Today I’m thrilled to be able to share a Q&A I did with Joshua Winning, author of the Vicious Rumer, AND Ellen’s brilliant review 😊
About the author:
Joshua Winning is an author and film journalist who writes for TOTAL FILM, SFX, GAY TIMES and RADIO TIMES. He has been on set with Kermit the Frog, devoured breakfast with zombies on The Walking Dead, and sat on the Iron Throne while visiting the Game Of Thrones set in Dublin. Jeff Goldblum once told him he looks a bit like Paul Bettany.
In 2014, SENTINEL – the first book in Joshua’s SENTINEL TRILOGY – was published by Peridot Press. The second book, RUINS, followed in 2015. Joshua’s short story DEAD AIR appeared in SPEAK MY LANGUAGE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF GAY FICTION and Joshua’s new novel, VICIOUS RUMER, will be published by Unbound in 2018. He also co-wrote ’80s teen horror CAMP CARNAGE.
About the book:
Rumer Cross is cursed. Scraping by working for a dingy London detective agency, she lives in the shadow of her mother, a violent criminal dubbed the ‘Witch Assassin’ whose bloodthirsty rampage terrorised London for over a decade.
Raised by foster families who never understood her and terrified she could one day turn into her mother, Rumer has become detached and self-reliant. But when she’s targeted by a vicious mobster who believes she’s hiding an occult relic, she’s drawn into the very world she’s been fighting to avoid.
Hunted by assassins and haunted by her mother’s dark legacy, Rumer must also confront a terrible truth: that she’s cursed, because no matter what she does, everybody she’s ever grown close to has died screaming.
What a ride this book is; from the opening chapter to the last you are grabbed by your throat and dragged on an exhilarating (and often brutal) journey. Cursed at birth and abandoned by her ruthless mother who was known as the “Witch Assassin”, you could say that Rumer has had an unsettling start to life. Bouncing between foster homes and misunderstood by those around her she becomes a recluse, a shadow. Her skills at being unseen soon gets her employment within a London detective agency. Things take a turn for the strange when Rumer is kidnapped by a mobster who is convinced she holds the secret to the location of an ancient relic that grants immortality. Her life depends on finding The Crook Spear and evading the ghosts of her past that are nipping at her heels.
I loved Rumer – I’d definitely wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of her though. She is ruthless and ready to do anything to get the truth but she also has a wicked sense of humour so you can’t but help warm to her. After the upheaval of her early years you can forgive her brittleness and reluctance to form friendships, after all, those she grows close to have an uncanny habit of dying violently!
A kick ass thriller with elements of horror and humour; this is not a book for the faint hearted due to the gore factor. Vicious Rumer would make an awesome film and the soundtrack was rattling around my mind throughout reading. Also, just to add that the the book’s cover is pop art perfection.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Of course! I’m blond, athletic and a good cook. Wait, sorry, that’s my dating answer. I’m a film journalist and author originally from a tiny Suffolk town called Bury St Edmunds. Now I live in London, spending roughly 60 per cent of my time at a computer, 20 per cent watching movies, 10 per cent on the yoga mat and 10 per cent in the pub.
How did you get into writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
Aside from a few years when I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast (I was 10 and I dreamed big) I’ve always wanted to tell stories. My bedroom was always full of books. CS Lewis, Robin Jarvis, Christopher Pike… I had an entire Point Horror library that, sadly, has been lost to time. But yes, I’ve always compulsively written and it quickly became my idea of a dream job.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration is such a weird thing because so much of it is unconscious. Sometimes I’ll be writing a scene and I’ll realise it’s an exact replica of something from Friends. Or I discover I’ve been writing Drusilla from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The easiest answer is that, when I’m writing, I draw from pop culture both consciously and unconsciously because I’m a kid of the ’80s, so I was raised by TV and Scholastic and that stuff’s lodged in my brain forever.
How would you describe your writing to anyone who hasn’t read your book?
Quirky, fast-paced, grounded. I’ve had a lot of people say my books play in their heads like they’re watching a movie, which is an excellent compliment that I’ll totally use to answer this question!
Do you think social media helps in regard to promotion and drumming up publicity for a new book?
Absolutely, but I don’t know if that translates into sales. Social media is great for connecting with readers, bloggers and fellow authors, and I’ve met so many awesome people on Twitter who have been enthusiastic and supportive when my energy levels have dried up. Social media can be a vacuum, too, but if you stick with it and try to only share things that add value to people’s lives (rather than just ‘BUY MY BOOK K?’), it can be a really useful tool.
What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?
I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty cool when somebody tells me my book gave them nightmares. In all seriousness, though, being an author is great because I get to tell stories. I love figuring out characters and seeing the world from their POV. And when somebody likes what you’ve written (and leaves a review on Amazon, he adds not at all subtly), that’s the best feeling ever.
What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?
Getting a numb bum every 60 minutes!
Where do you see your writing career 5 years from now?
I try not to look that far ahead. Obviously, it would be amazing to write a bestseller, but I’d also be totally OK if I’m still doing what I’m doing now, which is writing, writing, writing, and hopefully getting better with time.
What’s next for you?
A holiday! To celebrate the release of Vicious Rumer, me and a buddy are off to Ibiza. We’re both in our 30s so we won’t be raving it up Inbetweeners-style (unless somebody buys us a tequila, in which case, game over). I’m looking forward to beach, cocktails and time to catch up on reading. My TBR has spiralled out of control again…
I often wonder are authors voracious readers. Do you read much, and if so, what kind of books do you enjoy?
I used to be voracious but I really have to force myself to make time for reading nowadays, which is a bit of a tragedy. I generally use my commute to work for reading, so it has to be a really good book. I love all sorts of genres, but I’ll always be a sucker for a good fantasy horror like A Monster Calls, or a really juicy thriller like Silence Of The Lambs.
Can you tell me your all time favourite book, or if you have to, your top 5?
Ah, the question every reader dreads! My absolute favourites are Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller, The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and On Writing by Stephen King. Oh cool, that was easier than I expected!
Has there been any books you’ve read that you wish you had written?
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill is a masterpiece of science-fiction that says something really important about contemporary culture. It’s gripping, SHARP, and completely devastating.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Netflix is my bestie; it’s always there when I need it, and it doesn’t judge me when all I want to do is rewatch Party Of Five. I’m also a fan of the squash court, and at any given time I’m usually beta reading for one of my writer buddies. Because I’m not enough of a nerd already, I’ve also just got into videogames – I’m totally hooked on Heavy Rain at the moment. Highly recommended.
Have you any hobbies that aren’t book-related?
It’s generally frowned upon to read while playing squash or doing yoga, so those are my two non-literary activities. Unless you count the pub.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
New York, always and forever. I spent two weeks there a few years back, staying with a friend, and they were the most amazing two weeks. We went hiking in the Catskills and visited a ton of cool galleries (the Whitney is a must). I’d move to Brooklyn in a heartbeat if I could.
Peanut butter. On anything. When I was a kid, I never understood why Americans were so obsessed by PB, but now I get it. And I’m obsessed, too. But I’d never have it with jam because gross.
Coffee. But only coffee that tastes like coffee, not those double-mocha-with-whipped-cream-and-a-twist-of-pineapple things.
Last but not least, why writing? Why not something else?
It’s all I can do! It’s a compulsion that I can’t curb. It’s therapy and creativity and escapism all in one. If I couldn’t write, I’d die. Simple (and only slightly overdramatic).