Anthrax Island is on sale now and Black Run ( John Tyler 2) will be released on 2/12/2021 in the UK
Danny Marshall is the most brilliant Author of Anthrax Island and Black Run Thrillers, Thank you so much Danny for agreeing to do a Guest Author Q&A session for my blog!
No, thank you!
I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And how did you start?
The really short answer is no! For the simple fact that it just didn’t cross my mind that it was a road open to me. Not just that I didn’t think I could do it, but that the thought never even entered my head.
Did you have to do much research for the characters in Anthrax Island? Is John Tyler based on yourself??
There’s usually something of an author, I think. It’s probably his cynicism and sarcasm. And dodgy knees.
There’s a little bit of Harry Palmer’s disdain for authority, and Bodie’s (the Professionals) swagger (more later). There’s some of Phillip Calvert from Alistair MacLean’s When Eight Bells Toll. But the main influence was the Ian Fleming novel Moonraker – which is very different to the film. The premise is James Bond going undercover in the UK – something MI6 wouldn’t normally get wrapped up in – and I was obsessed with the idea of using a tough, battle-hardened merc to undertake what should really be a police investigation, within the UK. But without the things, the police would enjoy – no forensics, no backup.
A lot of the characters are amalgamations of various people I either know or from films/TV. Captain Greenbow, for instance, is heavily inspired by Colonel Breen from the Hammer film version of Quatermass and the Pit. Incidentally, Julian Glover also plays what I consider to be an older incarnation of the same character in the film version of Frederick Forsyth’s The Fourth Protocol!
The plot and storyline of Anthrax Island is epic and a real page-turner, how did you come up with the plot, what influenced you?
Haha, thank you! The plot, in its basic form, was originally a murder mystery set on a ship! It was inspired very much by Agatha Christie and Jonathan Creek. Simultaneously I was scribbling ideas for a horror set on Gruinard Island – the real star of the book. Neither idea was really working on its own so I made the decision to combine the two.
Growing up did you face any challenges, and who was/were your role model/s?
I’m very lucky and had a brilliant early childhood. My parents didn’t have a lot of money at times, I didn’t have decent brand trainers until I was about 15 and a lot of my toys came from second-hand shops. My computer was always two generations behind my friends and I didn’t go abroad until my late teens. But I was happy, I was healthy, I’m fortunate that I was never bullied. My biggest challenge came when my parents separated when I was 14, which is a difficult time. My childhood abruptly stopped at that moment.
My idol when I was a young child was my uncle Gary. He was a couple of years younger than my dad and had moved away from Halifax down to Devon, which was very exotic. He was a live-in chef for a well-known singer at the time, then became a postie, and he was absolutely the coolest person I knew.
Who would you like to see playing the part of John Tyler, if Anthrax Island was turned into a Movie/TV Show?
Pass! I’m not saying. I do have a very clear idea, as I wrote the book while watching a particular TV show that was on at the time. Tyler became, visually in my head at least, one of the characters on screen.
I will say the character on screen was most definitely a baddie…
As a child growing up, were you an avid reader, or were TV Shows your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book?
Both! I’m lucky to have been the right age in the decade that had the very best TV – the ‘80s.
I loved reading as a child. My favourite ‘adult’ fiction book, that I remember, is Dumas’ The Three Muskateers. I got a copy from my Nanna for Christmas when I was about 8 and read it several times. However, what I really loved reading more than anything else, were my dad’s Unexplained books. They terrified me but I was absolutely obsessed.
What is your favourite book you’ve read this year and why?
That’s a really tough one. Adam Simcox’s The Dying Squad is phenomenal and introduces such a vivid world. Rob Parker’s Blackstoke really speaks to that kid who loved the unexplained and The X-Files. If I was forced to pick one then Tim Glister’s Red Corona is amazing. Classic Deighton-Esque espionage packed full of the kind of facts that really make you believe it happened. I’m currently reading an early copy of the sequel and it’s even better!
John Tyler has a fantastic car, what influenced you into writing the Ford Capri into Anthrax Island?
I’m a huge car fan, in particular, retro stuff from the ‘70s and ‘80s. I go to a lot of car shows, I’ve had old Toyotas and Datsuns, and some quite rare stuff, but in my twenties, I had two Ford Capris. Beautiful cars and excellent to drive, the driving position is the best of any car I’ve owned. A lot of people sneer or laugh at them but there’s a reason they were so loved.
If I tell you the book was originally set in 1982 it makes more sense. If Tyler is partly inspired by Bodie from The Professionals, then you can see where the car comes in…
Do you have a favourite author or favourite book of all time?
Yes, but the two answers are different I think. So my favourite author is a now mostly forgotten thriller writer from Bradford called John Broxholme, who wrote under the name Duncan Kyle (he changed it to sound Scottish, as the best thriller writers were at the time (a lot are now too), notably the great Alistair MacLean). You can trace a clear line from his Terror’s Cradle and In Deep to Anthrax Island.
My favourite book is The Hound of the Baskervilles. It’s the book I’ve read most, and I read it most years in autumn. Most of the various screen adaptations are great too. I think it has a special resonance as we used to go to my uncle’s in Devon pretty much every year when I was a kid. Not to Dartmoor, to Exmoor, but the various legends from down that way fascinated me. It’s no coincidence that Black Run ends there!
If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
Tough one, as I’m a huge history fan and love to learn about various periods and events, but I think I’d say January 1649. The execution of King Charles 1st. That sounds grim, it’s not that I want to see someone have their head chopped off, but it’s such a pivotal moment in English history – and the ramifications hit the rest of the British Isles and beyond. I love that period in history. I can absolutely trace it to a project in junior school on Oliver Cromwell.
You can pick 4 famous people, dead or alive, for a dinner party, who would you pick and why?
Firstly, my girlfriend, so I don’t have to talk to my guests (I’m ridiculously shy). Isambard Kingdom Brunel jumped into my head immediately, he’s a hero of mine. Then Niki Minaj, who I don’t know much about but genuinely, she seems hilarious. She’s off her head but you need people like that. Finally, Sabine Schmitz, a German racing driver who any Top Gear fan will know as the most enthusiastic and energetic person to appear on the show. She inspired the best character in Black Run. She very sadly passed away just as I finished writing it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Listen to it all but you don’t have to take it.
Do you play music when writing, and if so what’s your favourite?
Without a doubt The Essential James Bond by The City Of Prague Philharmonic. It’s their instrumental version of most of the theme music, some of them are absolutely fantastic – particularly their On Her Majesty’s Secret Service which segues into View To A Kill.
What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received?
Without getting sentimental or mushy over certain gifts, the one that really sticks was one Christmas when my parents must have been flush and bought me almost every Star Wars figure. They used to list them all on the back of the packs and my mum had clearly gone round ticking them off. Plus there were a couple of vehicles too. Most of my Star Wars toys were from the charity shop so were missing bits, but for the first time, I had brand new vehicles!
Are you currently writing another book?
I wrote a standalone a little while ago before I wrote Black Run, which I’m now tweaking then deciding what to do with. And I’m starting to write a new novel…