Candice Fox: on writing
Candice Fox is the author of Crimson Lake, an ingenious and edgy new suspense novel that will keep you guessing to the very last page. With the book receiving high praise from the likes of Harlan Coben, Lee Child and James Patterson, we wanted to find out more about Candice and her writing.
Why do you write crime fiction?
There was a lot of crime in my childhood, so my interest in crime began there, even if I wasn’t writing it as a young’un. My mother fostered 150+ kids who generally came from abusive, neglectful and criminal backgrounds. My father worked at a prison and my mother was a true crime nut who told real-life crime stories to us as kids. I used to peruse true crime mags and books in her bedroom from an inappropriately young age, which has probably desensitised me.
Who or what inspires you?
When I started writing I was trying to emulate the stories I liked, so I wrote gangster stories because I was a huge Martin Scorsese fan. But I didn’t have a good idea of structure, and found vampire stories (which are essentially just romances at times) easier when I was 16 or so and fell into Anne Rice and the like. A lot of those gothic influences linger, certainly most obviously in the Bennett/Archer series. I swung back toward Australian crime when I started reading Peter Temple in my early twenties.
Why is Crimson Lake set in Cairns?
Ted’s life in Sydney was always going to be familiar to the readers, because the Australian metropolitan landscape has been entrenched in fiction already. I felt like I wanted the unfamiliar experience of running away as an adult to be similar to how it might be as a child. When I was a kid and I threatened to run away, I never imagined what the world I would go into would be like. There was my home, my school and my local streets, but ‘away’ was a mystery to me, somewhere I would have to learn about and adapt to. So Ted had to run somewhere totally out of his comfort zone and out of the reader’s comfort zone as an Australian setting.
Another part of the choice of the tropical north as a setting for this book comes with my own fatigue at writing about cities, and how easy that has become for me. Writing about cities has always been my go-to; when I was a kid I was writing shoot ‘em up gangster tales set in New York, and when I was a teen it was vampire novels set in Paris. Then there was the Bennett/Archer series set in my home city. It was a challenge to write about Cairns, because I couldn’t look out my bedroom window and see and smell it, or wander out into it easily, so I was relying on twisted up, magnified versions of it from my memories, which suited the narrative well.