Aydin Guner Interview: “I want the reader to connect with the characters on a deep level”

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Author of The Devil in I, Aydin Guner, talks me through his background and how he came to create such an innovative and unique novel.

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

I’d define my style as fast paced. A lot of people who have read The Devil In I have said they couldn’t put it down once they started reading. That was a planned intention. I’d say character development is a key trait too; I want the reader to connect with the characters on a deep level. After reading the book, a lot of people asked me if the characters were based on real people, have told me they know people just like Latasha, and have even accused me of being the Devil! It’s all good though, connecting with the characters is a key part of the reading experience.

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

I’ve spent time in the banking sector in my professional career and have been writing since I was young. I used to write stories and do movie reviews. I had a very active imagination. I started writing my first book about 6 years ago, and it took 4 years to write. I was just so overwhelmed with the reception; it broke into the Amazon to 100 several times in the first few months. And yeah, I guess my life changed off the back of that.

Please tell me about The Devil in I. What do you think makes this book a gripping read?

I think what makes The Devil In I so gripping is it is written in the first person and the lead character is the Devil! I’m not sure if a book like that exists, it might do, but I haven’t seen it. You really get into the world of the Devil, how his mind works and how he perceives the world. He lives as a mid 20s Wall Street guy in New York and though he is the devil, he does have a vulnerable side.

He does some despicable things, but you read how he is suffering, almost bored of who he is. I think people will like this book because it’s fast paced, exciting, X-rated in places and, very unexpected! There’s twists and turns in this. As deceptive as the Devil is, this book will take you on that journey.

Are there any particular mediums or narrative troupes you like to use in your writing and why?

That’s a great question! I like to add as much description as possible and one thing I often focus on is the scent and smells of the people and the environment. For example, if the lead character meets a woman and is attracted to her, how does she smell? What is her perfume? Does she have a lot on? How does it make me feel? All of these questions I believe help absorb the reader into the story. Same with being in New York, what can you see, hear and smell on the subway? Crowds, beeping horns, splashing rain from the tyres, talking, sweat, aftershave, stomping feet: I like to really get involved with the senses.

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

I’ve always liked reading autobiographies. I like hearing things from the horse’s mouth. I like feeling like I’m in someone’s head and I try to understand their psyche.

One of my favourite books is American Psycho and that was written in the first person. As is my book The Devil In I. My second book, which will be out next year, will also be in the first person, so, I guess this is a style preference of mine.

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

Stephen King or Brett Easton Ellis. Either of those two would be a dream come true.

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

Yeah absolutely, along with fiction I like writing psychology books. I have an ebook called Behind The Mask: An Introduction into Covert Narcissism. My new psychology book is out on November 28th and is called 10 Steps To Heal From Narcissistic Abuse. Narcissistic Abuse is a relatively unknown form of abuse but its essentially emotional abuse. Narcissists, or people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, are bullies who attack you while hiding behind others; it’s a passive form of bullying that can literally ruin lives. It’s a fascinating subject and I’m confident a lot of people can identify with the topic. The book is perfect for beginners to the topic, or for those who are familiar with what narcissistic abuse is. You can pre-order the book on Amazon now at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B075NSV4W7/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_w2t1zbN6VNFXG

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

I’ll be honest; I haven’t been too connected with the latest scene. I’ve been so busy writing my own books, and have recently completed a screenplay for The Devil In I, I haven’t had time to see who’s out there. There are a lot of great writers out there though, doing great things.

Anything you’d like to add?

I just want to say thank you for all of the support and if you want to connect with me please message me on twitter at www.twitter.com/aydingguner66 . I’m always on there and read the messages. You can also link in with me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aydinguner66. Hope to hear from you. Thanks again for the support!

Many thanks to Aydin- it’s been a pleasure having you on The Dorset Book Detective.

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Simon Maltman Interview: “Crime writing gives you something dramatic to hang whatever else you want to write about on to”

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Crime Fiction author Simon Maltman gives me a fascinating overview of his work and what first attracted him to the darker side of writing. I even grilled him on why he makes book trailers (you all know what I think of them)! 

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

I really never thought of writing anything else, because that’s what I really enjoy myself. It felt natural for me to try and write in that area. Crime writing gives you something dramatic to hang whatever else you want to write about on to.

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

The majority of my writing in the past was mostly song writing. I started doing short stories about five years ago and then moved onto novels and novellas. I was a social care manager and am doing the writing on the side at the moment, while being a stay at home dad.

Why did you create a book trailer for your novella Bongo Fury? Do you believe that this medium is still relevant?

I try and do one for most of my books. I think that some potential readers might try you out if they get something they like from the trailer. It also means that I can combine my hobbies, with recording music for it.

How do you change your writing style when writing short stories? Do you find the reduced word limit freeing or inhibiting?

I haven’t written many short stories since writing novels and novellas. I used to find starting writing the longer form pieces as intimidating. I’d probably now find it hard to keep things minimal!

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

It’s really anything and anywhere that can bring you something. I like occasionally snatching something good in overhearing a conversation and then writing it down, knowing that I’ll use it later. One other thing that I repeatedly find inspiration in is both the beauty and history of Northern Ireland.

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

Wow- that’s a tough one! It’d probably have to be Raymond Chandler. That’s because I think he was the greatest crime writer, specifically because he had such an incredibly sharp and witty turn of phrase.

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

I’m pleased because I have two sequels coming out soon. My novella, Bongo Fury 2 is out this week and my publisher is editing the follow up to my first novel at the moment. While that’s going on, I’m currently working on a stand-alone novel.

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

I kind of missed Jo Nesbo when he first came out and I’m working through a lot of his stuff now and it’s just brilliant. I also really enjoyed Stuart Neville’s last book, written as ‘Haylen Beck.’ It’s a thoroughly entertaining thriller.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just thanks very much for having me! All the best.

Thanks Simon, it’s been great. Find out more about Simon’s work HERE.

James McCrone Interview: “I’ve wanted to write professionally since I was a boy”

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Political thriller author James McCrone discusses his work and where he finds his inspiration.

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

I’m drawn to taught stories, strong characters and good writing. These are what (good) mystery-thrillers deliver. The writers I admire—Le Carre, Follett, Greene, to name a few— propel their stories relentlessly, economically. At the same time, though, they’re not afraid to pause over a question or to notice beauty. Le Carre and Greene in particular are masters of putting to work every little thing they pack into their narratives. I hope my work is as full.

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

I’ve wanted to write professionally since I was a boy. I’ve written stories, and some of them have been published. I studied for an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Washington in Seattle, but most of my work was unpaid.

It wasn’t until 2015, when we moved abroad for a year in Oxford, that I finally made a good fist of it. My wife had a fellowship appointment at the university, and I didn’t have a work permit for the UK. I threw myself into writing, finishing and publishing Faithless Elector in March of 2016 and beginning Dark Network that same month. Since returning to the United States last year, I’ve continued writing full time.

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

Inspiration can come from anywhere, but I’m most interested in stories where the official version of events seems thin, naïve, or deliberately misleading. I want to know the rest of the story, the other side. For instance, when I first learned about how the Electoral College works and that electors weren’t bound to vote as promised, I thought it was mad. It seemed ripe for mischief. The idea and the outline for Faithless Elector came quickly. The writing of it came much slower.

As to writer’s block, I’ve been fortunate. When I find myself blocked in one area, I move to another. If a scene isn’t working, I work on a different scene, or I make notes about a different story entirely.

All kinds of incidents creep into my work, sometimes unconsciously. For instance, when I was writing about Imogen’s isolation at the FBI in Dark Network, and likened it to “traveling through a country where she didn’t speak the language,” I had just returned from a pretty frustrating grocery shopping trip in Konstanz, Germany, where I didn’t speak the language. I was struck by how little interaction I had with anyone else, how isolated I felt. I had typed the sentence before I’d even thought about it.

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

I’d love to work with Oscar Wilde, though I don’t think it would be much of a collaboration, really—more just me transcribing whatever witticisms he was saying at the time. Still, it would be great fun. Moss Hart, one half of the Kauffman & Hart screwball comedy team, would also be fantastic, and I think I’d learn a lot.

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

I’m working on Consent of the Governed, which will complete this series (due out fall of ’18); and I have some sketches for a fourth Imogen Trager novel. Before starting that fourth novel, though, I want to focus on my play, Culinati, a comedy set in a busy New York restaurant kitchen. It asks the question, “what would you serve if your life depended on it?”

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

I got the new Le Carre, Legacy of Spies. I’m very excited to make a start there. I also want to check out Attica Locke’s work. She’s the author of Pleasantville and Bluebird, Bluebird. My wife raves about her writing so much I’m getting kind of jealous!

Thank you James, it’s been great hearing your thoughts. You can learn more about James and his work HERE.

Valerie Connors Interview: “I always knew I’d write a book one day”

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Animal lover, businesswoman and general badass author Valerie Connors talks to me about her books and how she looks to her life for inspiration for her novels.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style.

Some of my earliest characters sounded an awful lot like me talking, which I think is fairly common for beginning writers. But by the time I finished my fourth novel, A Better Truth, I felt I had finally created a main character whose voice was completely and consistently different from my own. I write commercial fiction, so my stories are plot driven, but I want my readers to feel an emotional attachment to my characters as well. I try to put in lots of twists and turns so my books will keep people reading late into the night because they want to know what happens next. And I hope that some of my characters will stay with them for a while after they’ve turned the last page.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally? How do you draw on your past when writing fiction?

I always knew I’d write a book one day. I didn’t know when, and had no idea what I’d write about, only that it would be fiction. My business background is in finance, accounting, and accounting software implementation. My mother was an artist, and my father is a musician. I had a decade or so of music studies too, until I discovered boys, and all that went straight out the window. So until I started writing a decade ago, my creative side had been neglected during all those years of working only with numbers.

It was actually a story from my mother’s past that finally inspired me to sit down and start writing. My third published novel, A Promise Made, is based on that story. I draw on my past experiences for settings in my books. Most of them are set in places I’ve lived or visited, places that evoke strong emotions for me. I also use people from my past as the foundation for my characters so I can visualize them when I’m writing. People who have given me a hard time at work appear in my books as villains, and that’s fun for me!

Please tell me about your books. What really makes you work stand out from the crowd?

My first novel, In Her Keeping, is about a woman who wants desperately to have children, but can’t. When her marriage falls apart, she moves to the mountains and finds herself living next door to a tiger sanctuary and caring for a tiger cub instead of a baby.

Shadow of a Smile is about a mother and daughter, family secrets, and lies. When the main character’s mother dies suddenly, Meredith discovers that her mother’s life was very different than she thought it was. The story is told from two points of view, the main character in the 1990s, and through the mother’s journals that were written in the 1960s. As the story unfolds, Meredith learns the truth about her mother’s life as well as her own.

A Promise Made is set in post World War II America. It’s about a young woman who finds herself with a small child and an abusive husband. When she has finally had enough, she leaves the marriage and takes her three-year-old son from a small town in Upper Michigan to New York City to make a new life for herself and her child.

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A Better Truth is a psychological thriller whose central character struggles to recognize the difference between reality and hallucination, nightmare and memory. Willow St. Claire experienced a horrible trauma as a small child, and the harder she tries to forget it, the more vivid her memories become. She finds peace and tranquillity alone in a mountain cabin, until a knock at the door one night sets in motion a chain of events that will change her life forever.

Readers tell me that my books are hard to put down. They seem to enjoy my twists and turns, and they love to hate my villains.

Writing across a number of genres, how do you adapt your writing style to suit each novel?

It’s interesting, the business of choosing a genre to write in. My first novel, In Her Keeping, was categorized as women’s fiction, but I wasn’t thinking of that when I was writing it. My publisher was the one who made the designation. Same thing with my second, Shadow of a Smile. When I wrote A Promise Made, I didn’t set out to write historical fiction either, my story just happened to have taken place in the past. My latest, A Better Truth, didn’t start out to be a psychological thriller; it just sort of evolved into one. Sometimes your characters can surprise you, and it’s best to follow their lead. I will say, though, that A Better Truth turned out to be the book I had the most fun with. Adding a touch of madness to your protagonist can make a story much more interesting!

If you had to choose, which style of writing is your favourite and why?

I would definitely choose the thriller/suspense genre because it’s just so much fun to write it. It’s fun to keep readers guessing, and me too sometimes, right up until the end.

What books do you enjoy reading and how do these impact on your writing?

I listen to audio books on my commute to and from work five days a week. I live in the city, so it’s not unusual for me to be in the car for an hour or more each way. So I like books that are long and involved, which is how I started reading Stephen King, and Ayn Rand. I enjoy psychological thrillers, mysteries, and suspense, but I also love a good literary novel, women’s fiction, or historical fiction, particularly the ones set in the World War II era. I believe that for a writer, reading lots of different kinds of books is a requirement of the job. It’s like continuing education. Some authors demonstrate how to create tension and suspense. Others can teach you character development. Ayn Rand taught me that it’s possible for an eleven hundred-page novel (Atlas Shrugged) to keep my interest all the way to the end. Perhaps more surprising is that I’ve read that book several times. I’m a different kind of reader now, however. I find myself analysing the writing, looking at structure, pacing, and point of view.

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

I find inspiration everywhere. The inspiration for my most recent novel, A Better Truth, actually came to me at the hair salon. When my old hairstylist left, they gave me an appointment with a tall, attractive blonde woman named Willow. I thought that Willow would be a great name for a character, and I immediately started assigning attributes to her. Before long the whole story unfolded. I usually get a first line in my head, and build the opening scene around that. The title comes next, or at least the working title. Then I decide where the story will end. Once I know where I’m going to start and where I’m going to end up, I get to know the characters and follow their lead. That’s where the magic is.

Fortunately, I haven’t experienced writer’s block yet. On the contrary, I currently have five projects started. Since I still have a full-time day job as the CFO of an engineering firm, I sometimes have to wait several weeks before I have the time to sit down and write. So by the time I get to the keyboard, I have lots of material that’s been simmering in the back of my mind and is ready to spill out onto the pages.

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

It would be Stephen King, absolutely. He’s such an amazing storyteller, and comes up with the wildest ideas. Imagine how much fun that would be!

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

Yes, at the moment I’m working on a dystopian thriller that’s still in the early stages. I’ve also started sequels to my first novel, In Her Keeping, and my fourth novel, A Better Truth. My detective series and a love story are also on my project list. One day I hope to spend less time at my day job, and more time writing.

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

Yes, the latest Stephen King novel, Sleeping Beauties. It’s written with his son, Owen, and is being released on my birthday next week. I’ve already pre-ordered the hardcover and the audio version. There have also been so many good psychological thrillers lately, by authors I hadn’t read before. I just finished two by Ruth Ware, who wrote The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a Dark, Dark Wood. There are so many amazing authors out there. I just keep buying more books. I have two writing rooms in my house where I can be surrounded by books while I work. That makes me very happy.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

To learn more about me, and my writing, I hope you’ll visit my website at www.valeriejoanconnors.com where you’ll find the first chapter of each of my books. My Facebook author page is: https://www.facebook.com/Valerie-Joan-Connors-Author-178400845541233/. Follow me on Twitter at: @VJConnors

Thanks for your time Valerie, it’s great to hear your thoughts!

T.S. Junior Interview: “What I like about crime fiction so much is that it deals with the most extreme situations that people find themselves in”

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Short story writer T.S Junior, who is soon to publish his first full length novel, provides me with an overview of his inspirations and how his love of politics and experience working in prison has helped him to create the tension filled tales he has become known for.

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

This is a great question. The truth is that only after twelve years of writing fiction do I think that my writing style has started to set like concrete. It started with Crime and Punishment for me. Fyodor Dostoevsky is of course mythically good. The close psychic distance in his third person narration, with a lot of indirect discourse, formed my approach to fiction. His philosophical bent and use of gritty imagery also influenced me. What I like about crime fiction so much is that it deals with the most extreme situations that people find themselves in, and like in Crime and Punishment, trying to get at the dark psychology that makes criminals and good people driven to desperation tick is awesome. 

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally? How do you draw on your past when writing fiction?

I started off writing by winning an essay contest when I was nine years old. I won and I got to go to a baseball clinic run by Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski. Then I wrote for college and local papers and did some freelance copywriting. But my background as a state prison guard has influenced my fiction the most. I’d written crime and horror stories before, but the darkness of the prison environment gave my work an added layer of depth and grit when it comes to street life and the criminal mind that perhaps some of my dark fiction writer colleagues aren’t privileged to.

Please tell me about your recently published collection of short stories and how well it’s doing.

I’ve just published my first book, a collection of short stories called Some Poor Taste Wartime Humor. There are ten stories that center around the darkness within the human heart, and the things that lead us astray. In one story, Christina 2/15/89, a disgraced former detective whose daughter went missing years prior, gets a break in the case which leads him to uncover a nightmare. In Son of a Ruined Patriot, a War on Terror vet suffering from severe PTSD and consumed by conspiracy theories, thinks the world is ending and kidnaps his estranged son. I think what draws people to my writing is the complexity of the characters and situations, and the dark truths. And then the fact that I write in a traditional style that is accessible to anyone. I’ll be honest, I get bored easily while reading, so I pack my stories with action. My first novel is coming soon, a crime/ conspiracy novel concerning The Bilderberg Group.

How do you adapt your writing style when composing short stories? Do you find the word limit restrictive or freeing?

The most important approach to short fiction as opposed to working on longer pieces, is keeping the writing bare bones. I’ll admit that at times I can get wrapped up in my head about word counts and genres and subgenres, but mainly that comes with publishing short stories. Drafting is the fun part. When I draft short stories I do a lot more exploratory writing than I’d normally do. To be specific, I usually don’t know what the story should look like until the third draft. In Some Poor Taste Wartime Humor, all ten stories in the collection went through at least four drafts. So overall writing short stories is freeing in that if the thing ends up being useless, it’s not like you wasted years of your life pouring your lifeblood into a failed novel. Believe me, it sucks; I’ve done that seven times!

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

Maybe it’s because I work in a paramilitary environment, a prison, I’m disciplined, or maybe I should take credit for instilling a good work ethic in myself. Either way, I don’t think in terms of inspiration or writer’s block. What I do is “embrace the suck.” I take that expression from an event I took part in during the Massachusetts Correction Officer Academy. They made us run laps around an old gymnasium for two hours, then put us through an obstacle course, and then made us engage in hand-to-hand-combat. It was called The Suck. The funny thing is that during it I got my first runner’s high, so I had the time of my life. I take the same approach to writing. I sit down for a writing session everyday, aiming for about a thousand words. Sometimes it’s garbage; sometimes it’s gold. I have zero expectations about quality. What’s so cool about “embracing the suck,” is that I’ve had at least four experiences where one day’s garbage becomes gold six months later. In those cases, I had raw material to rewrite as opposed to starting from scratch with an idea.

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

Cormac McCarthy. I just love everything about the man. He’s influenced by Fyodor Dostoevsky like Hemingway, Faulkner and myself also. His mystical, almost-religious approach to writing is something that, while I can’t pull off, I admire. Plus, he writes gritty novels involving violence and rugged men, westerns and crime novels, an aesthetic I appreciate. I spent my early twenties imitating his writing.

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

I am absolutely thrilled about my upcoming novel, Dusk in the Shining City. I’ve created an excellent series character named Claude Sharkey, a detective in a small Massachusetts city, who gets tied up in foiling a massive conspiracy perpetrated by the Bilderberg Group. I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist. The Bilderberg Group is a real life organization that holds an annual conference with leaders of industry, politics, and media all in attendance in an off-the-record setting. There they informally agree on future world events as a supranational governing body. If anyone reading this is interested in learning more, I recommend the magnum opus on the topic written by a man named Daniel Estulin. It’s called The True Story of the Bilderberg Group.

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

To bring up Cormac McCarthy again, he’s been working on a novel called The Passenger for a couple years. He’s apparently trying his hand at a novel involving technology and even sci-fi elements, which is way out of his element, so I’m thrilled to see where he takes that. I’m also into Nick Cutter, the horror writer, Brad Thor who writes thrillers, and then Denis Lehane and James Ellroy.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I’d like to thank you, Hannah, for graciously allowing me space on your cool blog from across the pond to talk about myself and my book, Some Poor Taste Wartime Humor: Short Stories. Folks can go to my website www.tsjunior.com to learn a little more about me, and they can find the book on Amazon for only $1.

Many thanks for T.S Junior for speaking to me, it’s great to hear your thoughts and learn more about your new novel.

Fiona J Roberts Interview: “The only way you can find out if writing is for you is to give it a go”

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Fiona Roberts, author of three innovative novels, talks over her work and how she creates unique plots.  

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style.

I thought about the things that I liked and didn’t like in books I had read. I wanted my stories to flow and made a decision to have a couple of basic rules when writing. I wanted lots of short chapters so that readers could dip into it and not get stuck in the middle of a 30-page chapter! I understand the need for description but it is sometimes used as a filler. I only put in what was necessary so that it wouldn’t hold up or interfere with the narrative. Whilst initially a bit wary of how to do dialogue, I got over that worry because it is vital to give your characters a voice.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally? How do you draw on your past when writing fiction?

I was born in London but have spent most of my life in Poole. I worked in the banking industry for many years and once I stopped working I took the plunge into writing. I had been cultivating an idea for many years, Ebb and Flow, and had even written the first paragraph. The only way you can find out if writing is for you is to give it a go. I started and have not been able to stop since then. I thought that I would write one book but the floodgates have been opened and three have now been published with more to follow.

Friends often ask “Am I in your book?” No one is in a novel in a recognisable way but elements of people go into the characters that I create. My books so far have included a mystery, middle aged ladies as vigilante killers and a body swap tale. None of these things, you will be glad to hear, is taken from a past experience.

Talk to me about your books. What do you think draws readers to them?

The stories I write are not formulaic and explore different genres. Ebb and Flow is a tale of a woman’s dramatic change in personality and the reasons behind it. Everyone who has read it has said that they did not expect the ending. Just Des(s)erts is the story of three ladies aged 52, 55 and 60 who have been conned by a fraudster. They are infuriated by the fact that conmen get short prison sentences and then offend again once they are released. A chat over Sunday lunch leads them to plan a more permanent solution to these criminals. They begin a purge of fraudsters in their area and Detective Mike Nash is given the task of catching the killer.

My latest book is entitled The Dog and The Girl. Ellen has had a disappointing life and is finally ready to make changes. She will leave her penny-pinching husband and start again. Unfortunately, she dies before she can put her plans into action. Her body has gone but Ellen’s consciousness is now in Barney, her pet dog. She leaves home and finds a new family who have problems. Lara, who is 16 years old, is mourning her mother who died the year before and is suffering with depression. Ellen can still understand language and can read but what can she do to help the teenage girl who is so sad?

The books I have written are very different from many of the others on offer. When you read one of my books you will be discovering a tale that you have not seen or imagined before. This is the appeal of my stories and the feedback I have had has been wonderful.

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

As I said the idea for the first book had been with me for years but subsequent inspiration has come from many places. I had been reading Stephen King’s Mr Mercedes, which is about a serial killer. His protagonist was a white male in his twenties, which is the standard description of this type of murderer. My thought was what if it was a woman? What if it was a group of women? And so Just Des(s)erts came to be written.

I had watched the television series Sleepy Hollow and liked the idea of a person being in the wrong time. How do you cope when the language, behaviour and advances in technology are alien to you? This thought led me to going one step further, and putting someone in the wrong body.

When I finished The Dog and The Girl I had no ideas for a new book. I opened a newspaper and stabbed my finger onto a page. The word I had pointed at was “Crate”. Ruth and her Aunt Loretta were born and their story revolves around a crate full of mementos which is bequeathed by Loretta to her niece Ruth. As the story of her aunt’s life is revealed through the artefacts she collected Ruth begins to make long needed changes to her life. This story will be published next year.

There are times when you lose enthusiasm for your project. That is okay and there is no need to panic. I take a few days off to recharge my batteries and then go back to it. Editing is the most difficult part. Reading what you have written and then embellishing or changing things can be a bit of an ordeal but when you get it right and you are happy with the result it is all worth it.

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

There are many writers that I admire. My choice of reading material tends to be crime and mystery books although I have enjoyed books as diverse as The Hair with Amber Eyes, Pure, The Historian and sci fi and sci fantasy.

I do like Stephen King. His books tell great stories in an accessible way so he would probably be the one I would like to sit down and talk to. I’m not sure about collaborating though as I, and other writers I’m sure, get quite proprietary about our characters and ideas.

Twitter gives me a chance to get a glimpse of what other writers are working on and how they go about their craft. We all approach writing in different ways so I would think you would have to know someone very well to consider collaborating.

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

My next release will be Crate, which will come out in February 2018. I have written a couple of crime stories which will come after that. I am happy to tackle any genre and have recently been working on a horror novel which will be titled Anthony. I do like the horror genre which gives the opportunity to explore the supernatural and create your own folk lore and demons.

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

I have bought a couple of books for my holiday reading. I have got the popular book He Said She Said as I like to find out what makes a best seller. I have also got a book called Adversary, which is based on a true story of a man’s massive deception, which led to tragic consequences. I did get a James Herbert novel The Ghosts of Sleath at a car boot sale for 50p as well.

I have read many Margaret Atwood books and really enjoy them. I also look out for books by Harlen Coben and Jo Nesbo.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to feature in your blog. Authors love talking about their books and writing so I’ve loved answering your questions and hope people will enjoy reading them.

Thanks to Fiona for taking the time to answer my questions, it’s been fascinating to hear more about your intriguing work. You can find out more about Fiona and her books HERE.

Jackie Baldwin Interview: “I see criminals as real people”

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Former criminal lawyer turned Crime Fiction Author Jackie Baldwin talks to me about her writing, her inspiration and her enduring love for Agatha Christie.

Tell me about how the books you write. Why do you have such a passion for crime fiction in particular?

Like a lot of crime novelists I grew up in an era where there was no young adult genre, so when you were 12 you were let free in the adult library. There, to my delight, I discovered crime writers like Agatha Christie and thriller writers like Alistair MacLean. Although I read quite widely across various genres, I came to enjoy crime fiction in particular as for many years I was a criminal lawyer so I knew that world. I also love that nowadays there is such diversity within the genre. Anything goes, from hardboiled to psychological thrillers to cosy mysteries. They all have something interesting to offer the reader.

What was the first crime fiction novel you read and how did it draw you into seeking out more books of this genre?

I always loved mystery books like The Secret Seven and The Famous Five but I think my first adult crime novel was by Agatha Christie. I read them all one after the other but can’t remember which one I started with. I remember I was always getting into trouble for reading too much as I was always desperate to keep going and find out who did it. My catchphrase was, ‘I’ll just finish the chapter.’ It used to drive my mum crazy!

How do you draw on your background as a lawyer when writing?

Well, I suppose first and foremost I see criminals as real people. I also think you have to view people who commit crimes within their entire context and not in a two dimensional way. Nobody is all good or all bad. Most of us inhabit some shade of grey. During my time as a lawyer I met very few people who made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up although there were a handful. Mostly it was people who made bad choices in difficult circumstances, were reared in a family culture of criminality, or had spiralled down into offending through drug addiction.

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Are there any particular mediums or narrative troupes you like to use in your writing and why?

I write in the third person but I like to focus in very closely on the internal life of my main characters at times of pressure. I’m fascinated by psychology and people’s inner life. Often that is so different from the image they present to the world. I wanted to avoid the trope of the alcoholic hard- bitten detective with a failing marriage and offer the reader something a little different so my lead character, DI Frank Farrell is a former practising RC priest who suffered a devastating mental breakdown as a young priest but recovered.

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

The weird thing is that since I was published I seem to have a lot less time to read than I used to and I do love to read. On the crime front, I enjoy books by Sophie Hannah, Susie Steiner, Robert Bryndza and Peter James. All of these have influenced me to the extent that they create memorable characters who feel very real to me and have a complex inner life which is what I have tried to create in my own work. I also love science fiction, particularly Asimov and Alisdair Reynolds. The only thing I tend not to get along with is romance!

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

I would love to work with Sally Wainwright on a TV drama. I recently watched Happy Valley for the first time and was completely blown away. I admire her tremendously. It was so immersive. One night, I found myself screaming ‘Run!’ at the TV to the great consternation of my husband and daughter. Isn’t it infuriating when people say to you, ‘It’s just a TV show’?

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

At the moment I am nearing the end of book 2 in my DI Frank Farrell series. After that is submitted I have plans for a commercial fiction novel and then a sci-fi crime novel. It’s going to be a case of write, eat, sleep, and repeat for some time! I was late getting off the starter’s block with my writing so I feel I’m playing catch up to some extent.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to later in the year or in 2018?

Mike Craven has a new series coming out next year which I’m looking forward to as I loved his Avison Fluke one. Felicia Yap’s crime novel Yesterday sounds terrific and is out in August 2017. I’ve also just downloaded The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond which came out this month. There have been so many exciting new books released recently that I’m struggling to keep up with the ones I’ve bought so I haven’t really had time to contemplate what’s happening next year yet.

Thanks to Jackie for speaking with me, it has been fascinating. You can learn more about Jackie and her work HERE.