Jake Needham Interview

Author photo (600x650)

As a Bank Holiday treat for you all I interviewed Jake Needham, a specialist in writing crime fiction set in Asia whose two major series are the Jack Shepard and Inspector Tay novels. He talks me through his background, his writing technique and why he’ll never collaborate with another writer.  

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction?

Honestly, I’ve never spent a minute thinking about my writing style, and I didn’t even set out specifically to write crime fiction. I started writing novels back when I was earning a pretty decent living writing screenplays for American cable television, and I did it simply because I was getting sick of writing screenplays. The screenplays I got paid for were mostly crap because American cable television wanted was crap, so one day I started fiddling with a novel just so I could have something in front of me that I thought might actually be worth a damn.

I had no clue how to write a novel, so I just typed ‘Chapter One’ and started writing. Certainly I gave no thought to what kind of style I wanted to write, nor about what genre the book would turn out to be. I didn’t even know what the book was or how it would end. I just started.

Anyway, that book turned out to be The Big Mango and it sold well over a hundred thousand copies in half a dozen countries where almost no one speaks English. That was when I decided maybe I’d better start taking this novel writing stuff seriously.

Please talk me through your work in law in Asia and how this inspired your work?

My speciality was international corporate finance, and I was best known for negotiating merger and acquisition deals. I ended up on the boards of a couple of clients in Australia in the 1980’s, the great age of Australian cowboy capitalism. Australian companies had the ability to raise significant amounts of capital, and by and large they used it in an aggressive push to expand internationally, and I was brought in to lead that effort for several well-known Aussie corporate groups. We primarily looked to Asia when we were scaring up acquisition deals, partly because of geography, but also partly because it was territory in which the major players in the US and Europe were less interested. The plain fact was that we had a better chance to do interesting things in Asia because we weren’t playing against any other country’s A teams.

The result of all that was that I got to know Asia pretty well. I worked with bankers and corporations and governments and I saw both the visible part of Asia and the part that lies beneath the surface. So when I started writing, I had a lot of good material to work with. A well-known Asian business magazine once wrote a piece about me that said, “Needham certainly knows where some bodies are buried.” I should hope so. I helped to bury enough of them.

What is your background in writing and how did you get in to writing crime fiction?

I have no background in writing. I became a screenwriter entirely by accident. It was all very, very weird.

I was involved in negotiating a complicated corporate merger at about the same time I was thinking I had been doing this sort of stuff for a while and probably ought to be looking for a chance to do something else. To get this particular deal closed, I ended up buying a company that was piece of the transaction myself because no one else wanted it. That piece was a very modest little Hollywood production company that was producing movies for American cable television.

Since I was stuck with the company, I did my best to tart it up a little and try to make it profitable, and I tried to focus it more tightly on what I thought it could do well. To accomplish that, I dashed off an outline of the kind of movies I thought the company ought to be making and a copy of that outline accidentally got sent to one of the cable TV networks the company worked with. Several weeks later, that network called up and asked me to make it for them.

Make what? I asked them. The movie you wrote that treatment for, they said. Write the full screenplay for us, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

And that, girls and boys, is how I became a writer.

Author in Bangkok

Having travelled extensively, why did you decide to set your novels in Asia?

I sold a screenplay set partly in Thailand to HBO, and they hired me to produce it for them since they decided that having somebody on the production who could actually locate Thailand on a map might be a pretty good idea. When we were filming in Bangkok, the editor of a prominent Thai magazine came out to the set to interview me. We got along well enough that about a year later she and I were married. Since she had a magazine to run and I could work anywhere, initially we set up housekeeping in Bangkok.

I continued cranking out screenplays from there, so that’s where I was when I started my first novel, The Big Mango. Since Bangkok was all around me, that’s eventually where the characters in the novel ended up too. The book was popular enough that naturally I drew on the same general background when I wrote my second novel and that one was pretty popular too. After that, I just kept doing it.

Where do you take your inspiration? Are there any rituals you do to get yourself in the mood for writing?

I am deeply suspicious of the word ‘inspiration.’ Writing isn’t inspiration; it’s hard, methodical, repetitious work. John Gregory Dunne said “Writing is manual labor of the mind. It’s like laying pipe.”

When I’m working on a book, I show up at the office (metaphorically speaking) every morning at nine, eat a sandwich at my desk for lunch, and work through to six. Then I knock off. That’s it. Forget ‘inspiration.’ Go to the office every single day, put your butt in a chair, work for eight hours or so, and in three or four months you’ll have a novel. Easy as that.

Tell me about the book that has had the greatest impact on your life?

When I was about eight, I found a copy of Richard Haliburton’s Complete Book of Marvels at some relative’s house and I was instantly enthralled. Hardly anyone today knows the name Richard Haliburton, but in the 1930’s Haliburton’s adventures in exotic corners of the world were chronicled in a series of books that were best sellers in America.

The Complete Book of Marvels was made up of a series of separate adventure stories. Haliburton swam the Panama Canal from end to end, slipped into the city of Mecca disguised as a Bedouin, crept into the Taj Mahal in the dead of night, climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza, and dived into the Mayan Well of Death in Mexico. He retraced the expedition of Hernando Cortez through the Aztec Empire, emulated Ulysses’ adventures in the Mediterranean, duplicated Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps by elephant, and climbed both the Matterhorn and Mt. Fuji. I read that book so many times I darn near wore it out.

I learned this from Haliburton’s book: I could go anywhere in the world I really wanted to go and do anything, absolutely anything, I really wanted to do. It was a magical discovery, and it shaped the rest of my life. About ten years ago I tracked down a nearly mint copy of the same book I had held in my hands when I was a child and every single day since then it has been present on my writing desk while I work. Nearly fifty years after stumbling over it, now I am that book.

If you could collaborate with any person, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

I’m completely baffled by the whole idea of collaboration with anyone in writing a novel. How is that even possible? Writing a novel is the most solitary pursuit I can think of. The novelist selects words to render externally a tale that he tells himself internally.

There’s an old joke about screenwriters that says we just sit in a corner somewhere all day, talk to ourselves, and write down what we say. I really don’t see how two or more people do that together.

The reason most movies are so lousy is that they are written by a committee. That’s why I got sick of working on them. A committee doesn’t write novels. The good ones at least are written by one person and come out one person’s vision. Writing novels may be one of the last stands of true creative individualism in contemporary life. That’s why I write novels now and wouldn’t even think of working on a screenplay again.

4 covers 3D

Have you got any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

The fourth title in my Inspector Tay series was just published a few weeks ago, and I’m working now on the fifth title in my Jack Shepherd series. It’s scheduled for early 2017.

I’m happy to have two separate series going because each series has quite a lot of fans. On the other hand, it’s also turned into a bit of a trap, too. I can hardly get a book out before the fans of that series start pressing me as to when the next book is coming. With two series, the best I can do is to add one book to each series roughly every year, and that doesn’t leave me enough time to tackle anything else.

Sometimes I think I ought to just dump both series and head off in another direction entirely. Maybe publish a completely different kind of novel from anything I’ve written before.

But that’s not actually going to happen. At least I don’t think it is…

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to later in the year?

I’ve been a big fan of Michael Connelly ever since the Bangkok Post said in a review of one of my books, “Needham is Michael Connelly with steamed rice.” Actually, I’m only joking. I was a big fan of Connelly long before that, and Mike has a new Harry Bosch coming about November 1st. I think Lee Child has a new Jack Reacher coming out around the same time so early November is going to be a good time for reading.

Anything you’d like to add?

Nope. I gotta get back to work now…

Many thanks to Jake for taking the time to speak to me, it’s been a pleasure. Check out Jake’s website HERE to find out more about him and his work.

Advertisements

The Top Ten Agatha Christie Novels

top-ten-agatha-christie-novels-set

Agatha Christie, the undisputed Queen of Crime, whose novels characterised the golden age of crime fiction and had an influence on almost every crime writer that she preceded, wrote a vast catalogue of novels and short stories. Although most famed for the tenacious Miss Marple and the fastidious Belguim detective Hercule Poirot, she wrote many novels focusing on a variety of characters. With a sharp wit and an eye for detail, Christie, the best selling author of all time, transformed British crime fiction and is one of the most famous names in the genre. Known for her twee settings and contrived plots, Christie in fact wrote an immense range of books, from traditional detective stories to heart-stopping thrillers. For anyone yet to sample the matriarch of crime fiction’s work, here are ten of the very best for you to seek out.

  1. The Secret Adversary: A combination of thrilling crime story and a spy novel, the first appearance of Tommy Beresford and Tuppence Cowley, a pair of out of work young people seeking occupation following the war, in which Tommy was a solider and Tuppence a volunteer. They soon stumble across a case of industrial espionage and set out on the trail of the illusive ‘Mr Brown’, a chase that is both exciting and expertly devised.
  1. A Caribbean Mystery: Set on the Caribbean island of St Honore, this fast paced novel throws the reader straight into an enticing mystery, as Miss Marple, on holiday to recover following an illness, has an ominous conversation with a fellow guest at the resort, who tell her of a man who got away with multiple murders. When this man is himself killed, Marple finds herself compelled to search for the truth. Unlike her Poirot novels, which were engaging and fascinating to begin with, the Miss Marple series was a slow burner, with the first novels garnering poor reviews due to their dull characters and uninspired plots, but her later books, in which she rejuvenated her detective, changing her from a gossipy busybody to a wise and intelligent old lady, are a true triumph and well worth reading.
  1. Murder on the Orient Express: A truly iconic novel, Murder on the Orient Express is more a study of human nature than a true detective novel. Boasting one of the most evil and truly vile characters of all time, Samuel Ratchett, who is both victim and criminal, the novel walks the reader through an enticing and terrifying tale of grief, despair and, ultimately, revenge.
  1. Murder is Easy: Retired Police Detective Luke Fitzwilliam finds himself plunged into the case of a serial killer when he share a train carriage with the doddery and initially unbelievable Lavinia Pinkerton, who informs Luke that a series of supposedly natural and unrelated deaths are all in fact murders. Following Laviania’s death, Luke sets out to find a killer who is so devious that they have fooled an entire community. Despite being entirely unbelievable, the plot to this novel is so brilliantly contrived, and the characters so wonderfully relatable that Christie can be forgiven for killing a man using pus from a cat, in what can only be described as the most obscure method known to crime fiction.
  1. At Bertram’s Hotel: Another tale of the adventures of the intrepid Miss Marple, this exciting novel has it all: from abandoned children, to jealous lovers and sexual intrigue, with a daft clergyman thrown in for good luck. An invigorating read, the novel is thrilling and packed with twists and red herrings. Overall this is traditional detection at its best, and makes a great read for those looking to escape into an easy detective novel with a bit of bite to it.
  1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles: The very first Poirot novel, and indeed Christie’s first overall, this excellent page-turner is introduces her most unconventional detective. Drawing strongly on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, the novel is highly conventional and showcases Christie’s talent, as she uses the troupes the genre had become renowned for to showcase her narrative skill and superb dialogue.
  1. 4.50 from Paddington: Another exciting novel with a plot with so many twists in it that it borders on confusing, Christie skilfully guides her reader through to a dramatic conclusion which is both unexpected, yet at the same time perfectly foreshadowed.
  1. The A.B.C. Murders: This suburb novel is a true classic of the genre, combining the first and third person narrative to form a story that uses perspective as a narrative construct to heighten the tension and quicken the pace. Christie was famed for creating fiendish and frankly remarkable criminals, and this novel showcases the very finest of these. The characterisation is also perfect here, as Christie showcases her talent for observation and deep insight into human nature, providing a believable yet fascinating tale which has not aged as badly as some of her other novels.
  1. And Then There Were None: Christie’s best selling novel is a truly terrifying tale depicting the deaths of eight guests and two servants who have been lured to Solider Island and accused of having individually committed murder, each having escaped justice in some way. Dripping with suspense, this spine tingling book is one of Christie’s finest and highlights her narrative skill.
  1. Dead Man’s Folly: Perhaps a controversial choice for the top spot, the nonetheless remains my personal favourite of all Christie’s works. Panned by critics as being dull and uninspired, I believe that they miss a subtly in the characterisation of every one of the novel’s cast which heightens the intrigue and allows for sharp, witty dialogue which is some of the best Christie ever produced. The plot is as devilish and cunning as ever, with the novel’s startling twist retained for the very end, making for a stunning display of the very best of Christie’s climatic storytelling.

Shank (Tool’s Law I) Review

Shank

Roy Harper’s prison based escape drama is brimming with excitement, adventure and witty dialogue, and although not a traditional crime fiction novel there is enough intrigue and interest to wet the appetite for more (which, given the title, would suggest that more are coming, despite the finality to the ending).

Set in and around the violent and corrupt Parchman Maximum Security Prison in Mississippi, Shank tells the story of David “Tool” Roney, violent criminal with a dangerous past and a distorted moral code. Escape, betrayal and the quest for vengeance all follow as Tool desperately strives to match the needs of his moral code with the very real need for freedom. His discovery of a woman named Rose complicates the issue, providing an interesting character dynamic.

Setting is used well here, acting as both an asset and a hindrance to the escaped convict as he battles against both nature and fear to survive and find a way to heal after the horrific events of the book’s beginning. Although crime is the primary plot device here, this novel is really about Tool’s journey from prisoner to free man, with some surprisingly tender passages for a book whose main character is a criminal.

Ultimately Shank is a tough read, dealing with emotive subjects including rape, murder and severe violence: despite this there is a real humanity to this novel, and some great insights into human nature which make this an ideal read for those looking for something new from their crime fiction.

Jill Paton Walsh’s Lord Peter Wimsey Novels: My Thoughts

dorothy sayers

Dorothy L Sayers and her excellent Lord Peter Wimsey novels have been a constant source of enjoyment for me over the years. They exhibit the very best of Sayers’ dry humour and expert plotting, whilst showcasing a side of the author which I had not seen before (I knew her previously as a Dante translator).

As such I was excited when I found out that her final, unfinished novel, Thrones, Dominations was being published after having been finished by Jill Paton Walsh. I wasn’t disappointed either- the novel is seamless, with no indication of where Sayers left off and Paton Walsh took over. The characterisation is perfect, and the sweet sub-plots revolving around the Wimsey family and dedicated manservant Bunter are well handled.

Following on from this success Paton Walsh decided to take on the task of writing a full length Wimsey novel of her own, and has since completed three. The best of these is The Attenbury Emeralds, which takes the reader through Lord Peter’s very first case and the new mystery that threatens the lives of the aristocracy many years later.

Again, whilst begin sympathetic to the reader’s need to learn more about the characters following the previous novel, Paton Walsh does not go overboard- the characters are as well-rounded as ever and the dialogue is so good you could probably convince even die-hard Sayers fans that they were reading from pages written by the great lady herself. The scathing critiques of the upper classes remain, and the time period reflects the dissent in the serving classes which Paton Walsh expertly references, interweaving it into the novel with great skill.

Ultimately these novels emulate the very best of Sayers’ own work, acting as both social commentary and riveting crime novels. Whilst the insight is not quite as razor sharp as that of the Sayers herself, Patton Walsh’s books make great reading for both fans of the war-damaged, hilariously unpretentious and generally curious Lord Peter and newcomers alike.

 

Mike Craven Interview

Body Breaker

Boy have I got a treat for you this fine weekend! I caught up with former probation worker turned full time writer Mike Craven, who talked me through his work, favourite authors, where he takes his inspiration from, and, most importantly of all, what kind of dog he has. Enjoy! 

How did you come to define your writing style? What drew you towards crime fiction?

I suppose like many writers, I have an eclectic reading taste. When I was younger I was very much into the thriller genre – Alistair MacLean being my favourite author – and the fantasy genre. But at the heart of everything I loved about reading was the mystery… The thrill of trying to figure out what was going on, and there are no better examples of mysteries than the crime fiction genre.

On a more commercial note, crime fiction is the biggest genre in fiction, and as I’d worked in probation since 1999 it seemed a natural marriage.

Tell me about how your background in the army and in social work. How do you draw on these experiences in your writing?

My probation background (I’ve left now – I’m a full time writer) has had a large influence on my work but you’re right: my army background still influences my writing today. DI Avison Fluke – perhaps the police officer I’m best known for – is an ex-Royal Marine, and his best friend, Sergeant Matt Towler, is an ex-Para. Another character I’ve written for a different crime series – Washington Poe – is ex-Black Watch. Body Breaker, the sequel to Born in a Burial Gown, is out in 2017 and goes into some of what Fluke and Towler experienced when they were serving. Why I write characters who’ve been in the military though is anyone’s guess. I suspect it’s because if they have a similar background to me, it’s a bit easier to get inside their heads.

My social work background has been subliminally useful. One of the things I’m known for is giving my ‘villains’ complex emotions and motivations, and as understanding why people do the things they do is half of what social work (and probation) is about, it’s probably been more influential than I realise. What you’ll never get in a Mike Craven book is a criminal who’s doing things with no obvious motivation. Everyone has a reason to do the things they do…

Your books have received wide critical acclaim and won/ been shortlisted awards. What do you believe is the secret behind your success?

I think I’ve had success because I tread that tricky line between dark and gritty, and humorous. Without the light, you can’t appreciate the dark. In all my books – and some are incredibly graphic (I’ve just written a scene for a new book in which a man sucks another man’s eye out in a fight) – there will always be the lighter moments to balance it out.

I also think my characters are rounded and believable. They might have foibles, they might have faults and sometimes they can be infuriating, but they are real. They mess up their personal life just as much as you or I do. They get in bad moods and say things they shouldn’t. In short, they’re relatable.

What aspect of your books do you feel attracts your readers and makes your work so hard to put down?

That’s the golden question isn’t it? If we can answer that we can all go home. Write one book then retire on the never-ending royalties. When I start to write a book, I try to write one that I’d like to read. And, as I said earlier, for me, it’s all about the mystery. Ask a series of questions at the start – don’t answer them until the end. Add some plausible characters and some realistic (and humorous) dialogue to a good plot and you have something that people should enjoy.

Where do you find the inspiration for your work? Are there any specific exercises or tricks you use to get your creative juices flowing?

Inspiration has never been a problem for me. I’ve had writer’s block and seem to be blessed with the one thing you can’t learn: a vivid (and sometimes very strange) imagination. When I’m writing a novel – in whichever series – I usually have the next three or four plotted out.

As I’m a full time writer, Mon–Fri are the days I write. I get up fairly early (earlier than I did when I worked for probation anyway), take the dog out (I have a crackers springer spaniel), have some breakfast and a shower then sit at my desk. Sometimes I’ll print off emails I’ve sent to myself from the evening before (lines of dialogue or narrative I’ve thought of or links to articles I want to keep), but usually I’ll turn on my laptop and get to work.

If you could collaborate with any writer, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

The hugely influential American crime writer, Michael Connelly. For me, he’s the best crime writer writing today, and his main character (although I love them all), Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch is a superb creation. I think any collaboration where Bosch and Fluke or Bosch and Poe get to work together would be fascinating.

What does the future have in store for you as a writer? Any upcoming projects you would be happy to share with me?

I’ve mentioned Washington Poe a few times. This is a new series and Washington Poe is a detective sergeant who works for the Serious Crime Analysis Section, the National Crime Agency’s serial killer unit. He and a young – and extremely naïve – analyst called Tilly get dragged into a serial killer investigation when his name is found carved into the chest of one of his victims. It needs a little more editing but my agent should be submitting it later this year. The working title is Welcome to the Puppet Show.

I’ve also finished – this week as it happens – the first in an American action thriller series. A Different Kind of Animal features an ex-U.S. Marshal called Ben Koenig who suffers from a condition called Urbach-Wiethe which results in him having a much reduced capacity to experience fear.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to later in the year?

Quiet a few actually. There are some debut authors who we should all look out for: Jackie Baldwin, a writer from Dumfries, has Dead Man’s Prayer out soon, Lucy Cameron (also from Dumfries) has Night is Watching, and Tess Makovesky has Raise the Blade.

A good friend of mine, and extremely talented author, releases a book this year Graham Smith’s I Know Your Secret is the sequel to the hugely successful Snatched From Home and it’s a cracking reads.

Some of my favourite, more established authors, all have books out in the next few weeks. Michael J. Malone with A Suitable Lie, Matt Hilton with Painted Skins, Lee Child with Night School, Michael Connelly with the Wrong Side of Goodbye and Carl Hiaasen with Razor Girl.

Thanks ever so much to Mike for taking the time to answer my questions- it’s been a blast. Check out Mike’s website HERE to find out more about his work and upcoming projects.

 

Aidan Thorn Interview

12715677_10153975730705850_997064662530570048_n

Aidan Thorn, a short story writer who has also published a novella, When the Music’s Over, talks to me about his work, his background and the writers he admires the most. 

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards darker fiction?

I’m not convinced I’ve ever totally defined my writing style and that’s a big part of why I like to write short stories, it allows me to experiment a bit with different voices and styles. I guess on the whole I write what Paul Brazill would term Brit Grit, but that said I’ve had people comment that one or two of my stories put them in mind of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett – I take the compliment, but I don’t believe the person telling me. Some say I write “noir” I don’t really know or care what that means to be honest – for me I just write stories. And why am I drawn to dark fiction, mostly because that’s what I like to read and watch – let’s be honest all the best characters are anti-heroes, everybody loves to read about a rogue and I love creating them, they can be shallow empty people just out for themselves, or complicated individuals with layers behind why they do what they do – they’re great to write.

What is your background in writing and how did you get in to writing crime fiction?

I’ve always had an interest in writing, when I was a kid I remember writing a story about a boy that found a time machine and went on adventures. As I grew up I had numerous attempts to get bands off the ground (fail) and wrote lyrics for songs. And then a few years ago on a trip to the USA I couldn’t sleep at night so I let an over active imagination outline the plot to a novel. Those initial thoughts are now my first published novella, When the Music’s Over, which came out last year from the excellent Number Thirteen Press. Of course that wasn’t the first story I had published, I had a bunch of shorts published widely across the internet and in anthologies in both the UK and US. I always had a love of crime fiction, the likes of George Pelecanos, Michael Connolly, Lawrence Block, Dennis Lehane etc… and so it seemed a natural fit to get into writing that genre.

You write a lot of short stories. What draws you to this style of writing?

There’s a couple of reasons I guess, one is, as I said earlier, it allows me to experiment with styles and voices. Another reason is that I have a bunch of ideas rattling around in my head at once and I just have to get them out, they often become disruptive to bigger projects, so I get them done and I hope that I’m then free to write the bigger stuff – it rarely works, I’ve only ever completed two novellas. The other reason is I like the breadth of coverage I get from writing short stories, there are currently nine books sat on my bookshelf with stories by me in, plus a bunch of websites out there hosting my work – I couldn’t achieve that writing long stuff.

Where do you take your inspiration? Are there any rituals you do to get yourself in the mood for writing?

Everyday life really. My short story for Exiles was inspired by nothing more than doing some gardening and taking the rubbish to the dump. My story in Rogue was inspired by a trip to buy a few tropical fish for my tank. As I said earlier I have an over active imagination, and perhaps a slightly criminal mind- I see a story in a lot of things that happen every day, and usually a potential crime.

I don’t really have any rituals for writing, I like to listen to music, or stick a concert on YouTube while I’m doing it but I typically just write when the mood strikes me and I can fit it in.

What style of writing do you enjoy yourself? Are there any particular writers you admire?

There are so many writers I admire to be honest, and if I list them all here it’ll get very boring. I am a huge fan of George Pelecanos, I always seek out anything new from him the minute it’s out. But I’d like to use this space to give a shout out to some of the best writers I’ve ever read, that the average reader that browses the shelves of Waterstones wont have heard of. The list is endless but let me pick out just a few (and I’m sorry to those of you I miss out but you know I love your work)… Darren Sant, he writes fabulous short fiction, his Longcroft Tales are incredible, but for me his stand out work was The Bank Manager and the Bum, an incredible adult fairy tale that has stayed with me since I first read it a few years ago. Gareth Spark, in my opinion the best writer working today, his short story collection Snake Farm is a master class in how to write dark fiction and his novella Marwick’s Reckoning was a book I was looking forward to for a very long time and it exceeded even my high expectations. I really could go on forever here but I’ll pick out just one more (and again apologise to everyone else who I love!) early this summer I read Ryan Bracha’s The Switched – possibly the best book I’ve read – incredible.

If you could collaborate with any person, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

I’ve already done it. Earlier this year I wrote to a bunch of people who’s writing I enjoyed and asked if they’d like to be part of a charity anthology I was putting together in support of a lovely lady from the writing community that I’m part of called Henri Furchtenicht. Henri isn’t a writer herself but her husband Craig is an incredible one (add him to the list above!) and we’d become friends via Facebook. Henri is battling Multiple Myeloma and so I decided to do a charity anthology for her. I wrote to a bunch of writers I admire and as soon as they knew it was for Henri they jumped onboard the project, now known as Paladins. On this project I was the curator and so I got to work with incredible writers, all of the guys I’ve mentioned above, plus Christopher Davis, Matt Mattila, Graham Wynd (AKA K A Laity), Keith Nixon, Jason Beech, Bill Baber, Linda Angel, Cal Marcius, Dave Jaggers, Gabriel Valjan, Robert Cowan. It was a massive honour to pull together such a talented group of writers, and also have Craig Douglas do the formatting and Mark Wilson create the stunning cover design. I hope to put together Paladins 2 at some point, I hope many of these guys will return and that we get some new faces on board with the project.

Have you got any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

I’m currently pulling together all of my crime or gritty short stories into one collection ready for release later this year. The collection will be called Tales of the Underbelly and well include over 30 stories varying in length from short vignettes to a couple of novelettes that are around 10,000 words each. A lot of my short stories use the same characters so I’ve tried to batch stories in the collection so that the reader can follow character developments. Other than that I have a novella in development called Rival Sons and a novel that I’ve been working on for a while called Killing in the name of… whether either of them see the light of day will depend entirely on how many new short story ideas keep popping into my head!

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to later in the year?

Always… But then I have a bunch of books sitting on my shelves and Kindle that I haven’t got around to reading yet and I’m looking forward to also, for example Robert Cowan’s All is Vanity and Joe Clifford’s December Boys. A recent release that I haven’t picked up yet is Ryan Bracha’s After Work Call, I’m looking forward to that, plus Paul Brazill’s Cold London Blues and I’m delighted that Tess Makovesky has her book, Raise the Blade coming out this year too. The one I’m most looking forward to though is the release of Cinnamon Girl by Christopher Davis, I read an early draft of that one and gave some opinions, so I can’t wait to see how it turned out… Chris is a great guy and he really deserves to see his work being read… as all these guys do!

Anything you’d like to add?

A couple of things – look out for the guys writing for the indie presses and putting stuff out themselves, there’s so much talent out there that goes largely unnoticed and the other thing, thanks for having me here!

Thanks very much to Aidan for taking the time to talk to me, it’s been really enlightening to hear about the work of such a talented writer and his peers. To find out more about Aidan and his writing check out his website HERE.