Memoirs set in Calabria (the dolce vita calabrese)
An interview with Steph Broadribb, author of the Lori Anderson bounty hunter series
23rd January 2019
A few days ago, we published our blog review of Deep Dirty Truth, the third book in the Lori Anderson bounty hunter series of thrillers by Steph Broadribb. They are set very firmly in the Southern United States.
As a follow up, we are now very pleased to bring to you a recent interview we conducted with Steph:
TF: You are a very English person, and yet the Lori Anderson series is very American. What has influenced your fascination with the States, and your obvious knowledge of its people and customs?
SB: I’ve always had a love of big American action films and thrillers set in the vast and varied landscape of the US, so that certainly fuelled my fascination with the States. I also have family connections out in the US – my Dad lived out in Florida for many years and my step Mom and brothers hail from Boston. In my early twenties I went out and worked in the US – in West Virginia – and afterwards I travelled around the country before returning home. For me it’s always seemed the perfect backdrop for thrillers.
TF: You trained as a bounty hunter in California. Did the idea for the Lori series come to you during this period – or was the idea already there, and was the training part of your research?
SB: I had the idea for Lori’s character when I was doing the drive she does in the first book of the series – Deep Down Dead – and taking a road trip from West Virginia to Florida. When I decided that she would be a female bounty hunter I realised I needed to learn more about what the job involved and also speak so some female bounty hunters about their experiences; that was when I took the decision to train as a bounty hunter. I was about halfway through writing the first book when I headed out to California, and the things I learnt, and the people I spoke to, helped me shape the characters and the story.
TF: Did it worry you that a readership outside the States might not be familiar with the bounty hunter concept?
SB: I hoped that the story was accessible enough for readers wherever they lived. I’ve certainly had a lot of people say they hadn’t realised bounty hunters still existed, or existed in real life – the image in their minds of a bounty hunter being more like a character in an old western movie or Star Wars – but maybe that’s half the fun. As a reader I like learning about other people’s worlds through fiction, so hopefully it’s the same for readers of the Lori Anderson series – and they enjoy getting a glimpse into the life of a (fictional) modern bounty hunter.
TF: Lori is a very feisty and independent person. Is she based – even loosely – on anyone you know, or does she come entirely from your imagination?
SB: She comes entirely from my imagination. Her voice came to me as a kind of inner monologue when I was travelling around the South in the US – I’d internalised the southern way of speaking, I think, and it just seemed natural to write her that way. In terms of her sass, grit, and determination, she’s an action hero but not a super hero. I really wanted her to be a modern woman juggling everything life threw at her and then some – she’s a mom, a woman battling to hold her own in a male dominated profession, and has a complicated romantic life. There are loads of women out in the world doing this everyday – real life super heroes – I wanted her to reflect this.
TF: The series has developed across three books to date. Was it always your intention to write a series, or was it the success of Deep Down Dead that led to this becoming an inevitability?
SB: I’d always hoped that it would become a series, and luckily for me Deep Down Dead got great reviews and my fabulous publisher – Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books – wanted more books. I love writing Lori so it’s great to be able to keep writing stories in the series.
TF: The relationship between Lori, her daughter (Dakota), and her man (JT) is quite a complex one. We have, for example, Dakota’s cancer – now in remission – and the fact that she does not know JT is her father. Do you believe it is always important to have a ‘human interest’ theme in a thriller?
SB: I think the best thrillers are those that have a hard emotional punch as well as the adrenaline fuelled action. For me, they’re the books that stay with you. Also real people have lots of things going on in their lives – jobs, families, friends, caring responsibilities, work – and I wanted to show Lori as a fully rounded character, and the people she loves, and their relationships with each other, are a big part of that.
TF: How do you write? Do you aim for a set number of words per day, do you work certain hours, or do you work when you have inspiration and not when you don’t? I ask because we find this a fascinating subject in our Q&As – so many authors work in so many different ways.
SB: I write every day and tend to do my best work in the morning, usually getting up early around 6.30am to write and continuing until lunchtime or (if I’m on a roll longer). When I’m working on a first draft I like to aim for a minimum of 10,000 words a week which means I have a finished draft within eight to ten weeks. Sometimes, as with Deep Dirty Truth, it goes faster – I wrote the first draft of the book in six weeks. I don’t write a plan before I write, tending to dive in and see where the blank page takes me, so writing the first draft fairly fast makes it easier to keep the story ‘live’ and to hold all the plot and sub-plot aspects in my mind.
TF: You have a separate life as the reviewer and blogger, Crime Thriller Girl. Location – the place in which a book is set – is of critical significance to TripFiction. How important do you find location in your own reading?
SB: When I’m writing I like to use atmospheric settings – like the Everglades in Deep Dirty Truth – and I love to go ‘on location’ to research them and get a real feel for the places. As a reader I love a book at evokes the feel of a place too – the sights, sounds, smells and atmosphere – and that feeling of being transported to another location.
TF: Can you tell us a little about Stephanie Marland?
SB: Stephanie Marland is my pen name for the Stark/Bell psychological police procedural series I write that’s published by Trapeze. The first book – My Little Eye – came out last year, and the second – You Die Next – will be published in April 2019. You Die Next is the story of a group of urban explorers who break into an abandoned film studio and stumble into a kill room – unwittingly becoming the next targets of a serial killer; think Final Destination crossed with Luther.
Thanks to Steph for some very insightful answers…
Tony for the TripFiction team
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