Kev’s Author Interviews, Presents…
A Short Bio
Well I was born in Derby and I’ve lived all over the UK but now I live in Paris. I joined BA as cabin crew back in 1985 and stayed for 24 years before I took voluntary redundancy in 2009 to concentrate on my writing career. I’ve published a couple of stand alones plus a couple of short story collections plus the DSI Jeff Barton series set in Manchester and the PI Stephanie Marshall series set in Sydney. I’m into all the arts of film, TV, book, theatre, and music, and I’m a devoted fan of the American singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks who I call the voice of my interior world. I love Indian food, a g and t that’s heavy on the g and light on the t plus a glass or three of red wine. Well, that doesn’t make me a bad person.
Kev: What is your latest book about and what is its genre?
‘Thrown Down’ is the sixth in my DSI Jeff Barton series and like all my books it’s is in the crime fiction genre. It starts with the murder of a former IRA terrorist in his Manchester flat. The next day the son of one of his victims is shot dead at his business premises just outside the city and it looks like he was expecting his killer. Meanwhile on the other side of the world in Melbourne, Australia, a seemingly ordinary suburban housewife called Patricia Knight who has three grown up children and has just celebrated her sixtieth birthday, is outed as the sister of the murdered terrorist. Her husband of nearly forty years wants answers because she’d always told him that she’d left no family behind when she came to live in Australia in 1976. She then has to come clean about her active membership of the IRA back in Belfast in the early seventies. But why did she run and why has someone taken it upon themselves to blow her cover now? And are the reasons connected to the two murders that Jeff and his team are investigating today? The killer is unmasked but remains at large just as Patricia returns to the UK for her brother’s funeral and a showdown that Jeff has to try and control as much as he can so that justice can be done.
Kev: Who or what influenced you to write it?
I always like to find different angles for my crime stories and my main influence comes from my need to tell what I hope is a good story. With this one I was literally thinking one day, like writers do, staring out of the train window, about what it must be like for someone to have buried their criminal youth and lived a normal life since and why would the authorities would allow her to do that and stay ‘hidden’ for so long? The character of Patricia Knight then sprang into my imagination with the whole Northern Ireland connection and the story started to take shape. It was originally going to be a standalone book but then I realised that it could fit into the Jeff Barton series quite easily and actually give me a way of further developing Jeff’s character with positive changes to his personal life.
Kev: Did you do any specialised research for your story?
A little, yes but I already knew something about Irish history because it’s always interested me. The first book I published was called ‘The Wild Heart’ and that’s linked to the Northern Ireland ‘troubles’.
Kev: What challenges did you face while writing the story?
I didn’t want people to think of particular characters as being just good or bad depending on which side they’re on. It’s much more complex than that and so striking that balance was a challenge. Also, I was dealing with issues that are particularly sensitive to many people and out of respect to them I had to at least try to make it plausible.
Kev: Who is the protagonist?
DSI Jeff Barton is in his mid-thirties, a widower and a single Dad to his six year-old son Toby. When I created him I didn’t want to create another fictional middle-aged detective who drinks a bottle of whisky alone every night for dinner, never sees his kids and spends so much time arguing with his boss that it’s a wonder he ever manages to solve any crime. That’s all been done, you know? I also wanted to celebrate all the single dads out there who I think are largely forgotten by society and don’t get enough attention in popular fiction. Jeff is still grieving over the death of his wife Lillie Mae who was Chinese, he’s estranged from his parents who never agreed to him marrying someone of a different race, but he’s very close to his brother Lewis and his partner Seamus, and he has a live-in nanny and housekeeper who’s a young guy called Brendan. He’s one hundred percent straight but he’s completely relaxed around gay people. In fact, he’s comfortable around almost anyone. He’s a very modern guy all round and he’s also a very good copper.
Kev: What would you say is the protagonist’s greatest weakness or obstacle and why?
His continuing grief over the loss of his wife can blind him to new romantic opportunities that present themselves. He finds it very difficult to let go of the past but in ‘Thrown Down’ he does get the opportunity to, let’s say, have some fun.
Kev: What would you say is the main antagonist’s greatest strength?
Patricia Knight is absolutely certain that she’s right, she was then and she still is now. She has regrets but her strength of purpose has never diminished.
Kev: Could you provide a short passage from your book to give us a taster?
This is when Patricia Knight has been told of her brother’s murder and her husband is confused by the news.
‘So?’ said Dennis who didn’t quite know what to make of it all. ‘We’ve only been married nearly forty years so when were you going to tell me you had a brother? I know you’ve kept it all to yourself all these years and I’ve never questioned anything because I trusted you. But I think I deserve some kind of explanation now, don’t you?’
Kev: Do you use some kind of formula when you write?
Not really. With crime you want to build mystery and have lots of twists and turns to keep the reader turning the pages. I do have a basic framework when I start writing a book in terms of plot and characters but that tends to change, sometimes a little and sometimes quite a lot, as I go along and the characters start talking to me. I’m always open to change and if a different way of telling the story comes to me that makes more sense than the way I’ve been telling it then I’ll go with it. Instinct will always tell you what sounds right and what sounds wrong.
Kev: Preference for writing: Day or Night?
No preference as such but for some reason I tend to be most productive in the late afternoon, through the evening and into the small hours. Having said that, when I’m coming to the end of a book, I can sometimes start writing as soon as I get up and before I know it it’s the middle of the afternoon and I’m still in my pyjamas!
Kev: What is your editing process?
I tend to do it once I’m satisfied with what’s being told in the final draft. I used to do it as I went along but that just got in the way of getting the story down.
Kev: Who creates your book covers?
For the Jeff Barton covers I go to a guy called Joshua Jadon and here’s a link to his website
And for most of the others I go to
It’s really important to give your book an eye-catching cover – remember, you want your title to stand out amongst all the thousands of others.
Kev: How do you promote your work?
I have a website and I use the various social media platforms of facebook, twitter, pinterest, linkedin. But I want to branch out more onto sites like this and communicate directly with readers as well as use social messaging apps, particularly in overseas markets like India and China.
Kev: What advice would you offer to new authors?
Believe in yourself and believe in your work. Be ready to accept constructive criticism as a means of helping you to improve and continue to read a lot of other people’s stuff too, particularly in the genre you write in yourself. Also, be prepared to spend a lot of time on marketing your books which can get frustrating because you want to spend all your time writing. But as an independent author you have to market your work and think worldwide. Some of the biggest growth in ebook sales is currently in India and South East Asia for instance.
I would also say that being an independent author and actually selling your books through amazon, kobo, google etc., developing your career and developing your talent, is much more satisfying than waiting around whilst more rejection letters come in from publishers.
Kev: Which two social media platforms do you use the most and why?
Facebook and Twitter because they reach a lot of people but I’m starting to use pinterest and linkedin more too.
Kev: Do you have a website?
Kev: Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’d like to tell you a little about my current work in progress. It’s called ‘The Blood of the Children’ and it’s the first in a new crime fiction series I’m starting which is set in Blackpool and introducing my new detective DCI Layla Khan. The series is going to be set around the darker side of the happy holiday resort and I’m looking forward to people meeting Layla. She’s tenacious and she has a strong back story but that’s all I’m going to say for now. It’ll be out in the autumn.
I‘m also developing ideas for the next Jeff Barton and the next Stephanie Marshall books, plus maybe a standalone too. I’ll see how that works out.
After the publication of ‘Thrown Down’ the next big promotion is the release of my first Jeff Barton books in French, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin Chinese. I’m very excited about all of that!
A big thank you to Kevin for hosting me today – very much appreciated. Please get in touch if you want to carry on the conversation.