Are you hankering for a trip to Australia’s rainforests? If so, then you’re in luck. Candice Fox’s new novel Redemption Point will transport you to the land down under, where Ted Conkaffey is working to solve a double homicide and prove his own innocence. Here, Fox chats with Bookish about her new novel, working with James Patterson, and the pets that have been named after her characters. Plus, as an added bonus, you can read an excerpt of Redemption Point over on BookishFirst!
Bookish: As the title suggests, redemption is a major theme in this novel. What drew you to this?
Candice Fox: Well, look. I like a bit of revenge. I think everybody does. That’s why revenge and redemption movies are so popular—because we all dream about giving the old proverbial cold dish to our enemies but we have too much to risk in our real lives to actually do it. Ted was bashed up a bit by his circumstances in Crimson Lake so he deserved justice, and the readers I spoke to about the first book in the series were baying for it, so it had to be done.
Bookish: The descriptions of the settings are very vivid in this novel: Readers will feel as though they’ve taken a chopper into the Australian rainforest. How do you go about researching, writing, and perfecting those descriptions?
CF: I lived in the “top end” for a while, and I experienced the wilderness firsthand. In book one Ted is faced with moving a snake from his porch by hand, and I had that, too. The tropical north of Australia is wild and kind of magical, so I wanted to lean on those almost mythically sinister elements. I think it’s important that any fictional depiction of a place isn’t “perfect,” though. I got a very angry letter from a Cairns resident telling me the area isn’t the backwater criminal hellhole I’d depicted it as but in fact a “thriving tourist metropolis.” In fact she’s right, there are parts of Cairns that are like that but I intentionally ignored them because for the purpose of my book they were boring and irrelevant.
Bookish: As Ted Conkaffey works to solve a double homicide in this book, he’s also trying to prove his own innocence in an abduction case. What was it like to write a character who is on both sides of an investigation?
CF: I think all cops have to be versatile. You can see that in their ability to conduct the old “good cop, bad cop” interrogations. They may be questioning a guy who’s just lost his wife—or in fact a guy who’s just murdered his wife—and they don’t know when they sit down with him which it is. In this book, Ted is playing the investigator and also the investigated, but he plays it to his advantage. When he sits down with a nasty television presenter who wants to nail him to the wall, he already knows all her tactics, so he’s armed.
Bookish: Has any of your work ever been inspired by a real-life crime or current events?
CF: There’s always an element of true crime in my work. I consume true crime voraciously through podcasts, true crime documentaries and books, and writing and talking to killers in prison. As a crime writer you’ve got to read the fiction that’s around but that fiction is just another interpretation of real life crime—it’s second hand. You have to go right to the source. The double homicide in a bar in Cairns in Redemption Point is inspired by a true crime documentary I saw, for example, in which five young Taco Bell workers were murdered in the shop one night by a would-be robber. I was disturbed by how senseless and stupid and wasteful this crime was, how degrading it was for these young people to end their lives on the grimy floor of a fast food restaurant. It made me angry, so I wanted to see the killer punished in fiction.
Bookish: You have a large readership in Australia and obviously in the U.S., too. Do you find that readers respond differently to your work in different places?
CF: There’s always a huge range of responses to a work, but I’m not sure it’s sorted out geographically. Someone from Idaho might write in blasting me because I’ve misnamed a flower in the novel, and someone from Sweden might write in saying they took up creative writing classes because of me. You never know what you’re going to get. It’s a wild ride with fan letters. I open each one cautiously. There are two dogs out there named after Candice Fox characters, but no kids yet.
Bookish: You’ve collaborated with James Patterson on several books. How does your process change when you’re collaborating with another writer?
CF: My books with James are in his style—short chapters of no more than a thousand words. There’s not a lot of room to stretch out, reflect on the past, take little sojourns into side plots just for interest, as I tend to do in my own work, but what it makes for is snappy, hard, fast fiction. It was a real learning curve, but we’re a few books in now and I think I’ve got the two styles down.
Bookish: Where would you point readers who are fans of your work? What have you read and been inspired by recently?
CF: My fiction reading tastes aren’t spectacularly quirky or adventurous, because I don’t have a lot of time to read fiction. When I meet writers and find I really like them as people I dive into their stuff and I’m rarely disappointed. I like Paddy Hirsch’s work immensely, and Adrian McKinty is always good. Then there are the big dogs of the genre who never let you down: Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Don Winslow.
Bookish: What can readers expect next from this series
CF: In book three, a child goes missing inside a hotel, and police and investigators can’t figure out how he got out of the building. Ted and Amanda are brought in by the child’s mother, who immediately falls under suspicion. At the same time Ted is trying to rebuild his life, and having alone time with the daughter he hardly knows, and trying to pursue a local love interest, are proving difficult. At the same time, Amanda is being hunted by someone in the local police force and this is escalating to dangerous levels.
Award-winning author Candice Fox is the author of Crimson Lake. She is also co-writer with James Patterson of the #1 New York Times bestseller Never, Never; Black & Blue; and Liar, Liar. She lives in Sydney.