Panel blurb: When it comes to making moral choices, how far should a writer go? Do they worry about titillating those who may be tempted to emulate the terrible crimes they read about? And do writers ever fear for their own psyches when coming up with ideas which push the envelope of acceptability?
NC commented that kidnap featured in novels by all 4 of them.
MO said that South Africa is much more dangerous than England, children, people do disappear. [I'm not sure if she was joking] said that she had morgue on speed dial as she has 3 daughters. South Africa is rape capital of the world. It's more fun to write emotional torture than physical.
GH said that he would sometimes leave an important bit out of a description eg if he was describing making a bomb.
MO came to write crime to try and understand why there is so much violence in South Africa.
PH wanted to explore the psychology of a woman (who'd kidnap a teenage boy) - wouldn't be interested in the scenario if the genders were reversed. Hasn't found any examples of a female kidnapping a boy.
TW said that 25% readers found his first book too violent and said he was hurt by that as it it implied that he had no control over his writing. There was going to be a scene with dog cruelty but he was advised (and did) to take it out.
MO was going to have the cat killed off - as didn't fit her character's life but she received an email from a fan saying whatever you do don't harm the cat. The cat was reprieved and she has to re-edit book and put cat care routines in!
MO - fear of fear, moved back to South Africa in 2001 with her 3 daughters and was scared but the mortuary on a Monday morning would show bodies of young men, not women. Said that dead women are often passed to women pathologists as men get too upset. Superstition that if you write about something you are warding it off.
Both GH and MO are reported to be more pleasant when working on a book.
There is a poison line you can ring in US and GH rang to ask about the poisonous nature of oleander and there was a pause and the recipient of the call asked "Sir, may I ask what number you're calling from"!
MO wrote journalist pieces but needed more space to explore true crime. Cops - fluke if they catch someone - only chiefs of police going to jail at the moment. Most people in South Africa experience violence themselves or a close family/friend has.