Introducing DI Eve Hunter
Believe it or not, DI Eve Hunter started out as a man. Way back at the start of me exploring my writing, I signed up for a six-week Introduction to Crime Writing online course through Professional Writing Academy. Students were asked to create a detective and then to show that detective in a breakfast scene.
I found myself writing about a man lying in bed in pain. Pain that was coming mainly from his leg. Breakfast for him was nothing more than a stretch to the bedside table where several pill bottles lay alongside a day-old cup of coffee that bore a thick skin on top. I saw him eyeing those bottles, thinking how easy it would be to just uncap them all and wash down the contents, and I knew then that this man was damaged with a story to tell.
From there we were asked to create a murder scene and to show the detective interviewing the suspect. These early writing exercises led me on to two Faber online courses – carrying through my detective and the seed of an idea that I had for a story.
After a lot of feedback and tightening the novel, I found the courage to send off the manuscript, amazed and delighted when I was offered representation from the fantastic Oli Munson at AM Heath. It was only once I had started his suggested edits that I started to doubt my lead character.
Something didn’t feel right but I couldn’t put my finger on it and then, one night, lying in bed, it came to me. He needed to be a she. As a female writer I wanted to be writing a strong, kick-ass female lead. I remember being nervous about announcing that to my agent but thankfully he was in full agreement.
I set to work changing ‘he’ to ‘she’ throughout the novel, surprised to find that I wasn’t actually changing much about the character herself – the speech the same, the decisions rock solid, that leg still injured. But I wanted her to hit the page running, so to speak. And, so, I gave her a difficult cross to bear from childhood; had her returning to work after enforced leave that had left her partner with life-changing injuries; made sure her return would be met with resistance from other colleagues.
Basically, I threw the kitchen sink at her.
But what that left me with was what I had been striving for. A fiercely determined, bloody-minded, conscientious and loyal woman, and one who wouldn’t always conform.
DI Eve Hunter was born.
I love writing her character and it’s been great seeing her develop in the two books I’ve written so far. I see some of myself in her but I’m also a big softie who wouldn’t always necessarily be as full-on or as brave as her. But, sometimes, I ask myself how she would deal with something and go on to surprise myself and realise that I’m stronger than I think.