Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Catriona King in The Waiting Room

Please welcome Northern Irish crime writer Catriona King. If you're into police procedurals with great characters, unfamiliar locations, and always an interesting twist, you will love her series. This week, I asked her to share something about her background and especially the background of her books. Catriona is also a former medical examiner, so she knows her way around a corpse better than most! I'll let her tell you more.                            

The Waiting Room (Crooked Cat), now out in e-book and paperback at Amazon.com, is the fourth book in the DCI Craig modern thriller series set in Belfast in 2012/2013.

When I set out to write the series I wanted to reflect Northern Ireland and Belfast as they are now; a modern European Country and its capital city. I wanted to show the good side; the restaurants,
scenery, the enormous arts scene here. What I didn’t want to do was look backwards at The Troubles. There are already plenty of books about that and it honestly doesn't reflect the life of most people in Northern Ireland nowadays, despite what the media might selectively choose to portray.

Northern Ireland 2012/2013 hosts MTV and the City of Culture. We’re a go-to location for film shoots like Game of Thrones and the new Dracula movie and we’re a tourist venue with stunning countryside and exhibits like the Titanic Belfast Centre. I wanted to write thrillers that reflected that modernity, with a modern hero and team.

The lead character, Marc Craig, is typical of a lot of people here, in that he’s not interested in people’s religion of politics. He’s also typical in that we have a lot of immigration here now, and to reflect that I gave him an Italian mother and Belfast–born father. He has lived in London and returned, something which reflects my own and many other people’s experiences. He has his issues; problems in relationships and work, but he’s pretty normal basically, as are his team. Whatever normal is!

I loved the Rebus novels by Ian Rankin and the way that they used Edinburgh as a backdrop to good crime stories. Reading the books I gained knowledge of Edinburgh as a city as well as reading a good story and I wanted to do something similar for Belfast. The stories are modern crime stories that could be set anywhere, but I have set them in Northern Ireland with local characters.

My background definitely helped when I was writing the books. I was trained as a doctor and latterly as a forensic medical examiner in London, and like most doctors have worked with the police at various times. That definitely helps with the forensic side of the writing, but a lot of the detail is down to research and there’s no substitute for that, in whatever genre you choose to write.

The first novel in the series ‘A Limited Justice’ was set in October 2012 and released then, the second The Grass Tattoo December 2012 and so on, reflecting events in Northern Ireland at those times. The latest novel, The Waiting Room, has just been released and is set in June 2013, where we are now. Without giving too much of the plot away, part of the story is set in Fermanagh, near a famous political summit occurring in June 2013!

I chose the title because I find waiting rooms quite frightening. They always seem to herald something unpleasant: waiting for an interview, the dentist or bad news of some sort. And this waiting room is no different. Here’s a small excerpt from the book that might demonstrate what I mean.

an excerpt from The Waiting Room

Wednesday 5th June 2013. Belfast.

Two dark leather couches faced each other across a low table, and a percolator bubbled quietly on a sideboard set against one wall. The scent of fresh coffee wafted towards the young woman, its dark aroma warming the modern room. It reminded her of the cafĂ© where she met her friends each Sunday, to gossip about their adventures. This week’s story would be her best one yet.

She felt suddenly self-conscious and pulled her short dress down over her bare, tanned thighs. Too much thigh, but you had to make the effort. She gazed around the room where they’d left her, her nervousness growing. Waiting always made her nervous, too much time to think. Still, if you had to wait somewhere, it was a nice room for it. She had no idea who she was meeting and her curiosity was growing by the minute, but Sylvia had promised secrecy for both parties.

The girl’s high-heeled feet rested on a smooth pelt that covered the room’s wide floor. Its pale softness reminded her of snow, and home. The high wooden walls were so dark that only the glint of a silver handle showed where they ended and the door began. The whole room said a man with money.

Without warning the handle moved and the wall seemed to move with it. The door swung inwards heralding the entrance of a dark-haired man. He smiled down at her and she thought he looked like Inger’s Dad, except that Viktor Lindholm had never stared at her like that.

“I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. We’re ready for you now.”

Britt nodded silently and rose. The waiting was over. She would soon wish that it wasn’t.

More about Catriona King

Catriona King was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She trained as a Doctor, moving to London to live and work. She obtained her M.B.A. from Henley Management College in Oxfordshire, trained as a police Forensic Medical examiner,  and worked in central London in General Practice, Community Paediatrics and Health Management and strategy. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police on many occasions. In recent years, she has returned to live in Belfast. 

Catriona has written since childhood, fiction, fact and reporting.


  1. Excellent interview! I love police procedurals, and will be checking out Catriona's work soon.

  2. I'm so glad! It's really worth it. If I could just get my next book finished, I could go back to reading other people's fiction again. I'm falling behind on my DCI Craig addiction!