Saturday, 16 October 2010

Dancing With Myself: VICKI DELANY interviews VICKI DELANY

Right at the end of this piece, you'll find one of the nicest 6 word bios you're ever likely to come across.
Great interview this one. Take it away Vicki.
1. Why does the phrase murder mystery make your hair stand on end?

Labelling all crime novels, with their incredible range of style, tone, setting, structure as a murder mystery goes a long way, I think, towards maintaining the ghetto image of the genre novel that we struggle so hard to overcome.

I much prefer to call them to crime novels.

A crime novel doesn’t have to contain a murder, nor does it have to be a mystery. Lots of crime novels are not really mysteries in the sense of the detective attempting to follow clues to arrive at the solution to the mystery of who killed someone. Novels of suspense often have no ‘mystery’ about them. You know who did what and why, the suspense or the drama comes in watching the protagonist attempt to track down the bad guy, or deal with the aftermath of a tragic event. Most crime novels do involve murder, probably because murder is the ultimate transgression. But they don’t have to. Think of a kidnapping for example: the stakes can be incredibly high, and thus so can the suspense and the emotion.

2. How would you classify your own novels?

I write three completely different types of books, all falling under the wide umbrella of crime novels. I write standalone psychological suspense, which I would not call mysteries because the protagonist in those books is not trying to solve any mystery – they are merely caught up in events beyond their control when a crime happens. Scare the Light Away and Burden of Memory, both from Poisoned Pen Press, are in that category. They both have a back-story of something that happened during World War II so I employ the dual narrative format. I also write the Constable Molly Smith series, a fairly traditional village/police procedural series set in a small town in the Interior of British Columbia. Last year’s book in that series, Winter of Secrets, is not a whodunit. It is more of a did-anyone-do-it, and if they did what-did-they-do? The newest book in the Molly Smith series will be released on November 1st from Poisoned Pen. It is titled Negative Image and can probably be classified as a, gasp, murder mystery.
And then... I write the Klondike Gold Rush series published by the Canadian publisher Rendezvous Crime. They are set in Dawson City, Yukon, in 1898, during the Klondike Gold Rush. These books (Gold Digger and Gold Fever) are intended to be light-hearted, just a wild mad-cap romp through the muddy streets of Dawson in that incredible time.

3. What is the appeal of crime writing?

Crime writing is suited to righting wrongs. Not all wrongs can be righted, of course, but in crime fiction we usually do have a sense of justice served and the world returned to normal. As a writer, crime writing takes me into worlds with which I am not familiar. I have no background in law enforcement, but write about the day-to-day life of being a police officer. I’ve had to learn a lot about cops and have made some good friends and had lots of fun in doing so. It also allows me to explore issues as varied as human trafficking, stalking, jealousy, poverty, love and hate, family.

4. Many writers complain if they have to bring out a book a year. How can you write so much?

(Shrug) I just do. I am, for reasons known not even to me, highly prolific. I lead a fairly simple life on a small rural property. I have rabbit ears on my 25-year-old TV (which gets me one channel) I don’t have a DVD player, rarely go to movies. It certainly helps that my three children are all grown up and out of the house. I love to try different things and write in different sub-genres, and being prolific means that I can try out a new series, or write a standalone, while still keeping up my existing series(s).

5. You seem to like small town settings. Any reason?

Small town are great places to set books, any sort of books. People really do know each other and they know each other’s business. What would be a huge coincidence in a big city is perfectly normal in a small town. Thus it’s a lot easier to have people like Molly Smith’s mother and John Winters’ wife involved in the story. Trafalgar, B.C. is a tourist town, so I hope I’ve avoided the Cabot Cove syndrome by bringing in outsiders as well.

6. As Negative Image is about to come out, tell us a bit about it.

Thank you for asking, Vicki. At its heart Negative Image is a novel about loyalty and betrayal. What would you do if you fear that the person you trust most in the world has betrayed you? And what would you do if you suspect the person you trust most in the world believes you capable of betrayal? Here’s the blurb:
When his wife’s former fiancĂ© is found dead of a single shot to the back of the head,

Trafalgar police Sergeant John Winters is forced to make the most difficult decision of his life: loyalty to his job or to his wife. Meanwhile, tragedy strikes t the heart of Constable Molly Smith’s family.
Let me add that the first chapter is up on my web page ( for anyone who wants a sneak peek.

6. Tell us a bit about Molly Smith.
Molly is really the co-protagonist. The books should be called “The Constable Molly Smith, Sergeant John Winters Novels”. As that’s a bit of a mouthful it had to be shortened. Molly is, as far as I know, unique in crime fiction. She is young and inexperienced. When the series begins she is just a probationary constable and still lives at home with her mom and dad. She’s very keen, very green. Makes lots of mistakes. Part of the reason the books are set in a small town: it’s easier for her to be involved in major crime investigation. In a big city she’d be writing traffic tickets.

7. Series vs standalones? Which do you prefer?

Another excellent question. My you’re good at this. They both have their strengths, and I like writing both. A standalone novel gives the protagonist that one opportunity to achieve great things; to have that grand adventure; to meet the everlasting love of their life; to conquer evil, once and for all. In a standalone, the characters face their demons and defeat them.
Or not.
Series novels present a different challenge. The central character, or characters, confront their demons, but they do not defeat them. Their weaknesses, all their problems, will be back in the next book. In each story the series character stands against, and usually defeats, someone else’s problem or society’s enemy, but she or he moves only one small step towards the resolution of their own issues, if at all.

8. Does being Canadian affect your writing?
Very much. I set all my books (at least to date) in Canada despite the fact that it is very difficult to get a Canadian-set book any recognition in the U.S. Setting is very important in my books, and I’d have a hard time setting a book in a place I don’t know well. Now your readers are going to pipe up: “What about Louise Penny?” To which I will reply, name me one other successful crime writer whose books are set in contemporary Canada? Okay, other than Giles Blunt.
Canadian books are different than American or British books in the same way that British books are different than American. Part of the reason I’ve worked hard to develop police contacts is so that I get my Canadian policing right, and not take what I see on TV or read in books as the right way of doing things. Canadian policing is very different from American or British.

9. What’s next?
I am currently working on Gold Mountain, the third in the Klondike Gold Rush series. Smith and Winters book #5, Among the Departed, is finished and scheduled for release on May 1, 2011. And on November 1st Negative Image will be released. I have a lot of appearances and book signings scheduled.

10. You participated in Jen Forbus’ You’ve the Right to Six Words project. What was your six word bio?
I know how lucky I am.

Facebook: Vicki Delany; Vicki Delany author of novels of mystery and suspense

Twitter: @vickidelany


  1. Thanks for hosting me Nigel. Much appreciated.

  2. I do so like this interview. No pretense and an absolute sense that the smartest person in the room is also the nicest. I completely agree with Vicki's definition of small towns. Besides, ain't Vicki Delany one of the best sounding names you ever heard? Very cool, indeed!

  3. Thanks AJ Hayes. Would you like to be my new best friend?