I've been interviewed so much recently in the run up to launch of my debut crime thriller THE WATCHER that for today's post, I thought I'd compile a sort of compendium of the best questions I've been asked. I've selected the Q's I thought readers would enjoy the most, so if you'd like to know more about my latest novel, THE WATCHER, my writing process, habits, and reading preferences, and my current work-in-progress, THE BOTS, read on...
An Interview with Eli Carros - Crime Thriller Author
Can you give a short synopsis of your latest book?
The Watcher, my debut crime thriller, launched on June 21st, and is published by Crooked Cat Books. It’s a dark, twisted, psychological thriller that takes you right into the mind of a psychopath, and shows readers how he became the way he became.
It’s a novel about sexual obsession, emotional abuse, and vengeance, and if you like a book that keeps you guessing right until the end, you might enjoy this one. When I was writing this book I attempted to answer a question that I had often wondered about, which is, are psychopaths born or are they made?
What was the inspiration for this book?
I’ve often wondered what makes a psychopath.Someone who can derive pleasure in sadism, in hurting others, is very alien to me personally but intriguing all the same.My fascination with psychopaths over the years has led me to study infamous serial killers, read numerous serial killer novels, and watch an unlimited amount of true crime documentaries, and psychological thrillers.One day, a germ of a story idea came into my mind, so I marinated on it for a while, and procrastinated a lot.Eventually I actually put fingers to keyboard and The Watcher came into being.
The book was also inspired by London, where I lived, and I drew heavily from the urban landscape.It seems to me the anonymity of a huge metropolis like London, where everything’s moving so fast and people are used to meeting strangers, would make it the perfect place for a serial killer to conceal himself.
You write Mystery, Crime Thrillers. Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?
I do undertake some research yes, for certain little details pertaining to correct police procedure etc… However my book is not a standard police procedural by any means, more a psychological exploration of a deviant and malignant mind, so I gave myself hefty dose of artistic license with it too.
I did do another kind of research too, because I actually lived in London while writing The Watcher, and the book is set there. So I went to a lot of the places that inspired scenes in the book, to get a real feel for the atmosphere. One of the café scenes in the novel was actually written in Patisserie Valerie in Old Compton Street, Soho. I find London very inspiring in general, some people don’t like it I know, but I love all the bustle and life.
What prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?
I started telling stories long before I actually put pen to paper.I would regale my friends with improbable tales, and tell them things like there were fairies and other magical beings at the bottom of the garden who came regularly to sneak me away to their world.Strangely, quite often, they actually seemed to believe me.
After that I studied journalism and went into copywriting but I thought about writing a book for years and years before I actually did it.
When you are a nice person... how easy is it to get into a bad person's head?
I think part of my interest in individuals that lack empathy comes from the fact that I’ve always been a bit of a social activist. From as long as I can remember I’ve firmly believed in equality and fairness for everyone on this planet and I still constantly wonder why the heck we haven’t got it yet. I’ve toughened up a bit now but I used to be so sensitive, it got to the point where I literally was burning up with anger every day at all the injustice that goes on in this world.
It seemed to me that the psychopathic attitude society encourages sometimes, that winner/ loser and me, me, me thing doesn’t help. Also when you have a society that’s a bit like that, plus certain individuals who are always going to be wired to be more selfish than the rest of us, then you have a recipe for disaster in certain cases because malignant individuals will be embraced sometimes instead of shunned like they should be.
But as well as that, I must confess, I’ve also been rather intrigued by the other, those things us (fairly) normal folks would never dream of doing, or ever remotely want to. It’s like a guilty fascination, we humans have, we do like to explore the dark side, perhaps to reinforce quite how abhorrent it is. I think that’s why so many people read serial killer novels and the like, because it’s just so alien to them, it’s like a peek into a strange, new twisted world.
Do you plot your novels in advance, or allow them to develop as you write?
When I first started, I was firmly opposed to planning, thinking it would stifle my creativity.Then I realized, if you don’t at least sketch out a rough outline you end up with a mess on your hands about halfway through a manuscript.It’s much harder to plug holes once you’ve already started so now I always make a loose chapter by chapter plan before I sit down to write the first chapter.
Famous authors, such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas, had a special space for writing. Do you have a writing ‘shed’ of your own?
Honestly, no, I usually do it wherever I can find the time in the nearest comfortable place. I do like a glass of wine to get me into the zone while I write, though I have to be careful how much, as contrary to the popular myth that writers are all gin soaked, becoming too inebriated actually really impairs your work.
Which crime writers have you been inspired by over the years?
I love Patricia Cornwell and Val McDermid, the definitive Crime Queens and Mark Billingham and Harlan Coben are my Crime Gods. I love the novels of Leigh Russell too. All of those writers know how to keep a reader up all night turning the pages. Although he's not really crime writer, I also greatly admire Steven King for his vivid imagination and immersive character portrayals, and for his admirable work ethic, which I could never even hope to aspire too, I’m far too lazy.
Name your top five favorite books.
Lord Of The Flies by William Golding.
Tess Of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.
America Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis.
Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov.
The entire Inspector Morse series by Colin Dexter.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m currently writing another crime thriller, a serial killer novel like The Watcher but with a completely different story and killer obviously. This one is provisionally titled THE BOTS, it's extremely twisty and turny, so the two novels will have that in common but as I said, it’s a completely different story, featuring a brand new antagonist.
It covers themes of abandonment, isolation, misogyny, virtual reality, and obsession but the killer in this one is unlike the lead "villain" in THE WATCHER, as this murderer actually wants to stop!
That’s all I’m going to say for now, but I’ll be posting more teasers up on this website soon, so stay tuned if you’d like to find out more about my current work-in-progress.
THE WATCHER is currently available for purchase on Amazon and at all other quality book retailers, in e-book and paperback. Buy it on Amazon at getbook.at/thewatcher