Author Spotlight no.56 – Quentin Bates

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the fifty-sixth, is of crime novelist Quentin Bates.

Quentin Bates is a writer and journalist who has recently made the move into fiction with the first of a series of crime novels set in present-day Iceland:

Frozen Out (Constable & Robinson) 2011, published in the US by Soho Crime as Frozen Assets.

Also in German as In Eisigem Wasser (Lübbe, 2011) and in Dutch as Bevroren Tegoeden (Karakter, March 2012).

Cold Comfort, Soho Crime, 10th Jan 2102, Constable & Robinson, 15th March 2012.

Published in German as Kalter Troost (Lübbe, summer 2012) and in Dutch as Schrale Troost (Karakter, summer 2102).

A third book, tentatively titled Chilled to the Bone, is well on the way to completion and takes Gunnhildur right away from the city and into mountains, villages and farms of the rural western fjords.

And now from the author himself:

If I’d had a crystal ball to peer into, I’d have started work a year or so earlier. It’s also a long story that I won’t go into here, but I spent a long time living in Iceland, that large volcanic rock surrounded by fish and with a population the size of Croydon’s.

There are two schools of thought. One is that you should write about what you know, as that gives your work an authority and grounds it firmly. The opposite school says that you should write what you don’t know about as that way there’s so much enjoyment to be had from finding out things you never dreamed existed.

The decision to write a book set in Iceland was simple enough. I know Iceland very well and parts of it I know intimately after living there for a decade. On the other hand, with a squeaky clean record of boring honesty behind me, I didn’t know a great deal about police work other than from reading crime novels – so it was practically a perfect combination.

I came a little late to writing fiction after a motley career as a seaman, truck driver, teacher and a few other things before finding my way into journalism through a series of odd coincidences. Then came the idea of trying to write fiction – just in time to fit in with the wave of Scandinavian crime fiction. It wasn’t intentional, although it may look like a case of a bandwagon being hastily jumped on. My first crime novel, Frozen Out (Frozen Assets in the US), was going through the copyediting process just as Stieg Larsson started his sadly posthumous climb up the bestseller lists in English.

My rotund heroine, Gunnhildur, came to life quite suddenly as I was playing with the initial ideas that eventually became Frozen Out. To begin with she wasn’t the main character. Gunna was the sidekick. After putting away the fledgling manuscript and coming back to it a few weeks later, it was obvious that the main character was a dull collection of clichés, while Gunna, who had more or less jumped onto the page one day, cracking her knuckles and demanding to be taken seriously, was the far more interesting character. I have to admit to being deeply fond of her, even though I give her a rough time, load her with challenges and generally make her life difficult.

Writing Frozen Out was a long process in bursts of activity punctuated with periods of idleness. Well, not so much idleness as the day job that takes up valuable writing time.

Morgen: “A bandwagon being hastily jumped on” I love that, and, as you say, being able to do whatever you like to your characters. 🙂

You can find more about Quentin and his writing via his website,,, Twitter and Facebook.


The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with murder mystery and YA author JT Lewis – the two hundred and seventy-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).