JW; I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea for Dead Man’s Creek come from?
CH: I thought I wanted to be a writer when I was at university, but quickly shelved the idea as preposterous. And it was: I simply wasn’t very good at it. And I had the attention span of a gnat. It was only much later, after decades of journalism and a couple of non-fiction books, that I finally felt I had the ability to write credible fiction.
The idea for Dead Man’s Creek came from its setting in the forest – the Barmah-Millewa forest – which is a real place in Australia. It’s highly changeable – some years it’s drought-stricken and fire-prone, other years it’s flooded, massive wetlands. It’s a great place to set a crime novel.
JW: How much research did you have to do for Dead Man’s Creek, did you visit any of the settings in the novel? Play with explosives?!
CH: I visited the forest in the summer of 2008-09 at the height of the worst drought since European settlement, when it was feared the forest was dying. (I was researching a non-fiction book, The River). Then I revisited it in late 2021 when the forest was flooding.
On that first trip, I met an old man named Tim Mannion, who was a local amateur historian. Tim told me about being a kid in the forest during the second world war. His story provided the seed for Jimmy in the book.
Researching the seventies was really fun – what music was current in 1973, what people smoked and drank, what the fashions were, etc.
I didn’t play with explosives.
JW; Who would you like to see playing the parts of Nell Buchana and Ivan Lucic when Dead Man’s creek is turned into a Movie!
CH; Not sure. Possibly some unknown Australian actors who could make the parts their own.
JW; As a child growing up, were you an avid reader, or was television your thing? Do you have a favorite childhood book or television program?
CH; I was definitely more of a reader than a television watcher, although I was also sporty and spent a lot of time out of doors, so I wouldn’t describe myself as being overly bookish.
JW; If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
CH; At the end of the last ice age, when the land bridge between Australia and Papua New Guinea was breached and the Indian and Pacific Oceans joined. It must have been truly spectacular. The thing is, it was only about 8,000 years ago, and there were people there watching it – we know that from the oral histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
JW; What is your favorite book or books that you have read so far in 2022, and why?
CH; There were some really impressive Australian crime debuts: Wake by Shelley Burr and Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor come to mind – both ‘outback noir’. I also enjoyed the playfulness and meta-fun in Sullari Gentill’s Woman in the Library and Benjamin Stevenson’s Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone. All four are published in the UK
JW; What is something you are passionate about aside from writing?
CH; Coffee. Food. Bushwalking. Writing music (badly).
JW; If you were to be marooned on a desert island what 3 items would you take?
CH; A guitar. A telescope. A still.
JW; Do you have a hidden talent?
CH; If I do, it’s very well hidden.
JW; Are you currently writing another book, and when will it be released?
CH; Yes, trying, to be released in Australia in October 2023 and in the UK in January 2024. At least that’s the plan.
Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. For many years he was a roving foreign correspondent for SBS TV’s flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more than thirty countries on six continents. Chris’s non-fiction book, The River, published in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award. Scrublands, his first novel, was published in 2018 and was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger Award, Best Debut Fiction at the Indie Book Awards, and Best General Fiction at the ABIA Awards. It has also been longlisted for the Ned Kelly Best Crime Novel of the Year. Scrublands was optioned for television by Easy Tiger (a FremantleMedia company). Chris has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master’s degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr Tomoko Akami. The couple has two children.
Thank you so much C.J for being a guest on my blog, it is a huge honour!
I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And what was your first job?
I’ve always loved writing but thought that ‘being an author wasn’t a very realistic job for a girl from Nottingham. So, I thought that maybe I could be a reporter or work in advertising. Things that involved writing or being creative but paid a regular salary!However, I ended up leaving school at 16 (because I had a crap time at senior school) and working as a filing clerk for about a year, which I hated.
I’ve read and loved all your books so far, but which are you most proud of?
I would like to say my most recent book, The Drift because it’s a real departure and I really pushed myself. But also, The Chalk Man, because that was the one that got me published. The start of everything. And the one that Mr King tweeted about, so it will always have a special place in my dark heart!
As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?
Well, I’m so old that kids’ TV was only on for about two hours at teatime, and I could only watch certain adult TV programmes, so I used to read a lot: Enid Blyton (I loved Mallory Towers) and then I moved on to ghost stories and Agatha Christie. My favourite TV programmes were Scooby-Doo, Marmalade Atkins and later, I LOVED The A-Team and Tales of the Unexpected!!
Were nearly in May, which book has been your favourite so far in 2022? And is there one you are particularly looking forward to?
I haven’t read very much lately and I’m really out of the loop on new releases. Also, I’m kind of done with traditional psych thrillers, and always on the lookout for something a bit different. The book I most enjoyed recently is a book called ‘Sign Here’ by Claudia Luxe (out in October). It’s about a deal-broker in hell who just has to sign up one more member of the same family for a big bonus. But of course, things don’t go to plan. It’s part mystery, part fantasy and full of some wonderfully dark humour. It reminded me very much of early Michael Marshall Smith. Thoroughly recommended and it was so nice to read something original!!
Who do you most admire?
In writing – Stephen King, Harlan Coben, Michael Marshall Smith. Outside of writing – I love Tim Minchin for the words and music (and the Pope song). Very clever man. Right now, I admire people fighting against this vile, corrupt government and speaking up for those in desperate need, like Jack Monroe. Total hero.
Can you share a shelfie with us? (A photo of your bookshelf)
If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
Crumbs! Tough one. Maybe the shooting of JFK, just to confirm whodunnit. Or the dinosaurs. I’d like to know what really wiped them out. Plus, if I could take some photos to annoy creationists that would be good!
What is something you are passionate about aside from writing?
I don’t know about passionate, but I do get very angry about the state of the UK right now. It was only six years ago that I was working as a dog walker, earning £10 an hour. I lived for a decade in the red, with no savings, no money for emergencies or unexpected bills. It’s horrible. And that is nothing compared to the very poorest in society. It angers me that there is such disparity between the rich and poor. I got a break when I got published. I’m comfortable now – and I try to do my bit to pay it back. But not many people get that break. We need a massive change to redress the balance.
If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?
Stephen King – because he’s my writing hero.Bill Hicks – because I would love his take on the world right now.Tim Minchin – he can provide music.Mary Shelley – because she was a cool goth chick who was ahead of her time.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
What are you currently working on?
Book 6, which will be out in 2024! But I can’t say too much about it yet because I haven’t even shared it with my editor. All I can say is that it is a small-town murder mystery, set in Alaska. With bite. ; )
C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter. She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover. While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl. She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’ The Chalk Man was inspired by a tub of chalks a friend bought for her daughter’s second birthday. One afternoon they drew chalk figures all over the driveway. Later that night she opened the back door to be confronted by weird stick men everywhere. In the dark, they looked incredibly sinister. She called to her partner: ‘These chalk men look really creepy in the dark’
You can pre-order A Sliver Of Darkness & The Drift HERE
Thank you so much James for being a guest on my blog, it is a huge honour!
JW: I’d like to start, by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of The Homes come from?
JM: Yes I have always wanted to be a writer, from about the age of 16 when I first fell in love with books. I always used to write short stories or ideas and share them with my friends, as if I didn’t get them out of my head they would eat away at me. It took me to the age of 34 to first get published and there were a couple of books I wrote first before then that looking back probably helped me get better at writing.
The idea for The Homes came about because after my father died I moved back in with my mum and we talked a lot more than we had done when I was growing up as there was no longer the burden of parenting any more. She told me about The Quarrier’s homes in Bridge of Weir and it sounded like such a strange and unique place, I hadn’t ever seen a book written that was set there and I wanted to get the story told before that generation who lived it got too old.
JW: How hard was it writing from the point of view of teenage girls (Lesley & Jonesy)?
JM: I wrestled a lot with this a lot. I felt weird writing at a 40+ bloke writing as a 12-year-old girl (and originally wanted it to be anonymous or under a pseudonym, in the end, we went with a genderless name), but that girl is essentially my mother at that age and I worked with her a lot to get it right, but I would think it is unlikely I would write in the voice of a teenage girl again, just feels a bit weird.
There is an amazing and hilarious Twitter account called @menwritewomen and I live in fear of ever having my work on there.
JW: How important do you think it is to raise the issues children face in care, in the past and today?
JM: The overwhelming thing I wanted to get across was how brave the kids were to make it out of these places, they really had to fend for themselves. The whole book is a tribute to my mum and her friend (who she didn’t meet until after they had left the homes) and the courage and bravery that showed each day.
My mum is a quiet woman and I wanted a book that showed bravery not as a soldier running into a battlefield all guns blazing, but as a small person showing courage on a daily basis to get themselves out of this place.
JW: Who would you like to see playing the part of Jonesy & Lesley The Homes were to be turned into a TV series or movie?
JM: I never really had ideas for the children’s parts as I don’t know any child actors, but I did think of Peter Mullan as the Superintendent.
JW: I have to add here that I think Tessa Peake-Jones would be brilliant as Mrs Patterson!!
JW: As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?
JM: I really didn’t like reading growing up. My dad loved reading and it wasn’t for me, I wanted to be outside playing football. Then one day I read Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh and a lightbulb went on that “Oh books can be like this”
That said my favourite childhood book and the book that I remember my dad reading to me was Danny Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, and I have since read it to my son and he loved it and it felt like passing on a baton.
JW: Which book, that you read in 2021, has been your favourite?
JM: I really enjoyed Andrew O’Hagan – Mayflies and The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong
I should say in the last year I have read a lot of the authors on Viper., the publisher of The Homes, and the standard on that imprint is terrifyingly good. Janice Hallet, Tina Baker, David Jackson, Catriona Ward, every one of the books gives you something more that you were thinking of, every one of them has wonderful extra levels.
JW: Who do you most admire?
JM: Bookwise Iain Banks, Michael Marshall Smith, Steve Toltz.
JW: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
JM: I think the friends and family I have, I am fortunate to have such good friends and a lovely family and it’s important to stop and appreciate it, that and the penalty I saved in the last minute of a cup final when I was 10.
JW: If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
JM: Anfield ’89. I got offered a ticket in my maths lesson at school for £3.50 and we couldn’t go as we were travelling to Scotland that day for the Scotland vs England match the next day.
JW: What is something you are passionate about aside from writing?
JM: Music – I have always loved music. I haven’t been to an event in a long time and saw Father John Misty last week and I have forgotten how much I love it. I have spent a lot of this year trying to listen to albums in full rather than Spotify shuffle.
JW: If you could invite 4 people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?
JM: Amanda Donohoe, David Rocastle, Bill Drummond, David Bowie (the world has gone to pieces since he left us, I think he was holding it all together)
JW: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
JM: Bad news quick, good news slow. If you know or think something is going to be bad, better warn someone and let them know, with good news, make sure you are certain of the good news as it’s the hope that kills you.
JW: What’s next? What are you currently working on??
JM: I am working on a story called The Herd of Buffaloes, I am 75,000 words into the first draft so there’s a long way to go but after 10 years of starting it I finally have the ending I want for it which is a relief. The hard work starts once the first draft is done.
J; Thank you so much, Giles, for being a guest on my blog.
Thank you for hosting me
J; I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of Where Blood Runs Cold come from?
Reading the poems of Seamus Heaney for A-Level wove a spell on me. From that moment I knew I wanted to write professionally. I went off to university to do a degree in English Language and Literature but dropped out after just a few months to join a pop group. It was an incredible diversion, packed with extraordinary experiences. But, after four hit records and several years in the music industry, I got back on track with my ambition to become a writer. In 2003, I undertook a cross country skiing and igloo building trip in Norway. It gave me the idea for a thriller about a parent and child being hunted through the snowbound mountains. By the time I got round to writing it, I was living in New York and Raven: Blood Eye was on submission. Luckily, Transworld (Penguin Random House) offered me a publishing deal for my Viking trilogy and so I stuck my snowy thriller in a drawer and have been writing historical novels ever since. Then, after Lancelot and Camelot, which were both big, emotionally draining books, I needed to get my teeth into something fresh and different. It was the perfect time to dig my thriller out of the snow. After eleven historical novels, Where Blood Runs Cold is my first contemporary story and I’m excited to send it out into the world.
J; How much research did you need to do before writing Where Blood Runs Cold (without giving the plot away!)?
Well, I’ve spent time in the mountains of Norway, and as already mentioned, I got the idea from a ski touring trip, so much of it stems from experience. There’s always research, of course, but for this book it was a piece of cake compared with writing a historical novel, where hours of the day can be spent researching. With this book it was more like, what’s the most popular hybrid SUV in Norway? Or, what’s a popular brand of snowshoes? Or could a drone fitted with a thermal camera detect a body beneath the snow? These questions are easy enough to Google, whereas the historical stuff requires a library of reference books.
J; Who would you like to see playing the parts of Erik and Sofia Amdahl if Where Blood Runs Cold was made into a movie (I hope it is!)
Viggo Mortensen would make a brilliant Erik. As would Alexander Skarsgård. Sofia is more difficult to cast because her age is more specific, and I don’t know many young teenage actresses. Someone like Bella Ramsey (Lyanna Mormont in ‘Game of Thrones’ and star of the forthcoming series ‘The Last of Us’) would be good. As it happens, there’s already serious interest in the film adaptation of Where Blood Runs Cold, so perhaps we’ll need to think about this sooner rather than later. Would be a nice problem to have.
J; As a child growing up, were you an avid reader, or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?
I didn’t read books as a child. The first book I read for pleasure was the Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore, which my mum bought me when I was thirteen and off school for several weeks with glandular fever. It blew my mind! Funny to think that if I hadn’t been poorly, I might not be a writer today. As for TV, I loved the series ‘Robin of Sherwood’. I still sometimes play the soundtrack by Clannad. As soon as I hear Robin (The Hooded Man), I’m a boy again.
J; What is your favourite book which you read in 2021?
The Gates of Athens by Conn Iggulden. Conn really knows what it is to be human, and this gives his writing such wisdom. Iconic figures from history, men such as Themistocles and Xanthippus emerge fully fleshed. Conn reveals their motivations and hopes, their fears, jealousies, and ideals, so that although they died two thousand five hundred years ago, they live and breathe again between the pages. If that wasn’t enough, there’s the prose itself, which is at once economical and beautiful. I was transported. I felt the Mediterranean sun on my face, smelled the sea on the air, stood on the rocky outcrop of the Acropolis, watched the hustle and bustle of Athenian life. I cared for the characters, and I wanted to cast my vote in the Assembly! It was all so vivid in my mind’s eye.
J; Which book that you have written are you the proudest of?
I’m most proud of Lancelot. I wrote that book whilst grieving the death of my father and it was hard. And yet, something of my soul poured into that book. My editor once said something along the lines of, ‘Giles, if you got knocked down tomorrow by the no. 27 bus, it would be OK because you’d have written Lancelot.’ In a way, I agree with him.
J; Do you have a favourite Author? Or a favourite book of all time?
My favourite author is Cormac McCarthy. I’ve never come across another writer with his powers of description. Books like All the Pretty Horses, Blood Meridian, and The Road are stunning examples of the craft. However, The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell holds a special place for me. That trilogy inspired me like nothing else, and I’m a huge Bernard Cornwell fan. When he gave me a cover quote for my first novel, I was overjoyed.
J; If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
I would go back to witness The Battle of Hastings. I’m sure that it would make for a traumatic and hideous spectacle, and I’d probably suffer PTSD after, but it was such a momentous battle, and given that the historical record presents it as a close-run thing, I’d be fascinated to see just how close it was. Because the Norman invasion had a huge impact on the social, cultural & economic life of the kingdom of England. The Normans brought Latin and French, castles, and wine. Culturally, whereas England had looked north to Scandinavia, now it looked to the south-east and continental Europe. The Battle of Hastings was one of those pivotal moment in history.
J; If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?
Harald Hardrada, because he was the greatest warrior of his age and I’d want to hear about all his battles. Beyoncé, because she’s a goddess. Elvis Presley, because his charisma would light up the room. King Charles II, because, as Horrible Histories puts it, he was the King of Partying.
J; If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’d like to visit Moscow in winter. Maybe not right now, but some time. I’d also like to go to Alaska and drink beer in small town bar. Cold places appeal to me. As does beer.
J; What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My grandma told me not to hide my light under a bushel. This was good advice for the painfully shy boy I was.
J; Do you have a hidden talent?
No, because of the aforementioned advice! Although, new readers might not know that I can throw an axe or two.
J; Are you currently writing another book?
I’m currently writing Arthur, the third book in my Arthurian Tales. I also have a cracking idea for another thriller, but that’s for another time.
J; I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of Psychopaths Anonymous come from?
W; I didn’t really know what I wanted to be when I was a kid. I had a real thirst for knowledge, though. All I wanted to do was learn as much as I could about EVERYTHING. I dabbled with the idea of being a poet, a playwright, a painter and a singer. Theatre directing also made an appearance. So, I definitely always had a creative/expressive edge to everything. But I really honed in on the idea of writing a book while at university.
The idea for PSYCHOPATHS ANONYMOUS has been brewing for a while. When my dad died, I found a book in his house called ‘Steps to Christ’, which I kept. It’s the kind of thing you are given on a 12-Step program and I assumed he acquired it at some AA meeting. Religion/belief has always fascinated me or, more specifically, the psychology behind it. I knew I’d do something with it one day.
My books tend to stir up something in me as I write. HINTON HOLLOW DEATH TRIP looked into the idea of good and evil. This fed into THE BERESFORD where I thought a little more about heaven and hell. This then made me consider the function of a God figure. I was looking into Alcoholics Anonymous because I wanted to bring Maeve back and give her a story of her own. All of these things just came together and I invented the Psychopaths Anonymous support group.
J; How much research did you have to do for Psychopaths Anonymous…! Did you have to do a lot of drinking (lol) etc?
W; Ha! I do enjoy a drink and I like to ‘method write’ so I certainly allowed myself to get into Maeve’s character. I do have some personal experience of knowing people with addiction and I drew a little on that. I read through the 12-Step program several times. I always keep a Bible handy, too. I had considered attending an AA meeting but it felt very underhand when there were people there with real problems. We were locked down and there were online meetings but I just felt wrong doing that.
I did read testimonies from people who say how much the plan worked and I found people who believed it made things much worse.
When it came to the psychopathy element, I’m constantly researching this for my books and it’s a case of reading a lot of non-fiction and case studies and experiments, all of which I find incredibly interesting. I knew that a person could be a functioning alcoholic and wondered how it would play out to be a functioning psychopath.
J; Maeve is quite possibly THE best female Psycho EVER, how did you write her with such conviction? Did you base her on anyone!
W; It’s funny, a lot of people ask me this. Somebody even suggested that I may have based it on a female writer that I know. But the answer is no. She is fictitious. I had already invented Maeve for GOOD SAMARITANS. She was a successful and independent woman who drank a lot. She was obsessed with reality television and supported her husband, Seth, through some very dark moments. I had hinted at her psychopathy in the next two books and now it was time to ramp up her character.
There are so many male psychopaths and serial killers to draw from but I liked the idea that there aren’t as many women. It is suggested that men are more violent but I thought it would be interesting to see a woman do these things and not get caught. Maeve is smarter than men. She is calm, considered. She has a list.
But she also wants love. She wants somebody in her life. She gets off on seeing her ‘friend’ Jill’s misery but also feels those inflicting misery upon her should be punished.
Maeve is just a very rich and psychologically interesting character, and there was a great sense of playfulness I had in developing and writing her.
J;Who would you like to see playing the part of Maeve, if Psychopaths Anonymous is turned into a Movie?
W; I have to say that I think the idea lends itself more to a TV series than a film, perhaps. If I had written this book ten years ago, it would be Kate Winslet. No question. (I’d happily make Maeve a little older if Kate Winslet wanted to play her.)
When we were casting for the audiobook, I did say that Emily Blunt would be my choice in an ideal world, I think she has everything to pull this character off.
But, in my head, I was thinking of someone that looked like Sherilyn Fenn when she played Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks – that quirky femme fatale type.
J;As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or watcher of television? Did any part of your childhood make you the writer you are?
W; My parents weren’t big readers, so we didn’t have loads of books in the house. My mother was – and still is – into true crime books, so I assume that seeped into my mind somehow. But, yes, I always read a lot as a kid but I’ve always been way more into films. We always watched films, always went to the cinema. My favourite job – apart from writing – was working in my local cinema. Even now, I find it an entirely magical experience whenever I go.
I have a gigantic film collection. I get a message each week from my mother reminding me that there are still 3,000 VHS tapes in boxes in her loft. (I’ve snuck some DVDs up there, too. Shhh.) I think film has been the biggest influence on the way I write and is probably why I mess around with the structure of my books so much and end up telling each story in a different way.
As for my childhood, I spent a fair amount of time alone for various reasons and I think that lends itself to the process of writing/thinking/creating rather well.
J;What is your favourite book you’ve read in 2021 and why?
W; When was 2021? I read quite a few books over the year, I’m bound to forget something then kick myself for doing so. I’m going to pick a couple. One was a big hit, the other was more of an indie discovery.
I really enjoyed TRUE CRIME STORY by Joseph Knox. It’s nice to see a commercially successful author push things in a different direction. A great idea handled well. It still felt commercial to me and I think could have been edgier than it was but I absolutely tore through it. I’m sure there will be some awards nods coming its way.
And I’LL PRAY WHEN I’M DYING by Stephen J. Golds. I am a big fan of the writing. It’s dirty and raw and unapologetic. This is the other end of the spectrum to my last choice. There’s a real poetry to the writing. There’s rhythm and style and a powerfully dark story with a screwed up protagonist you want to succeed, even though you shouldn’t.
J;Do you have a favourite author or favourite book of all time?
W; When it comes to contemporary fiction, you can’t beat Chuck Palahniuk, and FIGHT CLUB is an anarchic masterpiece. The book changed my life and made me want to write novels, rather than plays.
I love Hemingway. A MOVEABLE FEAST and TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT are probably my favourites. You can’t beat Fitzgerald, either. I mean, THE GREAT GATSBY is basically perfect. Oh, and Bukowski, of course. POSTOFFICE. Raw. Dirty. Brilliant. I could go on but these are the books I go back to again and again.
J;If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
W; It’s funny, I do suffer from a thing called ‘Golden Age Syndrome’ where you think your current generation is awful and want to travel back to the time you see as the best.
I’d love to go back to 1969 and attend Woodstock but Joni Mitchell didn’t play, which sucks because she’s the best.
I’d happily stick around for ten years after that to witness the greatest decade in cinema history. (It was also quite a fruitful time in the world of serial killers that I have written about.)
But, if I could only choose one, I’d probably head to Paris in the 20s and drink absinthe and wine with all of my favourite writers and artists. The crazy thing is that they would probably choose to go back to some other time when they thought literature was at its height.
I know that isn’t necessarily one historical moment like the JFK assassination but having all that talent in one city at one time seems worthy to me.
J; You can pick 4 famous people, dead or alive, for a dinner party, who would you pick and why?
W; I recently wrote a piece on six fictional psychopaths I would invite to dinner. But if I could have real people. CHARLES BUKOWSKI. I’d want someone who would stay up and drink with me until the early hours. It might end in some kind of fight, who knows? I think the same would be said for HEMINGWAY but he’s a little too serious, probably. Take the work seriously but yourself less so.
FRAN LEBOWITZ. Damn, I just love her. Smart, funny, outspoken, interesting. If you get a chance to read anything she has written, you should. And check out her documentary on Netflix to get a flavour for her genius. I could listen to her talk all night. And she probably would.
PAUL MCCARTNEY. I’m on a real Beatles high, at the moment, and he’s my favourite. I like the idea that we might be able to jam after dinner on the guitar and piano and rock out some songs.
KEVIN WIGNALL. I’ve been to dinner with Kevin many times. He hosts an intimate gathering every year on the Saturday of Harrogate festival. We eat lovely food, drink great wine and he has a love for dessert wine that is renowned. I think I’d like to repay his hospitality with this fine bunch while also using his unsurpassed skills as a raconteur.
J; When you’re writing do like silence or do you listen to music?
W: When I’m creating, I tend to do it in silence or with the thrum of a cafe filled with screaming children. If I listen to music while writing, it’s usually classical or jazz. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics. (I love the Cinema Paradiso soundtrack. Ennio Morricone. Beautiful.)
However, when I’m trying to create a certain mood or vibe to write in, I will listen to something before I write, to get me in the right space to create the sense I want on the page. When I edit, I can have music with lyrics and I tend to have something in the background because editing sucks and I need some joy in that process.
I also always listen to The Weight by The Band when I finish a book. And I drink a LARGE whisky.
J: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
W; STOP EATING ANIMALS. That’s the best piece of life advice I’ve received. Going vegan changed me for the better. I feel cleaner, healthier and ethically wrinkle-free. I wish I’d done it sooner.
The best piece of writing advice I’ve ever received was to ‘add light to the shade’. My books are often trying to talk about some societal issue and I can fall into a place where it feels like I am punching the reader in the face repeatedly to make the point. That doesn’t work. Often a serious point can be made by injecting humour. You can’t just hear about a character’s faults, there has to be some redemption. you have to let the reader breathe.
The funny thing is, I know this, but it’s always the note that comes back to me on any edit. But I think that the first draft is where I am completely caught up in the story and I am getting everything out. The best advice I can give to a budding writer is to get somebody to read your work that doesn’t love you. Your mum/partner/brother/cousin shouldn’t have to tell you that you are awful, it’s not fair. Find someone to read who will be honest. It will set you up for the world of writing and publishing to hear that what you’ve just written is a load of crap because that’s all being a writer is.
J; Are you currently writing another book?
W; I’m always writing another book. I have a lot of ideas and I need to get them down. PSYCHOPATHS ANONYMOUS hasn’t been out that long, so people are still talking about that. I’m in the editing phase of THE DAVES NEXT DOOR, which is due in July, and I am currently writing my book for the end of the year, which is preliminarily called SUICIDE THURSDAY. I’ve written some of it and I’ve got an idea of where it’s going to go but it’s not quite ready for me to really sit down and pound out the words.
I think I know my next four books and I’d like to branch out in the world of screenplays/stageplays at some point. I enjoy working hard and I love writing, so there is always something on the go.
J; Which of your books are you most proud of?
W; NOTHING IMPORTANT HAPPENED TODAY. Without a doubt. I don’t think there’s a book out there like it. I really managed to hit on something original there but I think, and it’s incredibly rare, it came out exactly as I wanted it to. I can think of things I would change in all of my other books but I just wouldn’t change anything in this. The prose was sparse but had the impact I wanted. I think my voice is at its strongest, too. I know that the subject matter is difficult and I know that the readers who don’t like it tend to really hate it but its point is to provoke that reaction, to get people thinking.
I’d love to feel that way again about a book but I’m not sure lightning will strike twice.
Thank you once again Will Carver for agreeing to be my blog guest, and also special thanks to Karen at Orenda books for arranging this and supporting me.
J: As always huge thanks to you Chris for being my Blog Guest this week.
J: I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of The Stonebridge Mysteries come from?
C: Writing is always something that I thought I’d like to have a go at, though I always thought that writers were untouchable rockstars! I never thought normal people like me could be an author. The Stonebridge idea came from being homesick during Lockdown 1. My flights back to Northern Ireland were cancelled and I was missing my family, so decided to write something quite light-hearted set in my hometown (which I subsequently changed the name of!) I wanted it to be a different thing to the Erika Piperseries, and I was loving the Cherringham series by Neil Richards and Matt Costello and wanted to write something in a similar vein.
J: Did you base the characters of Adam Whyte and Colin McLaughlin onanyone?
C: When I write them, I see myself very much as Adam and my best friend Colin as Colin! I’m shorter, he’s much more athletic and we both love an adventure. In one of the books, Adam has a man bun, which I’ve never had (and my wife would never allow it) so sometimes I live my dreams out through the characters!
J: Who would you like to see playing the parts of Adam and Colin, if The Stonebridge Mysteries were turned into a TV series? (I could SO see this happening!)
C: I’d love to see it on screen! I think because Colin is ginger, I could see Rupert Grint in that role. I think he could nail Colin’s laid-back nature. As for Adam, I think Tom Holland would be a good choice. He has that geeky but still cool attitude nailed down, though I think asking both of them to do TV would be a no-go!
J: As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?
C: I loved the Hardy Boys as a kid; I remember reading the series when I was in primary school. It was the first series I remember loving. Then, I discovered Harry Potter and then crime took over. The first series I remember reading was Richard Montanari’s Byrne and Balzano. I remember a crime scene where someone was torn apart by a chainsaw, and it opened my eyes to how barbaric books could be!
J: What is your favourite book you read in 2021?
C:2021 was a great year for books. I loved both books by Will Carver (TheBeresford and Psychopaths Anonymous), The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell was fantastic, but the overall winner was Vine Street by Dominic Nolan – it was so rich in detail, the characters were memorable and I was totally immersed by the end of page 1. I was also lucky enough to be sent books that are coming out in 2022 – particular favourites were Jack Jordan’s Do No Harm and Brian McGilloway’s The Empty Room. The new one from Neil Lancaster is an absolute belter, too. Away from crime, Steven Kedie has written a book about a long jumper’s rivalry across many years and competitions. It was absolutely brilliant.
J: Do you have a favourite Author? Or a favourite book of all time?
C:I have authors who I will drop everything for – Will Carver, Olivia Kiernan,Matt Wesolowski, Mick Herron – though I’m not sure I could pinpoint a favourite. Also, getting to know these people has been a true delight. My favourite book ever is a massive decision – one I’m not sure I’m up to. The first Harry Potter was such a formative book for me, and recently We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker has been the one that I recommend to anyone! Sorry for being so non-committal!
J: Your DI Erika Piper Series are more gritty and serious than Stonebridge, Will you be writing anymore?
C:I’ve just signed a new contract with Red Dog for 6 more Stonebridge Mysteries, so that’s going to be my main priority for a while. After finished Roses For The Dead, I was sure I was finished with Erika, but I have something brewing in my head. After Roses For The Dead, it felt like a logical place to leave it. She might return, but not for a while yet.
J: If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
C:Great question!! I don’t know if it can be considered a historical event or not (to me it absolutely is!), but I would’ve loved to be in the crowd at Nirvana’s appearance at the Reading Festival in 1992. Kurt Cobain is a hero of mine, and to see him come out on the wheelchair, before launching into Breed would’ve been a dream. When I first started learning guitar, I watched this gig so many times. They were the biggest band in the world and it was also their final gig in the UK. It would’ve been cool to say I’d been there. Sadly, I was only 4!
J: If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?
C:I would invite Bob Mortimer, as I think he would provide an evening of wonderful entertainment. I loved Shooting Stars when I was a kid (highly inappropriate, probably!) and his fishing show is an absolute treat! I think Stephen King would be good, as I’m sure he has many stories, and some of his magic might rub off on me! I’m a massive Frank Turner fan, and he always comes across as a very cool guy. He might also get his acoustic out, which would be awesome! As a massive football fan (I’m a Liverpool fan), I’d invite Jurgen Klopp. I would love to hear all about the behind the scenes of winning the league and whatnot. Those four would make it an awesome night.
J: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
C:New Zealand, for two reasons. Firstly, I think it looks beautiful, and two, I’m a massive fan of the Flight of the Conchords. If I could be transported, that’d be fantastic, as the length of flight puts me off!
J: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
C:With regards to writing, it was something John Connelly said. It was ‘even if you are feeling tired, move the story on a little each day, even if it is only by one sentence.’ It’s a great piece of advice because I often think “Eughh, I can’t be bothered today”, but I always feel better for having sat down in front of the laptop.
J: Do you have a hidden talent?
C:Not really! I like doing lots of things – I like drawing but I’m not great at it, I love playing football but I’m bang average. I play the guitar and used to be pretty good, but my skills have depleted due to a lack of practice. Perhaps my crowning achievement is having a song I wrote (Fakes And Mistakes) for my university band (Oxygen Therapy) featured on Loaded’s website as the song of the month. For a 19-year-old, that was pretty cool
J: Are you currently writing another book?
C:Yes, just as I finish this wonderful Q&A, I am about to go back and open the document entitled Mile High City. It is about a PI called Irving Ash, who has been hired to track down a missing porn star. It is set in Denver, Colorado, and is quite violent and sweary. I think it’ll be a standalone, so anything could happen! I’m hoping to have the second edit done in the next few days, but who knows if it’ll ever see the light of day. I’ve loved writing it!
J: Thank you Chris MacDonald for your fabulous answers and some exclusives! It’s been great to get to know you better!
You can buy all of Chris MacDonalds Books at Red Dog PressHERE
I’d Like to start by asking, Have you always wanted to be a writer? And, Where did the idea of Shiver come from?
I always loved books as a child and my first ever job was in a local second-hand bookstore: a Saturday job when I was fourteen that continued for many years. I think working there, surrounded by books, made me think I’d love to write one myself, one day! But the owner impressed on me how hard it was to get a book published, so I figured I’d need a day job and could write as a hobby.
In my twenties, I was a freestyle snowboarder, living and training in the snowy mountains. I began writing a different mountain-set thriller, and struggled with it for the next 20 years without managing to finish it! When I finally put it aside, the idea for Shiver came immediately. Several elements combined in my head: Agatha Christie’s incredible novel And Then There Were None; the dangers of the high-mountains; and a couple of news articles, one about hikers in the mountains who’d seen a hand protruding from the ice, and one about one of my favourite athletes who was renowned for playing mind games with his opponents.
How much research did you have to do for Shiver?
Very little! My snowboarding years were 20 years ago, and I haven’t seen real snow for over a decade, but my memories of that time were still so vivid. All I really did was watch YouTube videos with today’s top snowboarders, to see how the sport has progressed since I retired from it.
Who would you like to see playing the parts of Mila, Curtis, Saskia & Brent, if Shiver is turned into a Movie?
I sold the TV option very early on, and I’m hoping it might be turned into a 6-8 part TV series! I can totally imagine Chris Hemsworth playing the role of Curtis Sparks! And I’d love to see two of my favourite British snowboarders, Katie Ormerod and Aimee Fuller playing Milla and Saskia! Not sure about Brent – any suggestions?
As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or watcher of television? Doyou have a favourite childhood book?
I was an avid reader! For many years my sister and I were the only kids in our school who didn’t have a television at home. We felt hard done by at the time, but looking back I think it was brilliant because it increased my love of reading and I also had a very active outdoors childhood. I loved Enid Blyton, Anne of Green Gables, The Willard Price adventure stories, and then moved on to Agatha Christie and my mum’s collection of action thrillers.
What is your favourite book you’ve read in 2021 and why?
Beartown by Fredrick Backman. It’s not my usual genre (thrillers!) but I’d seen so many rave reviews and I also liked the sports aspect. I totally loved it. The writing is so beautiful and the author effortlessly evokes emotion.
If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
That’s such an intriguing question! Can I pass? Most historical events I can think of are sad or terrifying!
Do you have a favourite author or favourite book of all time?
Lee Child is my go-to author for pure escapism! I’ve read all his books. I love how he writes! It’s so readable, with moments of humour, and such great storytelling.
What’s something you think every person should experience in their lifetime?
Surfing! I only picked it up as a ‘safe’ sport, after quitting snowboarding in my late twenties. I didn’t realise it’s actually classed as an extreme sport, and I’ve since suffered some quite serious injuries from it but there’s something incredibly special and extremely addictive about being out in the ocean on a board.
You can pick 4 famous people, dead or alive, for a dinner party, who would you pick and why?
I’ll go with athletes that I massively admire: Kelly Slater (world champion surfer who also seems like an extremely intelligent person), Keala Kennelly (fearless female big wave surfer), Aimee Fuller (British snowboarder- turned TV presenter who is apparently game to try any sport going and seems like so much fun) and early freestyle snowboarding pioneer Terje Hakonsen. We’d discuss surfing and snowboarding all night long and also aspects of health and nutrition which is another of my big interests.
When you’re writing do like silence or do you listen to music?
I need total silence. Which isn’t always easy to find as I’m a single mum of two small and very energetic boys. I often wear earplugs to block out distractions!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Edit, edit, edit! And never give up. The first draft is always terrible but if you keep polishing it, you might hopefully find gold.
If your home was on fire and you only had time to grab 3 things, what would they be?
Photo albums of my kids. And an early ARC of Shiver!
Are you currently writing another book?
Yes, I’m just doing final edits on my next thriller THE BAY. It’s set on a remote Australian beach. Think: Point Break meets The Beach. It’s out in June 2022.
About Allie Reynolds
I was once a freestyle snowboarder in the UK top ten at the halfpipe. I spent five winters in the mountains of France, Switzerland, Austria and Canada.
I taught English for fifteen years. I’ve also been a London primary school teacher, bookshop assistant, barmaid, nanny and French teacher/translator. My short fiction has appeared in women’s magazines in the UK, Australia, Sweden and South Africa. I’ve been a full-time writer since 2018.
Born and raised in Lincoln, England, I moved to Gold Coast Australia in 2003. I have two young children and a cat who thinks he’s a dog.
Thank you so much Rod for agreeing to do a Q&A session for my blog!My pleasure – thank you for having me!
I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? What was the inspiration for Black Reed Bay?I’ve always been a big reader but I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer – I come from a working-class background and, simply put, I didn’t know anyone who did a job like that. I was inspired to try writing by a combination of a former boss of mine who was writing a book and encouraged me to give it a go and was inspired when I discovered James Ellroy’s books. I’d never read anything like them at the time, and it made me want to be able to grip a reader the way his books did me.
Black Reed Baywas inspired by the real-life crimes attributed to the Long Island Serial Killer. I read some of the news coverage at the time, in around 2012, and there were some similarities with the book I was working on at the time (my debut novel, The Dark Inside) in terms of the bleakness of the locale and the hints of institutional corruption. I followed the case intermittently for a number of years (it’s still unsolved) and finally felt ready to write about it a couple of years ago.
Did you want to raise awareness to the victims of The Long Island Killer? Not necessarily – I feel like the media coverage of the case has done and will do a better job of that than I ever could (although if the book does raise awareness in any small way, then that’s a bonus) but I was very wary of writing about the case because of the devastating impact the murders have had on so many lives – both the victims and the family members who are left behind – and I wanted to make sure I could write the book without being disrespectful to those affected, or inadvertently adding to their suffering in any way.
How easy was it to write from a female point of view with DS Casey Wray? I didn’t find that aspect too tricky. My previous book, Blood Red City, featured a female protagonist, and I enjoyed bringing her to life. Obviously, as a writer, when you approach any character you want to make them credible and authentic, so I was doubly aware of that when writing a female character, but one of the things I wanted to do with Casey was to make her a normal person, who just happens to do an extraordinary job, so that allowed me to draw on elements of people I’ve know from all walks of life, to help create her – in terms of her sense of humour, for example, or her tenacity or self-doubt.
If Black reed Bay was turned into a movie/tv adaptation, who would you like to play DS Casey Wray and David Cullen? I always struggle with these questions because I don’t really ‘see’ my characters when I’m writing them – I’m almost watching the story unfold through their eyes – so I guess I just need to choose actors I enjoy watching. I’ve always liked Mark Ruffalo and I think he’s got that ‘everyman’ quality that would suit Cullen. For Casey, I think Toni Collette is an incredible actress, with the ability to portray strength and vulnerability all at the same time, so she would be perfect for Casey.
As a child growing up, were you an avid reader? Do you have a favourite book from your childhood? Yes, I was always a big reader – even down to the old cliché of reading with a torch under my duvet so I could cram a bit more reading time in. Like a lot of people, Enid Blyton’s books were the first ones to really grab me, so I read all the Famous Five and Secret Seven books I could get my hands on. The first ‘grown up’ book I read was when I was ten or eleven, my sister’s copy of The Firm by John Grisham, and I can still remember now how tense it made me feel – I was absolutely gripped.
What is your favourite book you read in 2021, and why?Since 2022 has just started, I’ll base this on 2021! I read a lot of great books last year, but my favourite was probably True Crime Story by Joseph Knox. I really enjoyed Knox’s previous trilogy, but even though this was a bit of a departure from those books, the trademarks that set his writing apart were all there, and I loved the oral-history style of the book and the way he weaved himself into the story.
Do you have a favourite author or favourite book of all time?I’ve got dozens of favourite authors, but I’ll stick with James Ellroy for my choice here, for the reasons mentioned above. My favourite book of his is The Big Nowhere – it’s the story where he really found his chops and established the three-protagonist structure he’d use for his more famous works. Even though it’s a gritty noir, it’s written with real heart, and at its core is a love story (even though the author would probably dispute that!) with one of the most poignant endings I’ve ever read (and my favourite in all of fiction).
If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?Wow, there are so many I could list here. JFK’s assassination would be up there, because it fascinates me, and knowing all the things we know now, I’d be looking in about fifteen directions at once to see what really happened…
You can pick 4 famous people, dead or alive, for a dinner party, who would you pick and why?Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Hunter S. Thompson. You’d have arguments for years, and HST stirring it all up.
When you’re writing do like silence or do you listen to music? I don’t have a rule on this, depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes it’s silence, sometimes it’s anything from instrumental to Metallica.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?Writing advice? Read your work aloud to yourself. It’s the best way to catch clunky dialogue and all sorts of other duff bits of writing.If you mean life advice, I’d go with…stretch more as you get older!
What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received?My kids? Am I allowed to say that? Or is that too saccharine? If we’re talking material things, probably dinner at a rooftop hotel in Miami just after our wedding. Best views, best food, best cocktails I’ve ever had!
Are you currently writing another book?I’m always writing another book in one way or another, even if it’s just letting ideas develop in my head. I’ve not been as productive as I would’ve hoped over the last couple of years, thanks to lockdowns and homeschooling, so I am hoping to ramp up again in 2022, and there is a side project I’ve had on the back burner that I’m slowly re-working. But I would like to start work on a new manuscript this year – maybe that should be my new year’s resolution…!
As always, I must say a huge thank you to Rod Reynolds for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions,
You can follow Rod – Twitter HERE Facebook HERE or Rod’s website HERE
Welcome to my Guest Author this week, Harry Fisher, Author of the DS Mel Cooper series – Be Sure Your Sins & Way Beyond A Lie
I’d like to start by asking, what jobs you have done before becoming a full-time writer, and was it something you always wanted to do?
I had a career in telecoms and computing before taking redundancy and setting myself up in business as a training consultant – in Management and IT skills. The latter was hard work but great fun, and helping trainees, was incredibly rewarding. But was it what I always wanted to do? Em, no. Alpine guide, forensic scientist, international bestselling author – one of those, probably.
Way Beyond A Lie seems to be a story warning us of the dangers of the modern world, what inspired you to write it?
Cliché alert – I always fancied the idea of writing a book. The problem was finding a story that held water, then my wife disappeared from sight one day in a supermarket – temporarily, I hasten to add – and that’s where the idea came from. All my books have a technological element so that’s what brought the “dangers of the modern world” bit in. I didn’t plan it, instead it evolved, and the more I researched it the more relevant these dangers became. Some of the tales I heard about people falling victim would break your heart. In one case, the bank and the police strongly advised an individual they were being scammed but they still went ahead and lost a high six-figure sum. Hard to imagine how you live with that.
I found Ross McKinlay’s character to be very naive and wanted to shout at him! Why did you make him so out of touch with technology?
Poor Ross. He has no kids, no one to drag him into the 21st Century by insisting he learn and use all things IT. As an accountant, there was always someone in the practice to provide him with the support he needed, so he didn’t have to bother. So technology just kind of passed him by. But he’s not unusual actually – we have several friends not much older than Ross who utterly refuse to do Internet Banking, who spurned Zoom during Lockdown, who want nothing to do with social media … and on and on. So yes, he may have been naïve, or maybe he was just the type of guy who trusted people because he didn’t see the bad in everybody.
Who would you like to see playing the parts of Ross McKinlay and DS Mel Cooper, if Way Beyond A Lie is turned into a TV Show/Movie?
Oh my gosh, I’m asked this all the time and it doesn’t get any easier to answer. But definitely Dougray Scott for Ross – he’s an excellent actor, and he and I support the same football team, as does Ross. I’ll tag him on the post for your blog … unless anybody out there knows him and can pass this on. Mel is far more tricky because I can’t think of a Scottish actor who is the right fit. But then again, does Mel have to be Scots? If the voice and the attitude are right, she could be a Geordie or from Yorkshire
DS Mel Cooper is a strong female Detective in Way Beyond A Lie and Be Sure Your Sins, is it important to have a strong Female character in your books?
I guess it’s not about whether the female character is strong, it’s about whether every character has something about them that the reader loves, or really doesn’t like, or makes them feel something – anything. When Mel and Andrew first appeared in Way Beyond A Lie, so many people (including people I’d never met so they had no allegiance) told me they loved the characters so it was a no-brainer to give them their own series. Just one thing, though – as a reader I was fed up of lead police characters always having baggage or major flaws in their psyche so I decided (for better or worse) that Mel would just be a straightforward honest hardworking cop whose only motivation was to catch the bad guys. Any baggage she has is just the normal crap that life throws at most of us to deal with.
As a child growing up, were you a book reader? Do you have a favourite childhood book?
Yes. I read lots. Don’t have a favourite childhood book but the Biggles series by Capt W.E.Johns – I read it over and over. Airborne derring-do against the dastardly Baron Von Richthofen – France, WW1.
What is your favourite book you’ve read this year and why?
Blackout by Simon Scarrow. Berlin, late 1930s, world-weary detective trying to operate while under the threat of the Nazi party’s excesses against the Jews and any other section of society they deemed unworthy. Scarrow’s attention to detail is meticulous, I read a few of his books about Roman times, they were fab too. The reason I liked Blackout is that it’s set in a period of history I’m very interested in and have read widely.
What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received?
The travel bug. (Some bugs are good bugs). But see next question …
Tell us something we don’t know about you!
I’ve climbed over 300 mountains, mostly with my wife, Shiona, and a few with friends. In Scotland, we have “The Munros” – mountains over 3000 feet, some have a sea-level start or are miles from the nearest road so quite an undertaking. Some we’ve climbed in full-on winter conditions – ice axes, crampons, frozen fringes, the works. We’ve also hiked extensively in the French Alps, and our honeymoon was a three-day snowshoe trek down a series of glaciers near Mt Blanc, carrying all our own food and equipment and staying in remote mountain huts (no showers!) Also, we’ve hiked mountain trails across Europe and in Tasmania, Canada and New England. In fact, I began working on the plot for Way Beyond A Lie while on a 7-day solo walking holiday in the Julian Alps, Slovenia.
If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
I’d like to have witnessed the mass immigration into the USA at EllisIsland (NY) from Europe and followed the experiences of some of those who made it through. We visited Ellis Island on a trip to NYC and it was far and away the best thing we did. Such an atmosphere. Such amazing tales from the tour guide who “just luuved our Scaattish accents”.
You can pick 4 famous people, dead or alive, for a dinner party, who would you pick and why?
Ernest Shackleton – so I can ask him all about his Antarctic expeditions. Neil Young – I’ve been a fan of his music since about 1970. Charles Dickens – I’d be so interested to hear about the writing process back in those days. No MS Word way back then. And Neil Armstrong – come on, did you really go to the moon or was it actually filmed in a Hollywood studio?
When you’re writing do like silence or do you listen to music?
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t let the sun go down on an argument. Says it all, really. (Thank you, Auntie Irene)
Are you currently writing another book?
My latest crime thriller – Yes,I Killed Her– has reached the editing and polishing stages. Due in June 2022, it’s the second book in the DS Mel Cooper series. I’ve recently become fascinated with the concept of the perfect murder but (with apologies for the terrible pun) it’s probably already been done to death. However, this is a contemporary thriller so here’s the thing: with rapid and ingenious advances in forensic science – both biological and digital, omnipresent CCTV and electronic footprints as wide as a Yeti’s, is the perfect murder even remotely possible?