CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2021 – Interview with Chris Whitaker

The winner of the 2021 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award is announced tomorrow, and we give you our sixth and final interview with the shortlisted authors, this time it is CHRIS WHITAKER who has answered a few questions about his novel WE BEGIN AT THE END.

How does it feel to be on the shortlist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger?

I still can’t quite believe it! Not only am I a HUGE Ian Fleming fan, but I’m also on the shortlist with the most wonderful and talented authors. It’s safe to say I do not feel worthy (but am over the moon).

If you could summarise ‘We Begin at The End’ in ten words, what would you say?

A teenage outlaw must decide what matters most; revenge or redemption.

Please don’t count those words.

What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first and in which ways has lock-down affected your writing process, if at all?

Straight in. And I write whichever scene I feel like writing on the day. So I end up in a total mess very quickly. With We Begin At The End I started with a strong visual image of Duchess, and then wrote a scene which takes place fifty pages into the story. I need to spend a lot of time with the characters before I can begin to think about plotting.

We started a huge building project just before lockdown, so lived without a roof for a long time. Throw in a newborn baby, and some homeschooling, and it made finding time to write/concentrate more difficult.

Which thriller writers do you most admire?

Gillian Flynn, John Hart, Dennis Lehane, Tess Gerritsen, Tom Wood, Louise Penny, Attica Locke, Patricia Highsmith, Laura Lippman, Cormac McCarthy, Jane Harper. I could go on and on and on.

What makes a killer thriller?

Strangely enough, I believe it’s heart. I have to truly care about the characters to be truly thrilled by their story.

Photo by David Calvert

This was the last of the six interviews with the shortlisted authors. Tomorrow, 1st July, the winner of the 2021 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award will be announced, we wish all six authors the best of luck!