Rachel Amphlett exploded into my ‘world’ when she appeared as an Expert Speaker on the topic of Marketing Books in the Digital Environment for Brisbane Book Authors. She shared specific and valuable information relevant to the experience level in the room. My pen flew across the page taking notes, and my head spun with inspiration. I looked around at my author colleagues and saw that Rachel had a similar effect on every author in attendance. It gives me great pleasure to present this ‘In Conversation’ with Rachel Amphlett, a generous, talented, and dynamic author.
Before turning to writing, Rachel played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.
Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.
She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.
Her latest release is Call to Arms. (Synopsis – Loyalty has a price. Kay Hunter has survived a vicious attack at the hands of one of the country’s most evil serial killers. Returning to work after an enforced absence to recover, she discovers she wasn’t the only victim of that investigation. DI Devon Sharp remains suspended from duties, and the team is in turmoil. Determined to prove herself once more and clear his name, Kay undertakes to solve a cold case that links Sharp to his accuser. But, as she gets closer to the truth, she realises her enquiries could do more harm than good. Torn between protecting her mentor and finding out the truth, the consequences of Kay’s enquiries will reach far beyond her new role… Call to Arms is a gripping murder mystery, and the fifth in the Detective Kay Hunter series).
What draws you to writing Crime Fiction and Spy Novels?
That’s easy – it’s what I was brought up on. Both my parents’ and grandparents’ bookshelves were teeming with books by the likes of Dick Francis, Ed McBain, Jack Higgins, Alistair McLean, Len Deighton, and Frederick Forsyth, so it was only a matter of time before I headed off down that path.
Why do you think your characters resonate so well with readers?
I’m hoping it’s because readers can relate to them, and that I make sure that they’re motivated characters – even the bad guy has to have a reason for what he’s doing, and if you have a motive for every single person on the stage, then it’s easier to get the reader to empathise with them even if that makes them uncomfortable.
With the Detective Kay Hunter series, I was determined to have someone who didn’t have a broken home life – there are enough like that around. Instead, I wanted her to be resilient without being arrogant and gave her somewhere safe to return to after a day’s work.
I have a lot of fun writing the various series, and I hope that comes across in the stories as well.
What are the essentials for success on Amazon and the other big depositories?
I think the best things to do to give yourself a head start on any of the retailers’ websites is to make sure you have your work professionally edited and get the best book cover you can. Take a look at what other publishers are doing and emulate your cover design to be “on trend” – you can always change it in later years if tastes change.
I ran a series of advice segments about publishing and marketing for ABC Brisbane over the Christmas/New Year break in 2016 with lots of tips and tricks. The show notes for those can be found here.
How big a part have your series – Detective Kay Hunter, English Spy Mysteries, and the Dan Taylor Espionage Thrillers, played in your success?
I think series give readers and me as a writer a better chance to explore character development and to let otherwise “minor” characters their time to shine in the spotlight. Often, I’ll get to the end of a new book in a series and think “this person has more to say”, and off I go again.
The standalones were fun to write, too though, so I wouldn’t discount writing a standalone if that’s what you want to do. After all, if a story gets hold of you, it’s not going to let you go until you write it…
What have you been your most rewarding and fruitful marketing experiences?
Building a mailing list has to be number one out of everything I’ve done – I love hearing from readers, and the members of my Readers Group and launch teams are phenomenal about supporting my writing and helping to spread the word. Some of them have been with me since the beginning, and are from all over the world.
Would you care to share with us your proudest moment in your writing career?
One of the proudest moments was when I was asked by the local Sisters in Crime group to read out an excerpt from my first spy novel at the Brisbane Launch of Stella Rimington’s The Geneva Trap – she’s such an inspiration and has obviously had a very interesting life as the former director of the British Secret Service.
Do you have a personal favourite from your booklist?
I think it’s Look Closer – that was the standalone novel that gave me the confidence to plan and research the Kay Hunter series.
What’s next for Rachel Amphlett?
Well, I’m halfway through writing book six in the Detective Kay Hunter series, so that will keep me busy for a while!