Christopher D. Abbott has a background in human behavioural studies. Having worked in IT, communications, safety and health, and sales, he has gained a good understanding about people and their behaviours. This has led to his interest in psychology. For many years, he has been an avid reader of crime fiction. Christopher has taken creative writing courses and from this, his ambition has always been to publish a character driven crime story, in the style of the great Agatha Christie. Christopher loves quirky characters, such as Rodney David Wingfield’s Inspector “Jack” Frost, along with Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The Idea of Doctor Pieter Straay, his Dutch Criminal Psychologist, came about by integrating the qualities he admired best in the three previous characters.
Christopher grew up in England and moved to the United States in 2010. He currently resides in Connecticut. He loves to write and play music, which has been as much of a passion for him as writing is. He also enjoys cooking and is currently working on his next Doctor Straay novel.
In earlier interviews you mentioned that you are working on two projects; the second Pieter Straay novel and a biography in short story form, is that still the case?
Yes, I’m working on both projects still. I’m lucky to have access to the main man pretty much when I want, as he’s family! So his stories are being typed up – then I just have to figure out how I put it all together!
How are things progressing at the moment?
Both books are progressing well, I’ve really only just started the Straay one, but I have a killer plot idea which I’m hoping will pull off! It’s difficult when your ideas have all been done before, one way or another, so trying to come up with something a little different can be a little challenging!
Let’s focus on Straay for now, although I am enthralled by the concept of you collection.
What was the last scene you wrote with Dr. Straay?
The last scene in SLD (Sir Laurence Dies) or the last scene in my new book? Well, I’ll answer that both ways. The last scene I actually wrote with Straay in SLD was the interview with Milly Gregson in the sun lounge. The last scene I wrote with him, this week, concerned a girl, who is practically family to Straay, falling in love with the son of a potential black-mailer… and that’s all I’m saying!
In Sir Laurence Dies, the reader is introduced to Pieter Straay and Chief Inspector Drake, but they had already met before, correct?
Yes indeed under, let’s say, difficult circumstances. They do get on almost immediately, but there is tension between them – especially over investigative methods.
Will we learn more about their past in this new novel?
There will be a lot of new information in this story, especially about Drake. I’m not sure there will be a great deal of information regarding Straay yet, but that could change.
In the first book the setting was relatively small, with most taking place inside Sir Laurence’s mansion. Have you opted for a large setting this time around?
Yes, this book will be set largely in a coastal town, as well as London.
You are still planning on writing a trilogy concerning this base storyline?
The trilogy will be based on some unanswered questions in SLD – but – you won’t need to have read SLD to enjoy the book. I want to tie up loose ends, but each book will have its own independent story. There will be characters from each appearing – so you may yet see a little more of Sir Laurence Gregson!
Both Straay and Drake expressed an interest to learn more about each other’s particular skillset in the first novel. Do they continue this dual-learning path in the second novel?
It’s not something I consciously set out to do, but Straay is a little “sermonizing” at times, and that’s part of his character. He will try and instruct through exercise, which can be a little patronising. I like it though!
I think it fits perfectly with his character, and to have omitted it would have been wrong.
Who could solve The Times crossword quicker, Straay or Drake?
Drake, without a doubt!
Do you already have the third novel planned out?
No, I have an “idea” which will answer the links from SLD and book two – but I haven’t planned it at all. I’m currently sticking with the prequel. There could be some fallout from that too, so I won’t know until it’s done. Anyone waiting for the sequel won’t be disappointed by the prequel, I assure you.
Do you already have an expected end date / publishing date in mind?
No, I don’t. I work 50+ hours a week. Once this week is over, I’m back to work. Then it will be when I can get some time to write, so my plan is to get as much done as I can this week!
Sir Laurence is the best fiction book I have read this year, and I mean that. Have you had any more thought about finding a publisher to take the series on, or are you having fun on the self-published route?
I have contacted one publisher who wasn’t all that keen on taking on a book that had already been publish – which I totally understand. I’m actually working in presenting the new story to him, in the hopes that he feels it is good enough to publish. I certainly hope I can get this one published, it would be fantastic!
Can you share the ‘tag line’ of the novel for us?
Sir Laurence was a decorated soldier in the Great War, and a hardnosed businessman. He was also a man of whom everyone was a little afraid. So when he boasted to Doctor Straay about his expert knowledge of crime fiction and requested him to spend a weekend at his country estate, the detective had reservations.
What began as an absorbing evening of drinks, conversation, and card games, soon turned into a horrific scene of murder! Fiction would soon give way to fact, and in this game, the game or murder, Doctor Straay was the expert…
For those new to the Pieter Straay character, can you describe him in a few words?
Straay is Dutch, so he is liberal and a little laid back, very intelligent and observant. He has an eidetic memory and organises large volumes of visual and auditory data in his head. He is also a licensed practiced criminal psychologist, and he smokes a huge amount of cigarettes!
The twists and turns you wrote into the first novel, and the pace they were delivered showed you have a clear love for the genre. How do you go about planning your mysteries?
Well…. Part of my process is to write all my dialogue out first – that way I have a good understanding of what is being said by whom, and this helps to write the scene. Some were designed and written down first, and the story was woven around them. Others just appeared one day! The major twist at the end was a flash of inspiration, honestly.
Thank you for your time today Christopher.
You can find Christopher Abbott on Facebook, Twitter or through his blog
Grab your copy of ‘Sir Laurence Dies’ here