Above: Chris Speck performing with Black Kes.
© Chris Speck 2023


An Interview with Chris Speck

I was fortunate to be on the Historical Fiction author panel at the first UK Crime Book Club Live event in Leeds on June 3rd. Alongside me and Frances Brody was Chris Speck. Readers of the Gaslight Gazette would’ve read about Chris’s book The Great Frost in June’s ‘My Friend Recommends’ section. I truly cannot rave about this book enough, I adore it. Therefore, I’m thrilled to welcome Chris to this month’s blog for a chat about his writing, inspiration, and unusual choice of musical instrument.

I  started by asking him to say a bit about himself.
I’m a writer and musician from East Yorkshire. As well as being a novelist, I’m also in a skiffle band called Black Kes – they make me play the washboard, although I’m really a guitarist.
My books are set in the East Riding of Yorkshire and celebrate the people, history, and landscape there.

Your book The Great Frost is set in the early 1700s, why did you choose that era instead of an  earlier or later one?
I read about the Great Frost of 1704 during lockdown. It was the coldest winter of the last five hundred years and lasted until April. A bit like covid, it collapsed many parts of the European economy and forced people to come to terms with hardships they hadn’t considered before. I come from a little village in the East Riding called Cherry Burton where nothing ever happens, and I wondered if I could set a story there back in 1704.

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They say all authors put a little of themselves into their characters. Which of your characters is most like you and why?
In The Great Frost, Meg is the most like I am. She does all the jobs that nobody else wants to do and keeps herself to herself. I’m not sure, however, if I’d be able to fall in love with a handsome, wounded highwayman who knocked at my door in the dead of night. The character of Nana is based on my mum.

Have you always written crime fiction? Why?
I’m not really a crime writer. My stories have crimes in them, but I wouldn’t consider them gritty crime-based novels. The only criteria I set myself as a writer is that all my stories are based in East Yorkshire.

What advice would you give to someone beginning their writing journey?

If you’ve committed yourself to write something and have spent a bit of time planning and scribbling   already, make sure you finish, even if you think it’s rubbish! You can’t start making it better until you’ve got a first draft. Writing doesn’t have to be perfect!

I’d like to thank Chris for taking the time to chat with me today, I’m sure you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. I highly recommend The Great Frost, and if you ever get the chance to meet Chris in person, do so. He’s great to have a natter with and very funny! The final book in the North Burton Trilogy, Nik the Swift, is out this month. 

                                                                                                                                                       ~ T.G. Campbell, July 2023