my blog as I only post my faves there – so worth checking out for recommendations!
Click here to buy Dead Wrong