London crime and romance writer Paul Asling shares a unique insight into his work and why he’s deeply passionate about the UK’s bustling capital city.
Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction and mystery writing?
Good question. I think my writing style has slowly developed over many years. I have read many true-life crime books, along with fictional crime novels and short stories. I try to get a balance between the two in my writing.
I have always enjoyed reading crime fiction, and I thought, as I had the time, I would try my hand at writing a crime fiction novel. It was not a simple task, and it took a lot longer than I thought, but the result was my first book, Love You Till I Die.
What attracts me to crime fiction is I can use gritty imagery to deal with the most dangerous situations that people can find themselves in. It also allows me to enjoy writing about the complexity of people, as well as giving me the chance to explore both the good and bad aspects of my different characters.
What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally? How do you draw on your past when writing fiction?
My background is varied. I started off working in the West End of London as an apprentice Gas Fitter in the 60s and then as a London Taxi Driver in the 70s. I had a complete career change in the 80s when I got into management and then joined the legal profession.
I think my life in London and my background have influenced my fiction the most. I started off by writing short stories about situations I’d encountered in my life growing up in London, and its characters I’d met on the way. I think this has given my writing an added layer of depth and grit.
What is it about London that makes the city such a central part of your books?
I think London is one of the most exciting and inspiring cities in the world. Day and night, it’s filled with its own smells, tastes and sounds. The city is full of extraordinary history, vitality and diversity. It also displays a remarkably rich and varied tapestry of local characters. Probably the best piece of advice I was given when I started writing was, ‘write about what you know’. And I know London inside out.
What books do you enjoy reading, and how do they influence your work?
Any work from Tony Parsons or Sebastian Faulks. I’m also a big fan of Geoffrey Household novels. I think my biggest influence would be Geoffrey Household and his descriptions of people and places.
Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?
With writer’s block, my list of ideas outweighs the number of stories I complete, or even start. I revisit my old notebooks whenever I’m at a loss for an idea.
For me, inspiration for writing is easy. Mainly it is listening to conversations of friends I have grown up with. I attended a school in Fulham, West London (in the 60s, when is wasn’t posh) to say it was rough would be an understatement- we had our own coroner. And my first job as a teenager was a tail gunner on a milk float. The area has certainly changed from the days I was living there.
A week ago, myself and five old friends met up in a pub in Chichester. During the four-hour period, we were there enough material came out for another ten books!
I’m fascinated by people’s motivations, especially when they seem illogical. Dark, gritty stories allow me to explore what drives people. I also think my experiences of being an ex-boxer, and the various jobs I’ve had in my life, have helped me build the characters in my books.
If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?
I think for me it would be Tony Parsons. If ever a man wears his heart on his sleeve, it’s him. Coming from a working-class family, as I did myself, he shows what can be done.
Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
My last book, The Carters’ was published three months ago. I have started another book, but over the next year my plan is to write some short stories alongside the new book.
Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to in the future?
Any new work from Tony Parsons, Sebastian Faulks, or John Grisham.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’d like to thank you, Hannah, for allowing me space on your fantastic blog.My books can be found at: https://amzn.to/3itO0nF
Thanks to Paul for answering my questions, it’s incredible to hear your thoughts and learn more about your work.