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 Ellis Island (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?
Philip Walker (the bad guy) believes it is.
DS Mel Cooper begs to differ.
So, game on. !!