Q & A

Where do you get your ideas?
It is the one question all writers are asked from time to time, and there really is no definitive answer. Nowhere and everywhere is perhaps as close as you’ll get. Life throws up ideas, and it’s the writer’s job to shape those ideas into something interesting for the reader.

Who is your favourite author?
For a long time Stephen King was my literary hero. I read my first King novel (Misery) when I was fifteen, and then didn’t read anything but King for the next couple of years, so my writing style when I was a teenager was quite understandably influenced by his. Since then I have broadened my reading substantially.

I got into Ed McBain in my twenties. He had such a talent for writing beautifully sparse, yet detailed police novels – an underated skill, much harder than it seems.I read fifteen of his novels in June 2004, because I just couldn’t put him down.

Ross Macdonald was a great hardboiled author, who produced several wonderful novels in the 1950s. I just love the world of detectives and femme fatales.

I’m also a big fan of Dean Koontz, because when he is on form, nobody does the chase novel quite the way he does.

Other authors I have enjoyed multiple works by include James Herbert, Terry Pratchett, Michael Crichton, Clive Barker, and John Grisham.

What is your favourite novel?
I love many novels for many different reasons. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is almost three hundred years old but still fantastically engaging; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is frightening, funny, and as morally relevant today as it was when it was first published almost two hundred years ago. The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is very insightful, witty, and surprisingly fresh. 1984 by George Orwell is a powerful statement of power, control, and ideology. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger has, in Holden Caulfield, perhaps the greatest protagonist in any novel ever. Jaws by Peter Benchley, the novel on which Hollywood’s first blockbuster was based, is a captivating thriller and a lesson is creating tension. Stephen King’s Misery is as nerve shredding for the reader as it is for Paul Sheldon, the victimised central character; and The Fog by James Herbert is just balls-to-the-wall horror, the way it should be written.

And there are many others.

When did you start writing?
I was probably about eight or nine when I first turned my hand to writing. I can certainly remember some of the titles and concepts I came up with back in those days. I have kept everything I have written since the age of thirteen.

What is the ultimate goal?
It’s the same as many other authors. The Novel. Mine – Slipwater – started life as a 23,000 word police novella called Fellini & Francisco, when I was seventeen, and it has since undergone major surgery, to the point where only really the character names still exist.

I completed the first draft of the novel in 1997, and it has sat on the shelf gathering dust for most of the time since then, with the occasional revision here and there. Last year I took it down and worked on it diligently, and it is well on its way to becoming the novel I know it can be.

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