Rosie Claverton is a screenwriter and novelist. She grew up in Devon, daughter to a Sri Lankan father and a Norfolk mother, surrounded by folk mythology and surly sheep. She moved to Cardiff to study Medicine and adopted Wales as her home, where she lives with her journalist husband and pet hedgehog.
Her short film Dragon Chasers aired on BBC Wales in 2012. Captcha Thief is her latest novel, third in The Amy Lane Mysteries.
Agoraphobic hacker Amy Lane is recovering from her last case when her ex-con assistant Jason Carr finds a new crime to solve – a murdered security guard at the National Museum of Wales and a stolen Impressionist painting worth millions.
Ice-cold National Crime Agency investigator Frieda Haas is on the trail of the missing painting and charms Jason into following her to North Wales. He abandons Amy for new thrills, driving her to desperate measures to keep her panic under control and to stay on the track of the killer.
Nothing in this case is what it seems and Amy’s investigation takes her and Jason down a dangerous path – playing games with a murderer.
Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about your writing background?
I’ve always told stories, ever since I was a child – my Show and Tell anecdotes involved crocodiles on the beach and burning buildings rather than the more mundane happenings. During my teenage years, I threw myself into fanfiction, throwing my writing out there to be instantly critiqued and involving myself in a creative community.
I got serious about writing novels again during my years at medical school and started screenwriting as I was heading for graduation. I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2011 with the aim of writing 80,000 words, and that’s how Binary Witness was born!
When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
While I was working on my screenwriting, I felt drawn back to novels – I missed evolving characters in a more in-depth way, and the freedom the author has as the principal architect of a novel. I decided I wanted to take on Binary Witness as a novel with a future and I studied how the business worked as I went through several stages of editing. While I still love screenwriting and continue pursuing this aspect of my writing, novels are probably my favourite medium.
Do you have another job besides writing?
I have a full-time job as a psychiatrist. I think this really informs my writing, as I get to meet a lot of new people and I often see them at their worst. This is the stuff drama is made of, and it’s given me an in-depth understanding of what makes people tick and how different folks cope in difficult situations. Crime novels are chock-full of difficult situations!
Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?
I loved reading and I devoured books. I was a very hyperactive child, but reading engrossed me – my mother would give me increasingly challenging books to keep my occupied! I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton’s work, particularly The Famous Five and The Five Find-Outers. I’m sure this started off my love of mysteries.
Did your book require a lot of research?
I’d done a lot of background research for previous Amy Lane novels, like cybercrime mechanics and some police procedure. As I took Jason to new locations with this book, that took the most research – the best pub for a Sunday lunch in Bangor is important information! Holyhead Coastguard were also most obliging in telling me where to land my smugglers’ boat.
The most fun research thread was the Pre-Raphaelite art and poetry, especially as I had taken an interest in Lizzie Siddal after seeing Jeremy Green’s play when I was living in London. It made a nice change from my usual research veins of body disposal and working with CCTV cameras.
What type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?
I like to work from some kind of knowledge base. With my setting, that’s mostly personal knowledge – I’ve lived in Cardiff, I’ve driven up the A470 towards Bangor, and I’ve glided about the galleries at the National Museum of Wales. However, I have never hacked into a police database or murdered a man with a hammer. Some things are perhaps better left to the imagination…
As a writer, what scares you the most?
In Binary Witness, the opening chapter grew directly out of my fears. I lived in a house where I had to take the bins out down a dark and spooky alley – and I was always terrified someone would sneak in through the open back door. Turned out that writing about it did nothing to assuage my terror!
But those mundane fears pale in comparison to putting your book out into the world, and exposing a piece of your soul for all to see. I think the worst part is waiting for feedback, for the rejection hammer to fall – I’m querying another novel at the moment and the feeling of dread with every new email is gut-wrenching.
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
Terror 404 is the next novel in The Amy Lane Mysteries, and is due for publication in 2017. It deals with the fallout from Captcha Thief, particularly how Amy and Jason cope with their new reality, and asks a particularly spooky question: can a person really die from fear?