Saturday, May 25, 2013

Q & A

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Linda Bonney Olin, an author, composer, farmer, lay preacher, book reviewer and blogger. Linda is a fellow member of a Mystery Suspense Writing Group on FB.

Linda has a talent for engaging her victims (sorry, I mean interviewees) in conversation and drawing out points of interest to readers. An extract from the interview follows - or you can read the full discussion at Linda's blog here.

Without spoiling any surprises for those who haven’t read ('Disappear,' and 'The Delta Chain,') yet, I’ll just say that both books incorporate elements of research science. Is that going to be the “brand” or hallmark of Iain Edward Henn novels?

No, I am interested in all aspects of the mystery/suspense genre. Science, forensics and high-tech may resurface from time to time.

Growing up in the 60’s I loved thrillers set just slightly ahead in time that envisaged future gadgetry and scientific developments. Forty years later I’m living in a world where many of those far-out concepts exist and are taken for granted in our day to day lives – cell phones, the internet, space stations, DNA. I’ve followed and researched scientific developments through the years.

Do you think it’s harder to write a convincing thriller or mystery nowadays? I mean, it’s a pretty short novel if the good guys can track down a crook in three pages, using the Internet and all that scientific technology.

Not at all, more likely the opposite. Criminal elements always find new ways to cheat the technology, or use it to their own ends. A troubling statistic is that cyber crime has been on the increase in many countries. Forensic details can be planted or misinterpreted. In The Delta Chain, a computer virus causes chaos and false trails, creating a whole new set of problems for the protagonists to solve.

In my Amazon review of The Delta Chain, I joked about the “croc-shock” giving me nightmares. But really, both of your books treat violence and sexual encounters with a degree of restraint and good taste I found refreshing in a genre where “realism” often means ultra-graphic blood and guts, constant profanity, and boom-chicka-wow-wow sex scenes.

I believe in the old adage that “less is more.” Sex, violence, bad language are sometimes necessary in thriller fiction, but that doesn’t mean the reader wants to be totally immersed in them to the detriment of the other elements of the story and the characters – the right balance is essential in all storytelling. Having said that, balance can be difficult. The scenes you refer to are the ones that received the most revision and rewriting and editing in order to strike just the right note.

What idea pestered you into writing The Delta Chain?

A few years ago I read in a local paper about an unsolved case – the body of a drowned man that had been found in a bay, and who remained unidentified after several months. Curiosity led me to research whether there were many cases like this and to my surprise I found there were many from around the world going back, in some cases, decades.

What aspects of writing come naturally to you?

I have a passion for stories. If I’m not looking for them, they find me anyway. I’ve usually got more ideas than I can possibly find the time to work on.

Which aspects of writing do you struggle with?

Finding the time and …pretty much everything, actually.

You and me both.

(On the subject of villians in thriller)... villains follow a different Golden Rule: “He who has the gold makes the rules.” Or maybe “To get the gold, you’ve got to break the rules.” Part of the fun of reading thrillers is anticipating those nogoodniks getting their just deserts.

My books are primarily entertainment, however thriller fiction also serves as cautionary tales of the evil that is our world, and of the struggles and triumphs of the human spirit. People’s actions, responses and relationships are constantly influencing my fictional characters’ motivations.

Please answer the question I haven’t asked but would have if I’d known how interesting the answer would be.

On my first day in my first job, as a teenage despatch boy, I was sent on a foot errand to hand deliver letters in the Sydney CBD (Central Business District). I left the building via a back exit into a small narrow alleyway where I saw the body of a man crumpled on the ground. He had apparently just jumped out of a window in the building behind ours. There were several people pointing above and paramedics already approaching. I watched for a moment then went on my way to perform my trivial task in a bustling, crowded city.

When I returned an hour or so later, the body and all the surrounding activity was gone, there was just a chalk outline on the ground where the body had been.

This was just a couple of weeks before Xmas and I read later that Xmas was the worst time for suicides. I wondered who the man was and what had pushed him to this, and was struck by the irony that everything is very important to us while seemingly insignificant at the same time.

Over forty years later I still think of this from time to time and that chalk outline is often in the back of my mind when I’m telling the stories of my characters’ lives.

What a profound experience for a kid! For anyone, really. Hmmm… That image is going to stick with me for a while, too …

You can link to the full interview here.


  1. When you listed my attributes you forgot to mention "nosey old biddy."

    So, how's your next book coming along? What have you been working on since we last talked?

  2. Thanks Linda. Finalizing a short story and then final draft of new novel.