J; Thank you so much Sam for being a guest on my blog, I’m so honoured!
SH: Thank you for having me!
J: I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of The Echo Man come from, as it’s so unique!
SH: I’ve always wanted to be an author, but I never really believed it was something I could achieve. I took a more standard career first – doing a degree in Psychology then working in HR for fifteen years. But I’ve always loved books and wanted to write, and eventually I just thought ‘sod it!’ and put fingers to keyboard.
The idea for The Echo Man came from a perfect storm of TV watching. I’d been enjoying a lot of David Fincher’s work – films like Fight Club and Se7en – and had just started watching Mindhunter. The serial killers, combined with dark, scratchy scenes got me thinking – why wouldn’t a narcissistic, sadistic killer also watch this stuff? And what better people to teach him the craft, than those who had come before him? And so The Echo Man was born.
J: How much research did you do into the killings in The Echo Man?
SH: A huge amount! I wanted to make sure I got the little details correct, so I started reading biographies and watching documentaries on the serial killers I wanted to include. Dahmer, Bundy (so much on Bundy!), the GSK, Manson. At one point I had a list of serial killers covering my whiteboard, including how and who they killed. It was quite a sight! In the end I read over a dozen books on serial killers and their psychology – it’s a fascinating subject.
J; Who would you like to see playing the parts of Jess Ambrose, DS Nate Griffin, DCI Cara Elliott, DS Noah Deakin and DC Toby Shenton if The Echo Man was turned into a TV series/Movie?
SH: When I’m writing I have a board next to my desk with images of what the characters look like – so this is an easy question. Nate Griffin is a young Karl Urban, Jess Ambrose – Brie Larson. Cara Elliott is a brunette Emily Blunt, and Noah Deakin is an Israeli actor called Tomar Kapon. Shenton, I’m not sure about. He always had an ethereal quantity to him – so a previously unknown actor, I think.
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?
SH: Both! I read a huge number of books, but I also devoured films and TV. I remember I used to watch the old Poirot with David Suchet. When I was a child, I loved Stephen King and Dean Koontz although thinking about it now I must have been far too young. Explains a lot, I think.
J: What is your favourite book you read in 2021?
SH: So many. Push by Audrey Audrain. We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker. Vine Street by Dominic Nolan. I went through all of the Aidan Waits books by Joseph Knox and loved those. We are going through an incredible time at the moment for crime fiction; there are too many books I am desperate to read. This year I am making my way through Mo Hayder’s back catalogue – they are fantastic.
J: Do you have a favourite Author? Or a favourite book of all time?
SH: I have some go to authors: Jane Harper, Tim Winton, Maggie O’Farrell, Eva Dolan, Cara Hunter, to name a few. I buy their books the moment they’re released; they never disappoint. Favourite book of all time is very hard to quantify. The crime book taking the top spot at the moment is The Lost Man by Jane Harper. I love it with a passion and recommend it to anyone who asks.
J: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
SH: New Zealand. I have a long-held aspiration to tour the country in a campervan. One day, maybe.
J: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
SH: In terms of being a writer it has to be a toss-up between two. Stephen King: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And Jodi Picoult: “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Simple but very true.
J: If you were moving to another country, but could only pack one carry-on sized bag, what would you pack?
SH: Is it just me? Let’s assume so because if I’m taking the dog or the child I would definitely need more luggage!
Laptop, notebook, pen. Phone – with a few books saved in case I can’t get my hands on proper paperbacks. Jeans, favourite hoodie, boots. Running shoes. Headphones. Passport. Driver’s licence. This is a very dull but practical answer, sorry!
J: Do you have a hidden talent?
SH: I can cross my eyes then move one eye independently, does that count? Not much of a talent!
J: Are you currently writing another book?
SH: I am currently editing the follow up to The Echo Man – called The Twenty (title may yet change!) about a serial killer counting down from twenty. There’s a lot more going on though – blood, phobias, love, regret. It looks at the duality of personality – who we are from the outside and the secrets we hold within. Very dark and lots of fun.
We meet some new characters – in particular DCI Adam Bishop who, like Nate Griffin before him, I am slightly obsessed with. Dark and disturbed, as all irresistible men are.
It’s not a sequel but in the same world – so Cara makes a few cameos and there are other characters you’ll recognise. It’s out Spring 2023, and already I can’t wait.
You can BUY The Echo Man HERE