Crime fiction author Ines Eberl, who has successfully written across the mystery and suspense genres, recently met the challenge to call on her own law and writing career to craft her first horror novel. In DEVIL’S BLOOD, crime author and lawyer Ben Ingram is living in an old farmhouse in the mountains of Salzburg, Austria, when suddenly things begin to happen that lead him to doubt his mental health. Although he doesn´t believe in ghosts, when a young woman dies under mysterious circumstances, his wonderful mountain world breaks down.
As well as being a crime author, Ines is an Austrian law historian and practicing lawyer. She was born in Berlin, studied at Salzburg University, and practices law in Salzburg. She is a member of both the International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writer´s Association. DEVIL’S BLOOD is her fourth novel.
DEVIL’S BLOOD is your fourth novel. Why this particular story for your fourth book?
Ben is a writer of mysteries that take place in the Highlands of Scotland. I included the main chapters of his book in mine so I could switch between the horror story DEVIL’S BLOOD and a real Agatha Christie mystery—HIGHLAND MURDER. I got the idea last Christmas when I drove my car through a cold and foggy night in the Austrian mountains. Two books in one was a challenge that I loved.
You write mystery, suspense, and now horror. Do you have a preferred genre to write in and what similarities do you find across them?
The main challenge is just to write a well-written good story. During my writer´s career I moved from mystery to horror and right now I´m working on a political thriller. The link between my books is always suspense, and that is what my readers can expect from me.
And why the switch to writing in the horror genre, after you debuted with a mystery novel?
THE SOUND OF MURDER was my debut novel, a story settled in the beautiful town of Salzburg. It was mystery but yet it had some elements of horror. In the following books these elements grew stronger and it seemed that my readers appreciated the genre. Therefore, I decided to try a real horror story—DEVIL’S BLOOD.
Your protagonist, Ben Ingram, is a lawyer and crime author, like yourself. How much of yourself is revealed through Ben?
Ben is a crime author which allows him to change his domicile, he has time at his disposal (seldom a hero has a nine-to-five-job), and his profession is to unravel a mystery. Moreover, I work with archetypes. Ben is sort of a recluse as I suppose many writers are. Maybe I am, too.
What are the key themes of DEVIL’S BLOOD and how does Ben transform across these themes?
Ben inherits an old farmhouse where his ancestors lived for over five hundred years. He finds out about the cruel history of his house, which is a story of incest, suicide, and murder. In the beginning of the novel Ben is an ambitious and vain person but when he has to face the dark past of his family—and in some way his own too—his personality grows and he shows courage and morality.
How difficult was it for you to write from a man’s perspective? Were there any special processes that helped you get inside the male psyche?
I suppose that every hero in novels has to show an outstanding character no matter if he´s a man or a woman. I used both in my books and I think that first of all a character has to fit with the story. Moreover, men have more possibilities to act—they are not afraid in parks at night.
Even with your knowledge related to your book, did you find that you still had to conduct research to write it? And what types of research, if any, did you do for the story?
I always have to do research and I enjoy it. I want to show a new world to my readers and give them new issues to think over, and in doing this I have to be well prepared. My first book was about art trade, my second one about hunting, my third one about colonialism, and now my readers are facing old customs and superstition. I was inspired to write the story by a wonderful book about old customs in the Alps by photographer Carsten Peter, who worked for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. It was on my desk while I wrote and I would often glance through its magic photos.
As a writer of crime fiction, how do you keep abreast of what’s going on in the crime world? Have you been inspired by any true crime events or special legal cases that you’ve worked on?
My second novel HUNTER’S BLOOD is based on a cold case that took place in the early 20th century. It´s a story about hunters and poachers, and I discovered it in the course of my work as a law historian. But I don´t keep watch on the criminal world because the background of my work involves more psychological aspects. I don’t want my books to just mirror crime you can read about in newspapers or watch on TV.
How do you manage a full time law career with a full time author career?
I try hard to find the right balance—especially since I found out that publishing a book a year means hard work and observing deadlines!
Can you share what projects you’re working on now?
Actually I’m finishing a big project, a political thriller about arms trade. I hold a deep interest in politics and sociology. Therefore, the research and the writing were fascinating for me. An outline of the sequel is already in existence. I think I will leave horror stories and go over to the horrible real world.
As well as being a crime author, Ines Eberl is an Austrian law historian and practicing lawyer. She was born in Berlin, studied at Salzburg University and practices law in Salzburg. She is a member of both The International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writer´s Association. The Sound Of Murder is her debut mystery novel and has met with an excellent reception. Devil´s Blood is her fourth novel.
To learn more about Ines, please visit her website.