Andrew James Graham: “I want the reader to be taken on a journey”

Andrew James Graham talks me through his writing and the techniques he uses in his work.

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

I feel my writing style is quite descriptive. I want the reader to be taken on a journey into the world I’ve created. To not only tell them what the characters are doing but also feel, taste and smell the situations they are in. I want the reader to think, almost act like the detective in trying to work out who the killer is, making them laugh along the way. I got into crime fiction writing mainly by watching crime shows on TV. I’ve always been a fan and thought I’d try writing a crime novel myself.

Please tell me about your career background and how you draw on it in your writing.

I worked for many years as a Housing Officer in some of the most economically and socially deprived areas of North Tyneside. I worked closely with Probation Services, Drug and alcohol treatment centres and Homeless charities. I’ve always found that real life people and situations are always far more interesting.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

My inspiration is often the wonderful characters that I have come into contact with over the years, be it through work situations, or on public transport or even the local supermarket. When it comes to writers block I try to think of subplots for my characters. I think about a particular incident or character that I have had to deal with in the past. How would they react to that situation? What would they do? How would it affect their life?

What books do you read yourself and how do they influence your writing?

I love British Crime fiction, in particular, Ian Rankin, Peter James, Martina Cole, Mark Billingham and Peter Robinson. I love the way their characters interact with each other with workplace banter. Ian Rankin is especially good at this in his Rebus Novels.

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

I would love to work on a screenplay with Quentin Tarrantino. I just love his dark humour and how he writes the dialogue between his characters. It would also help me get an insight into how he successfully gets his ideas from paper onto the big screen. Pure genius.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

I have started writing my next novel, so finishing that would be good.  I’m also really hoping to improve my website as well as putting together a newsletter and increasing my mailing list. I also hope to be more active on twitter and in the creative writing groups on Facebook.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I would like to get my hands on any new book from my favourite authors. But there is always a new book to read as the first time you pick it up it’s new to you, even though it could have been 20 years since it was first published. I’m also always looking for new authors from my part of the world, as I find Tyneside an excellent backdrop for crime thrillers. Trevor Wood’s new novel, One Way Street is one I would like to read.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I think 2020 has been an awful year for a lot of people, but one positive thing to come from 2020 is that more people have had time to rediscover their love of reading, whether it be through Kindle eBooks or the good old fashioned paperbacks. I hope that as the New Year progresses and this COVID virus is finally controlled, people continue to read, and they will hopefully give my book a try.

It’s been a pleasure Andrew, and thank you very much for answering my questions.

The Thursday Murder Club Review: The Ideal Cosy Crime Novel To Help You Beat The January Blues

Often when writers who are already famous publish books, there’s a degree of nepotism, which automatically makes me suspicious.

Some, like actor Hugh Fraser, turn out to be incredible writers with amazing skills who create phenomenal stories. Others, like social media personality and influencer Zoella, create duds that are ghost written, and badly done at that.

As such, I was unsure about what to think when TV quiz show host Richard Osman released a novel. Named The Thursday Murder Club, the book sounded like a Sunday TV drama on ITV from the off, and I wasn’t sure whether it would be an amazing work of cosy crime fiction or some lame attempt to break into a new market by a quiz show host seeking to broaden his horizons.

I’m pleased to inform you that the former is correct, and Osman’s debut novel is a witty, droll crime fiction caper that is both funny and engaging. Written in Golden Age style, The Thursday Murder Club is set in modern England, but it has a timeless feel that makes it an almost instant classic.

Osman’s smash hit, which has beaten many records for a debut novel, is set in a charming Kentish retirement village named Coopers Chase, where four elderly residents meet every Thursday to discuss real-life cases. Started by a retired policewoman and someone who is covertly referred to as a sort-of spy, the group loses its former cop and now includes a busybody unionist, a former psychiatrist and its newest member, a retired nurse.

The group meets in a small meeting room known as ‘The Jigsaw Room’ to paw over cold cases, although nothing ever comes from their musings. They simply work together to try and figure out a solution and get some kind of personal resolution.

All that changes when Tony Curran, the builder and part owner of Cooper’s Chase, is bludgeoned to death in his kitchen. A cryptic photo is placed beside the victim’s body, depicting him many years before, with a set of friends, including the professional boxer son of Ron, the busybody unionist who forms one forth of the murder club. In front of them sits a huge pile of cash.

The victim had a dubious career as an enforcer/ drug dealer, until he went legit (ish) and helped to create Coopers Chase. As such, there are a lot of suspects to wade through, including Curran’s business partner, the professional boxer, the Polish builder poised to take over Curran’s role at the retirement village and more.

The members of the club, together with a young policewoman that they befriended, start to sift through the clues and uncover new insight into Curran’s fishy background, dodgy dealings and dubious associates. All the while, they share the highs and lows of life in a retirement village, including worries about old age, infirmity, loss of memory, vulnerability, a struggle against the ever-encroaching digital age and more.

Osman switches between perspectives in each chapter, which makes for an interesting read that will keep you hooked. You’ll learn new information not from long, boring descriptions and info-dumps, but from dialogue, diary entries and weird little asides. Each chapter brings something new, and you become drawn into the funny, hum-drum life of the residential home and the cosy life in Fairhaven, where life used to move at a snail’s pace before the murder changed made things interesting. Some of the jokes are surprisingly funny (there’s an ongoing gag about llamas which is surprisingly effective).

The story is both heart-warming and inviting. You’re quickly drawn into the world of the club, and want to find out more about them. Osman makes his characters relatable and entertaining, so you’ll feel an instant connection to them. They’re endearing, particularly Joyce the former nurse, who is the main narrator of most of the first person chapters, written in the form of her diary entries.

With a combination of humour, human interest and murder, Osman manages to create an unforgettable novel that will keep you hooked and leave you wanting more. It’s already been announced that Steven Spielberg has bought the rights to The Thursday Murder Club, and with that stellar Hollywood recommendation as well as the amazing reception that the bestseller has received, it’s clear that we’ve not seen the last literary endeavour from Richard Osman. I’m excited to see what else he can create in the future and how Spielberg will transform this funny and engaging mystery novel into a blockbuster movie.

Andrew Puckett Interview: “The British countryside inspires me”

For my first interview of 2021 I speak to Andrew Puckett about his work and how he creates incredible medical thrillers based on his experience working for the NHS.

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

Books and writing have always fascinated me.  I read Enid Blyton from the age of eight, but the turning point was finding a tatty paperback in the living room when I was 11: Miss Marple and the Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie.  The discovery that I could actually try and guess whodunnit was a revelation…

I worked my way through suspense writers such as Hammond Innes, and then I graduated onto J B Priestly (still my favourite author) Henry Williamson, Laurence Durrell and Winston Graham.  I think the best crime authors at the moment are Andrew Taylor and C J Sansom.  The best was Minette Walters, but she’s stopped now – unfortunately!

How do you draw on your career in the NHS when you’re writing?  

I started writing in my early twenties, but the acquisition of a girlfriend put a stop to that.  I concentrated on my career in Biomedical Science, we moved to Oxford from Taunton and any ambitions to write were subsumed in career and happy marriage.  I worked in the Blood Transfusion Service, testing donations for Hepatitis, Syphilis and Aids.

Then my wife died.  I decided to have a go at writing again.  It took two not very good novels and seven years to publish my first Medical Thriller, Bloodstains, which was published by Collins.  (Two rules: Write about what you know, and Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration).  I had six novels published by Collins, three by Constable.  These days I publish with Sharpe Books.  These are mostly e books, but some paperback.  All 14 of my books are available from them.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

My main inspiration has been my career in Medical Science.  Specific to various books were the emergence of HIV (Bed Of Nails) a trip to the Scottish Highlands (Bloodhound) a visit to Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station (Desolation Point) the ruthlessness of some drug companies (A Life For A Life) and Bioterrorism (Going Viral).

I’ve come across some pretty ruthless characters in the NHS – a tiny minority – but they have an effect way beyond their numbers.  Think Harold Shipman.  And the people jailed some thirty years ago for pinching donated blood and flogging it abroad.  Some are in my books, although heavily disguised.

The British countryside inspires me.  I love it and nearly all my books reflect this.  Nearly all are set in the West Country, several completely or partially in Dorset.

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

Collaboration is difficult – at least it is for me.  I did once with a close friend, and wouldn’t do it again!

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

Books I’m looking forward to reading: the latest Andrew Taylor or C J Sansom.

Thanks to Andrew for answering my questions; stay tuned for other exciting interviews throughout the year! Here’s to an awesome 2021 for Andrew and other awesome crime fiction writers.

Crime Fiction I’m Looking Forward To In 2021

Happy New Year to everyone who’s supported my blog throughout 2020, and here’s to a much better year in 2021.

After a horrific year, 2021 can only get better. It’s hard to imagine that things will get better, and while they might not return to what we consider to be ‘normal’, they’re certainly going to improve as the vaccine roles out, Trump fucks off and we all get used to caring for and supporting each other.

Also, a New Year means new books for readers to dig their teeth into. Following my list of the crime fiction I was looking forward to in 2020, I’ve created a fresh list for a shiny New Year.

If you’re searching for something to read in 2021, especially while we ride out the pandemic and spend more time indoors to protect others, then read on. I’ll share my pick of the crime fiction novels being realised throughout the year.

Dial A For Aunties: A murder mystery mixed with a touch of romantic comedy by Jesse Q. Sutanto, Dial A For Aunties is funny and gripping. Set in a Chinese-Indonesian community living in America, the novel gives readers a glimpse into this society and how far family will go to protect its own. When Meddelin Chan kills her blind date by accident, she turns to her family for help. Her mother reaches out to her aunts for assistance in disposing of the body, which is harder than they initially believe it will be, leading to mayhem and mystery. The family’s wedding business provides a unique opportunity, but also many instances of chaos and calamity.

The Coffin Maker’s Garden: The third novel in Stuart MacBride’s Ash Henderson series, The Coffin Maker’s Garden is an innovative new thriller with a unique setting; a house that’s crumbling into the sea during a vicious storm. The crime scene is falling into the sea, which makes the job of uncovering how many bodies are there, and how they died. The case quickly catches the attention of the local media, and with the region’s leaders searching desperately for a scapegoat to pin the crimes on, the former detective inspector faces a desperate race against time to learn the truth about the coastal garden full of human remains that’s falling into the sea.

Death in Daylesford: The latest in the Phyrne Fisher series by the respected Australian author Kerry Greenwood, Death In Daylesford is one I’ve been looking forward to for some time. It’s been a while since the last in the series featuring the 1920s society flapper turned super sleuth, so this latest novel, launching in June of this year, will be something to enjoy in the summer. When the detective receives an invitation from the owner of a respected spa in Victoria, she’s excited to get her teeth stuck into another thrilling mystery. Taking her faithful maid with her, she embarks on an intriguing trip to the spa, while at home her friends and adopted children work to uncover the truth about a mysterious body pulled from the river.

The Survivors: From the bestselling author of The Dry, the smash hit thriller that took the world by storm, comes the latest mystery. Jane Harper’s new novel, The Survivor, brings us the tale of a small coastal town battling a lot of secrets and mysterious circumstances. A body found on the beach, a sunken wreck and a missing girl cause a stir that will have a lasting impact on the local community and change many lives forever. The incidents particularly impact on recent returnee Kieran Elliott, who has come back to town to nurse old wounds and visit his parents. The novel is full of twists and turns, as the writer brings to life a gripping tale that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the final chapter.

 Not Dark Yet: Peter Robinson’s popular detective DCI Banks gets yet another outing in the 27th novel featuring the dour detective, Not Dark Yet. A gory double murder at the luxury home of a property developer looks like an open and shut mob hit from the Albanian mafia. However, when Banks’s team uncovers a mysterious stash of videos, the case takes a sinister turn. Meanwhile, one of Banks’s friends is digging into the past to find the men who trafficked her, but her digging puts her, Banks and those he loves in danger. All in all, you can expect a gripping police procedural from Robinson, who’s renowned for his relatable characters and modern thrillers that will keep you enthralled.

The Minders Review: A Hit TV Series Just Waiting To Happen

If you’re a fan of gripping dystopian thrillers then The Minders might be the perfect winter read. It’s a mystery for the digital age that comes with many twists and turns throughout its complex plot.

Written by John Marrs, a former journalist and writer whose previous novel The One is being made into a Netflix drama, The Minders has a unique concept. Set in a world not too far removed from our own, information remains king, and security services, governments and companies alike are all trying to find ways to keep their secrets truly hidden.

They come up with an innovative solution; transforming information into lines of genetic code that can be implanted into people. These people then get transformed by a medical procedure and turned into carriers of some of the greatest secrets the government has. As such, the information is taken offline, which eliminates the chances of a cyber attack, but it doesn’t completely ensure the safety of the information.

Five people are chosen for this honour, and in return, they get the chance to start their lives anew. Each individual is a beautifully crafted character with a complicated backstory, so readers immediately feel invested in their fate. However, not all of these ‘Minders’ can be trusted. Four of them are legitimate and willing to risk their lives for their country; one is not.

While putting the secrets of every cover-up, conspiracy and government mistake in the hands of ordinary people might seem like a great way to reduce the chances of a devastating cyber attack, it brings about its own risks. The individuals with the secrets coded into their minds are people, with their own pasts and secrets of their own, which means that they could risk the safety of the government’s secrets to keep theirs hidden.

The innovative concept of the novel reminds me of Jem Tugwell’s amazing books. The pace is just as fast, and the author combines moral lessons with insight into the complex dilemma that digital freedom brings in a similar way. So, if you’re a fan of Jem Tugwell’s Proximity will enjoy this novel.

The novel is in the same style, but it is still a unique and inventive book. Much like the author’s past work, The One, this thriller reads likes a TV show in the making, and I’m sure that it’ll eventually be turned into a show stopping series. Each chapter includes different media such as official minutes, electronic messages and more, so there’s a surprise every time you turn the page.

It would be easy to find this incredible plot far-fetched, but it’s actually surprisingly believable. Marrs crafts incredibly two-dimensional characters and a superb plot that keeps readers guessing throughout the book. It’s a medium sized novel but it takes surprisingly little time to finish, as you’ll be hooked from the first chapter onwards.

So, if you’re looking for a mind-bending, futuristic thriller, then The Minders might just be the perfect book for you. It’d make a great gift to the crime fiction lover in your life, or you could just treat yourself to it.

John Anthony Miller Interview: “I try to use a different style with each book that I write”

John Anthony Miller, writer of historical crime fiction, talks to me about his work and the inspiration that drives it.

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

I try to use a different style with each book that I write. One of my books, Sinner Saint or Serpent, is about a murder in New Orleans in 1926, and I told the story in first person, using a dialect. Another of my books, Honour the Dead, is about a murder in Lake Como, Italy in 1921. For that book, I used a very different style, since most of the suspects were British aristocrats.

I also write historical fiction, and I was first drawn to historical crime fiction after completing four novels set during WWII. Two of my WWII novels had crime themes.  To Parts Unknown, involved three people trying to escape the Japanese in Singapore after the accidental murder of a Japanese general, and All the King’s Soldiers is about a London intelligence analyst sent to Lisbon, Portugal to find the killer of a British spy. From these efforts, it seemed a natural progression to historical crime, without the military backdrop. I also enjoy Agatha Christie and Anne Perry, two great historical mystery authors who have served as inspirations.

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

My first four books were historical fiction, set during WWII. For my fifth book, Honour the Dead, I wanted to do something different, and migrated to crime fiction. Three of my eight novels are historical mysteries; five are historical fiction. Now I tend to alternate between the two genres.

Talk me through your books. What do you think makes them so popular with readers?  

I think my books are popular because they’re about ordinary people who are compelled to do extraordinary things due to existing circumstances. My historical fiction novels, which usually have military themes, are not about generals or admirals or politicians – but about ordinary people who overcome their own shortcomings to combat adversity. I follow the same themes in my historical crime efforts – murders solved by journalists rather than law enforcement, for example.

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

I don’t have any specific rituals, but do have a routine. I have an office for my writing, the desk is in the centre of the room and I have bookshelves on every wall. I write every day, rarely take a day off, and just enjoy what I do. I typically start a book with three or four different ideas in mind, gradually whittle them down while I conduct my initial research, and then devote my attention to that topic that interests me the most from my preliminary research.

If there is a driver to any of my novels, it would be the location, which I like to treat like a character, as richly described as the people in the book. I have been to many of the locations where my books take place: Paris, Lake Como, London, Germany, Switzerland – and I enjoy writing about them.

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

I read more non-fiction than fiction – primarily to research books I’m working on or planning to write. But I do have several authors that I enjoy reading, and who have served as an inspiration. Other than Agatha Christie and Anne Perry, who I already mentioned, Ken Follett, James Michener, and Ernest Hemingway are also personal favourites.

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

I think I would choose Agatha Christie. I read an article about her techniques that was very interesting – how she used a confined space like a train or a boat or an island, and had plenty of false clues or red herrings, or confused the reader with multiple suspects, making it difficult to solve the crime. Many of her books were also set in exotic locations.

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

My next release is called The Drop and its set in Havana, Cuba in 1958 during the Cuban Revolution. It’s about an American businessman who is kidnapped by a brilliant revolutionary named Ariana Rojas and held for ransom. The wrinkle in the story is that, after the businessman’s wife receives the ransom note, she decides she doesn’t want her husband back. The book release is in April of 2021.

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

I’ve just completed a romance/mystery set in Cape May, N.J. in 1976. A woman inherits a historic mansion, built by an old sea captain who was falsely accused of murder. Even though it’s a hundred years later, she’s determined to prove his innocence. I just sent this off to my agent the other day, so no idea when it will be published.

As for new books by other writers, I rely heavily on recommendations. I keep in contact with some of the book clubs that follow me, and I get great suggestion from them.

Anything you’d like to add? 

Yes – thank you so much for having me. I greatly appreciate it.

Thanks to John for answering all of my questions! I love historical crime fiction so it’s great to hear your thoughts.

Awesome Crime Fiction Books To Give As Christmas Gifts

Following on from my Christmas Gift Guide for 2020, I’ve decided to put together a selection of amazing crime fiction, thriller and mystery novels that make for great presents.

While book-themed presents are awesome, if you must get your friends and family books, then you want to make sure that you choose a beautiful book that is enticing and will look amazing in their home.

After all, grabbing the latest off the bestseller list doesn’t require a lot of effort, and that shows. If you want to prove your love for the crime fiction reader in your life, then you need to find them an edition that they can cherish.

That’s why I’ve listed some awesome novels that will entice all thrill-seekers; whether they’re already major crime fiction fans or you want to introduce them to the genre.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection

As most of the Sherlock Holmes tales are out of copyright, it’s possible to pick up beautiful, illustrated versions for less than £20 at many online and physical bookstores. The books promise many hours of fun and are an amazing gift for fans of the Sherlock TV show or anyone who just loves Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s intuitive and ingenious sleuth. Many collections have all four of the full-length novels plus most of the short stories, so readers will be kept busy during the early months of 2021 with this collection.

A Folio Society Edition Of Their Favourite Mystery Novel

I’m a huge fan of the Folio Society’s gorgeous illustrated novels, so if you know a crime fiction fan who deserves a treat this Christmas, then why not treat them to a glorious edition of their favourite novel? I’d recommend the Folio Society’s stunning version of Agatha Christie’s classic The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd, but there’s plenty to choose from, ranging from classics through to modern mystery masterpieces. There are also books from a variety of other genres and non-fiction works, so there’s something for everyone. Each piece is stunningly illustrated and beautifully bound to give it a prestigious and unique look that’s perfect for any sophisticated home. As a result, you’ll be able to select the perfect gift for the book lover in your life no matter what their tastes.

One (Or All) Of The Bodies From The Library Anthology

The Bodies From The Library anthology series has three versions, each featuring an overview of the Golden Age of Crime Fiction from expert and editor Tony Medawar, followed by a selection of incredible short stories and novellas from renowned writers from this pivotal period in crime fiction history. Many of the stories are either previously unpublished or haven’t been issued in a collection before, and have only appeared in obscure newspapers decades ago. As such, you’ll be able to give an amazing gift to someone in your life who loves cosy, Golden Age crime fiction stories. Each anthology has a selection of work from renowned writers of the time, such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers, as well as lesser-known writers from the period such as J. J. Connington, Freeman Wills Crofts, Georgette Heyer and many more. As such, readers get to find new favourite Golden Age crime writers as well as check out previously unknown work from the authors they already know and love.

I hope this guide helps you to find the perfect Christmas present for the crime fiction, mystery and thriller reader that you know and love. Stay safe this festive season and make it a merry one!

The Museum Of Desire Review: An Entertaining Police Procedural To Keep You Entertained

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been searching for a gripping thriller that’s engaging and fast-paced. I think I’ve found it in Jonathan Kellerman’s The Museum Of Desire.

The novel is the next in the author’s series about psychologist Alex Delaware and LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis. The pair are thrown together again Milo calls Alex to assist with a gruesome discovery outside a hired party house. A garish white limo is filled with the bodies of four individuals, with seemingly no connection to one another. They’re posed in a gruesome fashion, which is why the psychiatrist is bought in to take a closer look.

An initial search into the victims proves challenging, as all of them are from completely different backgrounds and seem to have no connection to one another. They also don’t seem to have any connection the house outside which they’re parked. The detectives have to delve deep into the murky worlds of sex, art and philanthropy in their quest to uncover the truth and find the fiend behind this horrific scene.

When I first started the novel, I was worried that it would be just another boilerplate crime caper, with a crime, then the standard, vaguely witty dialogue before a standoff ensues.

However, Kellerman delivers a coup de grace fairly quickly, with revelations that the initial crime scene was staged. As the two protagonists and the police detective team start their investigations, the body count rises but evidence stalls. Some small nuggets of information follow, leading to suspects, but with a lack of information on motive and no clear view on who the main victim was, it’s clear that the team has lots of leads to explore and clues to uncover.

The dialogue is witty and engaging, bringing to mind a hardboiled crime novel, set in the modern age. The story certainly can get a little gruesome and graphic, so this book isn’t for the fainthearted. However, Kellerman does tow the line between gratuitous, excessive descriptions of gore and an enticing glimpse into murder and mayhem, meaning that fans of fast-paced, action-packed police procedurals will love it.

I have a couple of little niggles with this novel, specifically the plot. The first is that, at the start, when the team arrives on the scene and sees the staged production that is the crime scene, the team misses a crucial trick. Blood is poured over the legs of the victims, but the detectives don’t think that it could be a kneecapping. Instead, they see the blood for the staging that it is, which seems like a missed trick.

Additionally, I’m a little concerned that the case is solved by sheer luck. I won’t spoil the plot, but the protagonists spend a lot of the novel conducting diligent police work, only to solve the crime through a small piece of dumb luck. 

However, these are minor issues I had as someone who reads far too many police procedurals and thrillers for her own good. Other than that, I’m impressed by the pace of The Museum Of Desire. It’s both realistic about the tedious nature of a police investigation and selective with the details it selects so that the novel doesn’t bore the pants off readers, achieving a feat that J.K. Rowling’s recent release Troubled Blood miserably failed to pull off.

In all, The Museum Of Desire might feel like a quick airport read to start off with, but it soon builds into a gripping thriller that will haunt you for years to come. It’s a memorable crime fiction novel that resonates and keeps you gripped until the very last sentence.

Lewis Hastings Interview: “I believe I have the skill and flair to create a thriller across many sub-genres”

Lewis Hastings, author of the Seventh Wave crime trilogy and Jack Cade novels talks me through his work and how he draws on his career in law enforcement to help him write compelling novels.

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

Good question! I think my style is influenced heavily by my imagination and my life experiences, which provide a continuing stream of stories and certainly kick-started my Jack Cade novels. It’s a long story (I’m a novelist, I know you’ll forgive me!) but the Seventh Wave trilogy actually started as a result of a chance meeting with an Eastern European female – a case of hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. I was the interviewer, she told her story, and what a story. It became so compelling that I knew that once I had starting writing the first book Seventh it needed at least one more book to complete the story. In fact, it took three (Seven Degrees and Seven of Swords) and each book is substantial but readers tell me repeatedly that the stories are big enough to warrant it.

My work drew me towards crime fiction, but I believe I have the skill and flair to create a thriller across many sub-genres, for example, there are elements of psychological thrillers in the trilogy, there are police procedural elements and there is good old-fashioned adventure.

The key difference for me and my readers is that the trilogy is based heavily on a true story. My new novel The Angel of Whitehall is heavily based on the life of a wonderful old naval officer called Tom. If you ever get chance to read the book, you’ll see who he was and why he was dear to me.
 

What is your career background and how did you get into writing professionally?  

I have been very lucky to have an extensive international career in law enforcement and intelligence – I still work in this sector (hence no author photo!) – I have written for many years, but it was a cathartic moment with my dear old dad as he lay in an English hospice in 2014 that drove me to write in a professional capacity. The short story is that as I read a passage of a novel I was writing to him, he said “Son, tell that story to the world, get them to make it into a film too…do it for me…”
 

Please tell me about your books. Why do you believe they have become so popular, and what draws readers to them? 

As I mentioned earlier, I think the reason people enjoy the books is that they are more than just police procedurals. Don’t misunderstand me, they contain very detailed and accurate procedural matters because I have ‘worn the T-shirt’ as far as many of the scenes are concerned.

What readers tell me (and it means so very much to hear this) is that they love the atmospheric scenes, the detail, the dark passages and the unexpected humour, the chase, the occasional love story and good old-fashioned, well-drawn characters. I am humbled by the reviews.
 

What do you enjoy reading and how does this influence your writing? 

I rarely read. I know authors should in order to learn. But my work is so frantically busy at times that my down time tends to be driven by the urge to write. If I do read it tends to be British thrillers, my favourite being Peter James.
 

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

It would have to be Peter James. For two reasons, the first is that I enjoy his style and the obvious research, the second is that Peter was a rare beacon a few years ago when he replied to a letter I sent to him, asking for advice. He did more than that and allowed the real ‘Roy Grace’ to read my first novel. ‘Roy’ was very kind, really enjoyed the book and offered some advice, which I took. As a result, Seventh and its sequels are much sharper.

One thing I learned from this was that there will be a budding author out there now, desperate for recognition. All I can say is don’t give up; you just haven’t found your publisher yet! I also don’t rule out supporting authors in the future and already do that via a UK forum which offers subject matter expert knowledge to help writers.
 

Have you got any exciting new plans or projects coming up that you’d like to share with me?  

Loads! I have just released The Angel of Whitehall with Hobeck and I am currently working on what was a novella and has now become book five in the Jack Cade series. It brings back an old foe and I am loving how it is unfolding…
 

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

At the moment I am enjoying working with the other members of the Hobeck Books team, so I know I need to read their work! I’m also hoping to be able to do more interviews, to help reviewers, bloggers and podcast hosts such as Robert Daws and Adam Croft on the Partners in Crime podcast which is easily the best example out there.

Anything you’d like to add? 

In closing, I would like to thank you for approaching me, it means a lot. Authors are not the solitary souls that people imagine, we are often gregarious and need some compliments from time to time! I only really started writing novels in earnest a few years ago, so to be picked up by the wonderful Hobeck Books team so quickly was humbling and exciting. That my readers enjoy what I write and can ‘see’ the scenes unfolding is reward enough.

I’m repeatedly told that all of the novels should be made into television dramas or films because of their storylines, and depth and colour. I wouldn’t stop anyone doing that…

Good luck with your work which is so important to authors. Stay safe and well in these interesting times. Thank you.

Thank you for answering my questions, it’s great to speak to a fellow Peter James lover. Also, thank you for offering advice to budding authors; they need all the support and guidance they can get in this competitive market.