#GuestAuthor on this weeks #Blog #AlexSegura @alex_segura discussing #SecretIdentity and more!

JW: I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of Secret Identity come from?

AS: I think so. There was never a moment where lightning struck, or a bat flew through my window and I realized “I must become…a writer!” I always loved stories – comics, novels, history. While consuming these stories, even as a kid, I’d try to write my own – either with characters I knew, or new ones. It just felt natural. Eventually, you discover it’s a profession and a business, but it all starts very innocently – it’s just something I did, and I’m lucky I can continue to do it.

The idea for Secret Identity came in different ways – the idea for comic book sequences in the novel was spurred by having read Michael Chabon’s stupendous The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which is one of my favourite novels ever. I loved Chabon’s first two novels, but this book really hit home for me – for obvious reasons. But the thing that I was left wanting was the comics. I wanted to read The Escapist books while reading the prose. The idea just stuck with me. At the same time, I was in a short story writing class in college, and I wrote a draft for a story that featured a comic book company employee discovering a lost comic book hero and writing their adventures. It was called “Sometimes Green,” and while I don’t have the story anymore – the idea, of a lost character – seemed to stick in my brain. A few years later, living in Miami and working as an editor for my newspaper’s website, I started dabbling with a superhero idea – called the Lynx. It was very different from the Legendary Lynx, but the name also stuck with me.

So, fast forward to around 2019, and I’ve finished up my PI series set in Miami and started working on a Star Wars novel. I knew my next crime novel would be something different – if not a standalone, then at least something tighter and more limited. I landed on the idea of doing a comic book noir – a murder mystery set in the comic book industry. But having read a ton of books about comics and the characters that populate that world, I knew I wanted it to be an era in stark contrast to today. That’s why I landed on 1975 – and that’s when Carmen walked into my mind, and when the other ideas – comic book sequences, the Lynx, and the basic plot – appeared again, ready to be pulled off my mental shelf.

JW: I loved Secret identity and the fact that Carmen (lead character) is so complex and a lover of Comics. Did you base her on yourself?

AS: Carmen and I have a lot in common, for sure – I believe very strongly in writing about people like me. For most of my childhood and well into my twenties, it was hard to find books and stories that featured Cuban-American people in the starring role – not as a sidekick, or funny friend, or drug dealer/villain. It was tiresome. So once I started creating my own stories, I wanted to really show that there was real flexibility there. Heroes and protagonists didn’t look just one way. Many if not all of my characters – Pete Fernandez, The Black Ghost, the Dusk, Carmen – are Cuban-Americans from Miami. I really believe that identification is such a powerful force, and as a kid, it meant so much to me to see people like me in movies or books or comics. That said, Carmen and I are also different – she’s a queer woman living in 1975. I’m a straight man living in 2022. I had to be mindful of that and do the work – sensitivity readers, research, everything. I had to make sure that my interpretation and story resonated and felt true to her. It was very important for me to try and get that right. That said, it’s a mystery, and that’s the goal first and foremost, and I wanted to present her the way she appeared to me in my mind, but I also took that job very seriously. It was all about striking that balance and being thoughtful and transparent. I’m proud of the character that’s on the page and I’m thankful to the many people who read the book at various stages to give me feedback and insight, to make sure it landed properly.

JW: Who would you like to see playing the part of carmen Valdez if Secret Identity was turned into a TV series? (I could SO see this happening!)

AS: Great question! I often do a running “cast” document while writing a book – where I drop in pictures of actors and places. I guess it’s a mediocre vision board, haha. For Carmen, I cast Ana de Armas, who I think is an amazing actress.

Ana de Armas

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?

AS: Oh, I loved all kinds of entertainment. In terms of books, Bridge to Terabithia stands out – it was the first book that dealt with death that I read, and it was so thoughtful and intensely written, that it sticks with me today. As far as TV – I loved cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series, He-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and lots of Star Trek.

JW: Which book, that you read in 2021, has been your favourite?

AS: I absolutely loved Like A Sister by Kellye Garrett. Kellye is a dear friend and our publishing journeys have run parallel – so it was great to see this book launch alongside Secret Identity. It’s an amazing, taut, sharply-written, and evocative – loaded with great characters and the kind of family drama that really makes it propulsive. I loved this book.

JW: Who do you most admire?

AS: My maternal grandfather was a great person – try to be like him every day.

JW: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

AS: My kids! Professionally, it’s probably SECRET IDENTITY.

JW: If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?

AS: A great question! The music nerd in me would love to be on that rooftop in London for the last Beatles live performance.

03/1/1969 the Beatles

JW: What is something you are passionate about aside from writing?

AS: Music. I obsess over different artists, played in bands for a long time, and just love that world.

JW: If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?

AS: Jose Marti. Patricia Highsmith. James Baldwin. Robert F. Kennedy.

JW; What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

AS; “”Finish what you start and treat writing like the job you want it to become.“”

JW; Whats next? What are you currently working on??

AS; I’m working on a sequel to SECRET IDENTITY set in the modern-day.

Some absolutely great answers there from Alex Segura, and I am so looking forward to the Sequel to Secret Identity!

To find out more about Alex Segura head over to his website HERE

#GuestAuthor #Rod Reynolds @Rod_WR @BlackReedBay @OrendaBooks – answers my #questions

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 Bay was 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

#Thankyou to the #Authors who joined me on my #Blog in #2021

A huge thank you to the following Authors who very kindly joined me on my Blog in 2021, and answered my questions. I am extremely grateful for your support and loved reading your books!

Danny Marshall @DLMWrites Author of the blindingly brilliant John Tyler Series – Anthrax island & Black Run

Alex Chaudri @AAChaudhuri Author of the unputdownable She’s Mine

Nadine Matheson @nadinematheson Author of the Brilliant The Jigsaw Man, (An Inspector Henley Thriller) is one of the only books to make me physically gag! I cannot wait for Book 2!

Harry Fisher @HFwritesCrime Author of the great Be Sure Your Sins & Way Beyond A Lie (DS Mel Cooper Series)

Pam Lecky @pamlecky Author of Her Secret War, a great read.

#StuartMacBride legendary multi award winning Author of The Coffin Makers Garden and my first guest, I am forever grateful to you!

Awais Khan @AwaisKhanAuthor Author of 2021’s book of the decade No Honour, and someone who I now consider my friend.

I never thought when I started blogging what the future held, but I am enjoying it and the books have been excellent ( keep them coming!)

There will lot’s of authors coming in 2022…look out for the first in the next few days!