Author Interview – G. W. Renshaw – “The Chandler Affairs Series” (Crime/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Thriller) and “Odd Thoughts” (Speculative Fiction)

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Today in the Author Interview Series, I have had the pleasure of speaking with author G.W. Renshaw, as we delve deeper into his fantasy crime thriller world inhabited by sleuth Veronica Chandler.

Enjoy the show and keep smiling folks 🙂

 

Hi there G.W., a pleasure to have you here today to talk about your books, life experiences and writing influences.

Thank you. It’s good to be here.

Let’s start with your “Chandler series”, which focuses on a Canadian private investigator called Veronica Chandler. The series has elements of police procedure, mystery, thriller, urban fantasy, romance, and science fiction. Quite an eclectic mix if I do say so myself! Tell us more about Veronica’s quirks, the world that she inhabits and the adversities that she faces across the course of the series.

Even before Nancy Drew there have been fictional teen investigators, but as far as I know Alberta is the only place where it’s actually possible. Veronica is able to take her licensing exam when she turned 18. Her father is a chef and has been teaching her how to cook since she was a little girl. Her mother is a homicide detective with the Calgary Police.

Veronica likes to think of herself as a normal Canadian woman. She has a lot of problems with boyfriends. Her impatience sometimes gets her into trouble. Her best friend, Kali, owns an occult shop but Veronica doesn’t believe magic exists and doesn’t have any mystical powers.

She expects that her cases will be normal, because her world is our world, at least on the surface. At a deeper level her world possibly follows different rules, but they are ones that have been seriously proposed by scientists.

As young people often do, she thinks she has her life figured out. Then she starts getting weird cases involving strange people.

Apart from the problems in each book, the series has an overall story arc with a definite end. I’ve already written the final chapter of the last book to keep me on track and honest.

The problems she faces are ones any teenager might encounter. She confronts bullies, struggles to make sense of her burgeoning sexuality, deals with a really irritating gender-bending dwarf. There are also psychotic humans, a demon prince, a homicidal archer, her own death, getting informed consent from a cat, and aliens. Not all at once, of course. That would be absurd.

For me, the fun thing about the series is setting things up so that each problem and solution flows logically from the ones before. Veronica learns more about how the world works things become more interesting, but there are always reasons and explanations. The trick is finding them.

Chandler Book1

You also have a short story collection called “Odd Thoughts”. What genres do you cover in this collection, do they all have a connecting theme running through them, what are their individual premises and if you had to choose your favourite story from the collection then which one would it be?

Rather than a unifying theme, these stories are the results of something terribly mundane that triggered an odd thought. For example, the story “Sugar and Spice” came from a news report about a child pornography ring being taken down, and I wondered what it might look like if the children were stalking the predators online instead of the other way around. There’s a fair amount of science fiction, some horror, and humour in the stories.

One story is about a twelve-step support group for serial killers. In another an engineer’s attempt to start a family doesn’t turn out at all like he expected. “Duty of Care” is about a Search and Rescue worker who can’t handle what happens on a search. That one is based on personal experience, although the case in real life ended better.

I think my favourite story in the collection is “Doctor John.” I wrote it after someone commented that Puff the Magic Dragon was a terribly sad song. The story is about a sleazy radio show psychologist who gets payback from the imaginary childhood friend whose life he ruined.

If your novel series or short stories were to be made into films (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?

Wow, from your lips to the studio’s ears!

Veronica is so young that they’d probably have to cast someone older who could pull it off. She’s definitely not Hollywood-style gorgeous. She’s more the kind of woman you suddenly realize is beautiful once you get to know her. Without a doubt, my first pick for Veronica would be the brilliant Canadian actor Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black). Failing that, I’d go for Stella Maeve, who plays Julia Wicker on The Magicians.

Kali, Veronica’s BFF, is more of a problem to cast simply because she’s a mestizo Colombian, and I’d like to keep her ethnicity instead of casting somebody white, or worse yet somebody who isn’t even Latina. It would be great to have an actual Colombian actor play her, but I’m not familiar with their TV/film stars.

Prince Sitri the demon is described as “David Tennant’s hotter brother.” I’m really tempted to say Tom Ellis from Lucifer. I think he’d be good, but given what happens in The True Love Affair (book 4 of the series) I’m going to go with Chris Evans. Casting Cap as a demon prince might seem counter-intuitive, but his ability to be convincingly clueless about social cues does it for me.

For Beleth the demon I’d like Hannah John-Kamen (Dutch from Killjoys). Her height doesn’t matter as Beleth is so short that they’d have to use special effects anyway. Beleth’s ethnicity isn’t described, but she was hanging around the Middle East for a long time and casting a black actor makes perfect sense. Hannah can deliver the sass which is what Beleth is all about, and her Yorkshire accent would be lovely in the role.

Speaking of Yorkshire, Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee) as Constable Stan Watkins. Definitely.

Chandler Book2

What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?

People will hate me for this, but once I have an idea, in general I don’t find writing difficult.

I’m a plotter. I think of a story, do mountains of research, and then it all floods out onto the page. I admit there are the occasional bits when I have to pause and think about something.

The worst thing for me, the thing that really jams my gear train, is writing scenes where women are victimized. I wrote a screenplay in which there was a date rape scene and it took me four months even though almost all the violence occurred off-screen.

Who are some of the authors and historical figures that inspire you?

Jim Butcher pretty much invented urban fantasy, so everybody in the genre owe him a big debt. I’ll frankly admit that my first concept of Veronica was a female Harry Dresden with no magical abilities. Of course she grew beyond that.

Robert J. Sawyer has taught me a lot about writing hard science fiction. He’s also a friend.
Terry Brooks taught me how to plot and plan, while J.K. Rowling suggested writing the end of the story before the middle.

My lovely wife inspires me every minute of every day. If that seems overly mushy, bear in mind we’re newly-weds. We’ve only been together for 38 years. And yes, she’s also an author so that counts.

Odd Thoughts

What sort of research do you do to write your books and short stories?

My experience is that a single wrong detail can throw readers out of a story, so I over-research everything. If you know anything about guns and I write that a Glock 17 takes .45 calibre ammunition you’ll probably decide (rightly) that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ve lost your trust as a reader.

When I was researching The Stable Vices Affair my police contact expected questions about interrogation and crime scene procedure. Instead, I asked whether police cars have air bags, an interior trunk release, and what they are called in Calgary. It turns out they are called “cars,” by the way.

I hunted down the textbook used in the Canadian private investigator’s course and bought a copy. If I haven’t been to a location (and can’t go) I scrub the internet for pictures and descriptions. I ask people who have been there. If characters are scrambling over rocks I research the local geology to make sure I know what kind of rocks they are.
Exact dates are rarely given in the series, but I know when things happen. The sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times are accurate for those dates, as are the moon phases.

Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve been reading fantasy and science fiction since I was about six years old, and despite the number of books out there, I have stories in my head that nobody has written yet. Somebody has to do it.

What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?

This might be unbelievable, but I don’t really have creative slumps or writer’s block. My method (which I developed from advice by Terry Brooks) is to research and think about the story until the sheer weight of material bursts the dam. Then I just write it all down.
If there is something I didn’t consider that I have to think about for a while, I work on another project.

Chandler Book3

You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Anything amazingly clever and wise I could say to my younger self would be wasted, because I wouldn’t have listened. Or rather, I couldn’t have listened.
What I’d rather do is go back and get me to a doctor who would be willing to prescribe Ritalin even though when I was a child AD(H)D wasn’t a recognized thing. It would have saved me years of anguish in school and university, and probably have gotten me writing earlier.

How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?

I love cooking. That’s the main part of me that Veronica shares. My poor wife has to put up with me inventing new dishes all the time and cooking supper for her most of the time. It’s her burden to bear, but she does it with good grace.

I used to be a runner before I injured my leg doing karate, but my legs are getting better and I’d like to get out on the trails again. Despite that, I get together with my cover model every week and we beat the stuffing out of each other. It’s funny, because she was the original template for Veronica when I was teaching her aikido. Veronica was so bad-ass that she asked me to teach her other things. So far we’ve covered aikido, Krav Maga, knife fighting, baton, shooting, and man tracking. I was taught by Terry Grant (the original TV Mantracker), so if you really make her angry you can run, but you’ll just die tired.

Rock climbing and caving are always fun. Especially when there’s no known route.

Chandler Book4

Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?

The Chandler Affairs will keep me busy for a few years yet. One thing that’s sort of a side project is The Private Investigator’s Cookbook. A friend of Veronica’s suggests she should teach a cooking course and Veronica writes her own textbook for it. It’s more of a “how to be a chef” than just a collection of recipes.

I have a folder full of story ideas. Probably the first thing I’ll do apres-Chandler is a novel I have outlined about a manned expedition to my favourite planet, Venus.

Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?

Find your own way of working. Some people think Scrivener is the Best Thing Ever. I don’t. It gets in my way and annoys me. I know several professional writers who use WordStar, which is an old DOS program. Some use Word. I use LibreOffice with a template, so my drafts are already typeset like the final book. I use custom dictionaries and write my own rules for the grammar checker. Other people are freaked out by squiggly lines on their screen. Your choice. Some write by hand on paper and the transfer it to the computer or pay someone to do it. I know one writer who goes for long walks with a voice recorder and has someone transcribe the recordings.

Do what you have to do that lets your words flow and doesn’t get in your way. And keep writing, even if the early stuff is crap. Practice makes you better.

And that’s a wrap! Thank you for spending some time with us, now it’s our turn to return the favour and get to know Veronica better over the course of her adventures 🙂

Bio:-

GW Renshaw

G. W. Renshaw is a writer, martial artist, Linux druid, and actor who lives in Calgary, Alberta, with his lovely wife, and the twin cats Romulus and Remus. He has a wide range of interests, from flint knapping to quantum cosmology. He will happily watch just about any film with monsters in it.

You can connect with him via the following Social Media channels:-

Facebook:- G.W. Renshaw – Author (FB)
LinkedIn:- G.W. Renshaw – Speculative Fiction Author (LinkedIn)
Website:- The Website of G.W. Renshaw – Speculative Fiction Author

You can buy his books here:-

Buy G. W. Renshaw’s books in the UK/Europe

Buy G. W. Renshaw’s books in the US/Rest of the World

If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.

Still want more? I don’t blame you, me too! Writers need to be focused on their craft to give the reader the very best experience possible and to help immerse us deeply in the story as a welcome break from reality. For more articles on the theme of ‘Focused’ then check out the links below:-

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241. Focused – All About Writing and more
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11 thoughts on “Author Interview – G. W. Renshaw – “The Chandler Affairs Series” (Crime/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Thriller) and “Odd Thoughts” (Speculative Fiction)

  1. I think it is awesome that you include all of the other posts from the Daily Prompt at the end of your posts (including mine!). I can’t imagine doing all of that manually. Do you have a way that you export and bulk upload the links?

    • Hey there Robin, thank you for commenting. I copy over all of the links manually from the Daily Prompt Page. I paste them into a link that I create, along with their descriptions. It is time consuming but worth it to link to the community. If you are looking for a less time consuming method then I would use the WordPress Reader and search for posts that are similar to the topic you have discussed (or feature the keywords/tags in your post) and then link to those posts specifically. That way your pingbacks will be aligned with other similar content/authors to help grow your following/community. Hope this advice helps and have a great day 🙂

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