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The serious interview
Hi, Andy! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.
Before we start, would you mind telling us a bit about yourself?
I’m in my late 40s, somewhere around the 35 mark, and I’ve recently discovered that life isn’t a jail sentence but an adventure that’s probably worth giving a go. For the past 19 years or so I’ve been employed as a Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) and love my job.
So, what inspired you to start writing?
I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember. When I was in my mid-twenties, I read a book that I thought was utterly rubbish, and I was sure – absolutely positive – that I could write one better. I couldn’t. Oh I wrote one, but it was utterly rubbish too. And I’ve been trying to get into the ‘reasonable’ category ever since then.
Your books are better than reasonable! I’m reading A Long Time Dead now!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I’ve always been a non-conformist with everything in life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a baddun, but I get miffed with rules and regs. So one of the challenging things about my writing was to discover that some of those rules are there for my own benefit. An example would be story length. Most people’s idea of a story is about 100k words; it makes it easy to package and easy to sell, makes it palatable for most readers.
So beginning a series with a 260k word story probably wasn’t my best marketing move ever. My plight is to keep things tight, keep books in check instead of letting myself have a free hand. I suppose one day I’ll learn.
When you’re writing a story, where do you start? Main text? Title? Beginning? end?
Where do I start a new story? Usually I start with a premise: “What would happen if they brought back the death penalty?” But sometimes I begin with just one scene. Black by Rose began with a robbery and I constructed a story around it. That robbery scene is something like chapter 23 now.
Do you have any regrets or things you wish that you had done differently?
Do I have any regrets? How long have you got? See 3. I’m terrible at making my mind up. I’ll finish something and then go back and change it because “I’m making it better.” I have no patience either; and these two things are a bad combination. If I’d stopped and thought about it, I wouldn’t have released A Long Time Dead with the main character called Jonathan Benedict. I would have changed him to Roger Conniston before I published. Honestly, the list goes on.
What advice would you give to other authors?
Advice I wish I’d had falls from question 5 really: be patient. Write a lot, but be patient and select your dot with precision, see my blog Selecting Your Dot.
Are there any books or authors that you feel have particularly influenced you?
I suppose it sounds cliché, but I really enjoy a good Stephen King book; my favourite being The Stand. I have a fairly broad spectrum when it comes to reading though I can’t state that any have influenced my writing specifically. I do enjoy Bernard Cornwell, and am loving George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones right now. But as for crime fiction, I enjoyed Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan, and very recently discovered James Carol. Broken Dolls was superbly written; a lesson in how to write an excellent crime thriller.
Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what are you currently working on?
In between bouts of life, I’m working on my new Eddie Collins novel entitled Sword of Damocles. It features lots of already established ‘Eddie Magic’, but we see a whole new side to him as he’s unexpectedly promoted, and he’s dealing with a rebellion in the office. But to counter that, he’s investigating something quite horrific that actually has its roots in a real crime that happened about 30 years ago.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers, or just in general?
I count myself blessed to have been on Amazon’s best seller lists once or twice. And so I’d really like to yell a big Thank You to everyone who has read one of my offerings, and I promise to do better next time! And for those who ask when the next Eddie book is coming out, all I can say is as soon as I can possibly do it. Unfortunately I’m in one of the most turbulent parts of my life right now, but as soon as I’m able I’ll crack on with it again. In the meantime, thank you, sincerely, for your continued support and encouragement.