What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I started writing years ago for a very popular Newcastle United fanzine ‘The Mag’. That was the first time I saw my name in print and it gave me the confidence to go on and become a journalist working for regional newspapers. I’ve written all sorts of things over the years, for websites, magazines and newspapers but I was also writing fiction as well. Like most writers, I got plenty of rejection letters but they were nice ones. They usually told me my stuff was good and that was enough to keep me going. Obviously I read books but I think I am even more inspired by films if I’m honest. My first book ‘The Drop’ has been compared to ‘The Long Good Friday’ and ‘Get Carter’, which I am pretty chuffed about, as I love both of those classic Brit gangster flicks.
How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
I try to write every day but it doesn’t always work out that way, as life gets in the way. Before jacking in the day job, I could only write in the evenings and at weekends, which put a lot of pressure on me. There were points during the writing of my last two books where I did feel absolutely knackered but I managed to keep going somehow. It wasn’t easy though and I had to be pretty disciplined. I hate wasting time, as I still don’t have much of it. I look after my daughter, which is wonderful but it shortens my working day, as you can’t really write once a seven year old comes home from school. I never watch soap operas or reality TV or much TV at all in fact. I moved house a few weeks ago and still haven’t rigged up the TV but I haven’t missed it. I try and ration myself to an hour a day with a DVD box set. Perhaps unsurprisingly I like something that has a bit of quality writing in it, like ‘The Killing’, ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Borgen’ or ‘Boardwalk Empire’. I’m currently watching ‘Spiral’ the gritty French cop series, which is very good.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
I’m not too hung up on genre but I have no problem being described as a crime writer or referred to as an author of thrillers, though it doesn’t worry me to write outside those genres either. I have written a historical story set in World War Two, which I am in the process of editing, so you might see that published at some point in the future hopefully. I grew up reading John Le Carre, Len Deighton, Jack Higgins and Frederick Forsyth so I’ve always enjoyed WW2 and Cold War thrillers. I’m currently reading Peter Guttridge’s ‘The Thing Itself’, which has sections set in WW1, WW2 and the present day and I’m loving it so far.
What draws you to write in that genre?
I’m led by the story not the genre, so I came up with the idea of ‘The Drop’ then realised it was a crime story. I enjoy writing crime because it gives you the opportunity to place your characters in pretty extreme, stressful situations involving death or injury, imprisonment or betrayal and it brings emotion to a story when so much is at risk for the characters.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
Now that my trilogy of Newcastle gangster stories is complete, I’m giving David Blake and his crew some time off. My new book is a crime story but this one has some different characters. I am tackling a book about a journalist who returns to his home to investigate the disappearance of a missing girl. As usual with my books, it is more complex than that though, with several different story lines all happening at once, over two time periods. Somehow I never seem to keep it simple but I enjoy writing books that have a lot going on in them.
What are your writing plans for the future?
I don’t look too far ahead but I want to keep on writing books for as long as people are keen to read them. I’ve been lucky so far. ‘The Drop’, ‘The Damage’ and ‘The Dead’ have all been well received. I am published in the UK and Germany and the David Blake books will hit America in the autumn…or should that be ‘the fall’? The books have been optioned for TV too, so I just want to build on all of that and keep going.
Where can people find out more about you?