Mercedes Fox ~ Author

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Tag: crime (Page 1 of 2)

Meet Author David Halvorsen

Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author David Halvorsen

Dave is a pastor that loves to write. He lives in Mount Vernon, Washington with his wife, Trisha, and their three kids—Anayah (6), Autumn (4), and John David (1). For fun, the family loves to travel, eat, explore nature and read a good book together.

Book Sample:  Hush, child

Genre: supernatural crime thriller

Synopsis:  Judah Greer is an alcoholic without the will to sober up, that is until his long lost daughter reenters his life. When Mara becomes the twenty-fifth victim of a serial kidnapper, he launches out on a frantic quest to save her. Aided by a mysterious young girl who may or may not exist, and a detective with a vendetta of her own, he tumbles down a rabbit hole and into a world where nothing is certain and no one is safe. The spiritual clashes with the natural in this supernatural thriller as events spiral out of control toward an ending prophesied from the most ancient of Holy texts: “Behold, I will send you the spirit of Elijah before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

Excerpt: “We have to go, Cora.”

Dazed, Cora lifted her head. “It’s too early,” she countered.

Mara scowled. “I need to be there early.”

Cora closed her eyes. “You already had a practice run.”

Resentment flashed over Mara. “I know that. This is different, because we’re in the stadium for the first time.”

Cora pulled the sheet over her head.

Mara waited for a response, but to no avail. Slamming Cora’s door, she snatched up her purse and bag and stormed out of the condo. Pulling out her cell, she called a cab, and plopped down in a huff on the front step to wait the fifteen minutes.

She presently loathed her mother more than she had in a long while. Cora had always been indifferent and taciturn, but this was a new level of cruelty that Mara hadn’t yet seen. Maybe it was because of Judah. She didn’t know. Even if it was, that didn’t license Cora’s selfishness.

The cab rolled up. It was from a company she didn’t recognize. Mara approached as the driver rolled down his window.

“Need a ride?”

Mara frowned. “I called for a Yellow Cab, but you’re…” She swept her gaze over the flaked lettering but was unable to make it out. “Are you with them?”

The man bore a full head of grease-coated hair that appeared to reach his lower back. His square jaw was peppered with scruff, except in the vicinity of three jagged scars that yawned from his cheekbone and stretched down his throat. She was transfixed, and didn’t hear his response until he repeated himself: “They’re busy and called me to fill in,” he explained, his smooth voice resonating, reminiscent of the tune of a cello.

She shook out of her daze and, with an apologetic glance, opened the back door and slid in.

“Where to then?” he asked, while bringing the car out onto the main street.

“I told them,” she reminded him, becoming increasingly apprehensive.

“Must’ve been lost over the frequency.” He tapped the radio with a knuckle.

“Right, okay then, to University Stadium. I’m graduating today.”

“And at seventeen; that means you’re clever,” he added with a smile as he glanced at her in the rearview.

She returned his smile with a taut press of her mouth, and couldn’t shake the impression that something was askew. He kept to himself for the remainder of the ride, but compensated for his silence by studying her. Each time she caught sight of his eyes in the rearview, a shiver slithered up her spine. She sighed with relief as they pulled into the stadium’s lot. Peering between the two front seats, she saw that the tab was for forty dollars. Jumping from the cab, she rounded to his open window, and grimaced when seeing that she only had a crinkled five-dollar bill.

“Um, look, mister, do you mind that I only have five?”

He offered a flamboyant grin, which caused his scars to twitch. “That’s all right. I’ll wait here. Maybe your mommy can give you the cash when she comes.”

She sprinted into the stadium. “Creep,” she muttered between gasps. She’d make sure to avoid him like the plague.

The following thirty minutes flew by as she floundered to and fro, searching apprehensively for her graduating class. They were filing into the auditorium when she saw them across the fray. Embarrassed, she managed to slip into her gown in stride, and donned her cap as she took her allotted seat.

“Margaret Abernathy,” the spokeswoman called over the PA system.

During the proceeding hour, her mind wandered in a daze. She hoped Cora would show; both she and Judah.

“Michael Palmer.”

She snapped to—they were in the P’s. Her row would soon stand. She swept her gaze over the reserved seating, and smiled when seeing Cora hunched over her cell. Twisting around, she played her eyes over the uninterested faces, and was about to give up when a flicker caught her attention near the exit. Judah was waving both hands. Her chest fluttered and her smile returned for a second show of affection.

A rustle on both sides caused her to swivel back around. The usher was motioning for her row to join the swiftly moving stream of soon-to-be graduates.

Christopher Pratt was announced. Mara was next. Cora pried her attention from her smart phone in time to see her mount the stage.

Mara shot her gaze into the back of the stadium—looking for… she grinned when her eyes connected with Judah’s.

“Mara Pretz.”

Mara marched across the stage with a heartwarming smile. She again glanced toward Judah and then at Cora, and what she saw caused her throat to contract. The principal was pumping her hand and setting a diploma into her other, but she understood none of it. Her mind was steeped in a fog. “Well done, Mara,” the superintendent congratulated though she was elsewhere, with wide eyes riveted to her mother’s retreating back.

Nausea snaked into her belly as she progressed offstage and back into the swiftly moving brook of new and cheery graduates. The remaining names were monotonously announced. Forbidden catcalls and whistles of overzealous family and friends droned on. It was an opaque blur that passed overhead. In contrast, what she vividly grasped was the memory of her mother’s back facing her moment of triumph, striding away in a fit of indignation.

The band played the last song. The auditorium stood in unison. Mara was marinated in confusion, while her classmates flung their hats towards the vaulted ceiling. After the momentous euphoria fizzled, the throng dispersed in pursuit of their loved ones—all except the dispirited young lady who wept into unsteady hands.

The scent of cheap cologne wafted over her, and she heard the adjacent chair creak under someone’s weight, followed by a sturdy hand that rested between her shoulder blades. “I’m sorry, Mara,” consoled Judah’s raspy voice.

Without looking at him, she leaned into his arms and rested her face against his chest. She was sniveling, and only peered up after regaining her composure. “Thank you,” she said with a wearied smile.

He looked at her empathetically. “Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

She believed him.

“I’ll take you home,” he intoned.

She stood compliantly and, without fully understanding her actions, slipped her hand into his. Neither spoke during the ride home. After he pulled onto her street, he let the engine idle, reached into the back, grabbed a brown parcel, and offered it to her with a comforting expression.

She was surprised, not having expected a gift from him other than the fifty bucks.

“Wait till you get inside before opening it.”

She looked at him for an explanation, but he only smiled.

“Oh, right, almost forgot. And here’s your blood money.” He slapped a single bill into her hand.

A smile broke past her despondency. “Thanks,” she offered.

“No problem, kid.”

Reaching over, she pecked him on the cheek, but hopped out before he could respond. She scurried to the front door, turned to wave with another smile tipping up her lips, and then slipped inside.

She traipsed into the family room and collapsed into the loveseat. What a strenuous day, she thought, but then smiled as she held up the parcel; he had wrapped it in a paper bag. She ripped off the paper and found herself staring at a leather-bound Bible. Cute, she thought. She placed the Bible on the coffee table, rested back, and closed her eyes to thoughts of the depressing day.

~蘑

A violent wind awoke her. The front door slammed, adding to the banshee-like wails. Mara struggled out of the loveseat, forced the window shut, and then poked her head into the hall. Cora was climbing the stairs, and stopped mid-step when spotting her daughter.

“So, you finally came home,” Mara scolded.

Cora cleared her throat. “Do not speak to me with that tone, young lady.”

“Where’d you go, then?”

“None of your concern. You have Judah to attend to you.”

So this was it then—the reason for deserting—Cora hated Judah to that extent. “You’re being selfish.”

“Don’t think you can rebuke me, you little traitor.”

“If he’s as bad as you make him out to be, then why did he come to the most important day of my life…and…and you value your disdain for him more than your love for me?”

“You really don’t know what you’re talking about, do you?” Cora descended the stairs and, standing toe-to-toe, glowered at her daughter. “You don’t know how twisted he is, do you? Let me ask you a question. Perhaps it will put something into perspective.” She chose her words carefully. “I was seeing Thomas while still married to him.” Her scorn deepened. “He didn’t know how to accept the fact that I didn’t love him.” Ire bubbled behind Cora’s eyes. “And now, after all these years—he still hates me.”

“How do you know that?” Mara interjected.

“Because of the facts.” Cora placed her hand on Mara’s shoulder. “You impudent brat. If you had half a brain you would have listened and stayed away from that man. Now look what you’ve done.”

“What do you mean?” Mara asked, confused.

“Judah isn’t your father.”

“What do you mean?”

“Exactly what I said.”

Mara was miffed. “Did you ever tell him?”

“Of course. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s what forced him into lunacy!” she spat. “He’s a crazed buffoon who couldn’t take no for an answer, and the thought that he wasn’t the father of my child pushed him over the edge.”

“If he knows, then why’s he treating me like his daughter? Why’s he acting like my father?”

“That is precisely what I am asking. Look what you have done—you’ve gone and opened Pandora’s Box. You’ve allowed a delusional man into your life. You’re no longer safe—not while Judah’s prowling in the shadows. Before your senseless brain understands, you’ll be fastened to the bedposts for months on end as he gets a sadistic kick from seeing you writhe.”

With that, Cora turned and strode up the steps.

Mara was speechless. She didn’t know what to think, or how to think. Why would Judah deceive her? Why would he be so kind, let her into his home, let her vent on his shoulder, attend her graduation, give her a gift, and embody all of the traits that she had ever envisioned in a father? She didn’t know, and needed to understand.

After collecting her nerve, she climbed the steps and rapped on Cora’s door. Cora didn’t respond. She pressed it open. The lights were on in the attached bathroom. Padding over, she opened the door without knocking and stiffened at what greeted her: Cora was in mid-stroke of slicing her thigh with a razor. Streaks of blood smeared her hand and trickled down her leg. Countless white scars, reminiscent of a pond of maggots, spackled her thigh. Numerous emotions flashed over Cora’s face: fear from discovery, irritation, and lastly, acute vehemence leveled at Mara. “GET OUT!”

Mara wanted to run; instead, she stared dumbly and in dismay.

“GET OUT!” Cora roared, jabbing her finger at the doorway. She then advanced and slammed the door in Mara’s horrified face.

Mara ran. Tripping down the stairs, she rushed into the family room, grasped her purse, and dashed from the condo and into the howling wind. She needed to pace, and to think, and to cry, and to pray.

Blinded by uncontrolled emotion, she didn’t notice the taxi pull out from the shadows and pursue her from behind.

She dug for her phone and dialed a cab. A raindrop slapped her nose. Determined to tough out the inclement weather, she trudged down the block.

Cora needed help. In a strange way, she was thankful that she saw her cutting. Cora’s narcissism had suddenly become more complex. Deep-seated issues forced her behavior. Knowing this, Mara found it more difficult to scorn her.

At any regard, she needed to leave, and could think of only one person to run to—Judah. However, the nagging detail that Judah was an imposter convoluted things. He owed her an explanation.

About ten minutes had elapsed since she had called the cab, which was why after rounding the street corner, she was surprised to find an advancing pair of headlights. “They’re early?” she muttered.

The glare of the headlights prevented her from noticing the man’s scarred face until she was peering through his window. “Where to this time?” he asked jovially.

Her throat clamped into a knot. She wasn’t going anywhere with this man. “Um, I called a different taxi service,” she managed to squeak.

“That’s true. They radioed me again. So happens that I was in the area—it’s nice when things line up, isn’t it?”

She shook her head. “I changed my mind. I don’t need a cab anymore. Thanks though.” She turned and trekked back towards the condo.

The sound of his engine revved from behind and he pulled alongside her. “Come, come, little girl—I won’t hurt you.”

She broke into a run, but he accelerated to maintain her speed. The porch light of her condo was on down the street. Not far, a minute away. She heard the car accelerate further; then it struck her from behind. Sprawled on the wet tarmac, she tasted blood. Leaping back to her feet, she sprinted. The quiet click of an opening car door cracked against her ears, followed by the chilling slap of her assailant’s boots. She ran harder—breath ragged—emotions frenzied. His hand landed on the small of her back. She left the ground for a moment, suspended, and glimpsed her reflection on the wet pavement before landing facedown. In the process of screaming, she sucked in a mouthful of water. It sprayed into her trachea. Her body lurched. She gasped and sputtered, and was unable to raise her voice above a whisper as he grabbed her around the waist and dragged her towards his cab. He threw her into the back, reached over, and snatched a coiled cord from the floor, where he gagged her, bound her, and struck her on the side of the head. She blanked out, but before her mind dissolved into a fizzing cacophony of static, she heard the roar of the engine and felt the nauseating motion of the car as it peeled from the neighborhood.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  I started writing my first book at twelve, which was 1995, and finally finished and published it in 2011. The book that’s getting published now, Hush, child took only five years in comparison. Lol. My goal going forward, and I think I’ll achieve it, is to write a book a year.

Why do you write?  I love creating. And I also love it when the characters and story come to life and begin creating themselves. I think the pull for me is to listen to what they’re telling me and to try and pass on their message to whoever else that wants to listen.

When did you decide to become a writer?  I think this happened subconsciously at twelve, that age when I first started to write down that cursed story that never seems to die. We were a missionary family living in Ireland at the time. I was enrolled in the local country school—40 kids grades kindergarten to their version of twelfth grade, and two teachers—at any rate, I wrote a short story for literature and the Principal complemented me on a verb usage. I think I said that a driver of a truck poked his head through the window. The Master, as the Irish lads and lasses call their teachers, apparently thought this to be more descriptive than what I could have otherwise used. Who knew that this would’ve been inspirational for me? Ha! The small things in life can have substantive impact, I guess.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?  My imagination can’t help but create complex characters that journey through strange and daring worlds. It’s in me and the most natural outlet for me is to put it in story form. I suppose others compose music, and others paint or draw, or craft, or what have you; for me it’s to write.

Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured?  I take a couple hours a day. Complete silence—no music, no kids, no wife, just silence. I then enter into the zone and write what comes.

Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  Both. I can see the general plot, the north star so to say, but on the journey the characters seem to develop life of their own. When this happens, I let go of the reigns and wait with no little sense of expectation to see where they take me.

Where do your ideas come from?  The heart. Maybe God, at least this is what I hope for. I write for him most of all. He’s my passion, the one that I dedicate my work to. MF: I believe it is from God. He did give us freewill and imagination.

What’s the hardest thing about writing?  Doing it when I’m not in the mood. I’ve never struggled with writer’s block. I’d even be open to having that just so I could see what it’s like. My struggle is with buckling down and just doing it when I don’t feel like it.

What is the current book you are promoting?  Hush, child. It’s about a recovering alcoholic that’s hunting for his estranged daughter that’s been kidnapped by a person who calls his or herself Satan’s prophet (that felt like it was a mouthful). The story’s about the fractures that happen between parents and their children, and the power that’s to be had with restoring the family. The book is gritty in parts, and controversial in others, but a powerful read, if I don’t say so myself 😉

There ya have it folks! For more about Dave, his work, and to get yourself a copy, follow the links below:

Amazon / Facebook

Meet Author Simon Michael

Hola! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat featuring author Simon Michael

Simon Michael is the author of the best-selling London 1960s noir gangster series featuring his antihero barrister (trial lawyer), Charles Holborne.  Simon writes from personal experience: a barrister for 37 years, he worked in the Old Bailey and other criminal courts defending and prosecuting a wide selection of murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy.  The 1960s was the “Wild West” of British justice, a time when armed gangs fought for control of London’s organised crime and the corrupt Metropolitan Police beat up suspects, twisted evidence and took a share of the criminal proceeds.  Simon weaves into his thrillers genuine court documents from cases on which he worked and the big stories of the 1960s.

Simon was published in the UK and in America in the 1980s and returned to writing when he retired from the law in 2016.  The first books in the Charles Holborne Series, The Brief and An Honest Man, garnered strong reviews for their authenticity and excitement.  The third, The Lighterman, is due out on 8 June 2017.  in Simon’s theme is alienation; Holborne, who dabbled in crime and in serious violence before becoming a barrister, is an outsider both in the working class East End where he grew up and in the privileged Temples of the Law where he faces daily class and religious prejudice.  He has been compared to Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, honorable men surrounded by corruption and violence, trying to steer an honest course.

Book Sample:  The Lighterman

Genre: Historical crime thriller

Synopsis:  Charles Holborne (ne Charlie Horowitz), one-time criminal and boxer, is now a member of the establishment, a successful trial lawyer with a gift for representing the underdog.  But he has made powerful and dangerous enemies.  Ronnie Kray, one of the psychotic gangster Twins running 1960s London, has put Charles on his “List” of people to be disposed of.  How best to get at a canny and vigilant trial attorney with unusual skills?  Answer: find him a client charged with murder and facing a certain death penalty, a client who can’t be hanged twice, and make him an offer he can’t refuse.

Sample: Luftwaffe Hauptmann Heinz Schumann releases his bombs at 03:45 hours.  His Dornier 215 is in the middle wave of the attack and although several of the escorting Messerschmitt 109s have been shot down, the approach has been easy.  The cloud cover as they crossed the Channel had melted away, and the bomber squadron had simply followed the meandering line of the Thames, deviating slightly every now and then to avoid the puffs of smoke from the anti-aircraft fire and then returning to its course.  Ahead of Schumann clusters of incendiaries continue to rain onto the city, dropped by the leading bombers in his formation.  As each new cluster falls there is a dazzling flash followed by a flame soaring up from a white center, turning the underside of the barrage balloons silvery yellow and throwing up great boiling eruptions of smoke.  And as each burst of black smoke clears in the breeze, the great river reappears, a black snake in a brightly-illuminated landscape of uncontrolled fire.            As he releases his payload, Schumann is able to look down and obtain a perfect view of the U-shaped bend in the River Thames known by the Britishers as The Isle of Dogs.  He watches the bombs drop, becoming tiny black dots before they are swallowed up by the great orange and yellow tongues of flame which leap hundreds of feet into the night air, as if making futile attempts to lick the belly of his Dornier.  The Port of London is burning to the ground, and to Schumann’s eye it is both terrible and beautiful.

It takes the 1000 kg bombs 42 seconds to hit the ground.  This is what happens on the ground during that period of 42 seconds:

Hallsville Junior School, Agate Street, Canning Town is heaving with over 600 East Enders – men, women and children – awaiting evacuation.  Almost all of them are homeless, their houses and schools having been destroyed in the first few days of the Blitz.  Some have gathered together a few treasured possessions; some have a cardboard suitcase or two; some, recently dug out from collapsed buildings, have nothing but the nightclothes they stand in, their modesty covered by borrowed blankets, soot and building dust.  Almost all have lost family members and the majority carry injuries; the walking wounded of working class London.

New dazed families continue to arrive at the already overcrowded building but, despite all, spirits remain reasonable for much of the day.  Then, as the hours pass and the promised transports fail to materialise, muttering turns to anger and anger to shouting at the hopelessly overrun authorities.  They are sitting ducks, they protest, with no air raid shelter to protect them and another bombing raid inevitable.  By early afternoon a blind eye is being turned to the dozens of East End servicemen who desert from nearby postings to slip into the school and spirit their families away.

The unrest turns to barely-contained panic when the air raid starts.  Children shriek with terror and cling to their mothers’ legs as the bombs scream down, shaking the ground with each impact, and the drone of the oncoming Luftwaffe planes goes on, and on, and on, wave after wave, dulling the senses, making it impossible to think beyond the thundering engines and the rising hysteria.

40 seconds.

Harry Horowitz, tailor and furrier, lately of British Street, Mile End, and his wife Millie Horowitz, milliner, huddle at the very end of a corridor at the back of the school with their boys, Charles aged 14 and David, 12.  Despite the noise of the German planes, the bombs raining down all around them which shake the entire building, and the thick dust-laden air which catches in her throat, Millie’s lifelong debilitating anxiety is focused mostly on David.  Her younger son had been running a fever when dragged out of their damaged home two nights earlier, and he now lies in her arms, sweating and shivering uncontrollably.  Crouched next to them on the floor of the narrow corridor are four other families, one being that of Millie’s best friend, Sarah, who along with her husband and three girls had arrived earlier that afternoon to claim the last remaining floor space just inside the door leading out to the playground.

30 seconds.

Another bomb – one in fact released by the plane preceding that of Luftwaffe Hauptmann Heinz Schumann – screams down towards Agate Street and for a few seconds every adult in the school building holds their breath and falls silent.  It lands with an almighty impact and the entire building shakes violently, but it misses the school, destroying instead the row of buildings on the opposite side of the road.  Pieces of masonry and shrapnel ping off the cobbles of Agate Street and several heavy pieces of debris crash into the school roof at the front of the building.

‘That’s it,’ announces Harry.  ‘We’re leaving.’

Harry Horovitz is a short, dapper man, always perfectly turned out in a three-piece suit, a watch chain across his slim torso.  He works long hard hours in his little East End factory which produces high-quality fur coats, stoles and hats for the carriage trade.  When he returns to the family home, invariably late and tired, he speaks little, preferring to sit in his armchair by the coal fire in waistcoat and shirtsleeves and read the newspaper from start to finish in silence.  Everyone knows that Millie, sharp-featured and sharp-tongued, wears the trousers in the Horovitz household.  However few realise that on the rare occasion when Harry put his foot down, Millie always complies without a word.  She stands and lifts David to his feet, turning to her friend.

‘You coming, Sal?’

Sarah looks up at her husband, who nods his assent.

The nine East End Jews grab their pathetic suitcases and shoulder their way through their terrified neighbours and friends, shouting their apologies over the drone of the aircraft and the explosions all around them, and emerge through the door into the playground.

15 seconds.

‘Run!’ shouts Harry, as he leads them across the playground.

10 seconds.

Charles hesitates, looking back down the corridor as the rest of his family hurry outside into the orange tinted, dust-filled, cacophony of the air raid.  Further down the corridor, into the bowels of the school and just outside its combined gymnasium and hall, is another East End family.  The Hoffmanns live only 30 yards from the Horowitz household and their house had, like that of the Horowitz family, been almost completely destroyed in the raid two nights before.  The two families often queue together with the same ration books; eat the same sparse food; speak essentially the same language in their respective homes, and have much in common besides.  But they never speak beyond an occasional nodded greeting.  The Hoffmanns, although refugees from Hitler like many in the surrounding streets, are not Jewish, and Millie and Harry Horowitz’s social circle simply does not include non-Jews.  Their lives simply revolve around their home, their business and their synagogue.  The Hoffmanns are, simply, “goyim” – of “The Nations”– and accordingly outside the circle.  But the Hoffmanns have a daughter, a slim, fair and blue-eyed girl of fourteen, named Adalie.  Unknown to either set of parents, while walking back from school every evening Charles Horowitz and Adalie Hoffmann have become friends.  They have shared their thoughts on their teachers, their homework and on Hitler.  And at Adalie’s instigation, they have shared several sweet, chaste, kisses.

So Charles lingers for a second or two, trying to catch a last glimpse of Adalie, and as a result very nearly loses his life.  The rest of his family have stumbled across the rubble-strewn playground and are disappearing through the rear gates of the school.  Outside on the street the air glows, backlit by orange flames on all sides; the fires of hell.

The shriek of Luftwaffe Hauptmann Heinz Schumann’s bomb fills the air as Charles, having given up his quest, races across the playground after the shadowy figure of his mother, the last of the party to disappear through the school gates ahead of him.  Charles reaches the gate and takes two steps up Agate Street.

Impact.

The 1000 kg bomb scores a direct hit on the school.  Charles is blown off his feet and finds himself sailing eight feet into the air, the explosive pressure drop making him feel as if his eyeballs are being sucked out of their sockets.  He lands in an adjoining garden, destroying the rhododendron bush which breaks his fall, and suffers a bruised back and a cut to his scalp from a piece of flying masonry from the school wall.  Everyone else in the family is unscathed.  Although winded, Charles manages to roll back onto his feet in a single movement and continue running.

Harry Horowitz, soft-spoken East End tailor, has saved the lives of his family.

Later that day the government places a “D Notice” on the event, preventing accurate reports of the number of casualties to avert a collapse of morale in London.  Officially 73 people died.  Locals know that of the 600 or so men, women and children in the building, over 450 were killed instantly, many more in the hours thereafter, and almost all of the survivors suffered injuries.  The Hoffmanns were blown to unrecognisably small pieces.

Four days later the Horowitz family members unfold stiff limbs and climb down the steep steps of a bus in the centre of Carmarthen, and are introduced to the farmers who are to take them in.  Four weeks of regular enforced chapel attendance later, Charles runs away and jumps on a Great Western milk train to London where he spends the next, and best, years of his life, running wild on the rubble-strewn streets of London and the one artery the Luftwaffe never managed to close: the River Thames.  He never forgets the beautiful Adalie.

When did you decide to become a writer?  Like many writers, I suspect, I have always written, because I am driven to write.  I have no formal training in creative writing but I wrote short stories at school, sketches, plays and the beginnings of novels at college, and my first completed manuscript 30 years ago.  I have a box of scraps of paper which I have compiled since I was a teenager with ideas, snatches of dialogue, sometimes simply three words overheard on a train, which fired my imagination.  So, I don’t think I “decided” to become a writer.  It was part of who I am.  I decided to try to be published, which is different.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?  I have tried, and failed miserably, to structure my day and this is a lifelong problem for me.  I know writers who are incredibly disciplined.  They get up at 6 am, write creatively for 5 hours, and then turn to social media, emails, marketing et cetera.  By mid-afternoon they are ready to make an evening meal, clean the bathrooms or pick up the kids from school.  I am in awe of such people.  I flit from task to task, often only starting to write in the early evening and continuing until midnight.  But I make sure that, when I finally get down to writing, I write no less than 1000 words per day, often achieving 4000 or 5000.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  I started writing legal thrillers because that’s what I knew.  I worked as a trial attorney for my entire professional life and I had literally hundreds of interesting cases and plots to use.  I also know and love historical London.  And it is true what they say: write what you know.  But as the books have evolved I realise that I am as much interested in the psychology and family dynamics of my characters as I am in the thriller elements.  Reviewers comment that the books focus on real, ordinary people who are placed in extraordinary situations.  When I have finished this series of books I may branch out into more general fiction, perhaps under a different name.

What have you written?  In terms of what I have written that has been published, I wrote three novels in the late 1980s, published by Grafton Press, WH Allen and St Martin’s Press here in the States.  Although I continued thereafter to write in my spare time, I didn’t try to get anything published for another 25 years as I was concentrating on my legal career.  Since returning to writing I have written three in the Charles Holborne thriller series, and a fourth and the fifth are both part-written.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?  I have been on a lot of marketing and social media courses for writers, and many do have useful tips (and many, often the most expensive ones, do not!).  However the single most important thing I have learned is: build your mailing list.  If you have 1000 people on your mailing list, all of whom have signed up willingly because they like your work, you have an immediate audience as soon as you launch a new book.  And the only way I have found to build the mailing list is to offer something in return for people’s names and email addresses, usually an earlier book in the series.  It’s not impossible to write another Great American Novel (or in my case, Great British Novel) which goes straight to No 1 on the bestseller lists, but that sort of success is vanishingly rare and the vast majority of us have to build our audience slowly, often with little or nothing to throw at marketing.  So a free gift has proven invaluable.  And that means you have to have a backlist – at least one other novel, or perhaps a novella – which you’re prepared to give away free.  The more books you write, the easier this becomes. MF: I’ve heard ‘mailing list’ before and I agree. I’m trying to get mine built up. My struggle lies in writing a story or short story to offer in return. Still working on that.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?  Yes: write.  Every day, without fail.  You can’t afford to wait for the muse to strike you.  We all love those purple patches where the words flow like a sparkling stream, sometimes a torrent, and all you can do is get out of the way and let the characters speak and act as they will, but that doesn’t happen every day.  Sometimes it doesn’t happen for days on end.  But you have to make yourself write every day.  Even if you discard most of it the next morning, it is infinitely easier to amend and refine an existing piece of text than it is to create from scratch.  And you learn the discipline of writing every day so it becomes second nature.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?  Charles is largely based on me and my family history.  My family were immigrants to London, arriving in 1492, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition.  For the next 450 years they were East End Londoners, poor and undistinguished.  When I qualified as a trial lawyer in the late 1970s, I was an outsider.  My religion, appearance, accent and social class were all wrong for the ivory towers of the British establishment.  But I had left behind my East End Jewish roots, “married out” and no longer fitted in there either.  I was also devastated to discover that the criminal justice system I had joined was riven with corruption.  Joining the institution of the Inns of Court, becoming part of the “Establishment”, crusading for justice – doing some good – had been a lifetime dream.  Instead I found that London was controlled by gangs of violent criminals carving out their illegal profits from prostitution, pornography and protection rackets, and the Metropolitan Police, institutionally corrupt, worked hand-in-hand with them.

When I started the Charles Holborne series I decided to use some of the cases in which I had been involved as the basis for the plots (I include actual court documents not usually seen by the public) but place Charles back in time to the early 60s when the situation was even worse.  He is surrounded by venal, corrupt men but, like Philip Marlowe with whom he has been compared, still tries to steer an honest and honorable course.

What is the current book you are promoting? The Lighterman is the third in the Charles Holborne series, and it is due to be launched on 8 June 2017 (available for preorder now on Amazon!).  Like the others in the series it is set on the streets of 1960s gangland London but because the antihero, Charles, was born in 1925 and was a teenager during the war, there are several flashbacks to the 1940s during the course of the book when he lived and worked in London during the Blitz.  It is still however a legal and crime thriller based on a murder case where I was instructed for the Defence.

Many thanks Simon for stopping by! For more about Simon, his work, and how to get your copy, follow the links below:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / AmazonUK / AmazonUS / BookTrailer

Meet Author Larry “Animal” Garner

Hello, lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Larry “Animal” Garner

Larry Garner is a Colorado native, a US Navy veteran, and a life-long gearhead with a knack for story-telling. Taught at an early age to read, Larry is an avid reader and a published author of two crime thriller novels. The first novel in the Hammer series, D-E-D, DEAD, was a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards in 2013. DED Reckoning: Vengeance takes a road trip is the second novel in the series, and was recently announced as a finalist in the 2017 Colorado Book Awards.

The nickname “Animal” came to be during Larry’s time in the Navy, and it stuck. He is known by that nickname world-wide for his writing, charity work, and involvement in motorcycling and hot rodding events.

Larry lives in southern Colorado in a valley on top of the Rocky Mountains with his wife Marcia and three dogs of dubious parentage.

Enjoy these book samples:  D-E-D, DEAD   Crime Thriller

D-E-D, DEAD is the tale of a man whose conscience makes him take on his
Motorcycle Club for their manufacture and sale of Crystal Meth, coupled with
their use of young girls to fill their pockets with cash. His efforts leave the Club
in disarray, members hiding from the law and each other.

It’s 1990, before cell phones and the internet. Leaving Virginia with a vague
idea of hiding out at a friend’s house in southern Tennessee, he’s on the run,
hiding from the Club, the Cops, and the Feds, he uncovers a plot to upset the
balance of power in the northern Alabama/southern Tennessee Meth trade.

Joined by his old Navy buddy and a small group of locals, including a pair of strong, capable women, our protagonist is
once again plotting ways to dismantle the Club’s illegal empire. This time, he
has help!

Join in as this crew hits back at those who have ruined the lives of many of
their friends, neighbors, and family.

One thing is certain; someone is liable to end up dead, D-E-D, DEAD!

DED Reckoning: Vengeance Takes a road trip   Crime Thriller

DED Reckoning: Vengeance takes a road trip is the highly-anticipated sequel to D-E-D, DEAD. This new novel follows Eric “Hammer” Thorrsen as he heads west from Alabama in search of distance between himself and the mayhem he initiated, as well as the woman whose heart he broke.

Riding into the San Luis Valley of Colorado in search of a long-postponed visit with his great-uncle Sam seems to be just the ticket for some peace and quiet. The secluded mountain valley is split by the Rio Grande, lush with farms and surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. But there is also evil in these mountains, as he soon discovers. The deadly scourge of methamphetamine has taken root in this beautiful Alpine valley, and Hammer discovers a childhood playmate is at the heart of the problem.

While settling into his new home, Hammer finds out that one of his band of Alabama meth busters is missing and volunteers to help find him. The resulting search leads Hammer to some startling revelations concerning his old playmate. There is plenty of action, interspersed with sexy shenanigans and snarky humor.

DED Reckoning: Vengeance takes a road trip is one man’s crusade against evils real and imagined, propelled by high-octane fuel and gunpowder. Join in the action as Hammer and his new band of brothers and sisters once again takes on those who profit from the misery of others.

If you use a Pen Name why did you choose it?  I use my name along with my nickname as I felt it might attract some of my former shipmates, friends, and acquaintances who never knew my “real” name.

Why do you write?  I started writing to see if I could do it. I’d been a story-teller for decades, and wanted to see if I could translate my style of story-telling to paper. I now write because I love it and need to do it.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  I feel my writing is becoming tighter and more compelling as I write more. I also feel I am becoming more attuned to the readers’ view, as opposed to the mindset that everyone knows what I know about the locations, characters, and events.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write?  I listen to music as I write, mainly to set a mental “attitude” for the scene or chapter I’m writing.

What have you written?  I wrote some features in the high school newspaper, have written articles for numerous motorcycle magazines, but my two novels listed above are by far the best writing I’ve done.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  I do not use an outline or have a plot in mind when I begin writing a novel. I start with a vague idea of what is happening and let the story and the characters fill me in on what happens from there. I tell people that it is like watching a movie in my head and writing down what I see.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  I had the cover design crew at CreateSpace design my first cover, and was very happy with it.

I designed the cover for the second novel myself, and really enjoyed the experience. I will probably design my covers from here on. I have been contacted by a few people about creating covers for their books, and may consider doing that.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?  Eric “Hammer” Thorssen, the protagonist in book Hammer novels, is an amalgam of many people I’ve known, ridden motorcycles with, and observed over my lifetime. He has his own set of rules, chief among them the rule that you don’t mess with his family. Of course, he neglects to realize that he has pretty much abandoned his parents because of family issues.

Hammer hates methamphetamine, its manufacturers, and its dealers and distributors because of the wide-spread damage they cause to the people in his community. And his community is large, as he is constantly on the move. He also will not tolerate the use and abuse of young women to fill their tormentors’ pockets with cash.

He is fully comfortable with being judge, jury, and executioner of those who find themselves in his crosshairs for whatever indiscretion they may have committed.

He knows he’s no saint, knows he is the cause of much pain and sorrow for his victims’ families and friends, yet feels his is a righteous cause. He knows he may die today or tomorrow, but is firm in his quest to rid his community of as many demons as he can before his destiny catches up with him.

Where do your ideas come from?  I have been riding motorcycles since 1968, spent six years in the US Navy, and was a dyed-in-the-wool madman for many years in my past.

I have known many people involved in drugs, prostitution, and many other shady endeavors and have seen the damage done by these behaviors to both the perpetrators and their victims.

When I decided to write, I decided to use some of those experiences and characters as inspiration for a new set of fictional stories that have the ring of truth to them.

Do you have any formal education in creative writing? If not are you planning to go to school?  I have no training in creative writing, and at this point in my life will probably not pursue any.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published?  Absolutely. Let’s face it… there are many self-published books that are poorly-written, full of typos and grammatical problems, etc. That is one reason self-published authors have such a hard time being taken seriously.

Another reason self-published writers have trouble being taken seriously is that the huge majority of them don’t have access to the marketing and advertising that a publishing house is willing to do on one of their author’s behalf.

Many people won’t buy a self-published book, period. There are thousands of very good books available that are better reads than some of the drivel published by some publishers, but will never have a large readership because they are by someone unknown who has no huge marketing budget behind them.

It is what it is, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon to any great extent. I accept it. I didn’t start writing to get famous or make a boatload of money. I had no illusions about becoming a national best-selling author. The odds are stacked against me to a nearly impossible degree.

My main complaint is that I can’t reach as many readers as I would like. I write my stories to be read, period. I only wish I could reach more readers in order to share them with.

What do your readers mean to you?  Readers are why I do this. As I said before, I write to share my stories with others. I give away digital copies to gain readers, not money.

Is there a book you love you’d like to recommend to others?  I always recommend one book to people when we are discussing books we’ve read. MINE by Robert McCammon is the book. It may not be the best technically written or most fundamentally classic book I’ve ever read, but it is the most memorable.

Is there anything else you would like to add?  Please support your local independent authors and bookstores!

There ya have it folks! For more about Larry, his work, and to get your own copy, follow the links below:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Goodreads / Pinterest / Amazon / CreateSpace / Trailer / Smashwords

Meet Author Ray Dyson

Halo me lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Ray Dyson

Ray first took up eating in Evansville, IN, just long enough ago that, not only is the house he was born in no longer there, neither is the street. He attended The Ohio State University School of Journalism and spent several years as a newspaperman, covering crime and sports. He is a former sports editor and sports columnist, and now lives in Mansfield, OH, with his wife, Pamela, where he works as a freelance journalist and book editor. He has a particular interest in American history (especially the Civil War), the American West, and the American cinema.

Dyson is the author of three other books: a baseball story, Smokey Joe; a Western novel, Bannon: The Scavenger Breed, and the first Neil Brand crime story, set in Hollywood in 1931, The Ice Cream Blonde (Black Opal Books 2016).

Book title: The Naked Nymph in the Dark Flickers

Genre: Crime

Synopsis: It is 1934 and Rachel Anne Maddon is about to become America’s next great movie star. Adored by the camera, loved by her public, beautiful Rachel Anne has it all—including a dark secret from her past. That horrible secret threatens to blow up her promising future when her mentor and lover—a man old enough to be her father—turns up dead. Did he fall from the balcony or was he pushed? Or did the bullet in him do the job? Either way, a homicide investigation will be deadly publicity for Rachel Anne and her family.

Rachel Anne’s movie studio switches into high gear to protect her teetering careers. She is starring in a high-budget and vigorously promoted motion picture and studio boss Harry York intends to protect her career at all costs. But even the rich and powerful York is helpless when Neil Brand, security chief for York Brothers Studio, uncovers a blackmail scheme over illicit sex films that threatens not only Rachel Anne but also other major motion picture stars. The heat builds, the stakes rise, top paying jobs in front of and in back of the cameras are in jeopardy, and the famous and the mighty scramble to get out from under.

That’s when the bodies begin to pile up as Brand searches through movieland lies and scandals to expose a brutal killer.

Why do you write?  It is a passion, lonely and unforgiven, a clinging mistress that teases and prods and drains your life’s blood to fill a page with words of love and hate, hope and despair, laughter and cries. You want to say no, but the empty page faces you and you can’t run from it.

When did you decide to become a writer?  I had an uncle who was a wonderful teller of tales. He had roamed the world and he spoke of great things he had seen. When I was barely old enough to hold a pencil I tried to write down his great stories so I would always have them. So be careful—telling tales and putting them to paper might get you hooked.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  Two months, maybe. I am not writing War and Peace. I do not have the talent nor the patience.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?  I wandered somehow into journalism, beginning as a baseball writer. Working as a reporter on a daily newspaper will teach you discipline. All reporters gripe about the deadlines, but deadlines force you to write fast and it had better be good. You hone your craft, whether you want to or not, and if the burning desire to tell tales doesn’t evaporate you always have the itch to start something.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?  I need to get started first thing in the morning, and write until I am dry. I keep paper and pencil handy when I am not writing because ideas can strike at any time—and disappear just as quickly.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  I hope the plots twist more and get juicier, the characters flush out a little more rounded, and the dialogue learns to grind on its own.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write?  No. I like quiet.

What have you written?  As a reporter and columnist I have written thousands of stories for newspapers and magazines. Since retirement I have published four books: Smokey Joe, a baseball fable; Bannon: The Scavenger Breed, a traditional Western action story, and two Neil Brand crime stories, The Ice Cream Blonde and The Naked Nymph in the Dark Flickers.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  I always start with an outline of the plot, but sooner or later the story wanders off wherever it needs to go. The more realistic the characters you create the more a writer has to let them be themselves, and that often takes the story into unexpected and surprising places.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  My last two book covers were created by Jack Jackson, a wonderful artist who designs covers for www.blackopalbooks.com

Any advice for aspiring authors?  Writers have to write. Write about anything you want, as long as it is something you know about. And keep writing.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?  Neil Brand is no saint, but he is an honest man and trustworthy, true as a chalk line. He can skirt the law without regard for penalty, but he carries a strong sense of morality and integrity, and an absolute passion for justice. He fought on the front lines in World War I, returned home to join the police force, and was forced out after being framed by his crooked partner for taking bribes. His mother and twin brother both died of cancer, and he is estranged from his father, a by-the-book policeman. He was down-and-out, a half-step from a drunken death in a gutter, when he landed the job of security chief for York Brothers Studio. His detective work for the studio solves two cases involving illicit sex, forbidden drugs, blackmail, and murder, and earns him the gratitude of Harry York, who runs the studio. From there, Brand’s life begins to change for the better.

Where do your ideas come from?  They can come from anywhere: From a little known historical fact, from watching people being people, or from a glowing sunset.

What is the hardest thing about writing?  Simply getting started. If you nail the lead the rest of it begins to flow.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?  The Naked Nymph in the Dark Flickers (as was its prequel, The Ice Cream Blonde) is based on a true story – in this case the murder of a motion picture director in what is known as the Golden Age of Hollywood. I wanted to stay true to that story while creating a cast of fictional characters who would move the plot along to what I hope is a plausible and satisfying conclusion.

What is the current book you are promoting?  The Naked Nymph in the Dark Flicker s

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser?  In my next Neil Brand story I will examine the movie studio system and the censorship of the mid-1930s, and show a little more tenderness in him as he tries to save the careers of two popular and opposite movie stars. I also want him to try to revive a strong friendship that has died. There will, of course, be a few murders and other shenanigans along the way.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?  Neil Brand, for obvious reasons, but I love to write Harry York because he is an uncontrollable tyrant, a bully, a man with the heart of a meatpacker and the soul of a money lender. He makes no excuses for his behavior. He rules his Hollywood kingdom by fear and by intimidation. York is a character you can take a lot of places and have a lot of fun with. He is, for me, a man you love to hate.

Who is your least favorite character and why?  The dandified, egotistical little director whose inevitable murder gets it all started in The Naked Nymph in the Dark Flickers. He served his purpose and I was happy to dump him early on. He is a pale copy of another figure in the book, a fading Shakespearian actor named Leviticus Bible, like Harry York a character full of contradictions and misdeeds and enormously joyful to write.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast?  I have no idea, actually. Back in the day, Bob Mitchum would have been perfect.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?  Possibly Perry Mason. He’s clever, quick-witted, resourceful, knows the law inside-out and loves to play with it to gain his own ends, which always creates some wonderful plot twists. Also, I am very fond of Chandler’s Philip Marlowe.

What one person from history would you like to meet and why?  My college major was journalism and my minor was American history. I can think of dozens of historical figures I would like to meet – a great many of them Civil War figures such as Lincoln (other than Abe, no politicians on my list), Grant, Sherman, Lee, Longstreet, Jackson, Forrest, Mosby, etc. One of my favorite American heroes would be Simon Kenton (nee Butler), the subject of Allen Eckert’s masterwork, The Frontiersman. His true adventures are the stuff of legends, so much so that Native Americans called him the Ghost That Walks.

Do you or have you sat down and read your book fresh off the presses as if it wasn’t yours? And if you did, what was it like?  Annoying. It is an unending string of why did you do that, why didn’t you do this.

Do have a favorite car or truck model?  I once had a 1964 Studebaker Avanti that can never be replaced.

What are some of your favorite books and why?  Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe stories, crime tales by Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain, frontier tales of Colonial America by Allen W. Eckert (masterpieces on how to write historical non-fiction), Larry McMurtry, F. van Wyck Mason (masterpieces on how to write historical fiction), Shelby Foote’s Civil War trilogy, James A. Michener, Herman Wouk. It is a long list but what they all have in common is an uncommon ability to write expertly on subjects that interest me.

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?  If you have something you desperately want to get out there by all means go the self-publishing route. It’s expensive and you have to do a lot of promotion, but writers can make it work.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published?  Yes, and probably unjustly so. It is a hard business to break into and writers should not overlook any route.

What book are you currently reading or just finished?  William Safire’s Freedom. It is an older book I just got around to (I have hundreds around the place waiting to be read). Freedom is a fascinating account of Lincoln’s presidency; non-fiction written as fiction.

What do your readers mean to you?  Picture the most beautiful sight in the world with no one there to see it. You can write the Great American Novel, but if no one reads it… I am deeply indebted to anyone who takes the time to read my stories.

Many thanks Ray for visiting! For more about Ray and to get his books, follow the links below:

Website / Facebook / LinkedIn / Goodreads / Amazon / Smashwords / YouTube

Meet Author Nick R B Tingley

Hello lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Nick R B Tingley

Nick is a crime and thriller writer from Kent, England. After several years of dipping in and out of the theater and film industry, Nick finally settled on becoming a fiction writer, although he has been known to write non-fiction, historical articles as well. After the success of his first competition award-winning story, Dressed to Deceive, Nick began writing as a ghostwriter and has established himself as one of the best newcomers arriving on the ghost scene.

The Bluebell Informant is his debut crime fiction novel and is the first of his DS Evelyn Giles series.

Some book info:

Release date: April 7, 2017

Title:  The Bluebell Informant

Genre: Crime/Thriller

Synopsis: How do you catch a killer who is already dead?

One year ago, the Bluebell Killer killed his last victim. He was shot and killed, leaving behind a legacy of twenty corpses and a name that people will fear for years to come…

A year later, a man is shot in the back of the head and left in a field of bluebells.

Is it a mugging gone wrong? A copycat killer? Or is the Bluebell Killer still out there, waiting to pounce on his next victim?

For DS Evelyn Giles the solution is simple – it’s just another dirty politician caught committing an unforgivable crime. But with the evidence stacking up against him, Giles’ suspect has one more surprise in store for her…

And his words will throw everything she knows into question…

‘It’s not over yet.’

The past is coming back to haunt DS Giles. She’s already sacrificed much for the lie. The only question is how much more will she suffer for the truth?

Sample:  The lock was empty, or as empty as it was likely to be with the huge amount of water trying to surge through the old, wooden gates. As they arrived alongside, a female SOCO waved them over and shook hands with each in turn. Dr Susan Harken smiled sweetly when she got to Giles – the dinner party from the night before clearly playing on her mind.

‘Hello Eve.’

‘Recovered yet?’ Giles asked playfully.

‘I don’t think I will look at dice the same way again…’

Bolton cleared his throat, gesturing to a nearby forensics tent. ‘Shall we get on?’

Harken led the three of them through to the tent where a large, flabby man lay face down on the ground. As the three detectives filed in, Harken handed Bolton a soggy wallet that he passed on to Scutter to open up. Delving through the layers of leather, Scutter soon found what he was looking for.

‘Henry Jones. Thirty-six years old,’ he announced, producing a sodden, white card from the wallet. ‘A banker according to his business card. No money missing.’

‘He was found face down in the lock this morning,’ Harken explained, directing her comments towards Giles. ‘I estimate he’d been there since the early hours of the morning.’

Bolton shrugged. ‘Could he have fallen in? Night on the town, maybe?’

Harken shook her head. ‘I’ll run a tox-screen back at the lab, of course, but I don’t see anything to suggest that. Besides…’ she pointed at the victim’s neck ‘…there are ligature marks around his throat.’

‘Suicide?’ piped up Scutter.

Giles coughed. ‘No one tries to strangle themselves and then throws themselves into a lock. It’s too messy.’ She turned back to Harken. ‘Is it him?’

Harken shot a knowing look and bent down next to the body. Carefully, she placed her fingers under the dead man’s clothing and began to lift it up.

‘I called you as soon as I saw it.’

As she brought the shirt past the center of the man’s back, Giles could see the blue-violet flowers strapped to his skin using duct tape. She didn’t react at first, aware that Harken was staring intently up at her, but Scutter was not so veiled.

‘Oh my God,’ he whispered. ‘Not another one.’

Why do you write?  It sounds a bit obvious, but I usually write because there is something I want to say. I love creating stories and scenarios that I can really engage with as a writer, but will also enjoy as a reader – after all, during the editing process I will have to re-read it an unfathomable amount of times. But most of these stories have a very deep thematic grounding beneath them.

In Dressed to Deceive, for example, I wanted to explore a theory I had about the Jack the Ripper murders in Victorian Whitechapel – so I wrote a story that assumes that theory was correct. In The Bluebell Informant I wanted to explore the ideas of discrimination and corruption; I wanted to write a story about a detective who is trying her best to solve a case, but knows she needs to break the rules in order to do it.  In both cases, I had something I wanted to comment on, and I use my fiction writing to do it in a way that not only engages my readers but also allows me to explore my own thoughts more thoroughly.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  My first attempt at a novel was called Such Sweet Lies – and I thought it was the most awesome story I had ever written. I even put it in to agents and publishers and (you might’ve guessed) it got right royally rejected. I still keep a hard copy of the manuscript in a box file above my desk and, whenever I’m feeling stuck, I open it up and read for a bit to remind myself of just how terrible I was and how far I’ve come since.

I think the key thing that has evolved over the years is my development of characters. Back when I was writing Such Sweet Lies, the plot was key. Plot, plot, plot – that was all that was in my mind. Now I’m a lot more concerned with my characters. I want to create personalities that leap off the page and seem so real to me that I forget they are just figments of my imagination. Then, once those characters are ready, I find the plot ends up writing itself.

What have you written?  There are two works that are out there (in a manner of speaking). A few years ago, I created a book of poetry to commemorate the start of the Great War, which was received relatively well. Then, more recently, I have found a great amount of success with my prize winning short story, Dressed to Deceive, which follows the story of a man who accidentally kills his wife and blames the murder on Jack the Ripper.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?  One of the things that I’ve loved most about writing The Bluebell Informant was creating the character of Detective Sergeant Evelyn Giles, due largely to the quite tragic circumstances that have led her to where she is at the beginning of the novel.

She was born in China – the daughter of a political activist – and was adopted and brought to Britain where she grew up and became a police detective. She’s established a good career for herself – proving that she is dedicated to her work and ruthless in her pursuit of justice – and has generally been praised and commended by her superiors.

And then, just before the story begins, the world changes around her. There is now a far-right government in charge that has encouraged fear and hatred about those they see as immigrants, and Giles has found herself suddenly being viewed with suspicion and distrust, despite the fact that she hasn’t changed at all. It puts her in quite a difficult position because she wants to be able to do her job properly, but she’s beginning to realize that the only way she can do it effectively is if she breaks the rules a little bit. This constant anxiety about whether she is doing the right thing makes her very real to me and I think it makes her decisions and actions that much more powerful and meaningful.

What is your next project?  I’m usually working on several projects at the same time – I find it helps to keep me engaged with my work and allows me sufficient time to take a break from a project before going back to edit it.

I have another DS Giles book called The Court of Obsessions, which I will be hopefully releasing in late-summer this year, and a third book, The Anonymous Jury, which I am currently planning and hope to start writing soon.

Additionally, I also have the start of another series that I am just editing at the moment. It’s called The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow and is a historical mystery about a reluctant policeman who is compelled to investigate the murder of a vicar in a small, Victorian village.

Who is your favorite author and which of their books is your favorite?  I don’t really have a favorite author, but I do have authors that I always enjoy picking up if I have a chance: Ian Rankin, Agatha Christie, John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark to name a few.

At the moment though, I am enjoying the work of Simon Kurt Unsworth, particularly his book, The Devil’s Detective. Not for the faint hearted, the story follows the tale of a detective in Hell who investigates a series of unexplained deaths. I don’t usually go for gothic literature, but this book was just so wonderfully dark and twisted that I simply couldn’t put it down. MF: I’ve put it in my shopping cart on Amazon.

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?  I think there is very little difference, if I’m honest. I have read to some absolutely amazing self-published books, and I have read some awesome traditionally published books. Likewise I have read some absolute shockers in both as well. Ultimately, the story still comes from the author – so why should the method of publishing matter too much? As long as the story is put together with care, diligence and dedication, then you shouldn’t really be able to tell the difference.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published?  Like I said, you shouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Absolutely, there is a stigma attached to being self-published, but I think it is less so nowadays. I think the problem is that it is so easy to publish your book that people run the risk of throwing books out there as quickly as possible – the emphasis is on quantity instead of quality. As a result, there is a lot of work out there that isn’t polished and, in some cases, seems unfinished.

And that turns readers off. They don’t want to have to gamble their money in the hope that the book they’ve purchased is actually of decent quality when they could invest in something that’s come through the traditional route and know that the publishers have taken the time to make it the best it could be…

Having said that, some traditionally published work suffers from the same problem, and those examples have been through multiple editors and readers, so you have to wonder if being traditionally published is all it’s cracked up to be.

If you can restrain yourself against chucking something out there after writing the first draft and without proper editing, then there is no reason not to self-publish. But that’s just my humble opinion…

What book are you currently reading or just finished?  I’m currently reading Night Watch by Terry Pratchett. To my shame, I have never actually read any of the Discworld novels (or at least never finished any of them), so my wife suggested I start with this one. I’m liking it so far…

Many thanks Nick for stopping by! For more about Nick and his work, follow the links below:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / AmazonUK / AmazonUS

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