Rosie Claverton is a screenwriter, novelist, and junior psychiatrist. Raised on a small sheep farm in Devon, she migrated to Cardiff to study Medicine. She was pleased to find fewer sheep and more buses. She trained in psychiatry in London, before returning to her soul’s home in Wales. She lives with her journalist husband and pet hedgehog.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Captcha Thief. When did you start writing and what got you into mystery?
I’ve written for as long as I can remember and started writing novel-length fiction as a teenager. I rediscovered the bug with NaNoWriMo in 2006, but those first books didn’t feel right. I realised that crime was the genre I read most, though I was afraid the plotting was too complex for me. However, I took the plunge in 2011 and The Amy Lane Mysteries was born.
What is your book about?
Captcha Thief is the third novel in The Amy Lane Mysteries, about agoraphobic hacker Amy Lane and her ex-con assistant Jason Carr. In this book, Amy and Jason are helping the police solve the murder of a security guard at the National Museum of Wales and hunt down a stolen Impressionist painting, the beautiful La Parisienne by Renoir.
What was your inspiration for it?
Because Wales is a country with a low crime rate, I didn’t want every book to be about serial killers like Binary Witness. In Code Runner, I took my plot from drug trafficking and poor Jason being framed for murder. With Captcha Thief, I wanted something different again – and the world of art heists seemed perfect for that, as it plays to both Amy’s security skills and Jason’s knowledge of the criminal underworld.
What do you hope readers will get from your book?
In addition to enjoying the mystery, I hope readers recognise the importance of mental health themes in Captcha Thief. Amy has a serious mental illness, suffering from depression in addition to her anxiety-related agoraphobia. I wanted to portray her as a woman struggling, but still able to have friends and a job, albeit both unconventional. It was really important to me to show the consequences of that illness as well as her positive moments of triumph, to make it a realistic, sensitive portrayal.
Did your book require a lot of research?
Mystery always requires a lot of technical research, particularly with the cybercrime elements of the plot. I also chose to take Jason outside of South Wales on a road trip to Bangor, Anglesey, and Aberystwyth. He also takes a detour to Scotland! While I am well-travelled in Wales, I needed my friend Lisa Gray to give me a guided tour of Glasgow beyond what Google Maps could give me. I also had a hand from Welsh law enforcement, with the Holyhead Coastguard particularly helpful in aiding my fictional smuggling activities!
How do you keep your narrative exciting?
I hurt Jason a lot. It gets so bad that I have to make a running tally of his injuries so that he doesn’t suddenly stop limping mid-chase! It’s also about wringing the tension out of every moment. Can Amy wait a few more lines before knowing if Jason’s survived the explosion of the day? How long can Jason hold his breath before he’s discovered hiding in a place he shouldn’t be? Can I find a weapon more dramatic than a gun for this final confrontation? It’s the little things.
How do you celebrate the completion of a book?
There are so many stages of “completed”! When I finish the first draft, I breathe a huge sigh of relief, hug my husband, and make a large cup of tea. The relief is mostly that I don’t have to see the bloody thing for at least a month! After the edits are completed, I usually reward myself with little treats, though I’m also sick of the sight of the book again. Finally, on publication day, it’s time to celebrate with my friends and readers – and then go out to dinner in anticipation of that first royalty cheque!
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?
Updates on The Amy Lane Mysteries have their own dedicated site at http://amylanemysteries.com. I also have a personal blog about writing, particularly with reference to mental health accuracy, called Swords and Lattes – http://rosieclaverton.com.
Photo and cover art published with permission from the author.