He's spent those ten years establishing a reputation for well researched crime novels with characters that readers love, or love to hate. But that's not all he's done; I asked him if there was some achievement he was especially proud of.
“There have been several remarkable things that I’d never have anticipated. Being asked to write a play which involved a live jazz quintet, for one. Perhaps the one that hit me deepest, though, isn’t entirely literary. In 2018 I was involved in putting on an exhibition called The Vote Before The Vote, about the Victorian women in Leeds who pushed for equality and the vote. It coincided with the publication of The Tin God, in which my character Annabelle Harper, the wife of Detective Superintendent Tom Harper, is a working-class woman running for office as a Poor Law Guardian in 1897; the book launch was part of the event. I felt I’d done something for Leeds with that. It’s my hometown, where the huge majority of my books are set. And one of the exhibition boards was about Annabelle, so in a way, I wrote her into history.
And all those characters he's created; is there a favourite?
Some writers of historical fiction weave their stories around newspaper items or other contemporary sources. Do those stories come up in the course of the research, or do they just arrive?
When one book in a series comes to an end, how does he decide what happens in the next? Does he think about what his large fan base (in Leeds, the rest of the UK, and increasingly in the USA) would like to happen to these characters they have grown to love or hate? Or do the characters themselves dictate what direction they take?
Chris has produced at least two novels a year since The Broken Token back in 2010, and he has said many times that a thousand words a day, every day, is how he keeps up a pace a lot of authors would find daunting. But how does he go about keeping it fresh, especially when a series gets to the eighth, ninth, tenth?
Leeds remains the main focus of the books; with two long series, one developing one and several duos and standalones, it’s clearly Chris’s first love. But there have been detours to Chesterfield, where he lived for a few years, and Seattle, where he spent half his life. Are there any plans to look elsewhere for inspiration?
The Broken Token (2010)
Cold Cruel Winter (2011)
The Constant Lovers (2012)
Come the Fear (2012)
At the Dying of the Year (2013)
Fair and Tender Ladies (2013)
Free from All Danger (2017)
Brass Lives (2021)