I have been bumping into Adrian Magson several times at various literary events. Word of mouth about his debut novel No Peace for the Wicked has been very favourable. Shots reviewer Mary Andrea Clarke stated in November 2004 that:-
The result [of No Peace for the Wicked] is a strong plot, memorable characters, sustained tension and humour. I look forward to Riley's next adventure.
I decided to find more about Adrian Magson and No Peace for the Wicked and so cornered him at Ottakars in Milton Keynes to find out what makes him tick:-
“I was born a bookworm - capable of devouring comics, newspapers, magazines, cereal packets, road signs and anything else my parents could get me. This was mostly so I could stay indoors, as we lived on a variety of farms, always miles from anywhere, with grey, grim landscapes constantly pounded by storms, slashing wind and driving rain.
“Fortunately, my parents never got round to acquiring a set of encyclopaedias or anything an educationalist would have deemed in any way useful. I don't blame them because the comics and other reading matter were a lot more fun.
“An early influence was Leslie Charteris, author of The Saint novels. Social workers would probably disapprove as I was about eight at the time, but to me they were glamorous and exciting. Simon Templar, was smooth, tough, mercenary and, most of all, he never failed to Do The Right Thing - something very important to an eight-year old.
“I also read lots of westerns by Louis L’Amour, which I saw as detective novels of a different kind: sort of gumshoes on horseback. Over the years I graduated onto writers like Hank Jansen, Mickey Spillane, through Alistair MacLean, Berkeley Mather, Dick Francis, and more recently have been delighted by Robert Crais, Harlen Coben, Carl Hiaasen, Dennis Lehane and Lee Child, among others.
“My first indication of being able to write in a constructive way - and be rewarded for it - was winning a huge box of chocolates at junior school for an essay …about chocolate. I later won other prizes for writing, and at boarding school during my teens, had to take my turn in the dorm to tell a story to send everyone to sleep at nights. For some reason I was chosen regularly for this awesome and important task…
“My first real sale was to the London Evening News, back when they did fiction. Called A Hole in One it was about the theft of a large and very rare diamond on display at a golf club. And if you think you can guess how it ended, you’re probably correct!
“I made other fiction sales over the years, writing evenings and at weekends while I settled down to earn a living in a variety of ‘proper’ jobs. These included grill chef (not great), bartender (even less), gardener, carpet salesman, wine taster (now that was seriously good) to workshop designer and eventually sales manager in a publishing company, where I got to travel around Europe a lot, indulging in my favourite hobby of people watching.
“It was this hobby which brought about No Peace for the Wicked. I was sitting in the terminal at Gibraltar airport one day, and noticed the eclectic mix of passengers; military personnel, tourists, business types like me, bureaucrats…and a few others I couldn’t place. These were mostly heavyset types, quiet and watchful, with soft, east London accents. I promptly made the connection between the nearby Costas in Spain and the expatriate criminal fraternity. Out of that came the idea for a resurgence of an old ‘clubs, pubs and girls’ gang from London’s fifties, into the modern era of drugs and people smuggling helped by a small group of former British army mercs.
“The central character (Riley Gavin) is a young female investigative reporter. This job gave me the means to stick her nose wherever I wanted her to. It would also, I reasoned, give me a broader target audience, because women crime readers were then plainly on the increase and I had, over the years, been writing a lot for women’s magazines. To adjust the balance, I gave Riley a sidekick, a laid-back former SIB man, Frank Palmer. I chose this former profession because I needed someone tough and resourceful, with investigative skills, yet possessing some specialised army/bodyguard training without going down the route of making him an ex-SAS man, which I thought had been overdone. Who better than a former military cop? They have to undergo some really tough training, are versed in policing skills and can handle themselves in a tight spot. (I know, Lee Child has already done it to brilliant effect with Jack Reacher, but my excuse is, JR’s an American and I didn’t happen on Lee Child’s novels until after I’d created Palmer. But, hey - if I could be even a tenth as good…)
“Right from the start, I found Riley and Frank gelled as a team. The variation in their backgrounds allowed me to use them in different ways, and I found a natural element of humour creeping in here and there, which I feel varies the pace a little. It seemed natural to go for a series, and the second book - No Help for the Dying - is out in September 2005, and I’m currently working on number three.
“So far I’ve had some great feedback on No Peace for the Wicked, especially from women readers, who say they like the spark and banter between Riley and Frank. This isn’t necessarily going to lead any further romance-wise, because there’s a hint of interest between Riley and another character, John Mitcheson. He’s still around in the second book, but I won’t give away what happens or whether he makes it into number three.
“In between these I’m continuing to write short pieces, including regular columns in Writing magazine, one of which allows me to interview other debut authors and find out how they got published in a competitive world). I also have a second story coming out soon in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, featuring a black lead character called Charlton Medway. He features in a couple of other books which I’ve high hopes of getting published one day.
“Right now I’m currently having fun touring bookshops and speaking to crime readers (a huge thank you to the Ottakar’s people - you know who you are), and hopefully attracting current and future readers.
“It took a while getting here, and thanks to the confidence shown by my publishers (Crème de la Crime) a big, big dream has finally been realised.
© 2005 Adrian Magson
ADRIAN MAGSON lives in Oxfordshire with his wife, Ann a freelance writer. Adrian is the author of NO PEACE FOR THE WICKED (Crème de la Crime) - the first in a series featuring female investigative reporter, RILEY GAVIN, and laid-back former redcap, FRANK PALMER.
More information is available at :- http://www.adrianmagson.com/