Can you briefly describe your writing and books?
I write in the NZ true crime genre. My first two books Without Trace and its follow-up, Still Missing, examined missing person cases. My third, Shot in the Dark, re-examined unsolved murders which occurred in the 1920s and 30s, and my most recent book, The Bassett Road Machine-Gun Murders, told the whole story of that historic Auckland crime.
You have built a name for yourself as a missing person and cold case expert. What is your background in this area, and how has it come about?
Unsolved NZ murders has always been an interest of mine. I grew up in the 70s; a decade when several women were abducted and murdered by offenders in vehicles. When I decided to write the first book it morphed into a re-investigation the more I delved and turned up fresh information, resulting in several cases being reopened. It went from there really. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert. When I worked on the TV series The Missing (based on my books), I learned there is a whole science behind the study of missing persons.
You must have come across some surprising and disturbing things during your work; are there any that particularly stand out?
I find it interesting talking to people directly connected to a case I am writing about, particularly individuals believed to be responsible for elaborately covering up a murder. I do wonder what goes through their minds as they tell their story. In some instances you can sense a pang of guilt and unease, but there are some whom I believe have, over time, convinced even themselves of their innocence.
How do you choose a case to investigate or write about?
It would have to be a case which really interests me, a complete mystery. I am researching a third book on missing persons where some of the cases are so bizarre you could be forgiven for thinking them fiction. Being a history buff, my leanings are towards the older cases which were investigated by the skill of the detective as opposed to CSI type technology. I am often asked if I would write about the Scott Guy or Lundy cases but these do not interest me, perhaps because of the over-saturation in the media.
What was it about your latest book, The Bassett Road Machine-Gun Murders that compelled you to write about the murders?
I love gangster stories, and this is probably the only one which happened in NZ. In my first book, Without Trace, I wrote about the strange disappearance of Ron Jorgensen (convicted of the Bassett Road murders). We covered his story in The Missing series and, during my research, I met a number of his old criminal friends and police involved and thought that story was interesting in itself and one day should write a book. Then I would read obituaries of key people involved and thought I’d better write the book before it was too late. I am pleased I did because a few pivotal people who helped me have since died, one of them being Sir Peter Williams. The book was released in time for the 50th anniversary of the murders.
You also host TV shows. How do you find this fits in with the life of a writer?
The actual filming segments don’t take up too much time so it is easy to slot in. Lately I have been writing more for television and the time involved with that plus research requires careful time management and a lot of juggling. At the moment it is working well because my current book project ties in with a telly project so I’m killing two birds with one stone.
How do you get your ideas or inspiration to write?
I spend a great deal of time in Raglan. I find going for long solitary walks along the beach followed up with a pinot is a great way to get the creative juices to flow.
What’s next on the agenda for you in terms of your writing?
I have plans to write the prequel to Bassett Road which I am very excited about. It is a great story, but I have to finish the two books I am concurrently working on at the moment plus some TV stuff in between.
Scott will be appearing at Word Cafe Raglan on Saturday 15 August 2015, 1pm-1.45pm in the Raglan Town Hall.