I met up with Adrian a few weeks ago when we were at Ottakar’s Milton Keynes talking with Harlan Coben about ‘Promise Me’. I asked Adrian to tell us a little about his next book, ‘No Sleep for the Dead’ which is out on the 3rd August 2006.
This is the unique feature of SHOTS eZine; one minute we’re interviewing established bestselling writers such as Harlan Coben, and the next minute we’re championing the new names in the genre. Diversity in the crime fiction / thriller world is what SHOTS eZine likes to explore.
‘No Sleep for the Dead’ follows on from ‘No Peace for the Wicked’ (Nov 2004) and ‘No Help for the Dying’ (Sept 2005). All three volumes feature the tough female investigative reporter, RILEY GAVIN, and her sometimes reluctant colleague, FRANK PALMER, a former military policeman. Apart from that I’m saying nothing – why not find out about Adrian Magson and his work for yourself!
So, Mr Magson, what have in store this summer?
If anyone had asked me to speculate prior to becoming a published author, on what life might be like afterwards, I doubt very much if I’d have come up with much more than, well, writing, researching, writing, editing… with maybe more writing and the occasional book festival or signing thrown in if I was lucky.
What I hadn’t really thought about too much was the promotional side to being a writer. Not that I was completely unprepared to push my face out there, since I had a good idea that I’d have to get involved somewhere along the way. But when you first walk into a bookshop as a published writer, unless you’re a rare headline name (and I definitely wasn’t) you immediately take on a whole new view of the market and realise your meagre contribution is a mere blip among thousands. And blips can easily get lost.
I decided that if my book was going to sell, I’d better get out there and help it along – especially as ‘No Peace for the Wicked’, my debut novel, was the first in a series and I needed to get people on-side if I wanted it to be a success. The only way to do that was to talk to them.
Fortunately, I have a sales and marketing background, and after a few phone calls, I soon began doing Saturday stints in various bookshops around the country. Working on the basis that if other book buyers were like me, they did their browsing at weekends, I decided to get face-to-face with as many people as possible, even if only to hand out flyers or promotional cards and spread the name. In any case, being a complete unknown, the likelihood of being deluged with invites to do panel talks was as remote as Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code suddenly disappearing from the shelves.
Standing in an Ottakar’s bookshop somewhere (and I am hugely grateful to the various store managers and events people who allow me to do this) is probably not most writers’ ideal way of passing their leisure time. And wandering up to complete strangers and talking about crime fiction is not something many writers can or even wish to do. But it works for me and has really opened my eyes to the tastes and reading habits of the Great British Public.
Every family, it seems, has a crime reader in it somewhere. It probably used to be a father, son or brother, but most common these days is a mother, daughter or sister. They have a great depth of knowledge about crime fiction, and almost as much support for their favourite author or character as your average footie fan has for his or her team (although, sadly, I haven’t yet detected a huge overlap between the two).
They also like their series novels (happily vindicating my decision to write one in the first place) and eagerly await the next appearance of their favoured character, be it male, female, duo, loner, amateur or professional.
And something I’ve been truly heartened by is the way so many readers are open to try new writers. (On the down side, there are those who believe anyone who writes crime fiction is the blood-sucking spawn of the Devil, but you can’t win ‘em all. And for one lady who took great exception to the cover of my second book, ‘No Help for the Dying’, which shows an inverted cross (it’s a reflection in a puddle), and harangued me publicly for being a heathen and a blasphemer, I have news for you, madam: you’re in my next book - and it isn’t pretty…!)
The other benefit has been on the research side. Not so much for insider detail, although I have found myself chatting to police officers, military and civil, former (alleged) security agency members, special forces personnel and even one or two who probably reside on the darker side of the street. Genuine or not, they and other readers have served to give me invaluable pointers on the direction of my series. In mylatest book, ‘No Sleep for the Dead’ (Aug ’06), I decided, after chatting to one lady, to place Riley and Palmer on opposite sides of the fence for a change. They do join forces in the end, of course, as I couldn’t very well have one dispose of the other as it would have blown my continuity to bits.
Maxim Jakubowski, in The Guardian, very kindly reviewed my second book - ‘No Help for the Dying’ – as: “Gritty and fast paced detection of the traditional kind, with a welcome injection of contemporary realism.” He also compared the relationship between Riley and Palmer to that between Willie Garvin and Modesty Blaise. For anyone who remembers them, I hadn’t thought about it before, but I don’t mind the comparison one bit – so thank you, Maxim!
The real upside is the way people are coming back for more, and how generous they are in their comments and questions. Most say they like the humorous interaction between Riley and Palmer; they like the grit without every gory detail; they enjoy the fact that my goodies are good, with little or no disturbing character flaws that would otherwise render them useless, or that my baddies don’t always make it to court; many want to know how the characters will develop over time, and whether Riley and Palmer will ever get beyond their present platonic relationship.
But the best, most buzz-inducing question of all? “When’s your next one out…?” The answer? It’s tentatively called ‘No Tears for the Lost’ – and I’m working on it!
I also want to say a big thank you, Ali, for your continued interest, and to Mike Stotter for his friendliness and a great magazine – Adrian Magson
Adrian Magson’s Riley Gavin/Frank Palmer series is published by Crème de la Crime Ltd. www.cremedelacrime.com
Reviews in SHOTS
NO HELP FOR THE DYING http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/reviews2005/reviews0905/nohelp.html
NO PEACE FOR THE WICKED http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/reviews1104/nopeace.html