British author Cole’s first novel, Ragdoll (Ecco, Apr.), stars William Fawkes, a detective known as the Wolf, who pursues a serial killer who dismembers his victims.
Did your experience as a paramedic play a part in making Ragdoll so visceral?
While a degree of medical knowledge was very helpful in writing some of the more gruesome parts of Ragdoll, I feel that the most important aspect I took from my time on the ambulances was the “seen it all, done it all” world-weary attitude and subsequent desensitizing that results from being exposed to anything and everything that life has to throw at you. The inevitably dark sense of humor adopted by those in the emergency services ended up setting the tone of the entire book.
Fawkes, your main character, is deeply flawed and darkly complex. What made him such an interesting character to base a series around?
While Ragdoll is based predominately around Fawkes, book two is not. It was very important to me to create a cast of characters that all felt complex and believable. I don’t want to re-tread the same ground as I continue the series. By having a choice of lead characters, it opens up so many possibilities to take the books in fresh and unexpected directions.
What novels or novelists inspired you as a writer, or this particular story line?
While I love the Robert Galbraith and Stieg Larsson books, I am far more influenced by film and television, which is why I think Ragdoll came out so cinematic in both scale and pacing. Both True Detective and Se7en certainly influenced the book, but screenwriters like Joss Whedon and Shane Black taught me how to handle an ensemble cast, inject humor at every possible opportunity, and make even the smallest characters memorable in some way.
Although marketed as crime fiction, Ragdoll utilizes elements from a variety of genre categories: mainstream thriller, murder mystery, horror, and so on. Was this a conscious decision?
All I know is that I wrote Ragdoll incredibly selfishly. I never expected it to attract the attention that it has. I set out with the aim of writing my perfect book—I wanted it to be funny, surprising, fast-paced, and have great dialogue and characters that I really loved. I have a short attention span at the best of times and get bored very easily, so I think that’s why all of these different elements come into the story. I just wanted it to be as entertaining as possible.
What one word would you describe your professional writing experience up to this point?
My publicist will probably tell me off for saying undeserved, so instead, I think I’ll go for surreal.