The first question has to be, how did a girl from Birmingham (in the UK) end up training as a bounty hunter, in the US?
It was all in the name of research! Once I knew that Lori Anderson would be a bounty hunter I knew I needed to find out as much as I could about the realities of that job – and about how it felt being a woman in the largely male dominated profession of bounty hunting – in order to make Lori as a character, and the story itself, as authentic as possible. I researched it online and via books and TV, but there’s no substitute to getting out there and finding things out first hand. By flying over to California and training with a really experienced bounty hunter, and in getting to speak with some great women who do the job for real, I felt better able to write about Lori’s world and all the challenges she faces.
What part (if any) of your training as a bounty hunter formed the basis of your character, Lori Anderson, in DEEP DOWN DEAD?
All of the scenes which involve the ‘business’ of bounty hunting are informed by my training – in that there are specific processes and documentation that have to be followed and produced, and so I’ve tried to keep these as true to life as possible while also not letting the day-to-day stuff that’s less interesting slow down the action. There are the little practical details too – things like the plexiglas divider in Lori’s truck and her use of plasticuffs – that come directly from my training. But there are also things that are different from how I was trained – Lori (and JT her ex-mentor) operate in an old school way – they’re lone operators – whereas in California where I trained it’s much more the norm for bounty hunters to work in teams. This contrast is a main feature in the story of the second book in the series – DEEP BLUE TROUBLE – as Lori finds herself having to team up with a group of bounty hunters in San Diego and the differences in how they work (among other things!) is an increasing source of friction!
DEEP DOWN DEAD could be called ‘Southern Noir’ but it’s so much more than that. Why the US and the South for your debut novel, and not say, London or Birmingham?
Ooooh I love the ‘Southern Noir’ term! I guess I wanted to set a thriller in the US because it’s such a great backdrop for an action thriller – the scale of size and the individual personalities of each state makes it a perfect setting and one with endless possibilities as the series progresses. If I’d set it in the UK Lori would have ended up travelling around the M25 or up and down the M40 motorways!! I actually got the idea for the story when I was doing the drive Lori does from West Virginia to Florida, so it felt natural to set the book there. I’m also a big fan of US action thrillers – my writing heroes are people like Lee Child, Jeff Abbott, and John D MacDonald – when I think action thriller I automatically think US!
What made you decide to write Lori in the first-person POV?
It’s how I heard her voice. When I was thinking about the story snippets of dialogue or narrative in her voice would come to me (usually as I was driving, in the bath or in a meeting for my day job!!) and when I jotted them down they’d always be in first person. It just seemed natural to write her in first person when I sat down at my keyboard to start the book.
And lastly, what can we expect for Lori in DEEP BLUE TROUBLE?
Well, the story picks up a few days after DEEP DOWN DEAD ends so I can’t say too much or I’ll give away the ending of that book… but, in essence, DEEP BLUE TROUBLE sees Lori in pursuit of a fugitive that she’s caught once before. It takes place mainly in Florida and San Diego, and has Lori teaming up with a retired PI and a team of Californian bounty hunters to try and apprehend the fugitive before he makes it across the border to Mexico. It’s about family secrets, betrayal and revenge, and again Lori faces some impossible choices.
Steph Broadribb aka Crime Thriller Girl has an MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) and trained as a Bounty Hunter in California. Her debut thriller DEEP DOWN DEAD was shortlisted for the eDunnit eBook of the year award, the Dead Good Reader Award for Fearless Female Character, and Dead Good Reader Award for Most Exceptional Debut.