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  • Writer's pictureSarah Davis

Interview with Val Penny

How lucky am I that Val Penny is back to chat more about life, love, and the pursuit of the next great book?

Pretty lucky.

Val wrote The Edinburgh Crime Mystery Series, the latest, Hunter's Secret rated as "fabulous" and a "page-turner." Thanks to my to be read pile being the size of the mattress pile in the Princess and the Pea, I have only had a chance to read the first, Hunter's Chase. It was great, and I look forward to reading them all!

So Val, what is the first story you remember telling (not necessarily writing)?

The first story I remember telling was at school when I was seven years old. It was about a horse, which I did not have that was stolen by neighbours, who had no more use for a horse than I did and the neighbours were eaten by a wild lion for their trouble. (There are few wild lions in SW Scotland!)

No shit. Wild lions in Scotland? I'll have to look that up later.

I struggle to find time to write. Now that my kids are back to school (for however long that lasts, thank you COVID-19), I have some free time waiting for the end of sports practice. Do you have any writing quirks?

I like to write in the afternoon. I prefer to answer emails, sort out my blogs and do any necessary household chores in the morning and get them out of the way. Then from about 2pm the day is mine to write for as long as I like,

Who inspired you to write your debut novel?

I am so fortunate to have had a great deal of encouragement from other authors, but my first inspiration came from Handsome Hubby (HH) who heard me droning on about good and bad books and said ‘Well, if you know so much about what makes a good book, why don’t you write one?’

Having a close support group is wonderful as a writer! Go, hubby!

What is your favorite color? Least favorite?

Favourite – any bright colour – red, blue, green, pink.
Least favourite – dark colours – brown and black.

Ooh, my favorite is the sunset/salmon pink. And brown? I always eat brown M&Ms first. Helps keep my eyes the right color.

Many authors choose character names differently. Baby books, websites, even random name generators. How do you name your characters?

I have ‘collected’ or remembered names all my life and once I get to know a character I will assign them a name. For example, driving through a city one afternoon, I saw a lawyer’s office Wilson Hunter Esq. I switched the name around and Hunter Wilson became the name of the main character in my Edinburgh Crime Mysteries Series.

That's unique! If his name were Wilson, it would have taken me some time to get past the memory of Tom Hanks calling for his beloved volleyball. "Willllssssooooon!" I am not ashamed that that part made me cry.

If you were to be gifted a superpower that you had to use continuously for 8 hours every day, what would it be?

Ooh, invisibility or to be able to eat chocolate brownies without gaining weight? That’s a tough one!

Both Excellent. Superpowers!

You can't write all the time. What are your hobbies (besides reading and writing)?

I enjoy travelling – it has been said I would go to the opening of a paper bag. I also enjoy walking, swimming, knitting and making jewellery.

Paper bag *snort*

Have you ever gotten “reader’s block?”

Reader’s block, no. But occasionally I write a lot of nonsense to get to the other side of writer’s block.

That is a great way to get past writer's block!

So, you finished Inside Voices (so glad you enjoyed it, btw). What is in your TBR pile?

I always have a long TBR pile – one of the good things about lockdown during 2020 was that I almost got to the bottom of it! Right now it contains And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, We Know/You Know by Erin Kelly, One Way Out by Amit Dhand and Façade by Helen Matthews.

I have heard great things about Façade! In fact, I get a chance to visit with Helen soon!

What was your hardest scene to write?

I am very bad at writing sex scenes. It’s ridiculous, but I get embarrassed. Luckily, Liz Hurst ran a course on Writing Erotica a couple of years ago and now I hope I am less bad at it,

Those scenes intimidate me. I wrote one to finish out NaNoWriMo. We'll see if it makes it through editing.

If you could have authored a book, which one and why?

I am happy with the books I write, but if I could have written a big blockbuster like Jurassic Park, that would make me very happy.

Micheal Crighton is a fabulous author. I am pretty sure I have read all of his books, at least all the ones my library carries.

What was your favorite game to play as a child?

My parents bought me a tepee, not a tent and I enjoyed playing house in that, but my sister would always have to be the cowboy as I wanted to live in the tepee.

Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars

What movie sequel would you erase from history and why?

Funnily enough, Jurassic Park II – The Lost World. I don’t think it is nearly as good as the other movies in the franchise.

Interesting! I'm a sucker for them all, Park and World.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

It would always be a cat. Independent, self-motivated and always finding the warmest place in the room to sleep.

Betcha can't guess mine. Weimaraner!

What is one food you could never bring yourself to eat and why?

I have been vegetarian since I was twenty-one. I always said I would go back to eating meat and fish when I missed it. I haven’t missed it yet and I think I am unlikely to go back to it now.

It took me 6 years to see Inside Voices published. Based on how my current one is moving along, I hope it will be less time to type the official "The End" on it. How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?

My first novel took me about two and a half years to write. Of course, I had cancer at the time and not a clue what I was doing. Now, a book will take me 6-8 months to write.

Tell us about your latest book.

My most recent novel was published earlier this year, Hunter’s Secret, It is The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries #5

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. DCs Tim Myerscough and Bear Zewedu found a corpse but when Hunter arrives it has disappeared, and all is not as it seems.

Hunter recalls the disappearance of a body thirty years earlier. The Major Incident Team is called in but their officer in charge sees no connection – it is too long ago? Hunter is determined to investigate the past and the present with the benefit of modern DNA testing.

Tim has other problems in his life. His father, Sir Peter Myerscough, is released from jail. He, too, remembers the earlier murder. There is no love lost between Hunter and Sir Peter. Will Hunter accept help from his nemesis to catch a killer?

Hunter’s own secret is exciting and crucial to his future. Will it change his life? And can he keep Edinburgh safe?

How intriguing!

Thank you so much for visiting with me again, Val. It is always a pleasure. I wish you the very best in life, love, and writing!!

More about Val...

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer.

However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, Hunter's Chase, Hunter's Revenge, Hunter's Force and Hunter’s Blood and Hunter's Secret are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Darkstroke and form The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries.

Her first nonfiction book Let’s Get Published, is available now, and the first book in the new series centring on Jane Renwick will be published in 2021, as will the next book in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries, Hunter’s Rules.

You can find more about what Val is up to at:


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