Friday 5 December 2014


I've read and enjoyed a couple of Daniel Pembrey's Harbour Master novellas this year. 

The Harbour Master with Henk van der Pol, a cop based in Amsterdam was read in May and more recently part two The Maze saw the continuation of van der Pol's story.

Daniel was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding his reading and writing habits.

1. Is the writing a full-time or a sideline-passion-hobby?  What’s the day job?

With the success of The Harbour Master series, writing has become full-time – though while that’s great in one sense, I’m feeling the pressure a bit more!

2. What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

The release of the second Harbour Master story, which appears to have been a hit in terms of reviews (so far!). There’s nothing quite like that feeling of meeting readers’ expectations.  

3. From start to finish how long did the three The Harbour Master novellas take?

I’d say a year of active writing (and re-writing), but that leaves out the accumulation of the material. Back in 2012, I was researching the subject of human trafficking for another book, The Woman Who Stopped Traffic. I went on an undercover operation with an anti-trafficking unit at the Dutch National Police Agency. The material I gathered that rainy night in fact lay dormant for over a year, until I visited my sister’s family in Amsterdam at the end of 2013, my bike was stolen, and I found myself in the IJ Tunnel 2 police station. Only then did the first story idea click into place.
4. Was it always your intention to issue them as "installments" or did they kind of slip into this groove?
Well, I do like writing (and reading) novellas, but it was also expedient: the three books have been published as Kindle Singles – Amazon’s curated short e-book program, which has a 30,000 word limit per publication.
5. With the third Harbour Master tale – Ransom - published next month, will it bring Henk van der Pol's tale to a conclusion or do you have more of his story to tell in the future? (No spoilers please!)

I like to think that it brings the current story cycle to a good point of resolution, but I’d be disappointed if there weren’t further stories … very cryptic, I know! But like you said, no spoilers ...

6. Are there any subjects off limits as far as your writing is concerned?

Child abuse is a very difficult one in terms of what readers might want to hear about and the research process, though it’s an important one, given all that has been emerging in the news of late. The cost to the victims has been enormous, and they deserve a voice.

7. Despite your English origins and education, all of your stories seem to be set in foreign fields, is England too boring a setting for crime fiction? 

I’ve always loved to travel, and loved travel writing, and I think there’s something about an outsider’s perspective that can be very effective in the noir genre particularly, especially when writing about a certain type of maverick character. But I’ll return to England one day!

8. Who are you reading and enjoying?

I’m re-reading Ross Macdonald’s The Chill, so atmospheric …

9. Favourite activity when not working?   

Socialising, pure and simple. Writing involves a lot of solitary endeavour. This said, a writer is never really not working, in the sense that anything can end up in a story ...

10. What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

I’m very excited to have received serious interest from a Luxembourg film producer for my other Kindle Single, The Candidate: A Luxembourg Thriller, so I’m working on a film treatment for that. It’s early days, but fingers crossed!

Thanks for having me, Col. Reader-reviewers like you keep this whole show on the road!

Ransom the third Harbour Master installment is launched today over here. Or alternatively you could treat yourself and buy all 3 collected pieces here.

Daniel's website is here if you want to investigate his writing a bit further. 

Thanks to Daniel for spending some time answering my questions.


  1. Very interesting interview, Col, and as I've said before, I will get to these sometime, looking forward to the Amsterdam setting.

    1. Moira, glad you enjoyed it. I hope you try one of the Dutch pieces when the the blockade ends!

  2. Col - I really like this interview series of yours, and this one's no exception. It's interesting to learn a bit about authors 'behind the scenes.'

    1. Margot thank you. I'd love to have you on here one day - as more than a regular and welcome comment-er. I feel I ought to read one of Joel's adventures first though - and unfortunately they are quite hard to find at present :-(

  3. Col, your interview with Daniel Pembrey is prompting me to read the Harbour Master series. It looks like Daniel is really into his fiction and enjoys writing it.

    1. I think it would be well worth a look Prashant. Not too long - which has a certain appeal!