Book Chains – my author Q&A with a twist.
A few weeks back I asked Stasi Child author, David Young to join me and I asked him a few questions. You can see how that turned out here.
David’s Q&A ended with me asking him to nominate my next guest (and to provide a question I should ask)…which is why I call this Book Chains. David nominated “My fellow City University Crime Thriller MA graduate Rod Reynolds” and fortunately (for this feature) Rod kindly agreed to keep my chain going. This is what happened…
First Question is not actually a question. This is where I ask you to introduce yourself and give you the chance to plug your books.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog. I’m a 36 year old Londoner who writes books set in the USA – predominantly the south (so far). My debut, The Dark Inside, was published by Faber in September 2015, and is based on the real life serial killings known as The Texarkana Moonlight Murders. The novel follows washed-up New York reporter Charlie Yates as he’s sent to Texarkana, on the Texas-Arkansas border, to cover a pair of brutal attacks on young couples. The gig is a punishment and Charlie is a mess professionally and personally – but he finds worse horrors waiting for him there than he ever imagined, and before long, he sees his last chance at redemption is finding the killer before it’s too late.
The sequel, Black Night Falling, is published in August 2016 and sees Charlie reluctantly compelled to return to Arkansas, to a town called Hot Springs, when an old acquaintance begs for his help. Charlie knows he has to do the right thing before it’s too late, but he finds himself in a town rife with violence, corruption and lies – and realises that the past he’s been trying to outrun is catching up with him again…
Why did you choose post World War 2 USA for your setting? Does it give you a degree of artistic leeway which you would not get with a story set in the present day?
The Dark Inside is based on a real life case, so although my book is a work of fiction, I wanted to ground it in reality as much as possible – hence setting it in the time and place where the real murders occurred. In terms of artistic leeway, it’s a blessing as much as a curse; at times it’s helpful not to have technology like mobile phones or computers to worry about, but it can make things harder – such as having to be able to credibly get your character to a payphone at any time. A 1940s USA setting also presents its own challenges; the details have to be just right in order to evoke the period and place, but it’s obviously harder to get those details right than if you’re setting your story in the present day. I’ve always been fascinated by America and Americana, though, as well as history, so the research was part of the fun for me.
It is almost a year since The Dark Inside was published, how have the last 12 months been?
Amazing. Publication day was incredibly exhilarating, and just the start of the rollercoaster. I’ve been lucky enough to do a number of events and panels, which I really enjoy, and had great feedback to the book, which is humbling and gratifying. Best of all was the opportunity to meet so many amazing authors, bloggers and readers – the crime community is genuinely packed with lovely and interesting people. I even managed to squeeze in a bit of writing, too…
Both The Dark Inside and Black Night Falling feature Charlie Yates in the lead role. Was it the plan from the outset to write an ongoing series and have Charlie returning?
No. My original plan for book two was two have different characters who were grappling with the aftermath and fallout from the events of The Dark Inside. However, my publisher was keen on a series, and once I gave it some thought, I really warmed to the idea, as I enjoy writing Charlie and feel like he’s got a lot of mileage left in him. It’s worked out well as the reader response to Charlie has been overwhelmingly positive.
Like David Young, who started this Chain, you were spotted burning the midnight oil at Crimefest. Was it as insane an experience as the pictures made it seem?
David was tucked up in bed by about 7pm every night! (Just kidding, DY)
In a word, yes. It was my first time at CrimeFest (or any writing festival) so I was determined to enjoy every minute of it – and I had an amazing time. At times it felt like a cross between a jolly and a stag-do. I did promise a certain well-known blogger beforehand – who shall go nameless – that we wouldn’t go to bed for four days while we were there, and that was pretty much the case. I got to meet a lot of people I’d only ever spoken to on social media, which was great, and also went to loads of fascinating panels, where I heard about a whole bunch of books that I subsequently added to my TBR. It’s great to hear about a book that piques your interest, and then be able to go chat to the author half an hour later.
But it was definitely the people that made it so cool and insane – so a special shout out to all my partners in crime that incredible weekend, not least: Crime Thriller Girl, Liz Barnsley, Vicki Goldman, Christine (@Northernlass), Karen Sullivan, Mick Herron, Michael Grothaus, Tim Baker Alex Caan, David Young, Anna Mazzola, the City Uni crew and, of course, the Indian-wine-wielding Lisa Hall!
What does Rod Reynolds do when he is not writing? What’s a typical day and how do you spend “you” time?
I’m lucky enough to be a full time writer, but I also have two very young children who I look after full time too. So my average day involves nursery runs, playgrounds, Topsy-Turvy World, nappy changes and more episodes of Paw Patrol than I could have thought possible. I have to be quite disciplined as I mainly get to write in nap times and evenings.
If I’m not doing any of the above, I’m normally reading – I’ve always got a book on the go, but also read a lot of non-fiction and current affairs. I also like to run, although I’ve not had much time for that of late. So, as you can see, I’m really boring.
Some Quick Fire Questions:
o What was the last book you read? The Constant Soldier by William Ryan
o Which one book (not your own) would you recommend? LA Confidential by James Ellroy. My all time favourite.
o Favourite film? Heat.
o Drink of choice? Mojito or caipirinha.
o You can put one holiday on your Bucket List. Where do you go? Texarkana. No, just kidding (and I’ve been there already). I’d love to walk the Pacific Crest Trail which runs from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, through California, Washington and Oregon.
o Star Trek or Star Wars? Star Wars
o Who was the best Doctor Who? No idea – never watched it.
o If you had to appear on one reality tv show which would it be? I couldn’t name any reality shows apart from Big Brother, but maybe something set on a tropical island paradise?
Finally, as you know it was David Young that nominated you to keep my Q&A chain going. I asked David to set you a question and this how that unfolded:
Can you suggest an author I should ask to join me next to keep my Q&A Chain going? Once you have nominated someone I also need a question to ask them on your behalf.
My fellow City University Crime Thriller MA graduate Rod Reynolds, who’s with Faber. His 1940s set series features a journalist. So often, in my view, crime writers get journalists completely wrong – making them caricatures of vile human beings. Yet – having spent most of my career as a journalist – I felt Rod got his main character, Charlie Yates, spot on. How did he manage that, never having worked as journo himself?
That’s very kind of David to say so, and I appreciate the compliment. I’ve always been interested in newspapers, and I spent many years in advertising, working with the commercial departments of all the big national press titles; that gave me some understanding of how the business works, as did chatting to the various journalists I met over the years (David and some of my other City University course mates included). In addition to that, I’ve obviously consumed a lot of fiction over the years – books, films, TV – that show journalistic characters, so you build a picture of what you think works (or doesn’t).
And I guess the rest is just imagination at work. Just like all writers, sometimes you just have to make stuff up!
Rod, thank you for agreeing to join me and to keep this chain progressing. Now I put myself at your mercy and ask you to nominate the next person I should approach to keep this chain running. I also need you to come up with a question that I will ask them on your behalf.
It’s absolutely my pleasure, and thanks again for having me! For my nomination, I’d like to keep it in the City University family and nominate my fellow graduate and author and blogger extraordinaire, Steph Broadribb (also known as Crime Thirller Girl). My question for Steph is ***REDACTED***
My thanks to Rod. I am always a tad worried about what question I am to ask my next guest as I don’t want to land myself in trouble. Rod is a star and has kept me safe, if anyone gets into hot water next time out it is likely to be Steph 🙂
You can read my review of The Dark Inside here: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1711
and in August I shall have a review to share of Black Night Falling (my bookmark is currently around page 150 at the moment).
The Amazon Rod Reynolds page is easily reached by this link and you can pick up his excellent books in a matter of clicks. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rod-Reynolds/e/B01BHZGQ5E/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1