Part 1 of 4 of my interview with crime novelist / short story author / Writing Magazine columnist Adrian Magson (released 4 July). Parts 2-4 released as special episodes 29 (Wed 6 July), 30 (Fri 8 July) and 31 (Mon 11 July). The links to the listen or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, Google Feedburner etc are in this blog’s ‘Where to find me’ left-hand menu. Below are the questions I asked him (although we did wander off-topic from time-to-time :)).
- Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
- Your website quotes “Harry Tate And Lucas Rocco; Two Different Men. Different Times” can you please explain the differences between them.
- Your novels ‘Red Station’ (the first novel to feature Harry Tate) and ‘Death on the Marais’ (the first Lucas Rocco) are available as eBooks; what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks? What do you like to read?
- You’ve also written two other Harry Tate books (‘Tracers’ released in February 2011 and the forthcoming ‘Deception’), presumably being part of a series they follow on from each other but also have to be readable as stand alones, is this the first series you wrote and how do you get them to tie in but feel individual at the same time?
- It’s interesting that you’ve chosen singular word titles for the Harry Tate books and ‘Death on…’ (areas of Paris?) for the Lucas Rocco novels. Do you choose and get to keep your titles or does the publisher have a say in this?
- You’ve also published a series Riley Gavin and Frank Palmer novels and I’ve just finished reading your first (of 5) entitled ‘No peace for the wicked’. Although Frank Palmer plays a significant role, I’m probably being very stereotypical here but it’s more unusual for a male author to write a crime novel with a female protagonist than male, why did you go this route? (not that I’m complaining!)
- You’ve given her a generic name, Riley, was this for any particular reason? As ‘Morgen’ I find it very useful is I want to write a mixture of genres if not a little frustrating as people often spell it ‘Morgan’.
- Chapter 1 starts right in the action (and I love the first line: ‘The first old man died on the beach.’ Because although you know it’s a crime book by the title and cover picture, it’s easy to imagine that because he was old, his age could have something to do with his death but by saying the ‘first’ old man you know it’s not going to be a coincidence). Did the final version of this opening resemble your earlier drafts?
- I was particularly intrigued with the setting of Letitia Grossman’s house being near the Chalfonts, South Bucks and later references to Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire; as they’re my old stomping ground, what made you choose that setting?
- Did you know the Spanish and Gibraltan areas before writing this book, if so did you have to revisit or do research on the internet? It seems a fairly typical destination so you could get away with non-specifics. How much research do you have to do for your books as a rule? Do you plan locations around holidays or vice versa?
- Do you have any experts that you can check your accuracies with, especially the technical crime aspects?
- Do you receive feedback on your writing from your readers; people that you didn’t know already?
- I’m not sure why but until half-way through the book I imagined Riley as being quite young and slim but on page 123 she ‘called to the dog, slapping her hand against her ample hip’. Lee Child famously doesn’t describe Jack Reacher in any of his novels and yet the reader must have a picture in their minds of what they imagine the characters to look like. Do you think the author should describe them or leave the reader to fill in the blanks?
- The novel we’ve just been talking about, ‘No peace for the wicked’, was published by ‘Crème de la Crime’ and you’ve since gone on to be published by Allison & Busby and Severn House Publishers. Do you find that different books suit different publishers or was there a reason for the change?
- Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
- How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
- Given that you are likely to have readers all over the world, how conscious does this make you of having phrases or products that could be ‘too English’? Have you had to change anything to adapt to an overseas market?
- You’ve had short stories published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, two Maxim Jakubowski’s British mystery and crime anthologies, Sniplits’ Killer Fiction Anthology and a 3-Part Serial in the women’s magazine My Weekly amongst many other publications, do you have any idea why the short story (my favourite format) seems to get such a raw deal compared with the novel?
- You also write a monthly column in, and articles for, the Writing Magazine; how did that come about?
- What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
- If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
- What do you do when you’re not writing? (is there time?)
- What are you working on at the moment / next?
- Do you have a writing schedule, are you quite disciplined? And do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
- What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
- Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
- Now, not the easiest of questions what do you think makes characters believable?
- ‘No peace for the wicked’ is third-person view point (omniscient as we get into different characters heads) as presumably are your other novels? Do you write in first person (which seems to be less favoured by editors)? Have you ever tried second person (which seems to be avoided by editors at all costs)?
- Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
- Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
- Do you ever look at your earlier books and think you would have changed anything of them?
- What advice would you give aspiring writers?
- How involved are you with readers and other writers online?
- What do you think the future holds for a writer?
- Your website is http://www.adrianmagson.com – are there any other way of finding out about your work and/or to buy your books that we’ve not mentioned? (Adrian also has an audio story on the American website store http://www.sniplits.com/storiesforauthor.jsp?a=354 including ‘Almost Paradise’ which we didn’t discuss. He’s also on Twitter and Facebook)
- Is there anything else you’d like to mention that we’ve not discussed?
I have recorded an interview with crime writer/tutor Sally Spedding at the July 2011 Winchester Writers’ Conference and this will be released as special episode 32 on Monday 18th July. I shall then be interviewing novelist Shaun Allan later this month.
After that I shall be concentrating on blog interviews (which I release two a day, currently with a two week backlog – the list of posted / scheduled is here). I don’t pay or charge so if you’d like to take part do email me. and I just simply email you the list of questions, you fill them in, email them back to me, I add my reactions to those comments (so it feels more of a chat than an interview) and schedule a date which I advise you of and put on the blog interviews page, then email you the link when it goes live :)
In the absence of the audio interviews, I shall be starting ‘red pen’ episodes (probably every other Monday) where I read out a short story or self-contained novel extract then comment on it. I’m firm but fair but I know that the episodes are listened to around the world (NB. copyright always remaisn with the author) so if you’re precious about your writing then this may not be for your cup of tea. If you have something (one or more, although the episodes will be c. half an hour so likely only one item per episode) that you would like critique on then feel free to email me. I’m no poet so don’t feel qualified to give critique back on this however I have a plan so poets hang fire for now and I’ll change this with news if it comes to fruition. :)