Alex Macbeth Interview: “The first title I read was Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie”

The Red die

This week I caught up with The Red Die author Alex Macbeth to learn more about his writing, inspiration and the books that have influenced him.

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

My debut novel The Red Die is a crime fiction title set in Mozambique. It has elements of espionage and is essentially a political-thriller-cum-detective-novel.

My main character Comandante Felisberto is a single father with two kids who has jurisdiction for a district of 130,000 people with nothing more than a handful of officers and one battered police car.

The body of a man with a red die in his pocket is washed ashore near a quiet village on the coast of the Indian Ocean in southern Africa. But what looked initially like a corpse that came in with the tide soon turns out to be a murder case that will lead Comandante Felisberto and his team to the edge of danger and despair as they uncover a trail leading up to the highest echelons of power in their country. Can Felisberto and his ‘motley crew of rural investigators’ solve the case – and survive?

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

The first title I read was Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. But it was later when I discovered Henning Mankell and Nordic Noir that I really became passionate about the genre.

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

I’ve been a journalist for more than 10 years. I currently write a weekly newsletter for The Local Europe and before that I worked on media projects in Afghanistan, Pakistan, North and East Africa for five years at MiCT International, based in Berlin. I became interested in writing at a young age. My mum is a writer and so was my dad.

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

I am always looking to discover new crime fiction and it’s hard to pick out a few titles because there are so many great ones. Camilleri’s Montalbano series resonates with me because I grew up in Italy, but I also really like Boris Akunin’s Fandorin novels.

I also enjoy reading contemporary African literature – although in the last five years I have mainly read crime fiction.

Nordic Noir has no doubt had a huge influence on my writing. I love all of the ten Sjowall and Wahloo novels – the Martin Beck series – but I am also a big fan of Henning Mankell. I also have to mention Alexander McCall Smith’s The Nr. 1 Ladies Detective Agency as an influence in terms of cozy detective writing in southern Africa. I’ve also been influenced by Moussa Konaté (Mali) and Deon Meyer (SA), two great African crime fiction writers.

Recently I’ve really enjoyed Parker Bilal’s novels, featuring private investigator Makana, which are set in Egypt.

Every time I read a crime fiction title I try and learn something new, whether it’s a tiny trait in how a detective is portrayed or a larger plot device. This is only the beginning of my journey as a crime fiction author and I’m always looking to learn from other writers.

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

George Simenon reportedly wrote many of his masterpieces in a weekend so I’d love to watch how he did it that one Saturday night.

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

A sequel to The Red Die will be out in 2019.

Many thanks to Alex for answering my questions, it’s great to hear from a fellow Mankell fan! You can find out more about Alex and his work HERE.

 

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C.L. Williams Interview: “I read more non-fiction than anything”

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This week I speak to Luke, A.K.A C.L. Williams, a poet who is due to release his first novel shortly.

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

As far as writing poetry goes, my writing tends to be one of two styles; lyrics or free verse. I started writing poems similar to song lyrics because of my love of music. I listen to almost every genre. Given how much poetry and song have in common it not only became easy to write a poem like a song, I can tell a story in a poem that feels like a song. I also write free verse because when I was writing my last poetry book META- (Complete) my only focus was delivering my feelings, not writing a good poem. As it turns out me writing my feelings was what made those who like my books take much enjoyment in reading META- (Complete) As far as writing fiction goes, I don’t think I’ve discovered a specific writing style for myself just yet. I’m still learning what I’m good at writing and what I need to work on, I’m also still discovering what genres I enjoy writing and which ones I need to improve upon.

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

I got into writing while I was in middle school. Not many like how I got into writing but as a kid, I did not enjoy reading. My lack of reading affected my grades in English class. However, when we had to do writing assignments in English class, my essays, short stories, and poems would get A’s and in many cases I was not trying. One poem I wrote in either seventh grade or eighth grade not only ended up in the school newsletter, it also ended up in my local newspaper. After that, I slowly started writing stuff on my own and would send it to various contests and websites. I only won one of the contests but if the option to be published on a website or in a book was there I ended up on those websites or in those books almost every time. As I got older, I was given the suggestion to try and publish my poems in a book. Here we are years later and I just released my eighth poetry book The Paradox Complex and I’m about to release my first novel The Escape of Ernest Frost.

Please tell me about the your books. What defines your writing style?

With my poetry books the biggest thing that defines what I write is about personal experiences or specific feelings and making sure that what I’m writing about can also connect with the reader. My earlier poetry books were focused on telling the reader “you’re not alone in what you go through”; more recently, it has been talking about struggles and coming to love and accept someone for who they are.

With fiction, I’ve noticed my love of comic books is seeping into my writing style because with a comic book, many tend to end with a cliff-hanger to get you to buy the issue coming out the following month. With my fiction work, I tend to make many of my chapters end with a cliff-hanger because I want my reader to continue reading the book.

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

I feel the biggest one that is present in both my poetry and my fiction work is the human condition. I’m always writing about how one feels, what their struggle is, and how they can overcome it. There are other ones that have been repeated but the human condition is easily the biggest one I’m always writing about.

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

As I mentioned earlier, being a reader of comic books has easily become part of my writing with cliff-hanger endings for chapters in my fiction work.

I also read a lot of non-fiction, I read more non-fiction than anything. Given how much more personal my poems have become over the years, I can easily credit my love of non-fiction to me wanting to be more personal with my own work.

My favourite author is Neil Gaiman, while I can’t say his work has been influential. I can say the fact he has so many different types of books out has been influential on me. In the past few years, he’s released novels, non-fiction, comic books, and a short story collection. I recently released a fantasy novella, I just released a poetry book, and I’m about to release my first novel.

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

I’d have to pick William Shakespeare. I know I’m not the only one who would say he is the best writer ever. Not only would I be able to say I’ve worked with the best. I know I would learn a lot from him and it would make me a better writer in the process.

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

My newest book The Paradox Complex is actually the first of FIVE BOOKS I plan to release this year. My next book is my first novel, a suspense thriller, The Escape of Ernest Frost which I’m hoping to have out in late March or early April. It’s about a guy who gets kidnapped by a group of clowns and is forced into a cat and mouse game. He not only has to survive the night, he also has to find out why he was taken by this group of clowns.

I’m releasing a horror novella titled Dream Awake in the summer, it’s about a character who keeps having nightmares about being killed by someone, only for that person to show up in the real world and tell the main character they plan to kill the protagonist in the real world as well.

Late summer, I plan to re-release my book of love poems I did a few years ago titled Aspects of Love it’s being retitled Aspects of Love 1.5 and it’s the original book, a few poems that did not make the original cut, and a few brand new poems. My reason for doing this is because the first book was released under my real name, Luke Wood, and the eventual second volume is being released under my pen name, C.L. Williams. I thought both volumes needed to be released under the same name to avoid confusion.
By the end of the year, I plan to release my second novel, it currently does not have a title but it’s about a family overcoming the odds when struck with bad luck.

I also recently backed a Kickstarter for a comic book/tabletop game called The Empowered and I created a character for the comic book. The guys writing it mentioned summer being their goal on releasing the comic book.

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

One of my friends, someone I actually knew before writing, is Criss Jami. He recently re-released his last few books. I’m waiting for my copies to come in the mail. I know he’s more than likely writing something, but he usually doesn’t reveal his plans on book releases until the book is released. As a fan of his work and as a friend I already know I’ll be buying whatever he does next.

When my books started gaining more readers one author that showed support and I have also given my support in return is K.N. Lee. I bought one of her most recent books, she releases more stuff than I do and sometimes it’s hard to keep up but when she mentions a new book, I buy it. Of her books, I’m currently reading Half-Blood Dragon.

Anything you’d like to add?

My newest poetry book The Paradox Complex is available in print and on digital on Amazon. And thank you Hannah for the opportunity to be on your website! It is greatly appreciated!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it has been a pleasure. You can find out more about his work HERE.

Jeremiah Davis Interview: “I would love to collaborate with Martin Luther King”

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This week I caught up with Jeremiah Davis, a poet and writer who creates innovative pieces based on his own personal experience.

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

I came to define my writing style during a time I was really fighting and battling with mental illness. I was very quiet about it; I wrote many dark things that I feel didn’t deserve the light. I later discovered I could channel the dark things into beautiful and brights sources of encouragement and inspiration.

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

I knew at an early age when I had a problem with nerves and feeling ashamed. I knew then that writing poetry was the direct voice for me I speak very poetic and I know I want someone to be inspired the way I wish I were so that’s when I took on writing full time to see if it’s possible to inspire at least one person every day.

Please tell me about the your books. What defines your writing style?

I am not very proud of the style of my books but they speak about struggle and pain. The need to redeem, the desire to yearn for more, and an endless hunger to inspire. Writing about struggles defines my writing style.

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

I think about how I can turn the most negative experiences into positivity. I do this because as humans we easily dwell and harp, but when one shows resilience that’s what gets a nation inspired.

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

I enjoy reading personal, very personal stories. They help me dig deep into things I feel are useless, and rise to the occasion of overcoming.

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

I would love to collaborate with Martin Luther King. I’m a huge believer in energy and I feel I could channel his stories and save our engulfed with raged world we live in. I feel he stood for more human equality rather than racial equality.

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

Yes I am working on my third collection of poetry.

Anything you’d like to add?

Thank you for this opportunity.

Many thanks for taking the time to answer, it has been great hearing your thoughts. You can find out more about Jeremiah and his work HERE.

Tana Collins Interview: “When I decided to turn my hand to writing crime fiction myself I knew I wanted to create a series with a strong cast of characters and an interesting setting”

tana collins

As a massive Henning Mankell fan I was delighted to see his name appear as an inspiration for Tara Collins, the author of the bestselling Inspector Jim Carruthers series. She talks to me about her work and how she created such an engaging character that appeals to so many readers.

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

The first crime fiction book I ever read was Peter Robinson’s In a Dry Season, about thirteen years ago. The blurb on the back hooked me and when I read the novel I was spellbound. The books are set in Yorkshire and I particularly loved Peter’s wonderful sense of place. When I decided to turn my hand to writing crime fiction myself I knew I wanted to create a series with a strong cast of characters and an interesting setting. I base my own novels in the East Neuk of Fife, which is a beautiful area of Scotland.

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

I don’t write full time. I still have the day job and I fit the writing around that unless I’m on a final edit of a book and then I’ll take time off work. I’m a Massage Therapist by trade, which I love, but my original background is in philosophy.

Please tell me about your books. Why do you believe the Inspector Jim Carruthers series is so popular?

I’m delighted to say that my debut novel, Robbing the Dead, published February 2017, became an Amazon No 1 bestseller for Scottish Crime Fiction and the follow up, Care to Die, became a Top 10 bestseller. Both books were published by Bloodhound Books in 2017. They have been described as ‘fast paced with interesting storylines’ but it’s the characters and the setting that readers really seem to like.

My two main protagonists are Detective Inspector Jim Carruthers and DS Andrea Fletcher. When we meet Carruthers he’s a DCI, but he’s struggling both on a professional and personal level with the return of his old adversary, Alistair McGhee, whom he blames for his marriage break up. I won’t say any more than that. Fletcher seems to be settling in to her role as DS just fine until she receives some shocking news…

As I said the Inspector Carruthers mysteries are set in the East Neuk of Fife, which is an area close to my heart. My fictional setting is a place called Castletown, which is closely modelled on St Andrews. I did toy with the idea of keeping the town as St Andrews but realised early on that I needed to grow the town so it ended up becoming fictionalised. Anyone familiar with St Andrews will definitely recognise it in Castletown though. There’s something really powerful in crime fiction about having a strong sense of place, isn’t there and I think Fife makes a wonderful setting for my series.

robbing the dead

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

That’s such an interesting question. I use fairly short sentences, which make for a faster read and shorter chapters as I near the end of the book. I use weather to enhance the mood. I’m on to Book 4 now and I’ve noticed that every book I write always starts with a suspicious death from the outset, which hooks the reader. That was originally unintentional but it seems to work so I’ve kept it and it’s become one of my writing devices.

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

I only read crime fiction at the moment so anything I can get my hands on really. One thing I don’t enjoy is gratuitous violence so I do tend to shy away from that. I’ve started reading the Icelandic crime writers and particularly enjoy the work of Yrsa Sigurdardottir and Ragnar Jonasson. I love the way the weather informs his writing in his Ari Thor series. I’m also looking forward to getting my hands on Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir. I also love Peter May, Ann Cleeves and Henning Mankell.

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

Ooh, that’s a good question. I’ve met Peter Robinson several times at different writing workshops. In fact I spent a week at the University of Tallinn with him while he was researching his latest novel, Watching the Dark, a few years ago. He was the tutor of the creative writing course I was on. Do you know he’s as good a tutor as he is a writer? As I love the DCI Banks series so much and he was nice enough to give me a review for my second book, Care to Die, which he said he really enjoyed, I think he’d have to be my writing partner.

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

Yes, I have my third book in the Inspector Carruthers series being published on 24th April 2018. It’s called Mark of the Devil. I had to do a lot of research on both international art crime and wildlife crime, which was fascinating. I’ve also started writing book 4. I had a strong idea in my head of the plot for book 4 but the storyline and characters are leading me in a completely different direction, so I’m just seeing where that takes me. I’m not a plotter at all so writing is always an adventure, albeit at times a rather nerve wracking one!

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

I’m looking forward to reading Ian Skewis’ next book. I loved his debut novel, A Murder of Crows. I’ve just finished Jackie McLean’s second novel, Shadow. That was really good too. There are so many books I’m looking forward to reading including novels by Amanda Fleet; Gail Williams; LJ Ross; Marsali Taylor; Jackie Baldwin and Claire McLeary. In fact I’ve just started Claire’s debut novel, Cross Purpose. The list is never ending.

Anything you’d like to add?

I would just like to take the time to thank you, Hannah, for interviewing me for your blog. It’s been really lovely having the opportunity to talk about my books and other writers I admire. Can I also just say, as writers, how grateful we are to our bloggers?

Thanks for taking the time, it has been great hearing from you. 

Sam Boush Interview: “Science fiction is the perfect genre to show the terrifying and realistic possibilities of any number of scenarios”

Sam Boush Photo

I caught up with Sam Boush, author for Sci-Fi Thriller All Systems Down, to find out more about what drew him towards this fascinating genre.

Please tell me about All Systems Down.

All Systems Down is a sci-fi thriller, based in our present day. Through cyber warfare, the North Koreans are able to cause a complete collapse of American infrastructure—banks, the electrical grid, GPS, and more. The story is focused in around a few everyday people who have to survive in cities that are crashing down around them.

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

I have had a number of past careers, as a journalist and in book publishing. Most recently, I founded a small-to-mid-size marketing firm, which I sold a couple years ago. Now I’m focused full-time on writing.

Please tell me about the style you write in. What drew you towards science fiction?

Science fiction is the perfect genre to show the terrifying and realistic possibilities of any number of scenarios. Michael Crichton used the genre to describe what genetic tinkering run-amok could cause in Jurassic Park. Ray Bradbury used it to paint a world where books were scorned in Fahrenheit 451. A lot of great writing comes from this genre.

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

As a writer, I read a lot of non-fiction. I hear from my writing friends, who, similarly, read a disproportionate amount of non-fiction compared with fiction. But as far as fiction goes, in the last month I’ve read Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, City of Thieves by David Benioff, and several books by Stephen King.

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

Tom Clancy. Besides the fact that I like his books, he’s a great researcher and so detail-oriented. I feel like writing with him would be easy because of all the knowledge at his fingertips.

Anything you’d like to add?

You can read the first chapter of All Systems Down for free on my website: http://cyberwarbooks.com/all-systems-down-ch-1/

Thank you for your responses Sam, it was great to hear your thoughts.

Patricia McDonald Interview: “My approach is to firstly visualise myself as each character”

Pat McDonald

In my first interview for 2018 I spoke to Patricia McDonald about her work and the influences behind it.

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

After many years of writing formally and academically, I found the crossover into fiction required a loosening of my prose style into a more informal one. My approach is to firstly visualise myself as each character, how they would act, think, talk and relate to each other. Writing a book is similar to reading one; if you can’t see or hear the character then it is impossible to read the story they are involved in. It’s the author’s job to talk to the reader and a great compliment when a reader tells you they liked the ‘inner voice’. Writing style is as much about format and presentation and in this I like to experiment a little, otherwise one book is much the same as another. My humour series (The Penny Series) is written as the thoughts of Benjamin Matthews my anti-hero and to write the book from his view point came out of a need to keep a sense of humour whilst recovering from my first brain tumour operation. To have a male humour author write ‘Pat speaks fluent bloke’ was a superb compliment.

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

My career as a Social Scientist took me into research in health care including medical (heart disease), mental illness (working in an old Asylum) and mental handicap and latterly many years with the police. I went back to writing fiction when I found myself one of the first casualties of the cuts in policing budgets after seventeen years of service as a project and programme manager. I began where I left off and approached my writing career like any other programme of work, and since crime, criminals and policing was then the biggest part of my world, I sat down and began my first book Getting Even!

Please tell me about your books. What defines your writing style?

My first books are: The Blue Woods trilogy: Getting Even; Revenge is best served cold; Rogue Seed and Boxed Off. These were meant to be my one crime book. The truth is I had a real difficulty in ending stories and the first book (662 pages!!) had to be carried on to the next as ideas flowed fast. I created all three as a book in its own right, centring on characters Luc Wariner and Addie Carter of a Major Crime Unit. I believe my main writing style is characterisation; it is certainly something I admire about other writers. I try to make them real believable people, who have real lives and this aspect of writing is important to me, the crime and investigation, and police procedures are secondary. I believe that is true for both police personnel and even for criminals, neither of them defining themselves by solving crimes or committing them, these are incidental to their lives. I have been described as gritty, but I prefer realistic with an edge.

Later and more recently I have moved on to explore paranormal themes (Breaking Free and Echoes of Doubt) and humour (A Penny for Them, The Penny Drops, and A Bad Penny – coming soon), whilst still maintaining the crime genre.

I have just begun The Ravages of Time which brings an asylum theme into a modern day detective story. I like to explore how peoples’ past lives influence their present day choices rather than write a story in a vacuum of their current lives.
Pat McDonald Books

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

I describe myself as a ‘free flow’ writer; I sit in front of a blank page or screen and begin to write. I do not plan my stories; they evolve, as do my characters and what happens to them. In this respect I have to read and reread for continuity and unresolved issues. I like to intersperse ‘back story’ in italics to enhance the main story or develop the character.

I use the title of my books as a theme that runs throughout, usually relating to most or all the characters, whilst the main crime story plays out around them. For example, Breaking Free is about Livia’s attempt to break from her past, one which she has blocked off certain parts of. In so doing she finds an old chest in the attic of a house she as just bought, it contains the journals of a WW1 woman with a similar name and the telephone calls she is getting at 03.33 asking her to help the plaintive voice, sets her off on a quest to set someone else free; being stalked herself reminds the reader of her needs in Breaking Free.

I also try to leave certain things open for the reader’s own imagination to ponder on or may even want to reconnect if it’s a series.

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

I read anything and everything (within reason). As a child I read the children’s section of my local library and was granted permission to move up to the adult section (supervised choice) before the appropriate age. I read a large number of classic authors, joined a book club and bought as many as I could, mostly thrillers, psychological thrillers, historical fiction etc. I think that makes me a bibliophile (together with the number of lode bearing book cases around my entire house!)

Since social networking/connecting with so many authors I read/review a variety that catches my eye and some that are particularly good i.e. Gary Dolman, Ian Hutson, Aaron David, J.P McLean and numerous others. I believe you have to read to be able to write as some have influenced me greatly. Without Aaron David and Ian Hutson’s brilliantly funny work I would never have attempted humour, I found it encouraged me in that direction. And being a ‘free flow’ writer I get triggers from other people I meet and writer’s work, that isn’t their plots, maybe just a word that reminds me of some experience that leads me on to write something new or something within the book I’m currently writing.

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

I have collaborated on writing books academically and know it’s the hardest thing to do (at least for me). I wouldn’t want to on fiction and I’m afraid I don’t understand how people can take other author’s well-established characters and continue the story. I suppose it could be seen as a compliment to Jane Austin or Emily Bronte and I may have wished I’d written something superb that other people have written, but I just don’t understand why anyone would want to write in another person’s style.

Collaboration to me is like taking a jigsaw puzzle and splitting the pieces in two, the picture created may never resemble anything like each of you imagined.

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

I have just published Echoes of Doubt (a month ago), which takes a character, Bart Bridges, who dropped out of Boxed Off where he entered the Witness Protection Programme. As Cyrus Bartholomew, ex PI, he has become the clock maker in his shop Time and Tide, in an unremarkable seaside town where he has been living for two years. Feeling safe from his adversaries he begins to doubt his own safety when the old gentleman next door in the art gallery is found violently murdered in his bed.

My book A Bad Penny (third in the Penny series) is about to go into the publishing process. I have come to like to have two books in progress at the same time, one serious and one amusing. So I have The Ravages of Time and also just begun Pennies from Heaven, both to keep me focussed as I am suffering from the side effects of the Gamma Knife surgery I had a few months ago for a returning brain tumour and writing and editing helps me to accommodate them.

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

I always have a few books ready and waiting to read now I have submitted to this Kindle thing which came free on my last telephone upgrade, that isn’t to say I don’t buy other people’s books, I always do even if I’m given an advanced copy.

I await with bated breath for Gary Dolman’s book about, Grace Darling, English lighthouse keeper (who I believe he is related to down the years), for J P McLean’s next book in The Gift series, for Aaron David’s sequel to The Tale of the Ancient Marina (‘All the loft insulation you can eat’), for Ian Hutson’s ‘dog with the Bakelite nose’ to join his ‘cat with electric goggles’, newcomer to my world Michael Spinelli to follow up on WAKE (a story that stopped me from eating until I had finished it! I can afford the weight loss) and so many more talented authors.

Anything you’d like to add?

A message to all writers, beginner writers and anyone who aspires to write – just do it, write all those ideas in your head down and forget about trying to conform to someone else’s idea of how you should do it. You may never be a Shakespeare, an Agatha Christie or a Stephen King; you may actually excite the reading world by just being YOU. Everyone has a story to tell.

Many thanks to Pat for taking the time to answer my questions; you can learn more about her work HERE.

 

Ellis Shuman Interview: “My first book was based on my years living on a kibbutz”

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Ellis Shuman, author of The Burgas Affair, discusses his work and how his experiences have shaped it.

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

I don’t know if I would classify myself as an author of crime fiction. I enjoy writing suspenseful novels, thrillers that keep you turning the pages. Invariably, in the stories I tell a crime has taken place and must be solved. This crime is central to the plot so maybe my writing is crime fiction after all.

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

I wish I were able to write full time! I have had many careers and each of them has provided background to my writing. I worked on a dairy farm milking cows, and I was employed in a five-star hotel as a front desk clerk. For the past twelve years I have worked in online marketing and for a two-year period, my job was relocated from my home in Israel to Sofia, Bulgaria. Each chapter of my career has featured in my writing at some stage.

I still have a day job so finding the time to write is a challenge. I solved this problem and added an extra hour to my daily routine by sitting down in a coffee house each morning for an hour of writing before going to work. I find that I am the most creative in the early hours and by the time I report to the office, I have already accomplished quite a bit. Still, it would be great to be able to write full time!

Please tell me about your books. What defines your writing style?

My first book was based on my years living on a kibbutz—a collective settlement in Israel’s southern desert. The cows I milked and the tractors I drove to plough the fields feature in the short stories of The Virtual Kibbutz.

Living in Bulgaria introduced me to a fascinating country, rich with culture, history, and nature. When I returned to Israel, I found that I missed living in Sofia and I wanted to share my experiences in Bulgaria. I found that I could do this in my writing. My debut novel, Valley of Thracians, is set in modern day Bulgaria but also highlights the time when mysterious warlike tribes—the Thracians—ruled the region before they were conquered by the Romans.

Two years after my return to Israel, a terrorist bombing at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria took the lives of five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver. Having grown up in Israel, I was quite familiar with terror attacks and suicide bombings but I had never imagined that something like this would occur in Bulgaria. As those responsible for the bombing were never brought to justice, I began to imagine a joint Bulgarian-Israeli investigation, and this led to my novel The Burgas Affair. It’s a fictional account of the aftermath of a very real event.

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

I enjoy writing short chapters that leave the reader reluctant to put down the book. Possibly this is because a lot of my reading is done during a train ride on my daily commute to and from work. As I speed through a book, I hardly notice my fellow passengers or the stations passing by. This is the experience I wish to share with my readers as well.
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What do you enjoy reading and how does this influence your writing?

I read a wide variety of fiction, but I am particularly drawn to novels written by Israeli and Bulgarian authors when they are translated and published in English. I enjoy reading suspense thrillers. The books I read definitely influence my writing. I write book reviews, travel reports of the places I’ve visited, and fiction that hopefully comes across as suspenseful and thrilling as the books that keep me turning the pages.

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

I have never yet collaborated with anyone on a writing project so doing that would really be a challenge for me! I have to admit that I enjoyed reading the novels of Dan Brown. I remember starting to read The Da Vinci Code when I boarded a plane in Tel Aviv and finishing it just as I got off the plane in New York. What attracts me to Dan Brown’s novels is the details that play background to the main story. I appreciate the amount of research Brown puts into his writing and in my opinion, the background didn’t slow down the pace of the story.

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

I am working on my third novel. Similar to The Burgas Affair, it is set in both Bulgaria and Israel, but it approaches its subject in an entirely different way. I have completed the first draft but the novel is far from finished. I will be going back to the manuscript soon to begin rewrites and revisions.

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

My tablet is full of books on my to-be-read list. Many of them are debut novels that attract me because they have unusual settings, or stories. And many of them would be considered classic crime fiction. I look forward to reading them all!

Anything you’d like to add?

In many ways I consider my novels to be travel fiction. The locations and settings are almost as important as the characters of the story. Many readers of Valley of Thracians were introduced to Bulgaria for the first time. I hope The Burgas Affair will similarly introduce readers to both Bulgaria and Israel.

Thanks for taking the time to tell me your thoughts, it’s been fascinating. You can learn more about Ellis and his work HERE.