IN COLD DAYLIGHT has been shortlisted for the World Book Day Prize. Author, Pauline Rowson, talks about In Cold Daylight, her inspiration for the thriller and her writing.
How would you describe In Cold Daylight?
It’s a fast-paced thriller with a controversial story line that has you on the edge of your seat wondering if Adam Greene will be allowed to get to the truth behind the death of his friend, fire-fighter, Jack Bartholomew and the other fire fighters from the same watch who have died of cancer.
What gave you the inspiration for the story?
My husband is a former fire-fighter and he and the others on his watch were talking one day about the men who had died of cancer and how several of them were from the same watch. They wondered if it was as a result of an incident they attended some years previously. No more was said, but that planted the seed of an idea in my mind. I thought what if it was true?
And is it true?
There is research that shows fire fighters are at a far higher risk of developing certain cancers than people in many other professions. A University of Cincinnati research team looked at 110,000 fire-fighters and compared them to other occupations and they concluded that exposure to substances such as benzene, chloroform and soot posed a threat, with rates of testicular cancer 100% higher and prostate cancer 28% higher among fire-fighters. But when I started writing the novel this research wasn’t published. I just thought this can’t be a coincidence. I decided to write it as a thriller and a piece of fiction because that is what I do –
write crime novels and thrillers. Now there are web sites and surveys, and organisations investigating and supporting those fire-fighters who have contracted cancer probably as a result of attending an incident, and I’ve created a special blog for In Cold Daylight that provides links to them. http://www.incolddaylight.blogspot.com/
Who do you base your characters on?
A combination of many people, my imagination and my experiences all help to create my characters. In In Cold Daylight I’ve chosen to tell the story through the eyes of Adam Greene, a marine artist and not a fire-fighter because in a way, Adam’s the antithesis of a fire fighter. The story is Adam Greene's journey through overcoming depression, a nervous breakdown and leaning on the prop of his strong-willed, ambitious wife as much as discovering why his best friend, Jack Bartholomew was killed in the line of duty.
Adam's vulnerable but strong underneath. I think people can identify with his complex emotions. He is forced to take action, to investigate the death surrounding his best friend, which leads him into danger, love, and uncovering deceit. Adam is a metaphor for people who can’t believe that the establishment would allow men to die because of hazards at work. It is only when society is forced to face up to the real facts, and question the official version, that society gains strength and the truth comes out, as seen in Adam’s transformation.
How long did it take you to write the book?
About a year.
Do you think people will believe there have been cover-ups over the death of fire fighters?
That’s for them to decide. They can read the book and enjoy it as piece of fiction but if it also helps to widen the debate then that’s great.
I understand that if you were to win the World Book Day Prize you will donate the money to a fire-fighters charity.
Yes, the £5,000 prize money would go to the Fire Service National Benevolent Fund. They do a fantastic job in helping to support fire-fighters who have become injured or ill through the job. And they also support the families of those fire-fighters who have been killed in the line of duty.
Were you ever worried about your fire-fighter husband being killed?
Every time he went on watch I would think what if he doesn’t return? It’s something you learn to live with but it’s always in the back of your mind. You know they are well trained to do their job but it is very dangerous.
You’ve written other novels are they all about fire-fighters?
No. I’ve written another thriller, called In For The Kill, which is about a man being released from prison after serving a sentence for fraud and embezzlement. He’s innocent and sets out to find the person who framed him and destroyed his life. Then there are my crime novels, marine mysteries featuring DI Andy Horton. Horton’s a bit of a one off. He's tough having been raised in children’s homes and with foster parents after his mother walked out on him when he was ten. He turns from battling with crime on the streets of Portsmouth, to battling with the elements on the ocean, anything to stop him dwelling on his past. There are currently three Andy Horton novels in the series, Tide of Death, Deadly Waters and The Suffocating Sea which is due to be published in April.
And after that? Are there going to be more Andy Horton marine mysteries?
Yes. I’ve just finished writing the fourth and have lots of ideas for more.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Locations are very strong with me. I can see a location and think what if? Or I’ll hear a snippet of conversation, as with In Cold Daylight, or read an article and that will spark an idea that can be developed into a plot line. And I can't pass a boatyard or a cove without thinking there must be a dead body or a skeleton here somewhere.
All your novels are set by the sea. Why?
"I LOVE the sea and get withdrawal symptoms if I'm away from it for too long. In London I need to be by the Thames otherwise I go into panic mode! In fact everywhere I go I have to find some water. But I also fear the sea. It's wild and uncontrollable and very dangerous, (not like me at all, so maybe this is my alter ego!). No matter how much you think or wish you can control it, you can't. Sometimes you need to go with the flow and other times swim against the tide and the trick is knowing when to do which. Andy Horton hasn't quite got it sussed, or when he thinks he has something happens to throw him completely off course. And in In Cold Daylight, Adam Greene wants to fight against the current that is taking him on the dangerous road to exposing corruption and a cover-up, but he can’t. He is unwittingly swept along, before he realises this is something he has to do.
Are there going to be anymore thrillers featuring Adam Greene?
Readers have asked me to continue Adam’s story. I’m not sure yet if I will.
What are you writing next?
Another thriller that will hopefully open up a new debate on something very controversial.
Tell us what it's about?
Sorry. You’ll have to wait to read the book!
To read more about Pauline Rowson and her books and see interviews visit http://www.paulinerowson.com/