#BlogTour, Debut novel: You Don’t Know me by Imran Mahmood 5* Genius – Review and Q&A.

Super, super excited to kick off the blog tour for this novel. I actually read this whilst staying in London, taking my daughter to London fashion week. Every so often I would pop up from reading and say to my daughter “I think this one, will win an award or two”. It really is that good! I can’t recommend this highly enough and it is one of only 9 books so far this year to make the 5* Genius list!

Blog Tour Banner The synopsis:

An unnamed defendant stands accused of murder. Just before the Closing Speeches, the young man sacks his lawyer, and decides to give his own defence speech.

He tells us that his barrister told him to leave some things out. Sometimes, the truth can be too difficult to explain, or believe. But he thinks that if he’s going to go down for life, he might as well go down telling the truth.

There are eight pieces of evidence against him. As he talks us through them one by one, his life is in our hands. We, the reader – member of the jury – must keep an open mind till we hear the end of his story. His defence raises many questions… but at the end of the speeches, only one matters:

Did he do it?

My review:

For a long time, I have been screaming for more diversity in novels and more novels that actually represent a society I live in! Well Imran Mahmood, very much delivers with his debut novel! I am aware, as is the author, (See author’s note) that some people may accuse him of using stereotypes but I discredit this on the basis that the facts, out-there exist. They indicate exactly what is explained & expanded upon in the novel. I would urge any reader put off by any such comments to give it a go. Because I think the novel will more than surprise you with its emotional and intellectual depth.

Imran Mahmood is a criminal Barrister and I have a daughter who has had a deep desire to be one and has for a very long time. My daughter often points out to me the law & justice are not about whether you did the crime or not. It is about what can be proved in court! This novel also details the currents legal system and that justice should be delivered equally. Juries are intended to be a group of the defendant’s peers, yet time & time again the system fails young men and in particular young men of the BAME community. When I read novels, to review, I keep notes. With this novel I had overall 57 points notes and a separate list of Jury notes. This novel will place you firmly in the place of a Jury member & it is one case you will NOT forget!

The novel opens up as the defendant (we never learn his name) stands accused of shooting & murdering a young gang member named Jamil. This seems an open & shut case based upon the scientific & circumstantial evidence. However, right at the last moment the defendant sacks his lawyer and proceeds to give his closing speech which in turn, is his side of the story and the basis of this novel. There are 8 pieces of evidence stacked against the defendant and my initial thoughts were that he is guilty, that is, until he begins his speech. The speech is incredibly moving and I truly felt sorry for the narrator’s plight. He comes across as another young, vulnerable black male trying desperately to navigate his way through the gang culture, degradation & low prospects that north London & Camden town has to offer him. He talks of a childhood marred by domestic violence & a broken home, with little hope. But despite this, he is aware that he is surrounded by strong & caring women, whom he strives to protect.

The novel has brilliant characterisation, all of the characters have huge detail and background story’s, of how or why they came to be involved in the case. There are many moving themes such as: loss of boyhood in adolescent due to growing up way too quickly, the degradation of drug addiction, the dangers/risks of knife crime and the harshness of criminal sentencing, is well & truly rammed home. Yet the characters are likeable and believable. The characters Curt for example reminded me of someone I personally grew up with. Who was heavily bullied, despite his huge size, yet refused categorically, to fight back! The gang mentality is a heavy theme within this novel the structure & hierarchy of gangs, yet there are moments, of great wisdom such as: “people don’t just want to pick fights that they can win, they want to pick fights that they can win easily” and my personal favourite “book people are weird, trust me”. This novel merges the old skool gangs with the modern technology assisted, legal savvy, youth of today! It depicts how one man, namely the defendant can be a magnet for trouble and be chewed up & spat out by the gang’s influence!

I absolutely loved this novel. I found it to be raw, urban and edgy! Like nothing on the UK book market currently. It depicts life lessons and a different perspective. Essentially you can engage with a novel where people may not look like you or live like you, yet you fully embrace their character.
If only we gave real people, this level of understanding in society! 5* Genius!

Q&A:

  Q) For the readers, can you give a summary of yourself and your novel?

A) I’m a barrister by trade (over 25 years now!) and my novel opens with a young defendant on trial for murder. He has just sacked his barrister (at the point of closing speeches) and now has to do his closing speech himself. The novel is his speech and in it he takes the reader through all the evidence that is against him and attempts to explain it all away! The reader is in the position of a juror and the defendant addresses the reader directly.

 Q) Diversity in reading is all out ‘must have’ for me. I am a huge fan of a wide range of authors who write diverse characters such as Joe Ide, Walter Mosley and M.P Wright. I love books that reflect that actual society I live in and characters from all walks of life. Majority of the authors whom write diverse novels are from the USA. So for me it was brilliant to see You Don’t Know Me in the British crime fiction genre. What are your thoughts on diversity in reading? Also in the genre of crime fiction?

A) Wanting ‘diversity’ in culture is really just a way of saying that we want our perspectives to be broader and more generous. It is crucial in my opinion for under-represented classes to be identifiable in wider culture. If people can recognise themselves in the arts, in media, in literature, they begin to feel invested in society. And the same is true in reverse. The more difference that we are exposed to regularly, the less we will identify it as difference. All people become part of our identity. Part of the problem of gangs is this lack of identity in the wider culture and a lack of a stake in society. I wanted to people in YDKM to think about the people they ‘DON’T KNOW’ and see what they could do to know them better.

 Q) As I was aware when reading the novel, you are a criminal barrister by profession. The novel is legal centred, putting the reader almost as if a member of the jury. What was the inspiration behind this? Does being in the legal profession generate a multitude of plots?

A) Most people are fascinated by the criminal justice system. There is so much at stake usually, not least the liberty of the individual. And whilst many people are fascinated by the jury system most will never serve on a jury. I wanted to give the reader an idea of what it might be like to serve on a jury and to get a taste for the kind of dilemmas that an ordinary jury faces in an ordinary case. There are very rarely any ‘easy’ cases. Most have loose ends and this feeling of never being able to know everything is at the heart of the juror’s dilemma. I also wanted to explore the nature of truth. If I don’t believe what you tell me – does that make it untrue? If not, how does the ability to persuade factor in a qualitative assessment of truth? Is there something more important than legal relevance? The protagonist in YDKM was telling us that for him it was more important for him to be understood. Was he right?

Being a barrister does not for me generate plots but it does help me to look at peoples lives in a unique way. I see people in times of high tension and often in dire need. I see their lives and their motivations and I feel privileged to be able to do so. So although it doesn’t give me endless plots, it allows me to be connected to peoples lives that are very different from mine. I think it tethers me to realism in a way that otherwise I couldn’t replicate.

 Q) One thing I absolutely loved about your novel, was that it asked the reader to think of life from someone else’s perspective. It was very cleverly done on both an emotional level and an intellectual level. What was the idea behind this? Why did you decide to include this theme?

A) I have always thought (and taught) that a good closing speech should tackle every case on at least 3 levels, on a legal level, a logical level and on an emotional one. I wanted the defendant to use the same linguistic tools that a criminal barrister might use and see what happened. In his case, his strongest argument was the emotional one and I wanted to see whether if he could connect with the reader on an emotional level, the reader might begin to react to him in a way that surprised him/her.

 Q) What are your favourite reads, in childhood, teenage years and adulthood?

A) As a child I loved Enid Blyton. Even when she wasn’t specifically writing about something magical or fantastical her books always had a feeling of otherness for me. She spoke about things which might have been ordinary to a lot of people but were completely new to me. In the Famous 5 stories she spoke about boarding schools (what are they?) cottages (I had never seen one), fields, rowing boats, wells, meadows. All kinds of things that I had never experienced. For me the magic was right there, in the lives of these characters that were so different from my Liverpool childhood.

In teenage years I found and fell in love with To Kill A Mockingbird. There’s nothing more to say about that. It, for me, is perfection.

And in adulthood I found myself digging into Donna Tartt, Kazuo Ishiguro, Vikram Seth, Yann Martell, Amin Maalouf and so so many others. I’ve recently read the brilliant Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing – what a talent!
*Huge thanks to Imran Mahmood for joining in with a Q&A with my blog.

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Photo credit: Bill Waters

Authors Links:
@imranmahmood777
https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/imran-mahmood/127292/
http://darleyanderson.com/authors/imran-mahmood

The novel is available via pre-order on Amazon and released on 4th May 2017.

Q&A with author Shalini Boland

The millionaires Wife cover

The Millionaire’s Wife by Shalini Boland

Synopsis:

Can you ever really know the ones you love?

Anna Blackwell lives a charmed life with her husband. But things haven’t always been this way. When a woman is killed on the other side of the world, Anna knows that her past has caught up with her. That her greatest fear is about to come true. That it’s
her turn next.

Uncover a web of lies and deceit in this brand new chilling twisty suspense thriller.

The Millionaire’s Wife is released tomorrow. Available now for pre-order via Amazon Kindle for just 99p
Here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Millionaires-Wife-twisty-suspense-thriller-ebook/dp/B06ZYSH7JS/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I used to be a singer songwriter, signed to Universal Music. But it’s not a lifestyle that goes well with having a family and I found myself resenting the time spent away from my kids. I wasn’t successful enough to have nannies and entourages!

One day, I had an idea for a great ending to a story and I started scribbling my first novel. Writing fiction gave me the new creative outlet I needed. Plus, I can write from home and set my own timetable. I love it!

I started out writing YA fiction, but my latest three novels are adult suspense thrillers. The Millionaire’s Wife releases on April 27th and is a twisty thriller about a woman whose past catches up with her in a terrifying way. It’s dark, gritty, glamorous and shocking, with a twist of adventure.

 

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) I usually have several ideas which come to me while I’m writing the previous novel. I go with the strongest idea, the one that’s calling out to be written. I’ll draft out a rough plan to see if it’s got legs. If I like what I have so far, I’ll work out a blurb and a cover and start plotting. Once I have the plot nailed down, I break it into chapters. Then I’ll work out a writing schedule and book my editor.

Over the next few weeks, I get my head down and write, trying not to get distracted by the lure of social media, and friends asking to meet them for coffee – willpower is everything! My lovely husband always reads my first draft and is brutally honest with me.

Once I’m happy with it, I send it out to beta readers and to my editor. Once it comes back, I get into the rewrites. Then it gets several proofreads and I send copies out to reviewers while I get to work formatting the paperback version, lining up release promotion and finalising all the other nitty gritty stuff.

Release week is always weird. My book is finally out there and my head is usually already halfway into the next book…

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) So many favourite authors spring to mind, I don’t think we have room for them here. My most recent recommended reads are: Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

 

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I absolutely loved The Enchanted Wood Also, The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis and The Talking Parcel by Gerald Durrell. Teenage reads were mainly the classics from my mum’s bookshelves – Steinbeck, Orwell, Shakespeare, poetry etc. But in my twenties, I was very into Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches and Vampire Chronicles.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) There have been a lot of favourite moments, but there was nothing quite like the feeling of holding my first published paperback in my hand. And then seeing them on the shelves in Waterstones.

 

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) My husband, Pete, is an incredible source of support. Not only is he encouraging, but he’s also a great practical help – getting me out of tricky plot situations and making me food when I forget to eat! He’s fab.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I’ve loved being here 🙂

Author pic - Shalini Boland

Authors links:
Amazon Page: Author.to/ShaliniBoland
Blog: http://www.shaliniboland.co.uk
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShaliniBolandAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34827617-the-millionaire-s-wife
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShaliniBoland – @ShaliniBoland

Other novels available by Shalini Boland

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*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.

 

Released today debut novel: The May Queen by Helen Irene Young. Review and Q&A

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The May Queen by Helen Irene Young

Synopsis:

It all began beside the mill pond. Honest, fair and eager to please, fifteen-year-old May has a secret, and not of her own making. She wears it like an invisible badge, sewn to her skin, as though Ma stitched it there herself. It rubs only when she thinks of Sophie, Pa or the other name that’s hidden there; that no one knows about.

Caught in an inevitable net of change, May joins the Wrens, leaving her Cotswolds home for war-torn London and the Blitz. As a dispatch rider, she navigates
the city by day and night, surviving love and loss throughout a blackout of remembered streets and wrong turns.

Night after night, the bombs drop and, like those around her, she takes cover in the shadows when they do. But May is waiting for a greater shadow to lift, one which will see the past explode into the present.

A tale of one girl’s search for love and belonging, The May Queen is a debut novel that goes to the heart of what family means and finding your place in it.

My review:

The May Queen is the story of 15-year-old May Thomas. As she navigates world war 2, relationships and her life. In the opening of Part one the novel begins in July 1934, with a teenage May. May has a mother who is very reminiscent of the era, in that she is a matriarch type figure, rather brash, harsh and abusive. This is an era when ‘young girls must stay out of trouble’ and trouble comes to visit May’s family. The early chapters show the development of May’s childhood. The writing is subtle and slower paced as it sets the mood for the message of the novel.

Part two, welcomes the month of May 1940 and a now older and more mature May has swapped the small bubble of her existence in the Cotswolds for war torn London during the Blitz. We read on as she discovers new relationships with work colleagues and soldiers alike. For May will surely, come to know love and loss in equal measure.

Part three opens in June 1945, I found this part to be very reflective of the relationship between May and her sister Sophie. Two very different young women, forced together in trying times. The novel is based around family relationships and how they contribute to the adults we ultimately become. I found this novel to be very much a ‘coming of age’ story. Literary in its content in some parts and I can see a definite YA appeal. My daughter is 14 years old and I could see her being able to relate to May’s journey of self-discovery. 4*

Q&A:

Q) For the readers can you give us a summary of your novel The May Queen and your background?

A) The May Queen is a tale of family love and loss. It’s about learning to see yourself as something more than an appendage of this unit. It’s about what happens to you when you do that. And about what happens if you don’t. I’m a digital editor by trade and always having to think forwards. It’s such an escape to focus firmly in the past when I write.

Q) I found The May Queen to be very much a coming of age story, surrounding May Thomas. Was this intentional or did it develop whilst writing her story?

A) It was always a coming-of-age story because in order for May to develop she had to grow. That’s the usual way of it. Although, some people start off fully grown and then regress, but that’s a different story altogether! What did develop during the writing process was just how much conflict existed in the everyday – in the domestic. I hadn’t quite appreciated that. So, between May and Ma, May and Sophie, May and Pa. Conflict, conflict, conflict. I was only surprised she didn’t leave them earlier.

Q) The novel is very different to many of this genre, currently on sale. As it focuses solely around May’s relationships with others and the impact they have on her. What is the inspiration behind May?

A) Thank you! That was my intention. I love narratives which focus around character development and growth – a journey of self as opposed to a physical one. I didn’t see the point of writing another WW2 novel that ticked off historic events as fact (although of course in The May Queen the research is there, it’s just background). What’s the point of telling people what they already know? No, for me it was about May. She was something new. She floated to the surface of the mill pond (beside her home) and refused to sink. She’s inspired by my mother and grandmother (who grew up in the mill at Fairford). They were strong and fearless women with the ability to light up a room. I wanted to honour that.

Q) I am a huge WW2 geek. I love the absolutely love the era in movies, fiction and non-fiction. What drew you to the era?

A) I was initially drawn to the 1930s. I wanted to explore that hazy time in the countryside – of town carnivals (Fairford’s was one of the biggest in the South West) and community that centred on patronage from the local gentry. In Fairford, all of that changed after WW2. The carnival never returned and the big house was torn down (sometime in the 1950s). I wanted the reader to slip into that earlier time and emerge with a full understanding of what had been lost.

Q) I have many WW2 heroes, some ordinary people, who achieved amazing things for their country during the word. Such as Alan Turing and Viola Szabo. Who are your WW2 heroes?

A) The women of the WRNS. It was a wonderful time for them. I don’t care to name the well-heeled few who came from money and made it into history. It’s the poor girls, like my grandmother, who took the initiative; who drove motorbikes and pulled great warships out to deep water, proudly standing on the decks of their little tugs in bellbottoms. Those girls are my heroes. I bet they got up to all sorts.

Q) What’s next for your writing career? Do you intend to write anything else in the WW2 genre or historical fiction?

A) I have flipped to a completely different continent but stayed true to genre. My next book is set post-WW2 in the late 1940s in Colombia. It’s about an architect, Luke Vosey, who is broken and seeking a new life for himself in a new place. He’s trying to run from his past but what he doesn’t realise is that he’s running towards something much worse. Colombia in the 1940s was also reeling from a European war they hadn’t participated in. Even there it reached. The novel is set at a time before everything in Colombia, politically and socially, was about to get more savage. I don’t want to spoil it and so won’t say more than that!

*Huge thank you to Helen for agreeing to be part of a Q&A on my blog.

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Authors Links:
Web: http://www.themayqueen.com/
Twitter: @helenireneyoung

Review: Zodiac by Sam Wilson 5*

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Zodiac by Sam Wilson

The synopsis:

In a society divided along Zodiac lines, status is cast at birth – and binding for life.

When seemingly random murders plague the city, is it a rebellion against the system or the work of a twisted serial killer? Zodiac is an imaginative and gripping thriller from debut author Sam Wilson.

Even for the most experienced detectives, every once in a while a murder can shake them to the core. Like when the Chief of Police is killed in his own home.

For Detective Jerome Burton, catching the killer will change his life forever.

Because this murder is only the first piece of a vast and twisted puzzle made of secrets, lies and tragedy.

The signs are everywhere. But is the truth written in the stars or hiding in the shadows?

My review:

This is such a unique novel. One that I don’t think you can fully grasp from the description, but it simply demands to be read. It’s such an impressive concept, I felt completely in awe of the writing. I only hope I can do it justice with a review!

Set in San Celeste, a city divided not by gender, race or religion, but by zodiac sign. Aries are the cities underclass, the violent and uncontrollable. Aquarius, Sagittarius and Gemini are the professional and creative types etc. Each sign has their own purpose within society. Separated in the education system and raised to specific values as children. This novel is by no means astrology waffle; this is a novel where the astrology is the coding for the series. The ideology is intense and very well written and detailed. You will be very drawn in and the concept which will be fully explained as the story flows.

The novel opens with Rachel Wells (Libra) on her way to her job as a maid. Rachel, as a Libra is a people person, which must work within the service industry. When she arrives at the address, she stumbles across a violent scene of murder. The occupant, Chief of police Peter Williams has been gutted, lying bleeding out in a trench style grave, with indicators that this is ‘sign related violence’. Detectives Kolacny and Burton are assigned to the case and must establish, why this has happened and who is responsible. Not any easy task when all signs point to the movement ‘Aries rising’, a political group that are motivated to change the way the society is ran by any means necessary.

Back at the SCPD San Celeste Police Department, Detective Jerome Burton is assigned an astrologer for the case, Lindiwe Childs (Lindi). Lindi is an Aquarian professor known to use horay astrology to prevent crime. Their investigation is through and we learn more and more about the society in which they all live. We learn about the various political movements. How the police are 90% Taurus themselves and have been known to use this at times to oppress other signs considered lower in the hierarchy of society.

In alternative chapters we meet Daniel Lapton, a wealthy Capricorn, now owner to a chain of hotels and exceptional wealth. After inheriting the families fortune upon the death of his father he discovers a letter among his father’s possessions. It would seem 17 years ago Daniel had a daughter, Ashleigh. His father upon knowing the child would be born a Pisces, a scandal of the Capricorns. Arranged for Daniel to never learn of her existence, a secret he was prepared to take to the grave.

We learn of Burton’s and Daniel’s past and the case continues for the police. When more people in positions of power and influence are targeted. You have to ask yourself, is it political? Is there something in Daniels past that has repercussions for the future? Where is Daniels daughter now? What secrets lie in the past of the detective leading the case?

This novel is very thought-provoking. The zodiac signs add depths in terms of characterisation. There is room from comparison between the signs and say, for example left/right political views or rich/poor divide in modern society. I can’t say too much more regarding the plot for fear of leaving spoilers. But it is very well written and as the reader, it is a form of escapism to another world where people think/act differently. One thing I loved, as a reader of diverse fiction, is that within a zodiac society none, and I mean none, of the modern day labels, matter. You can be whoever you want to be, as long as you conform to the zodiac signs! This is such a clever idea and I can’t praise it enough. A thoroughly enjoyable 5* debut novel!

*Thank you to the publisher for my copy of the novel.

Novella review and Q&A with author, Michael RN Jones

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Her The 1st Victor Locke Story.

The synopsis:

HER is the first of the Victor Locke stories to appear in Michael RN Jones’ debut novel The Accidental Detective.
HER introduces all the main characters and sets the scene for the rest of the stories contained in The Accidental Detective (The Victor Locke Chronicles, Volume One).

We’re certain that after reading this introductory story you’ll be hooked on Victor Locke – the most exciting new detective to arrive on the scene for years.

At first glance, Victor Locke doesn’t exactly look like hero material.

Even at the best of times his closest associates would admit that the wise-cracking, computer-hacking, beer-drinking rascal could be an acquired taste.

Thrown together by the British legal system, Victor and his court appointed psychologist Dr Jonathan Doyle are drawn into a string of initially baffling and occasionally mortally dangerous adventures.

Victor’s natural predilection for data, deduction and logic combine with a healthy disregard for authority and a casual contempt for life threatening danger to ensure that there’s never a dull moment and never a mystery left unsolved.

The game is very much afoot…

My Review:

I don’t know really where to begin with this review, it’s quirky, edgy and a modern spin on a brilliant character. The novella is the first story of the six, that collective is the debut novel, The Accidental Detective. Victor Locke is a modern, edgy Sherlock with a foul mouth and my god, does it make for good reading! I love the idea of a Sherlock not only uniquely quirky in his mannerisms and personality but one that fights back and is physically aggressive and uses the occasional swear word!

The novella is told from the viewpoint of Victor’s addiction counsellor Doctor Jonathan Doyle. It is a case that revolves around a female figure which I assume will be from Victor’s past in the series. The lady’s name is Isabella Spears. I recommend for people to try the novella and see if you buy into the character of Victor Locke, as much as I did.

It is impossible to review a novella without basically telling you the story. Also as I have not read the debut novel yet, Michael RN Jones the author has been kind enough to agree to a Q&A. Hopefully the Q&A can expand further on the biggest question, who is Victor Locke?

Her is currently on offer at Amazon Kindle store for 99p. Also available via Kindle Unlimited here:http://amzn.to/2pVuftt

Q&A

Q) Hi Michael, for the readers can you summarise who you are and the idea behind Victor Locke?

A) Hi Abby, my background is quite technical. I’ve been to university a few times to study both engineering and information technology and, coincidently, have worked in both civil engineering and IT. Given my upbringing in the north of England, education tended to be about achieving gainful employment. That I’ve now done something quite arty like becoming a published author is a bit of a surprise. That said, Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot fame and Maxïmo Park lead singer Paul Smith both went to my school, so they clearly had more imagination than me in their formative years.

The idea behind Victor Locke was to take a well know character that had seen numerous interpretations and do something different with it. To do this I stripped the character back to the core characteristics, features the character needed to retain its essence, and then built back up from there.

Q) Victor Locke is clearly influence by Sherlock Holmes, but what/who influenced the other parts of his character?

A) Excellently deduced, my dear Fairbrother. Once I’d identified the elements a Sherlock Holmes character had to have, I placed him in a different time, location and section of society and used those things decide what he would be like. From there it was a problem-solving exercise. For example, considering his core skills, I needed to decide what he would do? Given his predilection for data and logic, it seemed natural that he would have an interest in computers. Fortunately, this is something I know a little bit about. Expanding on this thought, I reasoned that he wouldn’t be constrained by trivial things such as the law, so he became a computer hacker. He couldn’t however be a regular villain and therefore his reasons for breaking the law needed to be things other than criminal gain. That was easy. His dalliances could be more about curiosity and the challenge of something or other rather than personal gain. It’s not like he breaks the law, he just disregards it.

Then I had to figure out how he and Doctor Watson, or Jonathan Doyle as he became, would meet. I liked the idea of there being a middle-class, working-class paring and needed a way of putting them together. The criminality helped there. If Locke had caught in the act of undertaking his nefarious computer activity, this seemed a good reason for their paths to cross. Consequently, Doyle became a psychologist involved in Locke’s rehabilitation. The psychologist thing also works from the perspective that it gives them a reason to stay together. The doctor has an interest in the mind, and his patient has the most unique brain he’s ever seen.

Essentially, that process of problems solving continued through the rest of the piece and included the development of the other characters, the settings and Locke’s various personality foibles. I think my favourite aspect of that is how Locke doesn’t show off his talents as other interpretations of Holmes tend to do. That wouldn’t go down particularly well in Middlesbrough. Consequently, Doyle doesn’t know when he’s winding him up, which adds to the enigma.

Q) In the debut The Accidental Detective, do we see more into the background of Doctor Jonathan Doyle?

A) Given I’ve written a collection of short stories, I can’t spend a lot of time fleshing out a character’s back story. Instead I try to let this seep in through the course of the stories. I think this is a more natural way of doing it. In real life you don’t meet someone and get to know everything about them at the outset. Your knowledge evolves through the course of your interactions with them. So, yes. You do get to know a little more about Doctor Doyle, but only as much as it relates to what they’re both involved in at the time.

Q) What was the process from the idea, to writing, to publication?

A) When I’m writing, I tend to do a fair it of planning. The plan is rarely complete but having a rough framework in place lets me write things out of sequence. This means if I have an idea for a plot direction or funny piece of dialogue I can slot it in when the inspiration strikes. Once the first draft is complete I’ll give it a few reads myself to make sure it still hangs together before handing it over to a few mates / willing volunteers for proofreading. After that it’s over to the publisher for typesetting, more proofreading and cover design.

Q) what other authors/books/series are your favourites? Do they influence your work?

A) I’m not actually a big reader. I’ve read a fair bit of Conan Doyle and Nick Hornby, but most other things have just been one offs. I liked Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and was enjoying Tai-Pan by James Clavell, until I left it on the train on a journey to Southampton. Consequently, I can’t really claim many influences. I am however planning to read some Hemmingway. From what I’ve read about him, I think I would appreciate his minimalist style.

Q) What are your favourite adaptions of Sherlock Holmes? Who do you think has played him the best?

A) That’s got to be Jeremy Brett. For me, he’s the quintessential Holmes and did the logic, deduction and dark moods thing better than anyone. I also like the Robert Downey Jr films and I don’t mind Jonny Lee Miller’s interpretation in CBS’ Elementary. I used to be a big fan on Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock, however I’m sorry but in the last few outings the writers appear to have run out of ideas. The series 4 finale seemed to go on forever to the point I just wanted it to be over with. I don’t think it will be coming back and, although this will upset a lot of people, it’s probably for the best.

Q) Like the Sherlock Holmes novels, will each novel revolve around a case for Victor Locke?

A) Yes, the Accidental Detective comprises six stories, the novella, Her, being the first. Each story relates around to a case thrown in Locke and Doyle’s direction. There is however a story that arcs across both the Accidental Detective and the follow up, The Song of the Swan. The original intention was to write standalone stories as Sir Arthur did. The story arc just seemed to happen as I was building towards a climax.

*huge thanks to Michael for agreeing to take part in this Q&A with my blog and I hope to have you back as soon as I have read The Accidental Detective.
Massive thanks back at yer. I hope you enjoy it.

mrnj

Authors Links:
http://www.melsmall.com/
Twitter: @michaelrnjones

accidental cover

The Accidental Detective also available via Kindle for just £1.99 here:http://amzn.to/2nNqw4k