Category Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview: Patrick C. Greene

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and was seeped in the legends of Bigfoot, or the Sasquatch as the Native Americans in the area call them. Naturally, I found myself interested in a fictional story based around these old legends. I want to welcome Patrick C. Greene and his novel Progeny to No Wasted Ink.

Author Patrick C GreeneI’m Patrick C. Greene; actor, martial artist, horror geek, comicbook nerd, metalhead, cineaste, father, husband, philosopher and…oh yeah; author.

When and why did you begin writing?

My father was a journalist and novelist so I had a good bit of exposure to the business as a child. I was writing, in a sense, before I knew how via drawings and telling nonsensical stories, even if nobody was around.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In about the seventh grade, I decided I would be a writer. I was small for my age, and easy target for bullies, and of course the “weird kid”, so at some point, I decided to learn how to defend myself and quickly became obsessed with martial arts, setting my interest in writing aside to train and learn all I could about fighting. I didn’t start writing again seriously until right after high school, when I was pursuing a career as an actor and decided to write my own screenplay to star in, as Stallone did with Rocky. I started knocking out short stories as well, just for fun. Ultimately, coming to a place of calling myself a writer was a gradual process that took many years.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

In PROGENY, Owen Sterling is a successful author who has just bought a large tract of forest land from a Native tribe. Soon after moving into his new house, he experiences a series of strange events that lead him to believe a family of sasquatches lives close by, and further, that they are potentially quite dangerous. He refuses to let local hunters come anywhere near the property, coming off like an aloof, wealthy outsider. Zane Carver, the alpha male of the locals, decides to ignore Owen’s directive, and takes a group of hunters, including his increasingly rebellious fifteen-year-old son Byron along. Pretty soon, the inevitable happens-hunters and monsters cross paths in a tragic manner, and the result is a game of cat-and-mouse that favors the creatures, forcing Zane and company to seek shelter with their old nemesis Owen.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always been intrigued by Bigfoot, and I was always trying to come up with a way to write something about the phenomenon, without resorting to the usual band of teens being offed with Bigfoot as a stand-in for a slasher figure. The idea of a three-way struggle appealed to me, as it blurs the lines between “good” and “bad” and makes potential outcome less predictable.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m tempted to say “neo-splatterpunk” because I read a lot of stuff from that era. I’m not one of those writers that finds no value in gore (though it can be overdone). I think literal viscera can be used to underscore figurative viscera, and a visceral experience is definitely what I hope to achieve. I am an emotional guy so I write about people in highly emotional states. I believe readers want to care about their protagonists, beyond even whether they will come out all right by the end, but also what it would mean if they didn’t–what that protagonist might potentially leave behind.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

PROGENY relates to the three father/son relationships that are highlighted in the story, especially Owen and Zane. Owen, the writer and Zane the hunter both have boys with whom their relationships are not ideal. Both are struggling, in different ways, to bridge that gap, to build some foundation for a long-term relationship as the boys grow, and the night of the siege is the crucible for that.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

As a father, it was important to me to address for myself what that means. It’s dedicated to my oldest son Deklan, an exceptional writer in his own right. His mother and I broke up when he was still very young so I haven’t had as much time with him over the years as I would like. The message, I suppose, would be to treasure every moment with your child.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not so much the horror elements, but some of the clumsy efforts by Owen and Zane to maintain good relationships with their own sons are very much influenced by my own experiences, not just as a father but also as a son. All the characters have pieces of people I know.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I think Poe suffered from depression, as I have from time to time, so the way he used it and created from it is inspiring.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Definitely Vincent Hobbes, because he has bent over backwards to make sure PROGENY and the short stories I’ve submitted for THE ENDLANDS have been top notch. He always has time to help other authors and offer encouragement and I’m very grateful.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Jordan Benoit is the cover artist, and I couldn’t be happier! His work on this and THE ENDLANDS is intriguing, mysterious and captivating. I wish I could take credit for choosing him but he was hired through PROGENY’S publishers, Hobbes End.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes, and it’s nothing you haven’t heard before: if you’re driven to write, you should be doing it. If the ideas are pounding at your brain seeking release, then release them, dammit! If you love your man or woman then write about it. If you’re afraid that the words just won’t come when you try to write, then write about that. The more you write, the better you’ll be at it, and the more you’ll want to write. So go! NOW! Do it!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I want to hear from you guys! Love my work or hate it, or find it pointless-let me know. And thanks for the time you set aside to read PROGENY or my short stories or even just this interview. I love having the opportunity to tell you a story!

Progeny Book CoverPatrick C. Greene
Asheville, North Carolina

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AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE
AMAZON KINDLE

Progeny was published by Hobbes End Publishing, LLC

Author Interview: Christopher and Heather Dunbar

As an artisan jeweler, I often attend Renaissance Fairs and Highland Games to sell my wares. When I met Chris and Heather Dunbar via an online Writer’s Cabal, I was delighted to find two kindred souls that enjoy these venues much as I do. They’re genre is historical fantasy and their participation on the RenFaire circuit certainly helps them get into the spirit. I am delighted to feature them both here on No Wasted Ink.

Authors Heather and Chris DunbarI am Christopher Dunbar, and along with my wife Heather Poinsett Dunbar, I write the historical fantasy novels and other works of the Morrigan’s Brood Series. I also dabble in leatherwork and the playing of ancient musical instruments, such as the didgeridoo and the Djembe (from Ghana); lately, I have even taken up street performing during lunch outside of the building where I work in Downtown Houston.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing creatively, outside of school, after I met my wife-to-be. I wrote with her on a few projects, but she really drew me in when she needed help with her first book manuscript. I helped her revamp the plot, spice up the characters, and provide a masculine perspective for the men in the story. The funny thing is that the writing started before we got married, and we still write together. She really helped bring out lots of creativity in me that I did not know existed. Just look at my bio blurb…

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I don’t consider myself a writer. Rather, I am a storyteller. Some the stories I tell are expressed through the written word… or sometimes with the spoken or the sung word, sometimes with music (although this is my weakest medium thus far, but I work at it), and of course sometimes through the Celtic knotwork in my leatherwork. Heather, however, I consider to be a writer. I think I first considered myself a storyteller when I could first string together elaborate fibs, that were obviously made up lies, to my parents, but they apparently found them entertaining.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The most current release from our series is Dark Alliance: Morrigan’s Brood Book III, although it is really the fourth book, counting the novella between books 2 and 3. Book 3 takes place in 801 CE, the year after Pope Leo III crowns Karl der Große Imperator Romanorum. Heather and I felt that the era of Charlemagne would be an excellent backdrop for our historical fantasy series… in fact, novels 3 through 8 take place during Charlemagne’s lifetime and even include him and Pope Leo III as characters. An eruption of heinous murders all across the empire cause ripples in the delicate balance between emperor and pope, bringing each closer to their doom, but only through the intervention of beneficent races of blood-drinkers will they have any hope of saving themselves.

What inspired you to write this book?

Heather and I felt that history glosses over Charlemagne the man… What kind of man was he? What kind of leader was he? What drove him to conquer? Who did he love? We wanted to delve into him and into his world. He is such a dynamic person that six of our novels will occur during his reign.

Do you have a specific writing style?

From a construction perspective, Heather and I have developed a style that creates one voice, rather than two. We both work together on the first pass of the manuscript, without editing, until we get to the end of the story, and then we rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. From a content perspective, our stories are journeys that enable the reader to explore other times and places as well as characters we hope people find dynamic… not just one- or two-dimensional. We also strive for a level of historical plausibility, if not accuracy.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I think Heather came up with this one… In the story, two lines of blood-drinkers that were at war with one another in the previous two books find themselves with a common enemy. With that in mind, and considering that our blood-drinkers cannot come out at night, “Dark Alliance” seemed like a good title, especially considering the various meanings of ‘dark’, given the right context.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I am sure the novel contains several messages, both hidden and obvious… some intentional and some accidental. The fun is finding them, so I do not wish to cheat our readers out of their fun.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The premise of the series is that these ancient lines of blood-drinkers have formed secret societies that are the powers behind kings, emperors, and popes, but that these lines are also in conflict with one another… so to are their mortal pawns. One has to wonder, given our current (and previous) political strife whether blood-drinkers are the puppet masters behind the scenes today… one wonders.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I wouldn’t say that authors have influenced my life… perhaps my writing style or storytelling, but not my life. Some of my influences for storytelling include skits at the various powwows when I was in Indian Guides and reading about old Irish legends and tales. Influential authors include Jack London, Edgar Allen Poe, and H.G. Wells. I liked Wells. because he was far ahead of his time and could imagine worlds few others could fathom. Poe, I feel, can horrify with sweet words. I like London because he invented himself… he deliberately lived a tough life and wrote about it, I thought he wrote great adventure stories.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?

R.A. Salvatore. I met him at a book signing recently. He said to me that he started writing fantasy because he had read everything ‘fantasy’ out there and he wanted more. I told him I wrote historical fantasy because I don’t see a lot of good works from our ancient history out there. Some of our readers have compared our writing to his… I just smile. I have read most of his Forgotten Realms books, which I started reading in college, and I even got him to sign his first… my first of his. I think he would be a cool author to consider as a mentor.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Khanada Taylor is the brilliant artist behind the cover art for all of our books thus far and to come. She has a keen ability to gleam the physical realities of form, color, and texture from the written word and depict them in a manner that conveys meanings both shallow and deep. Just a few observations off the top of my head from book three’s cover… a man, Mandubratius, is sitting casually in Charlemagne’s throne, dangling the Emperor’s crown on his toe, hefting the Emperor’s sword in his left hand, and with his right he dangles marionettes of Charlemagne and Pope Leo III… oh, and there is a mysterious black cat. In the background is the triskel of Morrigan’s Brood, which I helped draw. The cover contains lots of symbolism, if you know where to look. Khanada is also an activist for many good causes, as well as a dear friend.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Work… hone your craft… learn, practice, do… and keep doing it. If you need something else to do for a bit, do something creative.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for delving into the universe Heather and I have created, and we hope you enjoy your visit.

MBDA-Front-CoverHeather Poinsett Dunbar and Christopher Dunbar
Houston, Texas

She, the librarian-author, who once sauntered through the picturesque Epping Forest, danced around the awe-inspiring standing stones of Avebury, and traipsed through the misty moors and vales of Scotland, not knowing that her experiences in those mystical places would spark creative passions within. He, the often kilt-clad disaster prognosticator, leather smith, author, and pseudo-musician who never thought he possessed a creative bone within him, yet one woman encouraged his creativity to flourish. Together, they write.

Dark Alliance: Morrigan’s Brood Book III (paperback: 978-1-937341-20-6, Kindle: 978-1-937341-21-3, Nook: 978-1-937341-22-0)
Triscelle Publishing

Khanada Taylor: Cover Artist

Free ePub of Morrigan’s Brood Book I on Goodreads

AMAZON for Dark Alliance: Morrigan’s Brood Book III

BARNES & NOBLE for Dark Alliance: Morrigan’s Brood Book III

Author Interview – Greg Stacey

Sometimes in life we all need a little adventure to get our blood moving. When that moment comes, I like to turn to a good action, adventure thriller. I met Greg Stacey online, as I do many of the authors that I interview here on No Wasted Ink, and I found his history and background to be well grounded for a thriller writer. I hope you’ll enjoy his interview!

Author Greg StaceyI was brought up in Wiltshire, England and have lived there for most of my life. I am very happily married and have three great kids. For most of my adult life, I worked as a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist in the National Health Service. I am a keen guitarist and have played in a number of blues and rock bands over the years, performing material written by myself and in collaboration with a long term friend and fellow musician. I have always enjoyed a good read and have very eclectic tastes, from classical to modern, fact to fiction. Currently I am writing full time, as I retired from the NHS last year.

When and why did you begin writing?

When I was in my teens, I wrote short stories and essays, several of which won prizes, so my writing aspirations go back a long way. As my professional career developed and family life became hectic, my writing took a back seat, but I continued to write articles, short stories for family and friends and develop ideas for future projects.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A difficult one to answer, but I guess when I was quite young, maybe early twenties, but other things took over. At the beginning of 2012, I really thought it was time to put pen to paper so to speak, and fulfil the ambition. I now consider it my primary occupation.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Agnatum is an action, adventure thriller, set in the present day, but originating in World War Two, with the development of a ‘superweapon’ in the German Wunderwaffe programme, when Germany became increasingly frantic to devise new, powerful, and sometimes bizarre weapons that could turn the tide of the war in its favour. Germany’s desperation to create and develop new technologies pushed 1940’s science to the limit.

The Agnatum is the story of the development of such a weapon. Unable to complete their work before the conflict ends and the war is lost, a powerful group of Germans, the Agnatum, who planned a counter regime to the Nazi dictatorship in the final stages of the war, leave a legacy to their descendants to continue their work, in order to restore Germany’s former glory and supremacy. The eventual successful development of the superweapon ultimately threatens world stability by potentially forcing governments to capitulate to the demands of the merciless and cruel underground group.

The menace and danger that the Agnatum’s superweapon poses has to be countered. An international intelligence organisation, Strategic Intelligence and Defence ©, SIAD for short, is charged with the task, under the leadership of the charismatic central character, Nathan Stone. Stone, aided by a trusted and dependable colleague, Spencer White, and a former lover, Dr Georgie Manston, heads up an experienced team of skilled professionals to track down those behind the plot and thwart their ambitions, taking them across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

What inspired you to write this book? Do you have a specific writing style?

I had been trying to write a science fiction novel for several years, but for whatever reason it never came to life on paper, so I started afresh. The Agnatum came out of a conversation I was having with my son after watching a television programme about the weapons Germany worked on towards the end of WW2. I think he said something like ‘what would have happened if they had got them to work?’ – That was enough to spark an idea that then became the story of the Agnatum.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The original title was very different. Once I was about a third of the way through and the plot began to evolve, I needed a name for the organisation developing the superweapon. They were Germans, but not Nazis, so they had to be some sort of offshoot from the established Nazi regime in World War 2. I looked up various translations for offshoot and eventually came up with the Latin – Agnatum – and it sounded pretty cool.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Again, a difficult question – I suppose I wanted people to think in a ‘what if?’ way. What if they had completed the weapon during the war? What if they had succeeded in the present day? If there is a message or a warning, it’s from the past, but unfortunately it’s a message that we either haven’t received yet or taken heed of – not to allow prejudices, fears and greed to influence our decisions or the paths we take.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

In all honesty, I would have to say no. this is a pure adventure thriller, designed to take one out of oneself on a fictitious journey – pure escapism – apart from perhaps the message above!

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Graham Greene, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Shakespeare, Bob Dylan, Ernest Hemingway, Kathy Reichs, F Scott Fitzgerald, Ian Fleming – the list could go on forever. I like reading – pretty much everything, although, as you can probably tell, I am very partial to adventure tales. What do I find in them that’s inspiring? Wit, intelligence, integrity, honesty, humour and a determination to tell a good story.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?

If talking about the action adventure genre, I would have to say Clive Cussler. Cussler is always a great read and has an ability to keep coming up with good adventure books, even if they are themed. He may not be Shakespeare, but he is, in my humble opinion, an excellent storyteller.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I have to take the credit for the cover. Besides writing, I am a very keen amateur photographer. The cover is a composite, created using photographic software and themed around the story.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I am not sure that I would want to give another writer advice at this stage in my writing career, but what I would say is that if you have a story to tell, or passion for writing, then go for it. There is nothing to lose in trying. Writing is a skill that has to be mastered. I feel I am still at the beginning of that road and have a lot to learn, but it is immensely rewarding personally and well worth the blood, sweat and tears in trying to produce something you can be proud of yourself and that others will hopefully enjoy.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Only that I sincerely hope you enjoy The Agnatum, for what it is, a story. There may be messages within it, for others better than me to identify perhaps, but what I wanted to produce was a good old fashioned adventure tale that someone can’t put down until they have read the last page.

Book Cover The AgnatumGreg Stacey
Wiltshire, England.

I enjoy writing action, adventure thrillers. I am an admirer of Ian Fleming’s books – descriptive, but without being overly so, leaving something to the reader’s imagination. I love a good story, in perhaps a more old fashioned way, not too high tec, so that everything remains believable, or nearly so.

The Agnatum – available on Kindle
Cover Art: Greg Stacey

Author Interview: Gabriele Wills

I am a great lover of historical fiction novels, so when the opportunity came to interview Gabriele Wills, I was glad of the chance. I hope you’ll enjoy her interview as much as I did, here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Gabriele WillsMy name is Gabriele Wills. Born in Germany, I emigrated with my family to Canada when I was a young child. Always a dreamer, I’ve also been an educator, literacy co-ordinator, and website designer, but my real passion is writing. I have five historical novels in print. Married to my university sweetheart, I am also the proud mother of an accomplished daughter, with whom I just co-authored a Young Adult novel.

When and why did you begin writing?

A few decades ago, when my husband and I moved to Ottawa for his new job, I couldn’t find a teaching position, so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to fulfill my dream of writing a novel. This was my first attempt at a story set in my favourite place, Muskoka. It wasn’t bad, and gave me lots of practice to hone my writing skills, but – fortunately – it still resides at the bottom of a storage bin.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

As a child I wrote stories or made them up just to entertain myself. So I was convinced I was a writer even with that never-to-be-published first novel. I felt more confident that the second one was viable, especially after reworking it dozens of times, and went on to write a third in my spare time. When a British literary agent picked up these two books, I felt I could finally, really and truly call myself an author. I’ve been writing full time for the past eight years.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Summer Before the Storm is set during the Age of Elegance in Muskoka, which has been the summer playground of affluent and powerful Americans as well as Canadians for well over a century. Amid the pristine, island-dotted lakes of this legendary Canadian wilderness, the young and carefree amuse themselves with glittering balls and friendly competitions.

But the summer of 1914 promises to be different when the ambitious and destitute son of a disowned heir joins his wealthy family at their summer home on Wyndwood Island. Through Jack’s introduction into the privileged life of the aristocratic Wyndhams and their social circle, he seeks opportunities and alliances to better himself, including in his schemes, his beautiful and audacious cousin, Victoria. But their charmed lives begin to unravel with the onset of the Great War, in which many are destined to become part of the “lost generation.”

This richly textured tale takes readers on an unforgettable journey from romantic moonlight cruises to the horrific sinking of the Lusitania, from regattas on the water to combat in the skies over France, from extravagant mansions to deadly trenches – from innocence to nationhood.
What inspired you to write this book?

Ever since I first discovered Muskoka as a teenager, I wanted to write about its fascinating past. I was lucky to spend time at my friend’s summer home – known as a “cottage” – which had been built by her great-grandfather in 1879. We used to dance to old gramophone records from the turn of the century, and heard stories about the wealthy cottagers who spent summers on the lakes, often owning entire islands. Many were industrialists and bankers from the U.S. who arrived by private Pullman coaches with as many as twenty-seven servants in tow. I was hooked!

Do you have a specific writing style?

I have a general idea of the storyline, but when I start writing, the characters invariably take over the plot. I’ve tried reining them in, but they will have their way! And honestly, they sometimes take the story in a completely different – but always better – direction than what I had anticipated. So for me, writing is a daily adventure, as I never quite know what they’re going to get up to next.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Because much of the novel is set in the summer of 1914, just before the outbreak of WWI – in which Canada was immediately embroiled – I wanted to have “Summer” in the title. As soon as I envisioned the war as a destructive storm, it just seemed perfect.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I’d like readers to have a deeper understanding of that cataclysmic time in world history. The generation that was young and idealistic at the outbreak of the war was decimated, but even those who survived were forever scarred by their experiences. I don’t think that anyone should ever forget their sacrifices.
One of my fans said it best with this comment: “I attended the War Museum in Ottawa, and with your characters in mind, I could see Chas flying high in his plane! Attaching a soul to the stories and pictures we looked at brought a whole new human meaning to me. It was no longer something we once learned about in school – it had a face, a life, a love, and a tragedy.”

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, but many of the events are based on real ones. I have a few aviators, for instance, so their exploits are drawn from memoirs and biographies of famous aces. Women’s roles as volunteer nurses and ambulance drivers were heavily based on real women’s often remarkable – and unsung – wartime contributions.

What authors have most influenced your life?

The Brontës, Thomas Hardy, Daphne du Maurier. My husband and I did a literary pilgrimage to Yorkshire, “Wessex”, and Cornwall as part of our honeymoon trip to England, because I wanted so much to see the evocative and inspiring landscapes where my favourite authors had lived and which they described so enticingly in their novels.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I used a photograph that my daughter had taken of an antique wooden boat that was not only typical of the era, but also one of the those actually built in Muskoka, which has a rich heritage of boat building. I thought the picture conveyed the impression of an idyllic summer day. Then I learned how to use a computer program that allowed me to design the cover.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read widely. Keep writing, and then rewriting. Persevere. Network with other authors, because writing is a lonely profession, and connections as well as support are crucial.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

To enhance your experience of The Summer Before the Storm, check out my annotations on Book Drum. Under the “Bookmarks” tab, you’ll see vintage and modern photographs and videos that illustrate various aspects of the book. You can listen to a loon call, if you’ve never heard one, and link to all the music quoted in the book.

If you enjoy my novels, please tell your friends and book clubs. And I appreciate hearing from you!

Summer Before the Storm Book CoverGabriele Wills
Ontario Canada

Gabriele loves to recreate an era in which she can immerse herself, by weaving compelling stories around meticulously researched facts. If you want a glimpse of her world, visit her book trailer on YouTube.

The Summer Before the Storm, Book 1 of the Muskoka Novels
Published by Mindshadows
Cover photo by Melanie Wills
Signed first-edition copies available from Mindshadows.com
Amazon
Amazon UK

Author Interview: Keith Dixon

I met Keith via my No Wasted Ink facebook page and am delighted to include him here on the blog. Welcome Keith to the readers of No Wasted Ink.

Author Keith Dixon
Author Keith Dixon
Hi, I’m Keith Dixon. I’ve had a varied career as a proofreader, copywriter, professor of English and business psychologist. I have a house in Cheshire in the UK but I’m currently spending a lot of time at my partner’s place in France. I hope eventually to sell up and live with her on a permanent basis!

When and why did you begin writing?

My first memory of taking writing seriously was as a teen, making up stories and scripting episodes of The Avengers, with John Steed and Emma Peel, on British TV. I never got as far as sending in these scripts, which is probably just as well. In my late teens I bought an old manual typewriter and started writing short stories and, eventually, novels. I think many writers have a didactic streak which comes to the fore in one’s teenage years – you think you see the world much more clearly than the ‘old folk’ around you, and want to set them straight. So you start making up stories that somehow embody the immortal life lessons you’ve learned at age sixteen …

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I wrote 7 novels between the ages of 20-22, but of course none of them was any good. But in my late twenties I won a playwriting competition which led to the play – about Isaac Newton – receiving ‘rehearsed readings’ at two major theatres in Manchester and Chester. That was when I started to think I knew how to put words together. Unfortunately it was then a long time before I had the freedom to write books again.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Private Lie is the second in my series of ‘Sam Dyke Investigations’. Sam is a tough private eye based in the North West of England who gets caught up in the malevolent activities of two thuggish twins. Sam is trying to help his son, whom he hadn’t met before the beginning of the book. The son turns up after eighteen years and demands that Sam must help him. So Sam agrees to find his son’s missing girlfriend but before he knows it is engaged in a battle with two gangland twins. Mayhem ensues.

What inspired you to write this book?

Two things: I’d read about two men in Manchester who ran a building/construction company, but were in fact gangsters smuggling dope and so forth. The construction business was more or less a cover. Secondly, I’d seen a guy in a coffee shop in a mall. He had on a tight black tee-shirt and bulging muscles, with a shaved head showing just a little hair. And he was with a delicate woman who I took to be his wife. I wondered why someone got themselves muscled up like that, and what it was like for them to be out on a shopping expedition in a mall. This became the basis for my two steroidal twins.

Do you have a specific writing style?

The genre I write in is the hard-boiled, noir private eye school, and there is a kind of style associated with that – wisecracks, first-person narration, dames and bad guys. From Chandler and Hammett through Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer and on to Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole, there is a kind of ‘perspective’ that the private eye must take in order to justify what he does (and though there are of course exceptions, it is usually a he). So the style focuses on actions at the expense of reflection and uncovers individual motivations as the book progresses. There are helpers, comic characters, danger and moments of drama. The writer’s job is to harmonise all these elements into a ‘voice’ that makes sense as a person speaking to you, and also has some kind of moral vision or understanding of what’s going on. I’m becoming more interested in that aspect as I write more. Another wrinkle is that of course these books are usually written by Americans, with all the vivid language that entails – a challenge for me was to transfer that into the UK.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The Private Lie is obviously a pun on Private Eye, but I also built in several references to the ways in which people lie to themselves or sometimes keep the truth from others – so it’s not an outright lie but perhaps a sin of omission instead.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I don’t actually believe in an abstract ‘evil’ as I know some people – and some writers – do. My experience as a psychologist tells me that people act on motives and drives that they’re not always aware of – they justify their actions to themselves or do things – even bad things – as a way of coping with the world they find themselves in. So I hope that some of the bad guys in the book are shown to have some redeeming features or vulnerabilities that they can’t help, any more than they can help the behaviours that we would call wicked or malicious.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I think it’s true that practically everything in this book is made up! In my first novel, Altered Life, I did use my background in business psychology and consultancy to create an environment for the story. Here, it’s research and knowing the physical places in which the events happen, and that’s all.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

An endless list. Mostly American writers – Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, Salinger, Steinbeck, Heller. More recently, James Lee Burke. As a writer, what I find inspirational is their ability to capture lived experience in sentences. Trying to write well AND write within the constraints of a genre is an interesting task and one that needs constant study. That’s one reason I started my blog, Crime Writing Confidential – subtitled ‘What crime writers do, and how they’ve done it.’

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

At the moment, it’s James Lee Burke. Every sentence is heavy with meaning. He writes dialogue that jumps off the page and grabs you around the neck. His descriptive passages add depth and resonance to his characters’ actions. And he has a moral purpose behind his books. Plus, he’s probably the greatest writer of action sequences currently writing. The last 100 pages of his new book, Creole Belle, is one extended action sequence of the sort you might find in a Bruce Willis film. Only better.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I’ve used photographs that I’ve taken myself for my books because they have some relevance – for me, if not for the reader!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The usual advice is to read and read and read. But it’s more than that. It’s read, then think. Read, then think. Look back at a page or a paragraph and analyze how it achieved its effects. How did he get from that section or thought to this one? How does the writer structure scenes? Where’s the conflict? So it’s a mixture of reading, thinking, analyzing and then trying it out.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

To those who have already read the books, thank you and I hope it wasn’t too painful! To those who haven’t, please take a chance.

Private Lie Book CoverKeith Dixon
Cheshire, UK and central France (occasionally)

A writer of crime novels that are bitterly comic but deadly serious, with a hero who doesn’t know how to give up.

The Private Lie, published by Semiologic Ltd, photo by Keith Dixon.

Available as a paperback from Amazon.
Available as a Kindle eBook.