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Rachel Amphlett on crime thrillers, short stories, and crime fiction podcasting

By Kobo • December 07, 2022Author Interviews

Rachel Amphlett is a USA Today bestselling crime author. Her works include The Dying Season, All Night Long, and more. She chatted with Kobo about her newest short story collection, Case Files, and her accompanying crime fiction podcast, Case Files: Short Crime Fiction Stories.

Kobo: Tell us about the Case Files: Short Crime Fiction Stories Podcast. Where did you get the idea?

Rachel Amphlett: During lockdown, the Frankfurt Book Fair offered a series of seminars online and I listened with interest to one hosted by Bookwire that addressed the disconnect between podcasts and audiobook readers. Afterwards, I noted that despite the popularity of true crime podcasts, there were very few crime fiction podcasts around that offered something different every week. There were serialised audiobooks, and there are some podcasts that use public domain works but very few publishers were offering new short crime fiction in this way. I thought it’d be a fun way to offer something to existing readers while finding new readers who might then discover my books.

Kobo: You’ve written so many fantastic crime thrillers. Where do you draw inspiration from for new stories?

RA: Most of the time it’s from browsing online news articles – I often end up down a rabbit hole chasing an idea after spotting a headline that grabs my attention. I’m naturally curious so I’m always looking out for new things to learn. Even if the article itself doesn’t inspire the final story idea it’s often something from delving into the subject matter that will. Other times, I might be listening to a conversation or spot something while I’m out and about – the opening scene of Gone to Ground was inspired by seeing a discarded work boot at the side of the road just north of where I lived in Brisbane! When I get that initial idea, it pops into my head like remembering a scene from a movie so I can see the characters and the setting in my head.

Kobo: What is your process for writing short stories? Is it different from how you write novels?

RA: I don’t approach it differently, no but I have a gut feel when I get an idea whether it’ll be a short story or a novel. Often it’s because I’ve just finished writing a novel and I’m seeking something completely different to act as a bit of a “palette cleanse” before starting the next one.

Kobo: What do you think are some key elements to writing great crime fiction?

RA: First of all, you need to read great crime fiction, and then I find it helps tremendously if I don’t plot the story beforehand. I sort of plotted my first two novels, but now I only jot down a couple of bullet points for the next scene or two. I never know what’s going to happen after the initial murder scene pops into my head. That means I’m as much in the dark as my characters – I don’t know “whodunnit” either, not until near the end. That’s why I love writing witness interview scenes or similar ones to that in my spy thrillers – I never know what the characters are going to say or do until I get there. Sometimes I have an inkling but one sentence out of the mouth of a character can throw me completely and I have to keep going to find out what happens next.

Kobo: What’s currently at the top of your TBR pile?

RA: A bit of a mixture, as always! Stephen King’s Fairy Tale and Racing the Light by Robert Crais, both of whom have been huge influences on my writing over the years.

Case Files: Collected Short Crime Stories Vol. 1: Twelve page-turning mystery stories by Rachel Amphlett

This page-turning collection features The Man Cave, in which Darren regains consciousness in a dank basement where escape turns out to be the least of his worries; in All Night Long Zoe soon wishes she wasn't working the late shift; and in Nowhere to Run a rookie detective encounters her first serial killer... but will she survive?

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