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.