CC: You studied Criminology and now work for Victoria Police. What came first, your interest in crime and policing or a desire to write crime fiction?
JH: I actually started with an interest in true crime, or at least a subgenre you might call autobiographical-crime. In university I found the theoretical analysis of crime to be very one-dimensional and highly academic. Perhaps this was because we were only studying at degree / graduate level, but even in the later years of study it didn’t seem to hit the mark in as far as what I wanted to know about crime or what I found fascinating.
So I found myself reading books by people who at some point in their life had become involved in organised crime or drug smuggling and got busted, ended up in a cell or witness protection, writing books that would in many instances become the background for movies or a Netflix tele-series. The stories were all similar and predictable, but highly fascinating in their level of detail and insight. This was to form the foundation of my first book, Head Shot, which I initially wrote in a similar format but later converted it to a format more suitable to the fiction market.
CC: How do you keep your protagonist, Rubens McCauley, interesting (both to yourself and to your readers), as the series unfolds?
JH: The most interesting and compelling stories are not about crisis, but how people respond to a crisis. McCauley is good in a crisis. These aren’t always about life and death, not in an immediate or literal sense anyway, but I do try to ensure he’s involved in normal life situations that require family intervention or which for those involved are life changing. Layering a story in realistic issues that we all can relate to allows the characters to act in ways that resonate with readers.
CC: Are you ever tempted to write a stand-alone book?
JH: Absolutely! I am half way through writing one at the moment, however I am tempted to cast out one of the characters and re-engage another character from the McCauley series. And readers are always asking me about the next McCauley book. They seem to enjoy him as a character. So there is a bit of conflict going on the moment! Conflict is good for stories, but not so much for an author’s casting process!
CC: What is something you’d wish someone had told you when you were starting out writing?
JH: To be more embracive of new and emerging technology and social networking platforms. Having a profile and building on this is vital.
I also wish I learned how to write in a comical way, as humour goes a long way in a book. Some of the darkest novels I’ve ever read have a character who can make you laugh simply by the thing he/she does. Learning this as a skill is something I would like to work on and which I should have paid more attention to.
CC: What do you hope participants will take away from this course?
JH: A good dose of pragmatism, along with the skills to lift an idea out of the note book and transfer it to words on a blank screen. For those who are more advanced in their work, they will know what is required to elevate their story from the printed page to a seasoned manuscript. There are many steps in the process that we will cover, along with a fun agenda for the day.
CC: For writers starting out, what clues might indicate that they might be well suited to screen writing?
JH: Read a lot of books that have been adapted to film, and when you view the adapted version keep deconstructing what aspects are suitable for the adaptation process. If you want to write a film book, write in a style that is similar to this genre. There is something about the craft of fiction that allows some to be made in to film and some not to. I don’t believe it’s to be found in breaking the rules. More authors succeed by following the rules than by breaking them.
About Jarad Henry
Jarad Henry has worked in justice system for 20 years and regularly speaks at crime conferences and seminars across Australia. As an author, Jarad has built a popular local profile and worked with international best sellers such as Michael Connolly, Jeffery Deaver, Christopher G Moore, Ian Rankin, Michael Robotham, Tara Moss and many others.