Wednesday 21 March 2012

Nick Quantrill interview: The Late Greats

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Nick Quantrill is a crime writer from Hull. His Joe Geraghty novels are published by Caffeine Nights. His short stories have appeared in volumes 8 and 9 of “The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime.”

Can you sum up your book in no more than 25 words? 

Joe Geraghty is employed to look after a reforming band. It goes wrong. It’s a story about friendship and what really constitutes success in life.

Can you provide a YouTube link to a song you'd like to be the title track to the movie adaptation of your book?

That’s an easy one! “The Late Greats” is a song by Wilco, who are one of my favourites. It’s about an imaginary band, so it tied in nicely to the backdrop of the book.

What are you reading now?

I’ve just finished “The Impossible Dead” by Ian Rankin. The premise for the book is great, but the conclusion seemed a bit off the money for me, which is unusual for Rankin. Next up is “Murder Mile” by Tony Black. DI Brennan is an excellent character. A little snappier than most fictional police officers, shall we say?

What do you do when you're not writing?

I gave up the day job to look after my daughter, so that’s exactly how I spend my time. She’s a handful. It was a decision taken to benefit all of the family, and it’s working out well, if being more demanding than I ever thought possible. Other than that, I’m a pass-holder at Hull City. That keeps the anger levels nicely topped up.

How much time do you dedicate to writing? How much time would you like to spend writing?

As much as possible, really. I get child care help a couple of days a week from my mum and my wife obviously does her share when she’s not working. I do something every day, at least a couple of hours a night. Weekends and school holidays I do more. I suspect even if I had a free run at writing, I’d still think I wasn’t spending enough time working at it.

What kind of promotion has most effect?

I don’t think you can really look beyond the mainstream media. I always see a noticeable bounce in sales when I’ve been on the local radio or appeared in the newspaper. The obvious trick is to try and spread that wider and further afield, which is no easy task for a writer with a small press. Online, where it’s a slightly more level playing field, I wouldn’t really be able to draw any firm conclusions. Personally, I’d rather write a guest blog post or something similar, rather than just sling Amazon links up for my books. I think the more engaging you are, the more willing people are to take a look at your work (hopefully). The key is maybe not to get too fixated with outcomes.

What kind of promotion doesn't work?

Where to start…relentless spamming (boring), emailing Kindle files attached to generic emails asking for a review (that person will remain nameless…), tit for tat review swapping (looks obviously false)…I don’t think anyone has yet found a magic formula, but I think it comes down to your own personal boundaries. Just try and be a decent person first and foremost and remember that your main job is to write.
What are your long-term ambitions?

I suspect like everyone who writes, I’d love to make a living from it. I’ve had a taste of freedom away from the 9-to-5, and I’m in no desperate rush to go back to it. Obviously, making a living from writing is no easy task. It’d be great if my novels sustained me, but more realistically, I’m working with arts professionals in different fields and I’m looking to develop what I can offer organisations as an individual. If I can get up in the morning and look forward to the day, that’ll do for me.

Which author should be much better known?

I keep going back to him, but I do think Ray Banks is a class apart. His work so far is such an evocative telling of contemporary Britain, and as I’ve said before, I’m sure he might just have a story in him that goes massive, maybe even the next “Trainspotting”. I hope so.

Do you have any other projects on the go?

I certainly do. I’m hard at work on the third Joe Geraghty novel, which has the working title, “The Crooked Beat”. There’s a Kindle-only novella, “Bang Bang (You’re Dead)” coming later this year via Byker Books and I’m involved in a screenplay project with a group of Yorkshire writers, including David Peace. I’m thinking about the next novel, which will probably be a little bit different and I’ve got an idea to develop for another novella. Plenty to be going on with!


  1. Glad he mentioned mainstream media. EVERYONE markets on the net, which makes it harder to stand out. If you can get a radio or TV interview, even at a local level, there's opportunity for a lot of buzz.

  2. The great essayist and poet W.H. Auden once quipped, "detective stories have nothing to do with works of art." He wasn't a harsh detractor of the genre: in fact, he readily admitted that he consumed detective fiction with enthusiasm. But he thought set plot events and character types had to inhabit the story in order for it to work as detective fiction. Such rigid restrictions precluded it from being art in his view.

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