10 March 2023

Blog Guest: Interview with Val Penny, author of The First Cut

It is truly a pleasure to feature author Val Penny on my website this month. Val is a master at detective mystery writing. But she is also a writer who has long championed other writers and helped them along their paths. She has followed that ideal of reaching back with a hand to pull others up with her. And that is so admirable in this world. Without further ado...

Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store.

Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction books, and novels. Her novels are published by SpellBound Books Ltd.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat.

A Glimpse of The First Cut:

It’s hard to escape a brutal past. A vicious killer is on the loose and victims include an academic and members of Edinburgh's high society.

DS Jane Renwick is banished to the side-lines of the case and forced to look on impotently when the hunt for the killer ramps up...because the Murder Investigation Team finds out that the killer is her relative.

Has someone from Jane's birth family returned to haunt her? Is one of her relatives involved? Where will the killer strike next?

This gripping police procedural is set in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The exciting novel is the first in Val Penny’s new series of Scottish thrillers.

A Few Words from Val Penny

Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog today. I am delighted to have a chance to tell you and your readers about The First Cut, the first novel in my new series of Jane Renwick Crime Thrillers.

1.What made you decide to start writing novels?

I have been writing and telling stories all my life. When I was a child, I used to make up stories for my little sister after our Mum put the light out and told us to go to sleep. Later, I wrote documents, contracts, and courses as part of my job, but my time was well accounted for, so I did not create any fiction. However, I took early retirement when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and there were times when I suffered severe side effects from my treatment. I could not go out, spend time with friends or indulge in many of my favourite hobbies, but watching daytime television got very old very fast, so I turned to reading. It was the only thing I had the energy to do and could do safely.

3. The book has some dark humour within it as well as some brutal murders, how did you manage to combine to two without it sounding forced and was it intentional to combine both and yet keep a gritty feel?

Aah yes, well that was intentional. I enjoy humour and especially dark humour. I think you need that to lift a crime novel from being too bleak.

4. How do you get into the mindset of your characters to write both the murderer and the police solving the case?

I draft biographies for each of my main characters and that allowed me to get to know them well before I started writing my novels. I particularly like Jane Renwick because I know I can trust her judgement. I enjoy Amar as a character too. His judgement is sometimes suspect, but he tries his best to accomplish his goals!

2. What inspired you to write crime fiction and set your series in Scotland?

I must admit that the genre of book that I enjoy most to read is crime fiction, so I decided to write what I like to read. I set the Jane Renwick crime Thrillers in Scotland as it is a country I know well and as Jane travels around the country solving case, I can visit and re-visit parts of the beautiful country as settings for my stories.

5. Did you have to research for the police procedures? If so, how easy, or difficult was this to do and then to translate it into a fictional story?

Yes. I am lucky to have a friend who is a retired Detective Chief Inspector and another who is a serving CSI with Greater Manchester Police. They are most helpful in guiding me in the right direction, Of course, I may have strayed for dramatic effect and any errors are mine.

6. How do you get your inspiration?

I get inspiration from many different places. Overhearing a snatch of a conversation in a restaurant, hearing a story from a friend or from listening to the evening news. I always have a notebook with me to jot down my thoughts.

7. This is the first book in this series now, do you have more planned or what’s next in your writing career?

I certainly plan to write more books in the Jane series. I am writing the second book in the series now and it will be published by SpellBound Books in 2024.

8. You write a blog and keep a social media presence, as well as writing books. From an author’s perspective, how does this benefit both you and your readers?

I like to keep in touch with my readers and to hear from them through my website, www.valpenny.com , my blog, and on social media. It is always lovely to keep in touch.

9. When can readers expect your next novel?

I particularly enjoyed writing The First Cut and hope that your readers will enjoy the novel too. SpellBound plan that the next novel in the DI Hunter Wilson Crime Thrillers series, Hunter’s Blood, will appear later in 2023. It will explore more aspects of Hunter and his family. Your readers can find out about that on my website in due course!

10. What genres do you like to read and what are you reading just now?

I read many crime fiction novels, but also women’s fiction, historical novels, and nonfiction. I have just finished reading My Extra Life by Maggie Cobbett, a nonfiction book of the author’s 20 year career as a TV and film extra. Now I am reading a historical novel set in Roman times, The Third Daughter, by Fiona Forsyth.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog today. It is always nice to speak to you.