#Guest #Author #JamesMylet @JamesMylet author of #TheHomes @ViperBooks @UA_Books published 22.05.2022

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.

Quarrier’s Home’s Children’s Houses on Faith Avenue (Dalry Home nearest Camera) 2005 @ Peter Higginbotham

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.

https://twitter.com/menwritewomen?lang=en

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.

Peter Mullan

JW: I have to add here that I think Tessa Peake-Jones would be brilliant as Mrs Patterson!!

Tessa Peake -Jones

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.

Football – 1988 / 1989 First Division – Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2 The press team sheet list the players for the title-deciding game at Anfield. 26/05/1989

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.

Father John Misty

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.

James Mylet

You can Pre-order The Homes HERE

You can follow James Mylet on TWITTER FACEBOOK

#GuestAuthor #PaulCleave @PaulCleave author of the brilliant #TheQuietPeople @OrendaBooks

J: Thank you so much Paul for being a guest on my blog, I’m so honoured!

J: I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of The Quiet People come from?

PC: Yes – for as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to write. But – growing up, it never seemed like a reality. It’s not like teachers at our schools are saying “that sounds like a realistic way to make a living”. So I never really believed I could be one. Then – when I was 19, a friend at the time asked – “If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?” I said I’d like to be a writer. She said, “why not try?” And I thought, yeah, I actually could try. So I did. I tried for years and years… going from novel to novel getting experience, and just a quick 12 years later my first book came out, and the crazy thing is that’s getting up to almost 20 years ago. My characters don’t age, but I do… and quickly too, it seems.

As for TQP – well, the idea came from the idea if I ever got married, and something bad happened to my wife – like – maybe she’d fall down a flight of stairs, or disappear – I would be blamed for it because crime writers would be able to stage such a thing. Could we? Probably. The idea scares me enough that I can’t get married… since I have stairs in my house.

J: Your insight into what a parent’s mind could be like when a child goes missing is impeccable, did you do any research into this?

PC: No, not into that – in these cases, I just do my best to capture what I imagine that grief would be like. But – this is the only book where I actually did do some research – I met with a Police Detective here in Christchurch and picked his brains as to how the investigation would unfold – first hour, the first evening, first day, what happens the second day, etc etc, and that gave me a roadmap for the first few days of the book. It was incredibly helpful – and to be honest, I felt bad because often when I write about the police in books, I have them chasing their tails for some time and making huge mistakes in the process… otherwise, they’d solve the crime by the end of chapter one.

J: Who would you like to see playing the parts of Lisa & Cameron and DI Rebecca Kent if The Quiet People was turned into a TV series/Movie?

PC: Oh geez – tough question, and until you asked it, I’ve never thought about it. Adam Driver would do a cool Cameron. Reese Witherspoon could do Lisa, and Halle Berry would make a nice Kent.

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?

PC: I was an avid reader – though I couldn’t name what I read back then as it’s all a blur. I still am. But of course, I’m a product of the 70s, which means I’m an 80s kid when it comes to TV – so The A-Team, MacGyver, Magnum – all that stuff I grew up with. My all-time favourite?  Probably Star Trek. I’m what I call a closet Trekkie.

J: What is your favourite book you read in 2021?

PC: Tough. I have two. One is called ‘Kill Your Brother’ by Jack Heath. The other was ‘The Hate U Give’ by ‘Angie Thomas’. Two very different books – the first was a lot of fun, the second confronting and important.

J: Do you have a favourite Author? Or a favourite book of all time?

PC: Favourite author – I guess Stephen King. It’s a bit of a cliché, but yes, I think he’s the best. Favourite book? Funnily enough, it’s not a King book, but it’d be The Passage, by Justin Cronin.

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

PC: Too many to choose from. But – it would be cool to go back in time and watch humans figure out what is edible. I’ve always wondered about that – in human history, people must have tried everything to know what tasted good and what didn’t, what had to be cooked and what could be raw. Would have been a messy time. So I’d love to see the moment where somebody looked at what fell out of chicken, and said, “Let’s try eating that”.

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

PC: Well, I guess I’d have to invite my Mum. She’s been dead a while, and I think she’d be slighted if I had other dead people around and didn’t ask her. But I wouldn’t want to get stuck talking to her all evening, so I’d probably invite one of her dead siblings so they could hang out. Then my Dad, who is very much alive, would be upset if he heard about this and hadn’t been invited, so I’d have to ask him too. Then I’d need somebody that I could talk to while those three are catching up because I’d get bored with them – I’d invite Tiger Woods in the hope he can help me with my slice.

J: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?

PC: I had some cool stuff for 2020 that all fell apart I’d still like to do – from the Northern Lights in Norway to Machu Picchu, to the Great Wall of China, to a trip through the Caribbean, Morocco, Jordan, Portugal, I had 15 countries lined up… as soon as our borders open I’ll try to make it happen. But where would I really love to go that I don’t think I’ll ever really get the chance? Antarctica. I have this thing where I like to throw my frisbee in as many countries as possible (42 at the moment), and even though Antarctica is a continent, I’d love to add it to my list. But it’s not an easy trip to make, nor is it cheap.

J: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

PC: Well, years ago Michael Robotham gave me some great advice – he said always have some go-to stories for when you’re on stage. It doesn’t matter what you’re being asked up there, but have four or five great stories and try to use one or two of them when you’re up there.

J: If you were moving to another country, but could only pack one carry-on sized bag, what would you pack?

PC: Haha – I always travel with carry-on size luggage – even if I’m heading to Europe for a month or two. Ipad, passport, cash, sneakers, shorts, jeans, jacket, t-shirts. That’s all I ever need. Plus a bunch of cables for charging stuff – half my luggage is cables.

J: Do you have a hidden talent?

PC: I can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under two minutes – or could use to. I know a couple of neat card tricks. And cats tend to like me.

J: Are you currently writing another book?

PC: Always!!

Paul Cleave is Christchurch born and raised, and other than a couple of years when he was living in London and bouncing around Europe a little, he’s always lived there. He started writing at nineteen when a friend asked him the classic question of ‘if there’s anything in life you could do for a living, what would it be?’ The answer was simple. He wanted to be a writer. For the next five years, he worked in the evenings on manuscripts that he has promised will never be taken out of the bottom drawer. Back then he wanted to write horror, and it was a few years in when he realised that crime – real-life crime – is horror. As he says, people don’t come home from vampire movies and lock their doors to keep them out, but they will come home from a movie like Silence of the Lambs and lock their doors in case the neighbour is planning on eating them. When he made that connection, he turned to writing dark crime fiction, writing first The Killing Hour, and then The Cleaner, in his mid-twenties. Not long after that Paul sold his house and lived with his parents so he could write full time – a gamble that paid off a few years later when Random House signed him up. From that point on he’s written his dark tales set in his home city, introducing Joe Middleton – the Christchurch Carver, and Melissa, and Theodore Tate, and Schroder, and Jerry Gray, among others to the world.
These days he still lives in Christchurch, but generally spends two or three months travelling overseas for book festivals and meeting readers and publishers and talking on stage. He always travels with his frisbee and throws it in as many countries as he can – often in iconic locations if possible. He’s thrown it on five continents, and in over forty countries – with the goal of throwing it in fifty before he’s 50. He’s also learning to play the guitar, he can hit a golf ball extremely far in the wrong direction, can do some basic card tricks, and he’s pretty handy with a power tool. He hates shopping and hates gardening, he can solve a Rubik’s cube in under two minutes and plays tennis as well as any six-year-old can.

You Can BUY The Quiet People HERE

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Paul Cleave has a website HERE

#GuestAuthor #GilesKristian @GilesKristian author of #WhereTheBloodRunsCold published by #BantamPress @TransworldBooks 24.02.22

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.

During the 90s Giles Kristian was the lead singer of pop group Upside Down, achieving four top twenty hit records, performing on Top of the Pops as well as at the Royal Albert Hall, N.E.C. and Wembley Arena, and playing concerts on the same bill as such artists as The Spice Girls, Take That, The Backstreet Boys and Eric Clapton! As a singer-songwriter, he lived and toured for two years in Europe and has made music videos all over the world, from Prague, Miami, Mexico and the Swiss Alps, to Bognor Regis. To fund his writing habit, he has worked as a model, appearing in TV commercials and ads for Walls Ice Cream (he was a Magnum Man!), Canon Cameras and two brands of lager. He has worked as an advertising copywriter and lived for three years in New York, where he wrote copy for movie marketing company Empire Design but mainly worked on his first novel, RAVEN: Blood Eye
Giles, who is half-Norwegian, was inspired by his family history to write his first historical novels: the acclaimed and bestselling RAVEN Viking trilogy – Blood Eye, Sons of Thunder and Odin’s Wolves. For his next series, he drew on a long-held fascination with the English Civil War to chart the fortunes of a family divided by this brutal conflict in The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury. Giles also co-wrote Wilbur Smith’s No.1 bestseller, Golden Lion. In The Rise of Sigurd novels – God of Vengeance, Winter’s Fire, and Wings of the Storm – he returned to the world of the Vikings to tell the story of Sigurd and his celebrated fictional fellowship. His Sunday Times bestseller, Lancelot, is currently in development for TV with a major studio. He followed Lancelot with Camelot, and now, Where Blood Runs Cold is his debut contemporary thriller.  

You can find Giles Kristian’s website HERE

Follow Giles on TWITTER INSTAGRAM FACEBOOK

#GuestAuthor #WillCarver @will_carver #Q&A #PsychopathsAnonymous @Orendabooks

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. POST OFFICE. 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.

Will Carver is the bestselling author of the January Series – Girl 4 (2011), The Two (2012), The Killer Inside (2013), Dead Set (2013) – and the critically acclaimed Detective Pace series, which includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. The books in this series have also been longlisted/shortlisted for the Amazon Readers Independent Voice Award, Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award, Not The Booker Prize and the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award. Will spent his early years living in Germany but returned at age eleven. He studied theatre and television at King Alfred’s Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition business and lives in Reading with his children.

You can buy Will’s books HERE

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#GuestAuthor #ChrisMacDonald @cmacwritescrime #Q&A #Stonebridge #DIErikaPiper @RedDogTweets

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 Piper series, 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 on anyone?

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 (The Beresford 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

Loaded Magazine

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!

About Chris MacDonald
Chris McDonald grew up in Northern Ireland before settling in Manchester via Lancaster and London.

He is the author of the DI Erika Piper series A Wash of Black, Whispers In The Dark and Roses for the Dead. He has also recently dabbled in writing cosy crimes, in the shape of The Stonebridge Mysteries, as a remedy for the darkness. 

He is a full-time teacher, husband, father to two beautiful girls and a regular voice on The Blood Brothers Podcast. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs.

You can buy all of Chris MacDonalds Books at Red Dog Press HERE

Follow Chris MacDonald on Twitter Facebook Instagram

#GuestChat with #HarryFisher @HFwritesCrime #Author of #WayBeyondALie @HobeckBooks

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

Dougray Scott

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.

Biggles by Captain W.E Johns

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.

The Munro Mountains, Scotland, UK

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?

Sssshhhh!!!

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. !!

Harry Fisher Website HERE Facebook Twitter Amazon Author Page