Here's a wee interview I did for Starburst magazine for the release of Sleeper: The Red Storm. Knock yourselves out.
How would you describe Sleeper: the Red Storm?
It is the second part of an urban fantasy spy thriller trilogy set during the second world war in Europe. The series follows the correct historical timeline yet in this world mysticism, the supernatural and sophisticated period technology exist on the fringes of reality. Will Starling and Anna Wilder are Mi5 agents who are tasked with infiltrating VIPER, a wealthy criminal organisation, to prevent the development of a super-weapon. Will is the last remaining member of his family, who were slaughtered by VIPER. He wants revenge at whatever cost, however, things don’t quite go to plan.
Without giving away any spoilers I wanted Red Storm to climax in Rome when the allies bombed the city. As with the first in the series, Sleeper, which is set in 1941 London during the Blitz, the adding of fantastical elements to the dramatic backdrop of a city mid destruction was too appealing to not write.
How would you pitch it to a beloved elderly relative?
I’m thinking of my granny here in this instance, who’d have no interest in reading it, or any thrillers for that matter, but would like to know what it is about, at least. Here goes - “So granny, remember we watched The 39 Steps, together? We saw a few different version of it, you might recall. And then there’s James Bond. I know you don’t like him but...and that Indiana Jones fella. I know you like his movies. Well, the Sleeper books are bit like a combination of them all. Sort of…”
How does this compare to the previous Sleeper book?
The Will Starling in the first book is uncertain of who or what he is. As the story unfolds we discover he is a damaged young man with a head injury, memory loss and a rage burning inside him that he cannot explain. In Sleeper: The Red Storm, Will has a clearer understanding of who he is. His rage has a focus and he does not hold back. Prepare for a darker ride.
Why do spies and special powers mix so well?
For me there is something just so appealing about fantastical elements crossing over into reality. Add in the murky world of spying, deception and revenge and you get shit hot combination.
Why do you torture your characters so?
Because I have a dark soul. Obviously. My characters face jeopardy from all four corners in the race to achieve their goals. It would be remiss of me to not make them suffer, or indeed, kill one or two off. It would be a dull read if no one got hurt, or died.
If you weren’t writing, what else would you be doing?
I already have a full time job, so that would not change. In my spare time, if I wasn’t writing, I might take on another degree. Who knows.
How have you found the journey into print?
That road has been twisty, bumpy with lots of stops at red traffic lights. You need to hold your nerve, believe in yourself and just keep going. It has taken some time to get here, but it was worth the wait. I’ll never forget the moment I held my first book. It was an eye-welling moment.
What would you do differently?
I would have done more networking. Despite not being a natural I have come to appreciate how important it is. Getting out and meeting other writers, agents and publishers at events is crucial for getting ahead these days. For example, agents want to put a name and manuscript to a face. They want to meet you and ensure they can work with you.
Would you describe it as a thriller?
Both books in the Sleeper series are thrillers. They have been described as ‘fast paced, breathless actions thrillers’, which I’d say was about right.
How useful do you find genre classifications?
I’m not a fan for the simple reason that people are quick to judge or dismiss them. Classifications stop people from exploring titles out of their comfort zone, which is a real shame. Who cares if a book has been categorised as Crime, Horror, Romance or Science Fiction. If it is a well told story that keeps you turning the page then why would you want to miss out?
Where’s the best place to start with your work?
You could start with Sleeper: The Red Storm, as I have drip fed small amounts of back story to explain certain things. However, I’d probably recommend starting with Sleeper to get the full impact of the twists in the second book. Also, Sleeper is a short book and a very fast read, so why not. :-D
I’m currently writing a crime novel set in Central London. When that is done I will work on the follow up.
Is the genre publishing community more accessible these days?
I believe it is. Go into any bookshop and library and it is filled with genre titles. Agents and publishers are hungry for more genre books. Crime is always in demand. There also seems to be trend at the moment for ghost stories, which I am very happy about because I love 'em.