PW: You've written two traditional private detective series, the Jordan/Hill series and two stand-alone thrillers. How do you decide which you're going to write?
VM: The story dictates whose book it is. The ideas come from all sorts of places—an anecdote someone tells, something I hear on the radio. It tends to be a tangent, a throwaway line that grabs my interest. I start wondering, what if this or that happened, and the story evolves. As it takes shape it becomes clear which characters will fit into it. Neither stand-alone story would fit any of my series protagonists. The advantage is that I'm not held to one series. I can go in whatever direction I want.
PW: Why did you set The Last Temptation in Europe?
VM: The idea for the book started when I was sitting on a boat on the Rhine one afternoon and I was watching the barge traffic. This was a world I didn't know anything about and I thought what a great way for a serial killer to move about. We have nothing like that in the UK, so it had to be in Europe. It seemed from the start that it would be a Tony Hill story, then the problem was to get Carol to Europe too.
PW: How much research did you do for the Jordan/Hill series?
VM: I was very fortunate, as I was able to make contact with a profiler in Britain. He was extremely generous with his time and expertise and showed me how he worked. That basic grounding helped me, and I've done a lot of background reading over the years.
PW: Do you think serial killers are formed by psychological trauma early in their lives, or are they just evil people?
VM: I'm not a believer in the "evil is out there" theory. I don't believe people are born either good or evil. That's too much of a cop-out. As a society we have to take responsibility for crime. It happens because of people's experiences and how those experiences affect them. Unfortunately, you can't get away from the fact that so many of the people who parade through our courtrooms on a daily basis haven't had much of a chance in life.
PW: Did you write the British television series based on the Jordan/Hill books that's now being produced?
VM: I didn't write them but worked closely with the writer. It's a six-part series. The first two episodes are based on The Mermaids Singing, the next two on The Wire in the Blood. The final two are original, based on the characters. To make it all even more confusing, the series is called The Wire in the Blood.
PW: Will there be another Jordan/Hill book?
VM: Who knows? The stories lead me by the nose. The next book I have planned is a stand-alone book. I just finished the sixth Lindsay Gordon, and the publisher [Spinsters Ink] is going to reissue all of the Lindsay Gordon and Kate Brannigan books.
PW: You were a journalist for many years before writing your novels. Does your journalist detective Lindsay Gordon resemble you?
VM: Some of the facts of her life resemble me, but not her personality. I wrote about a journalist because I had no idea how police investigate a murder, but I knew how journalists do their job. I was talking about something I knew about and was less likely to make errors
PW: What writers influenced you most when you first began writing detective novels?
VM: I'd read mystery fiction from childhood—Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys. I started Agatha Christie when I was very young, Chandler and Hammett—all the classics. The two that influenced me most were Ruth Rendell and Sara Paretsky. Paretsky opened up my eyes to writing something that wasn't a village mystery.