Q&A with David Jackson: A Tapping at my Door

Hi everyone,

Today I’m delighted to have a q&a with David Jackson, author of A Tapping At My Door as part of a week long celebration for his new novel. I recently read this book and absolutely loved it! So much so that I went and bought David’s back catalogue of books!!! You can have a read of my review by clicking on the link below:

A Tapping at my Door by David Jackson

DJ1

Day Five: Meet the Author 

 

Can we talk about David Jackson? 

We certainly can. He’s a great guy. 

Before David Jackson ‘the author’ who was David Jackson?  How did you occupy your days? 

I was, and still am, a university lecturer. My days are now doubly occupied! 

If writing is a solitary experience, then how do you step back from the keyboard and relax? 

Usually by spending time with my family. I love a good movie, or a nice meal, and now and again it’s great to get drunk with friends and put the world to rights. 

Were you a bookworm as a child?  What books or which authors were your constant companions? 

I went through various phases. When I was very young I worked my way through the Famous Five and Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton. Later came my science fiction period. I read everything by Isaac Asimov, and much by Arthur C Clarke. Mystery novels came after that: Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. Then I discovered Ed McBain and other American crime writers, and that’s when I was really bitten by the crime bug. 

Do you have a writing ritual? Is there discipline to your day or is writing time snatched between a never-ending list of domestic chores? 

Because I have a day job, I need to have a certain amount of discipline. After the evening meal is usually when I will force myself to head upstairs to write. That’s exactly what I’ve done now to respond to this Q&A! 

What was the last film you saw at the cinema?  Are you a fan of the current trend to remake/reimagine movie classics from days gone by? 

Funnily enough, the last film I saw was the new version of Jungle Book, which is of course a reworking of a classic. It’s actually really good, with incredible use of CGI, but more generally I think it’s only worth doing a remake if something new can be brought to the viewing experience. It has worked for The Fly, Cape Fear and Scarface, but for some others they really shouldn’t have bothered. 

If you could give your 10 year old self one piece of advice what would it be? 

Not to take advice from an adult who you’ve never met, but who looks strangely familiar and is determined to give you advice. 

 


 

My thanks to David for joining me on the blog today. A Tapping At My  Door is out NOW and you can get a copy from Amazon by clicking the link below:

A Tapping At My Door by David Jackson

David Jackson is the author of a series of crime thrillers featuring New York Detective Callum Doyle. His debut novel, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Awards. When not writing fiction, David spends his time as a lecturer in a university science department. He also gives occasional workshops on creative writing. He lives on the Wirral peninsula with his wife and two daughters. David can be followed on Twitter, where he goes under the name @Author_Dave!

 

Dead Is Better by Jo Perry

 

Massive thank you to Chris McVeigh at Fahrenheit Press for my ARC of Dead Is Better. If you missed it, I had a brilliant exclusive Q&A with the author, Jo Perry, on my blog yesterday which you can read HERE.


About the book (via Goodreads):


Charles Stone has just woken up dead. Well he’s pretty sure he’s dead, what with the bullet holes in his chest and all. He also appears to be totally alone in the after-life except for the equally dead dog who seems to be his new companion.

Unable to interact with the world of the living other than watching and listening, he and the dead dog (whom he names Rose) have nothing to do and all the time in the world to do it.

When Charles and Rose try to unravel the circumstances of Charles’s death, they uncover a criminal who is raking in millions of dollars by cruelly exploiting, and sometimes killing, his victims.

But what difference can a ghost make?

And what does the damn dog have to do with any of this?

 

 

My thoughts:


I really enjoyed Dead Is Better. It is yet another unique choice from Fahrenheit Press! I read this book in one sitting, it was that engaging for me.

Short chapters make it super easy to read, and there is a quote about death at the beginning of each one which, personally, I thought was a great addition to the book!

Dead Is Better opens with Charles Stone’s demise, and the reader is instantly made to start asking questions. How? Why? And what the hell is with the dog?!

I have to say, once the story got going, I couldn’t stop reading! I was dying (pardon the pun 😂) to find out what happened to Charles, and why the dog (subsequently named Rose) was with him specifically.

I found some of the supporting characters to be awful human beings; they were greedy, self centred and uncaring! That’s testament to the the author and her ability to evoke these emotions in the reader. I like it when books make me hate characters as it’s doing its job!

I’m not going to lie, my eyes may have welled up (just a little mind!) towards the end of the book. I won’t spoil it though. Maybe it caught me off guard! 😉

Dead Is Better is a wonderful book. It is so well written that you just don’t want to stop reading for fear you’ll miss anything!

It will make you question your own mortality and what your feelings about death are, while at the same time reaffirming that life is not always bad. The quotes used at the beginning of each chapter, all of which refer to death or dying, really add to the experience while you’re reading.

I gave Dead Is Better an easy 5⭐️ on Goodreads. It weird, unique, funny and sad all at the same time. An emotional read, but a bloody great story! I can’t wait to read the follow up, Dead Is Best!

You can purchase a copy of Dead Is Better HERE

Happy Reading 😊📖


**Exclusive Author Interview- Jo Perry**

Today, I’m super excited to say that Jo Perry, author of Dead Is Better is joining me on the blog for a little Q&A session! 

Last month, I had the absolute pleasure of reading Dead Is Better thanks to Chris McVeigh at Fahrenheit Press. I’ll be posting my full review tomorrow so make sure to check back and have a read of my thoughts. 

  


(Author pic from http://www.authorjoperry.com)


So, without further ado…


Hi Jo,

Welcome to Bibliophile Book Club and thanks for taking the time to answer some questions 🙂

First off, could you tell us a little about yourself? 

I have a Ph.D. in English, taught writing and literature, wrote and produced television shows, have written articles and reviews, etc. I’m the mother of two grown children—one in chaplaincy school and the other in medical school. I live in Los Angeles with my husband, novelist Thomas Perry, and a quartet of rescue cats and dogs. 

How did you begin writing?

I always wrote. Poetry mostly. My father was a comedy writer, so seeing him working at his typewriter was a normal part of life. I wrote academic stuff, too (my dissertation was on the representation of feeling in the novels of Samuel Richardson—yikes!), then t.v. scripts, then freelance stuff. I came to fiction late. 


Your novel, Dead Is Better has been published before and now you’re with Fahrenheit Press, how did that come about? 

My relationship with Fahrenheit Press was a completely weird, accidental, wonderful fluke. I discovered Fahrenheit Press on Twitter—loved the chinless skull––and checked out the website. More skulls! A smart, smartass, no bullshit modus operandi at work. Terrific books. A book club. Such energy. 

So I sent off my sequel, DEAD IS BEST, with a very brief introductory note to Chris McVeigh, Fahrenheit Commander in Chief. 

And to my delighted surprise–Fahrenheit was unlike other publishers. Those guys rarely answer queries in a timely manner (i.e. during your lifetime), and if they do agree to look at something, they demand all sorts of painful and time-devouring reformatting, word counting, font-changing, and then––if they do respond––it’s after a year or so and you‘ve forgotten all about them.

So imagine my shock when I heard from Chris rather promptly, and my amazement when I learned that he’d actually read my manuscript and was familiar with Dead Is Better.

So here we are. Fahrenheit Press is a miracle.

* (I should note here that Chris is blazing a trail through the publishing world lately, so much fun to watch on Twitter!)*


You have a follow up to Dead Is Better coming up, can you tell us about Dead Is Best? (I’ve read the start and I’m excited for it!) 

Dead Is Best has Charles and the #deaddog Rose returning to the world of the living once again. 

This time Charles is not searching for his own murderer as he was in Dead Is Better, but trying help his charm-free and spoiled step-daughter get out of trouble. Along the way, Charles must confront his failed marriage, his failure as a stepfather, and he must revisit the place he hates most on earth, the place he calls “Beverly Fucking Hills.” 

Charles and Rose follow his stepdaughter into the American Southwest, where she becomes the victim of a vicious and lethal operation that preys on troubled teens. When things get truly terrible, the human ghost—with the help of his ghost dog and a few others ––must find a way to save her life.  


Do you have any rituals or quirks when you wrote?! Favourite mug? Place to sit? Night or day? 

I try to write every day. Having two dogs shapes my schedule. So after coffee and the morning walk, it’s time to write. More coffee is necessary. The mug doesn’t matter. There is usually a cat on the desk and a dog at my feet. Day is for writing; night is for reading. And martinis.


I know your husband, Thomas, is a Novelist also. Would you/have you thought about collaborating together on a book?

Yes, my husband is Thomas Perry. I love and admire his work. He’s known for his Butcher’s Boy series, his Jane Whitefield series and a number of terrific stand-alone thrillers and mysteries. While we collaborated successfully as television writers, I don’t think we could ever collaborate on a novel. We are very different writers. For one thing, my characters are dead and his are alive. 


Did you find it difficult to get Dead Is Better noticed/published? It’s such an unusual theme, were people reluctant to publish it?

Yes. It’s a weird book––genre-bent or genre-mixed—whichever characterization you prefer––with unusual protagonists, a lot of darkness, humor and swearing. I suppose I didn’t realize how unusual the book was until I was told by one publisher that I had to get rid of the dog, that it wasn’t permissible to have a dead dog as a protagonist.  

Another told me that I couldn’t write a book “that way.” That Dead Is Better wasn’t like other mysteries or crime novels and I’d better make it like them. Or else. 

So many publishers have decided that it’s their job to zealously police the boundaries that separate mystery categories, i.e. noir, cozy, hard-boiled, pet detective, etc. 

Dead Is Better doesn’t fit neatly into any of those slots. 

Which is why I’m beyond lucky to have found a publisher who loves dead dogs as much as I do, who isn’t a member of the Genre Police, and who is interested in the reader’s experience more than anything else. 


The plot for DIB is so well thought out, I know you said they happened to you, but how did Charles and Rose make you write the book?! 

The truth is that I didn’t plan the book; Charles and Rose really and truly just happened to me. I suppose they were lurking in my subconscious for some time. I’d been thinking seriously and deeply about death, about cruelty, and how ineffective we are to stop it. Also, a few years before, a dog found me and changed my life in all sorts of small and powerful ways—the rhythm of my days, the way I looked at things, the way I felt. 

One of my favourite things about the book (morbidity alert!!!) is the quotes relating to death at the start of the chapters. What made you decide to open the chapters with these quotes?

I like them. Also, they give the reader a break from the voice of the first-person narrator, Charles, and provide other voices. They let the reader come up for air every once in awhile. I also hope that funny and not always funny meditations on death bring Charles and the reader closer together. 


If you wanted to tell future readers of your books anything about the book and the message it conveys, what would you tell them?

Hmmm. I guess the message is that we don’t know a fucking thing. About ourselves. About others. About anything. We think we do, but we don’t. 


What are your own reading habits? I always assume writers are voracious readers so I’m always interested to know what books people read! 

I always read my husband’s books, of course. They are part of my life and my mental landscape. For a long time I read mostly nonfiction, but I’m back to reading fiction, too. I confess to being a polyamorous reader; I read a number of books at once and have piles of them around. Recently I’ve really enjoyed Cat Warren’s What The Dog Knows, about the training of cadaver dogs; At Day’s Close: Night In Times Past by A Roger Ekirch—about night—it’s fascinating; I loved Grant Sutherland’s brooding and clever West of the City; and I’m really into Timothy Hallinan’s for the Dead, Lisa Brackman’s Dragon Day and James Craig’s A Slow Death—all brilliant and terrific and completely different.


Where can people find out more about you? Facebook/Twitter/Website? 

I have a website: www.authorjoperry.com

Facebook: Jo Perry Author

I’m on Twitter: @JoPerryAuthor


Lastly, what question do you never get asked but with you did? And what would your answer be?

Funny you should ask this. I’m moderating a panel at Left Coast Crime (a crime writers’ convention) at the end of the month, and have been working on questions for the authors. One is, “What are you most afraid of? What fear do you force your protagonist to face?” The idea being—Are the author and his character fearful of the same things?

My answer: 

Death has its drawbacks, but the prospect of living forever scares the shit out of me.

But cruelty scares me, too. Where does it come from? Like love, it’s a mystery.

For my hero Charles, the greatest fear is failure—and that’s how he finds himself when the book opens, he’s a ghost who has pretty much fucked up his life. 

For my canine heroine, # deaddog Rose, the fear is cruelty. She’s already faced this fear. Death has set her free. 


***********


Massive thanks to Jo for taking the time to answer my questions! 😊 If that doesn’t make you want to read Dead Is Better then I’ll leave you with Chris McVeigh’s thoughts on #DeadDog:

“So here’s the thing, everyone at Fahrenheit Press is in LOVE with the #DeadDog book. It’s smart, funny, sweary and just a lil’bit twisted. If all that doesn’t SCREAM Fahrenheit Press I don’t know what does. To be frank, if you don’t like this one we’re pretty sure your NOT our kinda people and we’re pretty sure we don’t want you in our gang. In fact if you buy this book and don’t enjoy it you can get a full 100% refund – the simple truth is, if you don’t like #DeadDog we don’t want your damn money.” 


Check back here tomorrow for my review… 😊📖

Author Q&A with Iain King

Today, I’m delighted to have a Q&A with Iain King, author of Secrets of the Last Nazi and Last Prophecy of Rome. Iain is another Bookouture author (they have some of the best authors around at the moment to be fair!!) and today is publication day for Last Prophecy of Rome. 

 

About the books:

  • Secrets of the Last Nazi:

 

THE GREATEST DISCOVERY OF THE 20TH CENTURY.

KEPT SECRET.

UNTIL NOW.

Berlin, 2015 – a well-connected SS Commander is found dead, having protected the last secret of the Nazi empire for seventy years. A discovery by Nazi Scientists so potent it could change the balance of world power – forever.
Led by misfit military historian Myles Munro, an international team begin to piece together the complex puzzle left by SS Captain Werner Stolz. As their hunt across Europe gathers pace, the brutal killing of one of the group signals that they are not the only ones chasing the answer.
Plunged into a world of international espionage, Myles only has his intellect and instincts to keep him alive. As the team edge closer to an explosive truth, it becomes clear to him that there is a traitor amongst them.

Who can Myles trust? And can he unravel the clues of the past in time to save the future?

  • Last Prophecy of Rome

 

An ancient empire. A terrifying threat to the World’s Superpower. Only one man can stop it.

ROME: Maverick military historian Myles Munro is on holiday with girlfriend and journalist Helen Bridle. He’s convinced a bomb is about to be detonated at the American Embassy.
NEW YORK: A delivery van hurtling through Wall Street, blows up, showering the sky with a chilling message: America is about to be brought down like the Roman Empire.
Juma, an African warlord, set free by the Arab Spring, plans to make it happen.
When a US Senator is taken hostage, a chilling chain of events begins, and Myles finds himself caught in a race against time to stop Juma. But, he’s not prepared for the shocking truth that the woman he once loved, Juma’s wife, Placidia, has now become a terrorist.

Buy your copy of Secrets of the Last Nazi HERE

Buy your copy of Last Prophecy of Rome HERE


And without further ado, here’s my Q&A with Iain himself…


Hi Iain,


Many thanks for taking the time to answer these questions for my blog!

 

First off, how do you go from published political author to writing and publishing crime fiction/conspiracy thrillers? 



A good friend, when she was dying from cancer, told me to switch to fiction and asked me to name a character after her. That’s why I changed, and that’s why Myles Munro’s partner is called Helen Bridle.

 


You’ve been bestowed with the CBE from the Queen, can you tell us more about what led to you getting the honour? 

It was for my work in Libya, Afghanistan and Kosovo. There were lots of people in all three places who deserved it more than me, though. I think I just got lucky.

 

Do you feel that your history with political unrest in places like Kosovo have shaped the way you research and write your books?



Yes, definitely. In Kosovo, you couldn’t count on electricity, or shops, or the law – they were all in doubt. All the conflicts I’ve worked in have been chaotic. All my books try to question some of our most taken-for-granted assumptions.



For anyone who hasn’t read your books, can you tell us a little bit about them?



They focus on Myles Munro – a maverick academic – and his partner, TV journalist Helen Bridle. In each book, the characters tumble into a search for amazing and important information, while they try to outrun various dangers. Each book has several twists, and a ‘whodunnit’ element. Even though you know a surprise is coming, the books should still surprise you.



If you had to compare your books with any other author, who would it be and why? I’ve heard comparisons to Dan Brown and Scott Mariani mentioned… 



Each of my books tries to be more than fiction: they all have a message, or something else – not just an entertaining story. So, in that way they’re like both Dan Brown and Scott Mariani, or perhaps Alistair Maclean. But I’d never let my hero use a gun – that’s too easy.



What made you choose to write conspiracy thrillers? Is it something you are interested in or do you believe in conspiracy theories?



There’s too much chaos and incompetence in the world for most conspiracies. But both secrets in ‘Secrets of the Last Nazi’ are true, and there really are huge parallels between ancient Rome and modern society, which is the theme at the heart of ‘Last Prophecy of Rome’.



How much inspiration do you take from real life? (I.e. Do you give characters the same attributes you see in people closest to you or do you base certain aspects on things you have seen or experienced in your own life?)



Yes, both. All my characters have attributes I’ve seen, although I don’t base any of them on individuals – they’re more like composites of several people. And many scenes are based on real-life events. Some of the scenes featuring refugees I wrote for ‘Last Prophecy of Rome’ were based on things I saw in at the dockside in Benghazi, during the war in Libya.



I always assume authors are voracious readers, so do you read books? If so, what kind of books do you read and who are your favourite authors? I’ve asked authors this before, and I’ve been surprised by the answers! More than once I’ve learned they don’t read much at all!!!



I read every evening – but it’s usually children’s book, to my kids. If I’m reading for myself, I go with recommendations from people I trust.



Where do you see yourself going with your writing career? Will you continue to write Myles Munro novels? 



I hadn’t expected Myles Munro to be so popular. I’m planning at least two more novels around him – the next one is called ‘Secrets of the Rogue Alchemist’ and will hopefully be ready before Christmas 2017. But I’m also thinking of more non-fiction, too.



If you could have been the original author of a book, any book, what would it be and why?



My new book, ‘Last Prophecy of Rome’ includes several references to Edward Gibbon’s masterpiece, ‘A History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’, which came out in 1776. It’s a book which combines research with philosophy, history, commentary and portent. If only…



Also, if there was ever to be a movie made, who could you see playing Myles?! 



It would need sort of cross between Cary Grant, David Niven and Richard Burton – pity they’re all dead. If the movie is made, I hope they pick an actor who can define the role for themselves – the real Myles would ignore what was expected of him.



Do you have any superstitions or rituals when you write? A favourite desk/ coffee shop seat/ loud or quiet/ night or day? 

I find my words flow when I have lots of caffeine. But there’s no particular place – I’ve written on planes, at bus-stops and in internet cafes in the past: writing makes me zone out, so it doesn’t matter much where I am.

Where can people find out more about you? (Website/ Facebook/ Twitter and so on?) 



On twitter, I’m @iainbking. My webpage is http://www.iainbking.com, and I’ve got a brand new author page on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/iainkingsbooks. Come and say hello!

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Iain. Best of luck with the release of The Last Prophecy of Rome! 🙂



Thank you. I hope you enjoy it.


*************************************


Happiest of publication days to Iain King 😊

Author Q&A Jack Jordan

Second author Q&A in a week!! I’m spoiling ye! 😉

Today, I have the lovely Jack Jordan answering my questions. Jack is the author of Anything For Her, which I read, loved and reviewed last month and you can read my review here.

Without further ado…

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

www.TitusPowell.com.

(Photo Credit: www.TitusPowell.com)

 

I am an introvert disguised as an extrovert, an intelligent person who can say very unintelligent things, and a self-confessed bibliomaniac with more books than sense.

I have been writing for nearly six years now, and published my debut novel, Anything for Her, in June 2015. I am currently writing my second thriller, My Girl, which will be published in 2016.

 

How did you get into writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Ever since I can remember, I have adored writing. My favourite school assignments were creative writing projects, but I never considered that writing could and would be my career.

 

I began writing novels by accident. I was seventeen and housebound due to severe anxiety, and began to write a short story to pass the time. That short story turned into a novel of 100,000 words. I didn’t even have the goal of writing a whole novel; I was simply engrossed in the story and cherished the stimulating distraction. Once I finished the novel, I realised what had happened: stuck in the overpowering gloom of anxiety and depression, I had found my career.

 

Ever since then, I have been unable to stop writing!

 

Where do you get your inspiration?

 

I constantly have about twelve or more projects whirling around in my mind, and decide to write the one project that is the most insistent of the lot! Many ideas spawn from TV shows, other novels, true stories, and my dark imagination. Something that may be the smallest plot point in one book/show/documentary/true story can inspire me to write a whole novel – and from there, my imagination takes it further and further until the story is completely different from what I first imagined – but better!

 

With Anything for Her, I was inspired by the strength of the love that mothers have for their children. The bond between a mother and her child is unbreakable, and the love is unconditional. Most mothers will tell you that they would do anything to protect their child. When writing Anything for Her, I wanted to explore just how far a mother would go to protect her child, and at what cost.

 

I loved Anything For Her, the twist towards the end was brilliant. Had you worked that out before you began or did the story develop itself?

Thank you – I’m so glad you liked it!

 

Looking back, it is quite hard to remember where and when the story changed during the whole writing and editing process, but as for the twist/outcome of the story, I learned early on that the twist had to happen to stay true to the story and the characters involved.

 

How would you describe your writing to anyone who hasn’t read your book?

If I were to describe Anything for Her in one word, it would be: dark.

 

When it comes to genres, my writing falls into the brackets of: thriller and crime fiction (and mystery/psychological), but if I were to describe my work, I would call it a chiller, rather than a thriller, due to the how dark my stories can go.

 

As a reader, I love books that genuinely scare/thrill me. The books I remember and recommend the most are books that have shocked me and disturbed me. I think my reading preference really influences how and what I write. I want readers to remember my characters and my stories, just like I remember such books that have shocked me.

 

 

Your next book, My Girl, comes out next year. Can you tell us a bit about it? 😉

 

Due to exciting book-related events happening in 2016, I feel I should keep my mouth shut – but the moment I can spill the beans on my next project, I will let you know immediately!

 

 

I often wonder if authors are voracious readers. Do you read much, and if so, what kinds of books do you enjoy?

 

I read at every available opportunity – which can annoy those who love me! Reading is my absolute favourite pastime, and probably my only hobby. By the end of 2015 I will have read over sixty books – and I must have read my own books over a hundred times each, too!

 

I read for work and pleasure. When I’m writing, I read books in similar genres to mine with an editor’s eye, and thoroughly enjoy the emotions that thrillers evoke.

As a reader, I love stories of all age and genre. I go through phases: for a few months I will read literary/contemporary/classic fiction, other times I will read commercial fiction, and read non-fiction books as research for my own work, as well as subjects that I feel passionate about.

 

I love books that scare me, thrill me, shock me, make me laugh, make me cry, and educate me (I also adore the smell of new books – could this be a hobby in itself? This would mean I have two hobbies – hooray!).

 

 

Do you think social media helps in regards to promotion and drumming up publicity for new book?

 

Personally, I feel it is absolutely essential. I have found that social media advertising is the most direct, cost-effective, and one of the most influential ways to promote a book. For writers like myself, whom don’t have the marketing budget of ginormous publishing houses, social media is the way to promote a book.

 

 

If people want to keep up with you, where can they find you?

 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jackjordanofficial

 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/_JackJordan_

 

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jackjordan_author

 

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/jackjordan

 

My website: www.jackjordanofficial.co.uk

 

Massive thanks to Jack for answering my questions. I’m waiting patiently for details on My Girl!! 🙂

 

 

Author Q&A- Simon Duke

coverperfectionistOK2

Today, I’m lucky to have Simon Duke on the blog answering some questions for me. I recently read and loved his book The Perfectionist, and you can read my review here.

As always, I’m extremely grateful to authors who take the time out to answer a few question, and if I haven’t said it enough, thanks again Simon!:)

 

– First off, can you tell everyone a little about yourself?

SIMON

 

I was born in Stoke-on-Trent (UK) in 1979. I lived a while in rural England and had a very happy childhood. My family moved to France when I was eleven and I was parachuted into a French school without really speaking French. It took me a while to get up-to-speed with the other kids and I was (and I guess I always will be) an outsider and an observer. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, reading books and watching many American movies of that period. Meantime I grew fond of the modern gangster and of the transition from film noir and epic to the more gritty and realistic portrayal of crime in more recent times. Today, I’m a journalist and I’m often on the lookout for good stories. I’d also like to reassure you that, contrary to the dark subject matter of my books, I’m considered a rather well-rounded person with my heart in the right place, more often upbeat than a preacher of gloom and doom. I have yet to murder someone, but I do keep a list of potential victims in the drawer of my bedside table!
– How did you start writing?

 

During my teenage years. But I really started proper novel writing with Out of Bounds in 2012 (N.B. Out of Bounds is my first novel, published in 2014). Until then I’d only managed to write short stories, and my writing was infrequent, despite my mind over-spilling with ideas. I like to remember one particular day; a day when I had car trouble on my way to work. I took my car to a garage and the mechanic quoted me a hefty amount of money to carry out the necessary repair work – an amount I wasn’t willing to invest. So I began commuting by train and rediscovered the joys of reading, and devouring books in under a week. By doing so I discovered crime fiction authors whom I’d never heard of before. I’d read good books and not so good books. All this influenced me immensely. And at some point I wondered: why not me? This led me to writing the opening scene of Out of Bounds. In May 2013, I’d penned down the first draft.

 

– Can you tell us how you got the inspiration for The Perfectionist?

 

I’ve always wanted to write about serial killers. I’ve read many serial killer books (fiction and non-fiction) and watched my fair share of movies on the persona. Some direct movie influences for The Perfectionist include Manhunter (Michael Mann, 1986), Se7en (David Fincher, 1995), Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007), Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (John McNaughton, 1986), The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991), Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone, 1994)…

 

Serial killers fascinate me. In fiction, they are highly stylized, and even real-life serial killers have become celebrity monsters through media coverage. I read somewhere that serial killers are for adults what monster movies are for children: that is the guilty pleasure of scary fun. Serial killers are so extreme in their brutality and in their behaviour that we can be drawn to them out of basic and intense human curiosity. Their behaviour is seemingly inexplicable, so we feel a duty to try and understand what their motives are. And they appeal to our most primal feelings: fear, lust or anger. So I reckoned I’d give it a shot myself, but with a novel angle.

 

The killer in The Perfectionist could be considered the ultimate serial killer. He seemingly chooses his victims at random across America; he has been at large for more than two decades; he has flown under the radar of the cops and the FBI by navigating through the loopholes of the federal law enforcement system; he respects a unique and horrific modus operandi and fine-tunes methods of execution to seek artistic perfection. In the world of law enforcement, there exists a scale on which to rate killers. My killer does not feature on the scale.

 

Finally given my journalistic background, I’ve always dreamed of stumbling on a killer myself and pursuing him before submitting the proof of his guilt to the police. Gerry Stokes in the book lives that dream for me.

 

– Some of the killing methods are very violent, I bet your browser history is fun! Are they true to life and as gruesome as they are described in the book? How did you decide on the various modus operandi?

 

Indeed, I hope the FBI hasn’t hacked my computer. I’d have trouble justifying my highly suspicious Internet history! I must’ve researched dozens of the methods of execution and selected just some of the disturbing MOs that are out there. It’s a frightening realization that some of the methods of execution in The Perfectionist are shockingly quite commonplace. The Colombian necktie, for instance, is a frequent statement that is made in the world of drug cartels. Other methods I refer to in the book where used on a regular basis in the Middle Ages, Feudal Japan, or in Roman times. The killer in The Perfectionist respects a unique and horrific modus operandi and fine-tunes various methods of execution to seek artistic perfection. He has surgical precision. He’s highly intelligent and methodical. The human body is his canvass and he’s not afraid to experiment.

 

– When you began writing The Perfectionist, had you the ending mapped out or did it all just lead up to the events naturally?

 

I have tons of story ideas, and I note them down as soon as they begin to gain in substance in my mind. If inspired, I will look into them deeper and weigh the possibility of taking some further and writing them up. So, be it with The Perfectionist or with Out of Bounds, I started off with an idea and wrote it down in a summary. I began by writing a few scenes and things gradually fell into place. As soon as I had a solid enough backbone to the story, I fleshed it out and divided the result into chapters. From then on, I wrote bit by bit. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t alter things along the way. Sometimes I realised the storyline was weak and needed beefing up, or I had a change in mind with regard to how events unfolded. I then went back to the backbone and fitted in these new ideas. The first ending of The Perfectionist for instance struck me as not very satisfactory. The whodunit aspect needed a bigger concluding twist. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with an alternative finale.

 

– What’s a typical day for you when writing?

 

I’m not a full-time crime fiction writer… well not yet! Therefore I must write, research, plan, and meditate outside office hours. So it’s weekends, evenings, and sometimes lunch breaks for me. I also have to be present for my daughter and for my girlfriend and have some sort of social life too! I also occasionally work as a projectionist at my local cinema. But if I have a free full day ahead of me, I’m the kind of person who likes to get up early in the morning, have a cup of tea, and write non-stop until lunchtime. In the afternoons and evenings, I prefer to focus on other things and recharge the batteries. I do sometimes dream of a getaway log cabin next to a lake lost in some faraway forest. I believe that Michael Connelly quit his job at the L.A. Times after his third Harry Bosch novel. Maybe one day I’ll get there as well!

 

– I always assume writers are voracious readers but I’m probably wrong! Do you read much, if at all? And if so, do any authors you read influence your own writing?

 

As mentioned I am constantly reading the works of my peers. My influences are multiple and varied. The literature influences are also quite numerous. However, if I had to come up with a shortlist of inspirational authors and books which helped me write The Perfectionist, I’d have to mention the works of Michael Connelly (e.g. The Poet), RJ Ellory (e.g. The Anniversary Man), Henning Mankell (The Kurt Wallander series), James Ellroy (e.g. Killer on the Road), Shane Stevens (By Reason of Insanity), as well as possibly Dennis Lehane, John Grisham, and even Paul Auster and Ernest Hemingway. Authors I read influence me in one way or another, and I’m always on the lookout for new favourite writers. I love discovering new talents, even if that means I can be sometimes disappointed by what I stumble upon.

 

– If you could choose a character from your book to meet, who would it be and why? I’d pick The Perfectionist myself!

 

It’s got to be Gerry Stokes. He’s a complex character. He’s a rookie reporter stuck in small-town Iowa in the late 80s, working for a local paper, but with great ambitions. We meet him again more than twenty years later. He’s become a seasoned business journalist working for the Chicago Tribune. He’s a self-centred, obnoxious and arrogant guy with a soft spot for sex with prostitutes. Despicable. But he’s got talent and flair. The morbidity and seriousness of the investigation will change him, and so will his relationship with the woman who puts him on the track in the first place, Sarah Howard. Gerry’s evolution in the book is gradual and we grow to like his character. He might not be of the Walter White of Breaking Bad calibre, but I’m sure he’d be the heart of any given party.

 

– For those who haven’t read The Perfectionist, can you give a spoiler free synopsis?! Sell your book basically! 😉

 

This 47 second video should get you intrigued: https://youtu.be/6rXPMFLeKTg

 

It’s a video trailer for The Perfectionist, which I produced myself. I integrated some very eerie footage, still shots of the book cover which was designed by my friends Oscar Sanchez and Bertrand Raes, and I incorporated (courtesy of the Marmoset music agency) a track by Josh Garrels.

 

And here’s a short synopsis:

 

“In 1988, a severed head belonging to an unidentified old man is found rotting in an Iowa corn field. Confronted with this gruesome discovery, rookie reporter Gerry Stokes is urged by the local sheriff and his newspaper editor to cover up the affair. But the truth can’t be concealed forever.

Twenty-two years later, Stokes, now an arrogant and unpleasant sex-driven, yet seasoned veteran journalist at the Chicago Tribune, must at last atone for his wrong-doings as the shunned-upon past returns with a vengeance. Payback ultimately comes in the attractive form of Sarah Howard, a young woman who believes she has identified the old man as being her own long-lost grandfather, Ted Callaway. Unwilling to be exposed by the young woman, Stokes is forced into an investigation to discover the truth of what happened in 1988. Stokes stumbles upon an even more sordid truth: Callaway is one of many victims; people seemingly chosen at random across the nation by a serial killer who has been at large for more than two decades: a killer who has flown under the radar of the cops and the FBI by navigating through federal law loopholes while respecting a unique and horrific modus operandi. By fine-tuning methods of execution, the killer seeks artistic perfection. He is “the Perfectionist”.

Three years later, the investigation is given a new lifeline after Stokes is alerted to a series of gruesome Colombian neckties. Stokes realizes that the Perfectionist, who had been dormant for a long time, is still at large and has resumed his hunt for new victims. To obtain confirmation that his killer is still active, Stokes must confront the FBI’s determined lead investigator, Special Agent Elliot Keppler.

 

At the same time Stokes sets himself an ambitious target and potential path to fame: he wishes to publish a special book, which for the very first time in publishing history will give the police the means to capture a serial killer. With such high stakes, the pressure is on. Stokes is in the race of his life to discover the killer’s identity and publish his bestseller, while bending the notions of what can be considered ethically right.”

 

– When can people buy your book? Release dates etc.

 

The Perfectionist will be available in both paperback and ebook formats on January 19, 2016.

 

The paperback will be available on Amazon’s websites http://www.amazon.co.uk/Simon-Duke/e/B00J0YEZYE/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

The ebook is already available for pre-order on Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/The-Perfectionist-SIMON-DUKE-ebook/dp/B016WCU56I

 

as well as on Smashwords

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/585299

 

and at various online retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo,  FNAC, Rakuten, etc…

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-perfectionist-simon-duke/1122801579;jsessionid=16C824F21C6EA5EC4E4515615AC746B8.prodny_store02-atgap11?ean=2940152412017

 

My first novel, Out of Bounds, is available at most of these links too.

 

– Lastly, where can people follow you and your work?
Feel free to connect with me at any of the following:

 

Author Website and newsletter: http://simongduke.blogspot.com
Twitter: @SimonGDuke
Facebook: www.facebook.com/simonduke
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8287983.Simon_Duke