Sunday, 18 December 2016

Interview with Andy Lucas

Who is Andy Lucas?
I first started writing for pleasure when I moved up to secondary school, in the very early 80s. I was fortunate to have a couple of enthusiastic teachers who fuelled my interest in story writing so, by the time I was sixteen, I knew I wanted to be an author. Like thousands of other hopefuls, however, after a year or two I could have papered a wall with the dozens of rejection letters from agents and publishers I acquired. In those days, mainstream was the only game in town and I was spectacularly unsuccessful in interesting a publisher with my initial offerings. I did receive a few positive nibbles here and there, including for a screenplay I wrote, but this did little to improve my sense of failure. I figured they knew what they were talking about and that I must, after all, just not be very good at this writing lark. For nearly two decades thereafter, I wrote only sporadically and fitfully. If I am brutally honest, my writing was so haphazard as to be virtually non-existent for years at a time. A growing family and work took up most of my time and I considered stopping writing altogether, on several occasions, but could not bring myself to do it. Fortunately, the dawn of the indie author arrived, possibly just in the nick of time!

Tell us about your latest work.
I am currently writing the sixth book in my James Pace thriller series. I write each story set across two volumes i.e. a duology format, so this new book will complete the third duology, called BLOOD GURKHA. Part 1: Prophesy is available now and my new book; Apocalypse, is scheduled for release on 19th December 2016. Right now, I am hard at work, drawing the threads of the story together, and I have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying writing this new book. Once completed, I will be taking a brief break from this series to complete the second book in my new Ian Flyn science fiction thriller series, which I intend to release in March 2017 before commencing a fourth James Pace duology, with planned release slots of July 2017 (Part 1) and December 2017 (Part 2). All these book are currently untitled although I already have a good idea of what each story will look like. My intention is to release three books every year from now on.

Describe a typical writing day.
I wish there was such a thing for me!
Although I still work a full-time day job, my writing is now regular and I have learned to be a little ruthless when it comes to making sure that I have enough time to write. The most important revelation has been that I write more fluidly (and better) when I set aside entire blocks of days and write for at least six hours on each of these days i.e. holidays or ring-fenced weekends. On these dedicated days, I rise early and write solidly from 07:00 until 13:00, undisturbed. Not only has this approach improved my word output i.e. 4000 - 7000 words each day but the intensity of the creative process allows me to focus more effectively on the pace and flow of the narrative. I also tend to write outdoors during the spring and summer months; sitting at my garden table, beneath the parasol, with my laptop humming, fuelled by copious mugs of coffee!
In essence, I write a little most days but I create the bulk of my books in a few concentrated bursts. This approach allows me to keep on top of every planned twist and turn in the plot lines and develop the characters in a believable manner. A writing blitz can add up to 30,000 words to a story, usually over a week of frenzied, focused effort. I am not suggesting this is the right approach for everyone – it just works for me so I am happy to share.

How do you handle negative reviews?
I don't often read reviews any longer; dipping in only occasionally to see if there have been any technical issues picked up by readers. I used to get quite hung up on negative comments but found the soul-searching and my natural, defensive reaction to be self defeating and damaging, especially towards my own enthusiasm for writing. I hold a genuine respect for a reader's opinion whilst also understanding that two people can read the same book and experience very different outcomes. Engaging with a book, as a reader, is a very personal event and I am just grateful that readers are prepared to give up their time, and hard-earned money, to join me in my own world. Of course, I want every reader to love my books because I pour my heart and soul into each one but this isn't realistic, I realise. As a developing author, I now stay intently focused on writing new material and let the existing work speak for itself, with the hope that the writers of any negative reviews are still able to find some elements of my work that they enjoyed.

Have you ever read a book and thought “I wish I’d written that!”?
Far too many to list, including offerings from the likes of Tolkien, Lewis, Innes, Bagley and even your own Tom Gray books! Strangely, though, if I had to choose just one, it would not even feature in the genres I write. My favourite book of all time, from childhood and still today, is a toss up between 'Stig of the Dump' and the other classic children's tale of 'Watership Down', with the latter just nosing ahead of the race. The genius of personification that the author applied to bring this band of wandering rabbits to life, with such diverse and relatable characters, remains a powerful reminder to me that storytelling is truly worth doing. It does enrich people's lives and, if you get it right, it can leave a positive, indelible mark upon another human being that lasts a lifetime.

If you could collaborate with one author, who would it be?
As a huge fan of Jack Higgins and Clive Cussler, of course these two authors would be at the top of my list. Their heroes, villains and twisting narratives have kept me company on many holiday beaches, train journeys and aeroplane flights over the years. That said, since first reading his novels, I rate David Leadbeater as highly as any thriller writer I have ever purchased from a book shop. I feel privileged to have been included in a couple of boxsets with David, alongside some other fantastic authors, but collaborating with him on a book would be a great experience, I'm sure.

Do you plot your books to the smallest detail or do you write by the seat of your pants?
Both. I start with an idea; fairly detailed, and then I throw the characters at it to see what happens. I always have my eye on the end result and rein them in if their own interactions threaten to lead the narrative too far off course. For me, a good book is about the characters and how they all react differently to situations. The readers need to care about them and, for this to happen, they have to be believable even if the situation they find themselves in seems to be bizarre. Sometimes this means that a couple of sub-plots or strands crop up that I never envisaged at the outset but they always seem to enrich the overall story. I tend to flesh out story structures broadly by chapter nowadays too, which is something that I find increasingly useful i.e. in this chapter, these characters will meet the villain, in the next chapter, a new setting will be introduced with a new character and a key event, like a murder etc.

When you’re not writing, how do you relax?
It is a cliché, I know, but I enjoy spending time with my family. I love watching my children grow and develop - time with them is hugely valuable to me. On a less emotive note, I enjoy riding horses and have, in the past, also enjoyed riding motorcycles. I have fairly recently taken up target shooting as a hobby and I am really enjoying beginning to learn the sport of marksmanship out on the ranges. Not only do I hope that I might end up being good enough to take part in competitions one day but I am also looking forward to being able to increase the level of realism that I instil whenever my characters use firearms in my books. Finally, I enjoy getting stuck into building and DIY projects. Working with my hands; measuring, sawing, filing, fixing and painting, is oddly relaxing for me.

Where can we find your books?
All my books are available on Amazon, in Kindle or paperback formats. Visit my Amazon author page at Links to each book can also be found through my website:

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Interview with Erik Therme

Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harboured runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his seventeen-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only twenty places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.

Tell us about your latest book
Resthaven is about a pack of kids who have a scavenger hunt inside an abandoned retirement home . . . only to discover they’re not the only ones roaming the hallways. I have two teenage daughters, and I wanted to write something I thought they’d enjoy. I'm also a big fan of horror movies, and it was a lot of fun to employ a creepy, abandoned building as a backdrop for the story.

As a hybrid author, which model do you prefer?
One of the advantages of self-publishing is having complete control over editing, cover design, and retail price—three things that can greatly affect a book's success. On the flip side, traditional publishing brings a marketing team into the equation, which can be invaluable when it comes to finding new readers. In the end, the most important thing is to write the best book you can, work hard to promote it, and try to make your own luck.

Do you have an agent, and if not, are you looking for one?
I've been fortunate enough to have my first two novels released through publishing houses, and both contracts were straight-forward and easy to manoeuvre. One of the (many) jobs of a literary agent is to place your book with a house, so as long as I continue to have success with publishers on my own, I probably won't pursue an agent. That said, if an agent expressed interest in me and my work, I would absolutely listen to what they had to offer.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing career?
I often joke I “learned to write by reading Stephen King,” but it’s the absolute truth. I discovered Misery in junior high and immediately began crafting my own tales of horror. Most were pretty lousy, but the more King I devoured, the more respectable my writing became. Eventually I moved away from the supernatural elements and found my own style and voice.

What’s a typical writing day?
It can be a challenge to maintain a routine—especially with a wife, two teenagers, and a full-time day job—so the majority of my writing is accomplished during evenings and weekends. If I’m especially inspired, I might try to sneak in some pages over lunch. The important thing (for me) is to write every day, even if it's only for a few minutes.

What is your ultimate writing goal?
To write the best book I can, and to continue to hone my craft with each new project. I'd love to (someday) be able to support myself through my writing, but that's a luxury few authors are afforded, and I'm OK with that. At the end of the day, I ultimately write because I love to write.

Where can we find out more about your books?

Articles, reviews, and information on upcoming projects can be found at I’m also happy to connect with people through Facebook and Goodreads!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Interview with Matt Johnson

I’m delighted to introduce Matt Johnson, author of Wicked Game.  It’s the tale of an ex-soldier and policeman whose past comes back to haunt him.

Tell us about your background and how it influenced your writing of Wicked Game

I served for a little under twenty-five years in the Army and then in the Metropolitan Police working in a number of specialisms and departments. In terms of exposure, my career spanned a time that saw my involvement in a number of high profile incidents. For example, I attended the Regents Park bombing in 1982 and, in 1984, I escorted my mortally wounded colleague, WPC Yvonne Fletcher to hospital.

Unfortunately, my career came to an abrupt end when I was diagnosed with PTSD. I was referred for counselling and initially found expressing myself very difficult - I would be overcome by emotion. To help my progress, my counsellor suggested I try recording my experiences, emotions and feelings in writing, and then bring my notes to be discussed at sessions. One day, many months later, she commented how much she enjoyed my writing and ‘had I ever considered writing a book?’

I hadn’t, and at the time had no desire to do so. But, several years later, with my police career over and my personal circumstances having changed, I pulled those notes from a drawer and started to weave them into a novel. Wicked Game was the result.

How did you go about getting your book endorsed by Peter James and Sir Ranulph Fiennes?

Peter and Ran were connections beforehand, and both are extremely grounded and generous men. That said, neither was minded to simply do me a favour. Both asked for the manuscript and only sent their quotes after reading it.

What are the main differences between self-publishing and your current experience with Orenda?

I often read comments by self-published author regarding the more satisfactory level of control they have over the whole process concerning the production, the design and the marketing of their book. I respect that, but for me, I have found that signing with a highly motivated and skilled publisher has brought huge dividends. I was given the opportunity to work with an editing team who were very instrumental in developing me as a writer. I have learned a great deal from them. The jacket design for the book was incredible and had no input from me, and that is a good thing, as I now realise just how creative are the people that produced such work. In terms of marketing, the book has reached vendors, readers and places that I would have never thought possible and which I could have never achieved when self-published. Also, I’ve been interviewed on radio and television, invited to speak at numerous literary events and festivals, and had a launch at Waterstones flagship store with over a hundred people in attendance. All this has only been possible because of the professionalism and experience of Orenda.

What plans do you have for future books?

The rights to the sequel to Wicked Game have just been acquired by Orenda. The book is called Deadly Game. Following an exciting auction of rights, I have now just signed contracts for the audio versions of both Wicked Game and Deadly Game. In the pipeline, I have the skeletons of several novels sketched out and the possibility of one or two non-fiction books.

Is there anything about being an author that you particularly enjoy?

Many things. I’ve always been very self-motivated and have been equally happy working as a member of a team or as an individual. But, I now find that I do like working on my own, setting my own deadlines and managing my own time. I enjoy research, learning about new things and brushing up on gaps in my knowledge. I enjoy the moment the words start to flow, that realisation that you are ‘in the groove’ and the story is unfolding, sometimes faster than I can type. I often lose track of time, forget to eat and have been known to write into the early hours.

All that said, what I most enjoy is the eventual interaction with readers that the book produces, particularly when it comes to meeting and having the chance to chat.

If you could take three books to a desert island, what would they be?

Now that’s a tough one. I’m not a very fast reader so, whatever I take, I would hope to get plenty of enjoyment from it. I’ve never read a book twice, so I wouldn’t be inclined to take an old favourite, so I think I would choose two books that I always meant to read but never found the time. Both would need to be very long books as, once read, their pages would likely become kindling to help create fire, an essential step in maintaining morale. The third book would be a blank journal, which I would use to write thoughts, experiences and stories, to help me while away the time as I built the ship that I would sail back to civilisation.

How do you handle negative reviews?

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and the open review system means that anyone with internet access can write theirs. I do read them, and if they contain constructive criticism then I learn from them. It was critical review of Wicked Game, written shortly after I first self-published, that resulted in my having it properly proof-read. That improvement in the standard of the book eventually lead to me being signed by an agent and securing a publisher, so I’m eternally grateful to that reviewer.

What I have less time for is the critics who are clearly writing for other reasons than genuine feedback. For example, some use reviews as a forum to promote another book (often their own) or to feed their ego in some way. It also perplexes me when someone who, for example only likes romance, says critical things of a crime thriller, simply because it wasn’t to their taste.

What I never do is get upset by a review… but, like many fiction writers before me, I might get even!

Do you have an agent?  If you do, what are the major benefits?

Yes, I’m fortunate to be represented by James Wills from Watson-Little. Agents are unfairly maligned in my opinion as, to the in-experienced , having someone like James on my team has been of huge benefit. Publishing is a whole new world to me, one that uses its own language, has its own protocols and systems. James has been incredibly patient explaining to me how things work, how the industry operates. He found me a publisher and, when it came to negotiating contracts, he was invaluable in explaining to me the significance of contractual terms, rights allocations and many other facets to reaching an agreement. I recently read an article in the Society of Authors magazine on how non-agented authors can lose out for want of such in-depth understanding and knowledge. I don’t have those skills, my agent does, and I am extremely grateful to him for that.

Where can we find your books?

In e-book form, Wicked Game is available on Amazon, Kobo, Ibookstore, Nook etc. In paperback it’s available in Waterstones, WH Smith, Hive, Amazon and through many independent book shops.

For signed copies, I’m supporting Book-ish of Crickhowell who were the winner of the Wales and west independent book shop of the year 2016. Order from Bookish and they will call me in to sign a personalised copy for you.

Deadly Game is scheduled for publication Spring 2017.

You will also find Wicked Game on sale at a number of literary events this year. I’m at Crickhowell  and Berwick Literary Festivals, Tenby Book Fair and Bristol CrimeFest. I will also be touring with the Orenda Author Roadshow.

Many thanks for the opportunity to chat, Alan.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Interview with David Videcette

In the latest round of interviews, I’m delighted to welcome David Videcette to the stage. David is a Scotland Yard detective turned author. His debut novel, The Theseus Paradox, is based on true events surrounding the 7/7 London bombings.  David was on the scene that day, and as the novel’s tag-line says, ‘He can’t tell you the truth, but he can tell you a story’!

Tell us what made you write The Theseus Paradox
Operation Theseus, the police investigation into the London bombings, was an incredible operation to have worked on as a detective. The bombings were the start of the most amazing and tragic journey and an investigation that lasted five years. Having to relive that moment over and over again and share the pain and anguish of those families that had lost loved ones was not something that I would wish on anyone, but in the years that followed, I was thrust into the world of spies and espionage. They were the most harrowing times you could ever imagine, but they also gave me the opportunity to be involved in the biggest investigation this country has ever seen and work alongside the Security Services, (MI5 and MI6).

At the time, I knew that we hadn’t ever gotten to the bottom of what had really gone on. As the years have passed and I came across new information - I began to piece together more and more material with which to tell my story.  I felt it was an important tale, part of our cultural history - and one that needed to be documented.  But The Theseus Paradox is just the very start. I'm really looking forward to sharing the next instalment.

Do you write full-time or part-time, and what is a typical day at the keyboard?
I’m currently based in London and work as a security consultant for high-net-worth individuals. I also commentate on policing, crime and terrorism for newspapers, TV and radio. One day can be really busy, the next day quiet, so I fit things around my schedule (and more importantly that of my kids!) I write wherever and whenever I can. Sometimes I write simply sitting in the car, using the notepad on my phone.  I’m a very emotional writer and my mood has to be right for me to be able to stick some words down on the page. I’m not very good at having set times to do it; I simply do it when the mood takes me.

What does your family think of your writing?
I’ve written blogs and articles before, but when I first started writing The Theseus Paradox I didn’t tell many people, including members of my family, that I was writing a book. It’s taken many of them by surprise. There’s obviously lots of me in there - the way I think and some awful truths in the book. So, it was a little scary letting them read it. But the reaction has been really positive. They all love the book and love what I’m doing. Sometimes they don’t like the character names I’ve picked though, and ask to be called something else...

What is the hardest thing about writing? 
I find the actual writing incredibly easy. I write really fast. My problem is that I refuse to commit ideas to paper that are not immaculately researched. The research behind my writing is what takes me the time - that’s my demon, that's the hard part. I won’t make things up. I have to know that what I’m writing is based in truth. It’s a little like solving a case in some respects. 
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m very animated when I write. I talk a lot to myself, laugh a lot and sometimes even cry. My editor says it’s like watching a ‘Punch & Judy’ show where I play all the puppets. I’d Imagine it would look incredible if it was ever caught on video! But I hope it’s not.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I enjoy being active on social media and interacting with many different people - and yes, it’s great to get feedback from readers, bloggers and fans. I hadn’t given much thought to it before I wrote a book. I just thought I’d write it to get the information down on paper before it was lost forever (or I was too senile to remember any of it!) and partly as a cathartic exercise for myself.  But having released it, hearing from readers that love what you’ve written - that truly is an amazing feeling and something that I honestly didn’t really anticipate. I’m delighted when readers say it’s opened their eyes to new things.  

The funniest thing is when readers have difficulty separating me from the fictional character in the book. I often get called ‘Jake’. I imagine it’s how actors on television feel!

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I want to document the workings and theories behind many other of the big investigations I’ve been involved with. There is so much more knowledge I want to share with readers. If people only knew half of this stuff...
If I can just get all these stories down on paper and out there before I die, I will be happy!

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Don’t sit there, in front of your PC or where ever you write, expecting writer's block to disappear on its own. It won’t. Your mind is like a sponge. If it's empty, you’re never going to get anything out of it. Go and fill it up with something. Watch a film, read a book, go for a walk and see something, listen to some music to fill your mind with something, anything. Then come back and squeeze the sponge.

If you could collaborate with the author of your choice, who would it be?
I bet JK Rowling and I could write an amazing series of books about a time-travelling detective. Or Patricia Cornwell, I’d really change the Kay Scarpetta series with her.  Ian Rankin, I’d get Rebus out of his comfort zone, drag him to London, that might be fun.

Where can we find your books?
The Theseus Paradox is available to buy for Kindle or in paperback at Amazon, through Waterstones online or by asking in store. It’s also available at Blackwell’s Bookshop online or via The Book Depository. Or you can get a personalised, signed paperback via my website here.  

Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Alan. It’s been an absolute pleasure answering your questions.

David’s debut thriller, The Theseus Paradox, was voted in the top ten books of the year by five independent review websites. It became a number one bestseller in its Amazon category within a month of launch and the truth behind the fiction has since been investigated by The Sunday Telegraph, The Mirror, The Sun, Sky and ITV News. His second thriller will be out at the end of the year.

You can connect with David Videcette via:


Monday, 24 October 2016

Interview with CR Hiatt

This week I’m delighted to welcome young adult and thriller author CR Hiatt.  The daughter of a military veteran, CR grew up in a small town where she was an All-American athlete before she ventured out into the real world. CR knew early on that she wasn't cut out for the nine to five type of job, her tendency to day dream about adventures often got in the way, which inevitably led her to writing where she could live out those escapades. So far she has four titles under her belt.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I didn’t start writing books until much later in life, mainly because I wasn’t sure I could make a good enough living from writing. In fact, I dabbled with screenplays before ever attempting to sit down and write a full book. It was after having a little bit of success with one of my scripts where a producer recommended I adapt it into a book so I finally took the plunge.

Before actually sitting down to write, however, I spent several months with local and big-city police departments, and fire departments, where I engaged in one-on-one interviews with undercover detectives to make sure I was not only accurate, but also to garner more information if I wound up writing a series. I was also fortunate enough to spend time with victims of some of the crimes discussed in my series.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

There were actually three things that surprised me when I started this journey. One was the ever-changing landscape of the publishing world, and the way readers started to view traditional and self-published authors. Not only are they more accepting of the Indie author, but quite a few have topped the financial charts and paved the way for others.

The second thing was information I learned during my research with law enforcement. Even though my stories are fiction, they are all based on real-life situations, one of which is the crime of human trafficking. I was horrified to learn the truth about some of the perpetrators who were involved in the multi-million-dollar trafficking rings all across the U.S. and abroad. They weren’t all members of gangs or thugs from poor parts of the city who were trying to score some big money, like I envisioned. Some of them were CEO’s, doctors, judges, lawyers, police officers, and even worse, some of the more lucrative rings were started by teenagers still in high school.

And finally, I was stunned to know that there are some who don’t believe that eighteen-year-olds, which is the age of the two heroes in my McSwain & Beck series, could handle some of the situations which they were thrown into, as reflected in some of my readers’ emails and Facebook messages. That baffled me, because my father had been in the military and so are many of my friends, most of who joined when they were eighteen. I also have other friends who are police officers and firefighters. They also joined at young ages. I’m not sure of the world in which the commenters live, but in the world of my friends, the antics pulled off by McSwain & Beck are tame in comparison.

Do you prefer to create books for teens or adults?

That’s a tough one. Since I write mainly action-thrillers, I would say it is easier to write from the perspective of an adult, only because I feel freer to put the character into situations, or have them say something that I don’t feel like I will be judged or it will have some kind of life-altering impact on a young adult who happens to read the story. I’ve seen some reviewers and critics attack authors just for using the F-bomb in a story, and the main characters were mobsters. There are some stories where certain language is necessary to make the story seem real. Can you see Tony of the Sopranos altering his language to appeal to the sensitive PC crowd? It may be fiction, but the writer of that series remained true to the real Italian mobsters back in the day. Same goes for a cop, military figure, or spy who found himself in a violent or horrific situation. If a soldier steps on a landmine and blows one of his legs off, he’s not going to think about who he might be offending when he utters an expletive as he drops to the ground. Authors are trying to do the same when writing the character in similar situations. We are trying to remain authentic.
Having said the above, I have been fortunate enough to get teens, young adult, and adult readers for my young adult series. In fact, I was actually surprised that the majority of readers of the series turned out to be adult males. But I am blown away when I get feedback from teens and young adults who read the books, and tell me how much they love Sydney and Cody. There was nothing more humbling than to receive emails from readers who did their high school book reports from Gone at Zero Hundred 00:00 and Fireworks on the 4th.   

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Read. Read. Read. Nothing motivates me more than to sit down and read action thrillers by other authors. Sometimes, for me at least, I get stumped because I’m not sure I can pull off an action sequence the way I want, or if the reader will buy it as legit for my story. If that happens, I have a few authors who write the kind of action/thrillers I would LOVE to write, (such as the owner of this blog, Alan McDermott), so I open one of their books and start reading. It might take a few chapters or the entire book to get me out of my funk, or I might have to read a few others.
Another trick that has worked for me is to write a few chapters the way I do a screenplay, which means I would write out the action and fill in the dialogue and description later. I have a huge supply of DVDs, most of which are action oriented, so I spend a lot of time watching them when I need inspiration; 24 hours of James Bond can do wonders.

Do you find it easier to write a series or standalones?

I have outlines of several stories, but so far I have only published the ones that were written as a series. Since McSwain & Beck are private investigators it was easier to write them as a series, because the ideas were already there from my research with law enforcement. Kyra Ray was created when I adapted an earlier screenplay originally titled Retribution, but is now Sanctioned Kill. When I wrote the screenplay, it was created with the hope that a filmmaker would see the potential for a sequel, or a possible TV series. The ending makes it inevitable that there would be more to come.
I do have a standalone book that I look forward to publishing sometime in the near future which is based on members of the fire service. I was fortunate to spend time at small-town and big city fire departments, virtually residing at one firehouse to get the feel of what it was like to be a member of the fire service, and witnessed some incredible and scary things. Like all my stories, the plot is based on real life, only written as fiction with additional characters added in.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

For a while, I spent a lot of time trying to study and navigate social media, and joined Facebook groups that focused on marketing. I studied some of the top authors and tried to emulate their successes. I learned a lot, and spent a good amount of money in the process. What I came away with though, marketing doesn’t need to be a full-time effort. Writing does. It used to be that an author put out a book a year, and did marketing in between. That doesn’t work as well for us indie authors. My new goal is to put out a few books a year. The more books you have, the more the readers will find you. I have been putting all my ducks in a row where real life is concerned so that I can put that plan into action.

Where would you like to be in 5 years’ time?

I want to be the female version of Russell Blake, only without the Tequila. No more renovating houses (which is what I do when not writing), but instead I would be sitting on the beach near my waterfront home. I’d have several books already published, and the uncanny ability to keep churning out more, with the ease that Mr. Blake has.
Oh, and no clowns.

What are you working on at the moment?

Spy Games, the third novel in the McSwain & Beck series is set to be published for pre-orders soon. It was delayed due to an unfortunate situation by Mother Nature at one of the properties I rent out. I’m also working on the sequel to Sanctioned Kill, and should have that ready to go shortly after.

Where can we find your books?

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Interview with Seb Kirby

My next guest is Seb Kirby, author of the James Blake Thriller series (Take no More, Regret No More and Forgive No More), the Raymond Bridges sci-fi thriller series (Double Bind) and the psychological thriller Each Day I Wake. He has also had the distinction of being one of Len Smart’s suggested reads in my Tom Gray series.

Tell us about your latest book

I'm close to completing a new psychological thriller, a follow up to EACH DAY I WAKE. The provisional title is SUGAR FOR SUGAR. The main character is Issy Cunningham, a woman who's struggling to discover what's gone wrong in her life. She's been burying past tragedies and must find a way of coming to terms with them if she's going to make sense of what's happening now. Aiming for a launch date in September...... 

How did you get into writing?

I was raised surrounded by books – my grandfather ran a mobile library in Birmingham and my parents inherited a random selection of titles when the library business closed. They weren't much interested in them; the books were piled up in a spare room, gathering dust. I would disappear in there and resurrect much read classics. I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s always seemed a natural thing to want to do – to write. 

Do you travel to research your books, or is it all done online?

Before I took up full time writing I worked as a science professor and, as part of that job, I got to attend conferences in many parts of the world. Wherever possible I took time after the conferences to stay on and get to know more about the locations. The places that remain most in the memory are the US (Boston, New York, Monterey, San Francisco, Albuquerque, San Antonio, San Diego), Europe (Florence, Venice, Crete, Aachen, Munich, Lisbon, Igls), China (Bejing, Shenyang, Xi’an). Of all these places, Florence is the most precious and I return there most years. The Reformation took place there. You can still inhale the spirit of the freedom of scientific and artistic thought and practice that brought about the enlightenment that has served us so well right up to the present day. An enlightenment now under challenge from all sides. I still travel as much as I can, these days mainly in Europe. Now I’m much more aware that, part of the time anyway, I’m casing the joint for scenes in upcoming novels.

If your books hit the big screen, who would you like to play the lead role?

There was one embarrassing moment, some years ago when I was waiting for a connection at Chicago O’Hare airport when I got talking to this guy who guessed I was English and wanted to know what I knew about Oasis. I had to tell him that I didn’t know much. He then hinted, in a somewhat humorous way, that I might know who he was. I didn’t. To help, he asked if I’d seen the movie ‘Ed Wood. I‘d heard of it but hadn’t seen it. Something about him was familiar, though. Eventually, his flight was called and he prepared to leave. I made a joke that he’d be traveling first class despite his somewhat unexplained interest in the Gallaghers. Unlike the economy class seating that traveling academics like me were made to suffer. He shrugged this off with a smile and was gone. This was 1995 and the man I’d been talking with was not that famous then. I realised later that I’d been speaking with Johnny Depp. So, it would make sense to me to have Johnny playing the lead, if, and it’s quite and ‘if’, my James Blake thriller series gets to the screen.

Who has been your biggest influence in writing?

Picking one author, it would have to be Ray Bradbury. I discovered him many years ago and those stories (The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, The Illustrated Man, The October Country, Fahrenheit 451 and many more) are still fresh in my mind today. He’s a model storyteller. But he also has an economy in the use of language that I admire and, in my own way, try to emulate, even though I’m not working mainly in the same genres (sci fi / horror) that Ray worked in. But I believe that this approach, applied to thrillers, is something that can set my work apart from other thriller writers and, hopefully, gain something approaching a fraction of the appreciation from readers that Ray’s work still commands today. 

If you weren’t an author, what would you like to do for a living?

I’ve been a scientist, engineer, educator and professor. It was rewarding working in those roles, especially teaching science to young people. But I decided to give that all up to become a full-time author. Which is harder? Being an author. No doubt about it. But the satisfaction of inventing worlds of your own and involving readers in them more than makes up for that.

Where can we find out more about your books?

Here is the link to my amazon author page: Or you can visit my web site :

Friday, 30 September 2016

Cover reveal for Trojan

It has been a long time coming, but I am finally able to reveal the cover and release date for my latest novel, Trojan.  Tom Gray has been through some rough times, so I decided to give him some time off and let Andrew Harvey and the team from MI5 step up and have their own adventure.  There are lots of familiar characters for those who have read the Gray series, but it can easily be read as a standalone.

When MI5 learns that a horrifying new weapon is in enemy hands, agent Andrew Harvey is called in to track it down before it reaches British soil.

But then a woman is found murdered by the roadside and it soon becomes clear that London is in the crosshairs. The clock is ticking. Andrew and his girlfriend, Sarah, also a secret service operative, have only one lead: a beautiful refugee, desperate not to lose her son. But is she desperate enough to betray everything she believes in? And will she do it in time to help them prevent a terrifying attack?

As Andrew and Sarah race to unravel a convoluted web of subterfuge and exploitation, they discover there is more at stake than even they knew. And somewhere, at the heart of it, lurks a faceless enemy, who is prepared to use everything—and everyone—at his disposal.

My publisher didn't want the book to get lost in the holiday noise, so it will hit the shelves on January 12th 2017.  It is now available for pre-order exclusively from Amazon:


A couple of people were given advanced review copies by my publisher, and here's what they had to say about Trojan:
‘Trojan is an edge of your seat, fast-paced thriller which kept me gripped throughout. A tense and action-packed story which was frighteningly plausible and topical. With a strong MI5 team trying to foil an horrific terrorist attack in London, Trojan kept me reading until the early hours desperate to find out what happens.’ —Tracy Fenton, THE Book Club

I thought this was a fast-paced, action thriller to start with but then Alan McDermott kicked it up to full throttle and left me gasping for air! I seriously could not put this book down and now find myself, true crimebookjunkie-style, gagging for my next fix!  Noelle Holten -

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Interview With David Leadbeater

David Leadbeater is the author of nineteen Kindle International Bestsellers - the Matt Drake and Alicia Myles series', the Disavowed series and Chosen. He has sold over half a million e-books on the Amazon Kindle. 

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? 

I've written books since I was 15 years old. It's always been my highest aspiration. 

How much time do you send on research? 

I try to get all my initial research written down within a week. If some parts look quite daunting I leave links in the plot at relevant points to be addressed later.  

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? 

Learning a new process of writing and editing! I used a new editor for Stand Your Ground and he worked very differently. He taught me a lot. 

Do you have an agent, and if not, are you looking for one? 

No agent and not looking for one at the moment. Independent publishing is where it's all at. 

You recently worked with Ed Stackler as your editor.  How did you find the process? 

Ed is a great developmental editor, able to push your further and harder and make you really think about plotlines, characters and pace. He is very experienced, working for Amazon, and very professional. I'd certainly enjoy the chance to do it all again some time. 

How do you handle negative reviews? 

I take note only if they hold serious content, and something I or my readers tend to agree with. If a recurring theme comes up I look at rewriting certain passages or researching further, two things I have done several times in the past. Amazon's self-publishing platform allows you to revise your book at any time – another great boon for Independent publishing. 

Which marketing strategy has worked best for you? 

If I'm being honest none of them seem to work all that well. My best decision was to create a mailing list of readers and use that to inform everyone of new releases. Whichever way you do it, I believe a large mailing list is essential. 

Where can we find your books? My Amazon Author Central page shows a list of the avaialble titles: 
And my personal website is: 

My Zimbio
Top Stories