Novels. Interview with Cara Hunter
Cinema / News - 22 October 2023
Adam Fawley is the protagonist of Cara Hunter's novels.
Behind the latest thriller lies an important human story, a possible miscarriage of justice, how much do you draw from reality in your narratives? What strikes you most about the everyday life you read in the news?
I've often found the springboard for my stories in real-life cases. In the Dark is a good example: the opening scenes echo the horrific crimes of Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his own daughter in a secret basement. Likewise, the house fire that opens the third book, No Way Out, drew on an infamous case in the UK. I watch and read a lot of true crime, and it often furnishes me with powerful scenes like these, but my principal fascination with the genre is not the nature of the crimes, or the way they were carried out, but the situations that led to them. In other words, I'm more interested in the Why, than the What or the How. I'm endlessly enthralled by why people behave the way they do, both as a person and as a writer. In this respect - and to state the obvious - the crucial difference between crime fiction and drama, and true crime, is the fact that the latter describes events that actually happened. People actually made those decisions, that's what makes those stories so compelling. The same applies to stories in newspapers - you will always find something that surprises you, and more often than not, it will be stranger than even a crime writer like me can imagine!
Adam Fawley is a powerful character in your stories, how much of you is in your characters and how much would you like to draw from them for yourself?
It won't surprise you that Adam is very special to me as a character. I suppose it's like any long-term relationship, it only survives if you like each other! Seriously, I think the fact that I write him in the first person brings him closer to me. I can certainly hear his voice when I write his sections, as if he's standing at my shoulder. We definitely share the same sense of humour, and some of his history draws on my own: he was brought up in the same North London suburb, for example, but unlike him, I'm not adopted. There's much less of me in the other characters, but you're right that there are qualities in some of them I'd like to have myself - Gis's loyalty, for example, Everett's determination, and Somer's independence of mind. Though there's rather less to admire in Quinn!
Adam Fawley in the first novel is presented with a heartbreaking emptiness, by now nothing seems to be able to upset him and he places depth in the search for the truth, is there any other character in the detective team that you are particularly fond of and can you possibly reveal why?
I'm hugely fond of Somer and Everett, which I suppose is inevitable in some ways, as they're the two women in the team. They also work - as I did in my early career - in a job traditionally dominated by men. I know how tough that can be, and something about that environment means that other women aren't always your best allies, even though you'd like to think so. You see that in a lot of crime drama: female police officers are shown as being in the minority, but very often end up rivals rather than friends. I made the deliberate decision to reverse that in the books, so even if Somer and Everett have very different backgrounds they always have each other's backs.
What have been your favourite novels, or your favourite author, if you have one?
So many! I loved The Lord of the Rings as a child, and it would still be my desert-island book. Other favourites would be AS Byatt (particularly Still Life and Possession), John Fowles (The French Lieutenant's Woman and The Magus) and classics like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy. When it comes to crime, my go-to authors would include Shari Lapena, Nicci French, Cathryn Ryan Howard, and Jane Casey. I love it that so many of the best crime writers we have are women.
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