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Jonathan Hill interview April 2013

1. In one sentence, tell us about your latest book.

The Third Rule sees SOCO Eddie Collins battle high-level corruption and overcome personal tragedy, finding answers in a world where the newly created Rules hands out death indiscriminately.

2. Are you currently working on any new writing? 

If things go as planned, the new book, Black by Rose, will be out shortly. It starts with a suicide that is much more than meets the eye – it’s the propulsion unit for the whole book. 

Eddie Collins returns to join forces with the Major Crime Unit in toppling organised crime, specifically Slade Crosby’s crew and his two twisted sons. This isn’t for the faint-hearted though; we see some harrowing scenes here, including domestic abuse and the effects of rape. 

I wanted to write something hard-hitting and emotive. I tried, and hopefully succeeded, to add a light side though – you know what Eddie’s like. I wanted to punch through the normal dialogue with some sarcastic and witty comments, the kind we’d all like to make but very often daren’t. And of course, we follow him as life constantly frustrates his pursuit of happiness. 

There are whispers back to The Third Rule, and I’ve populated Black by Rose with some of my favourite characters from it. This book is considerably shorter than The Third Rule, but I’ve tried to make it entertainingly complex again by injecting several story-lines that all conclude in an ending I’m very pleased with. Is it a happy ending? You decide. 

Oh, what a strange title, I hear you mutter. It is, but it all becomes clear on the very final page.

3. Your favourite book? 

That’s like asking what my favourite breath of yesterday was, or what the most satisfying scratch to that out-of-reach itch was. I really enjoyed The Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan, I also got a huge buzz from a trilogy by Bernard Cornwell called The Winter King, about King Arthur. But if you’re going to make me nail one book to the mast, I’d have to go for The Stand by my old mate Stephen King. I’ve read it, and the unabridged version several times and still get a kick out of its wonderful complexity. Shawshank, The Green Mile, and It were very satisfying, but The Stand was wonderful.

4. Tree books or e-books? 

Both. Ebooks are great for a quick fix when you’re out and about, but I still have plenty of paperbacks and hardbacks on my shelves. I never saw the Kindle as a threat to ‘proper’ books, just an alternative.

5. Last film you watched?

The last memorable film I watched was All About Schmidt with Jack Nicholson. It’s about a guy who reaches retirement and finds out his life is utterly worthless, and always has been. No one really needs him. He ventures on a quest to turn things around and make it meaningful, but, just as he hits rock bottom, he realises there is just one thing he can truly feel good about. This film got me going again when I’d stalled out on Black by Rose – just one line of interior monologue got me blitzing the keyboard again.

6. If you could choose any location in the world to write in, where would that be? 

I get distracted too easily. I’m not a fan of barking dogs or noisy birds (I mean wood pigeons!), and I have those around me here in abundance. When they start annoying me, I play a CD I have of a thunderstorm, and that lets me sink into the story again. So if I feel safe, and am free of distractions, I don’t mind too much where I write. But nothing comes close to the little cocoon I’ve made in a spare room in my house. I call it The Writing Pad. It has my guitars (nope, can’t play ‘em for toffee), my exercise bike (covered in dust), my desk and my computer, and that suits me just fine. Of course, I’ve not tried writing in a posh apartment in the Italian countryside yet…

7. Who, if anyone, do you get to read your work before it is published? 

I have two wonderful readers whose advice I trust implicitly. One is excellent at looking at the whole book and commenting on why this scene even exists, or I’ve used that particular numberplate twice for different vehicles in different books (how the hell did she spot that!), and she was excellent at picking holes in Russian names I’d made up for Stealing Elgar. 

My other reader is out of this world when it comes to picking up on grammatical errors, stylistic choices, spelling and syntax anomalies, and has the patience to explain things to me properly (I’m wickedly dumb, you see). She also has an indepth perception when it comes to story, and what works and what could be improved upon. I adore her.

8. What was the last book you read? 

Copy by some geezer called David Wailing. Very good, and I didn’t see the twist at all until it hit me square in the mush. Very clever story.

9. (posed by previous guest author, David Haynes)  If you had the opportunity to be a full time and well paid ghost writer, would you take it, knowing you would never be able to publish under your own name again? 

To quote Richard Branson, ‘You can only eat three square meals a day.’ Money isn’t everything; at least to me it’s not. So no, I wouldn’t take it. I do like the idea of obscurity which being a ghost writer offers, but I’d be quite happy to live in obscurity and write under my own name, hehe.

10. What question would you like the next guest author to answer? 

Have we seen the best of you? Is there still a story inside you that you know is the best you ever could write? If there is, why haven’t you written it yet?

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