John Paul Davis is my next guest, and this international bestselling author has been the subject of international attention, including articles in The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Yorkshire Post and Nottingham Evening Post, mentions in USA Today and The Independent and reviews in the Birmingham Post and Medieval History Journal.
Tell us about your latest book
My latest is a thriller called The Cortés Trilogy, a three-part series that centres on the Noche Triste Treasure: the legendary hoard Hernán Cortés temporarily got his hands on after defeating the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, during the Spanish conquest of the New World. Each section of the trilogy is concerned with a different part of the treasure that many people believe to still exist somewhere in Mexico.
How much research goes into each book?
A lot. My writing career began in historical non-fiction, where a typical list of sources could include more than a small library’s worth and the references’ section be half as long as the actual book! Though fortunately thriller novels don’t require a bibliography, old habits die hard and I try to ensure my facts are correct – especially as I tend to base my stories on real life historical events or legends. I also like to visit most of the locations first-hand, and set various parts of the story in places I’ve experienced, which I definitely believe helps add a little extra bit of authenticity. At the end of a novel, I always include an additional ‘Facts Behind the Fiction’ section to detail what was accurate and what was made up.
What is the strangest thing you had to research?
Interesting question! There’s usually something in every book that either beggars belief or leaves me temporarily wondering if I’m going insane! One that really springs to mind was while researching The Templar Agenda back in 2010, I was conducting some research into the ins and outs of the Vatican, and a story from Belgium got me totally side-tracked. Apparently in response to allegations of paedophilia among elements of the local clergy in one of the cities, the Belgian police are alleged to have drilled holes into the tombs of two cardinals and hidden cameras inside in order to capture any suspicious activity. I still can’t get over the fact something that would seem far-fetched in a James Bond movie actually happened in real life!
What is your favourite book of all time?
Gray Justice ;). I also really liked David Copperfield, as nobody rivals Dickens when it comes to characters, and Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do to relax?
Fortunately, I do genuinely find the creative side of writing relaxing, so I guess I’m really quite lucky that I’m usually pretty relaxed. I’m passionate about sports and go to a lot of football games – though I guess it’s debatable whether being a Villa fan could ever be considered relaxing! I love travelling – especially getting to know sites that would be great in a book – reading, watching action/thriller movies, going to gigs, hiking or generally just hitting the gym. I’m also extremely lucky that I have a really close-knit group of mates who always find new ways of being entertaining.
Which three authors, living or dead, would you like to meet?
Growing up, Ludlum was my hero, so I would certainly have loved the opportunity to meet him: maybe hang out and have a couple of drinks in one of the many great and glamorous locations he used in his novels! In my mind, he still sits unrivalled as the greatest thriller novelist of all time. I’d also quite like to meet Dan Brown and ask him whether hanging upside down wearing gravity boots in order to receive inspiration actually works! There’s a lot of other thriller writers I could mention, but as I’ve only got one choice left I’d have to go for Dickens and basically ask him about the world he knew and maybe learn a thing or two about characterisation from the true master! In the meantime though, hanging out with yourself, Dave Leadbeater and Keith Houghton was still pretty cool!
What would mean more to you: having a number 1 bestseller; or winning a top literary award?
At the end of the day, a number 1 bestseller means your book has come to the attention of hundreds of thousands of readers, many of whom are now your fans, and that what you’re doing is probably making a splash in the world beyond the publishing industry. Winning a top literary award might be a nice achievement, but ultimately it still only means your book’s been brought to the attention of a handful of people, many of whom probably never even bought the book to begin with, and that an entire generation of school kids probably now hates your guts after being forced to spend two years of their lives studying it for their GCSE in English Lit, which most of them probably failed because they didn’t have a clue what the hell you were on about! For me, storytelling is the dream and I’d rather write something that proved to be popular than be worried about whether the ‘experts’ approve of it!
Where can we find out more about your books?
These days, I have two websites. www.theunknowntemplar.com which was originally set up for my first ever book, and www.johnpauldavisauthor.com which is my new official website. All of my thrillers are exclusive to Amazon, and listed on Goodreads. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter – handle @unknown_templar