– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Sixty Minutes’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but b
About the Author :
Tony’s latest thriller, Sixty Minutes, was released on 29th August 2019. Tony is the author of bestselling psychological thriller, Best Eaten Cold. He writes pacy contemporary thrillers which explore different themes, but all share Tony’s thought-provoking plots and richly-painted characters. Sixty Minutes is his fourth novel. His second novel, The Old Orchard – a gripping family thriller – was published on the 7th of November 2017 and the sequel to Best Eaten Cold, – Cold Intent – was published in November 2018. Highlights of his early career include (in no particular order) three years as an oilfield engineer in the Egyptian desert, twelve years managing record companies for EMI Music in Greece, India and across Eastern Europe, running a caravan site in the South of France and being chauffeur to the French Consul in Sydney. Having survived the Dotcom boom, he went on to be a founder of the world’s largest website for expatriates, a major music publisher and a successful hotel technology business. In amongst this, Tony found the time to backpack around the world twice (once in his twenties and once in his fifties), learn six languages (including Norwegian and Greek) and to find a beautiful Norwegian wife. He now lives in Oxfordshire and writes full-time. He has recently turned sixty and is married with three children and five grandchildren. You can find out more about Tony at his website.
Five different people. Five separate lives. Sixty minutes to bind them for ever.
Hassan, Jim, Shuna, Dan and Nadia come from very different worlds. If life were straightforward, their paths would never cross. But our lives are rarely that simple and, as the clock ticks away the minutes of a single hour on a July morning, fate draws all five together in a headlong rush towards disaster.
Who are the heroes and who are the villains?
Tony Salter’s latest novel leaves us guessing right up to the last page.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I studied engineering and then worked in business for many years. Despite the fact that I have always read widely, the idea of actually doing something creative wasn’t even on the radar. I was the practical, pragmatic one – the fixer, the problem solver. When I was in my mid-50s, I resigned from my CEO job and my wife and I went travelling for seven months. One goal of that trip was to decide what I wanted to do next. I decided to jump off a cliff and try to write novels.
I still assumed that it was ridiculous idea for me to try to do anything creative, but it turned out that people enjoyed what I was writing and so I have continued. After four novels, I think I’m beginning to get the hang of it.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I loved the Narnia books and Tolkien, moved on to science fiction, worked my way through many of the classics and have then continued to read from almost every genre. I probably read more ‘women’s literature’ than most men (I’ve just finished Pat Barker’s Silence of the Girls) which may explain why I feel comfortable writing female protagonists.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
A difficult question. I guess it would be amazing to pick the brain of Dosteovsky. If I’m only allowed living writers, then David Mitchell would have to be a contender.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I would love to have tea with Fabiola from my first novel, Best Eaten Cold. Apart from the fact that she’s gorgeous, I could probably give her some useful advice!
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Not really. I try and settle in for five hours in the morning, but can actually write anywhere and at any time. The trick is to actually do it, rather than procrastinating.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
I spend time every now and then working on basic concepts / ideas and then something will stand out from the list. I then just start at the beginning and my characters begin to evolve. Some scenes are based on moments in my life and my characters are inevitably composed of people I have known, read about or watched on TV or in films. Up until now, they have always been a unique mish-mash, so no-one needs to worry … yet.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
Definitely the latter. I spent my working life being structured and I wanted to put that way of thinking behind me, at least during the writing phase. My books do have complex structures and plots, but I allow them to evolve. It’s as though the book is already there in front of me and I reveal it like exposing the numbers on a scratch card.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Do read everything you can on writing and/or do courses, but don’t follow the advice slavishly if it doesn’t suit you. Give yourself freedom.
Don’t try and craft the perfect sentence before you move on to the next one. Get the words down and keep moving forward. There is plenty of time to go back and the editing / revision process will be as lengthy as the writing process. There are so many temptations to avoid moving forward because, of course, at the end you will be forced to find out if anybody actually likes what you’ve written, That is terrifying, but if you’re only pretending that you want to write, why bother?
What are your futureplans as an author?
I will write one or more books featuring Nadia from Sixty Minutes and am also working on a historical novel based on my grandmother’s 1915 solo voyage to Harbin in Northern Manchuria on the Transsiberian Express.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
The Oxford Botanic Gardens were only ten minutes walk from the flat and they seemed to be the only people there. Most of the flower beds were still bare, and it was only when they got to the far end towards the river that the reason for their visit became clear. A carpet of tiny, blue scilla spread out under the trees, a light blue sea surrounding beds of hellebores, papery flowers pink-veined and modest against the vibrant freshness of their leaves.
‘It’s beautiful,’ said Mona, squeezing him tight. ‘What a lovely idea. You were right. I was getting a bit fed up with the greyness of everything.’
Hassan knew that the moment was right and he kissed her gently on the lips before sinking to one knee in front of her and holding out the small red box which held all of his hopes.
‘Mona,’ he said, smiling as he saw her hand go to her mouth in mock horror again. ‘Mona El Masry. Will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?’
Mona’s hand stayed over her mouth as the two of them held their cartoon tableau. Neither was breathing.
Eventually, she spoke. ‘Oh, Hassan,’ she said. ‘I thought you understood.’
‘Understood what?’ Hassan hadn’t moved from one knee and didn’t know what was happening. Whatever it was, it wasn’t what he’d been hoping for.
‘Stand up,’ she said quietly. ‘Come over here and sit down.’
Hassan allowed himself to be led to the waiting bench like a spring lamb. ‘Understood what?’ he said again, trying to keep the rising panic from his voice.
‘I’m already engaged,’ she said. ‘I’ve been engaged since I was seventeen.’
‘Engaged? Who to? How can you be?’
‘His name is Anwar. He’s twenty-six. His parents are friends of my parents.’
‘Do you love him?’
Mona glared at him. ‘How could I? I hardly know him. We’ve only met once or twice since I was a kid.’ She moved closer to Hassan, confusion tracing tiny wrinkles in the corners of her eyes. ‘Surely you know how this works? Love has nothing to do with anything. It’s just how it is.’
‘But you’re different,’ he said, hearing the notes of pleading creeping into his voice. ‘You’re not from some poor village family, hanging onto old traditions. Your father’s a doctor and your mother’s a university professor. It’s different.’
Mona rested her cool palms against his cheeks. ‘No,’ she said. ‘It’s not.’
Hassan’s sluggish mind was still unable to keep pace, and he kept the ring box wrapped in his fist like a talisman. ‘But I love you. Don’t you love me?’
‘I don’t know what to say. If I tell you I love you, does that make it better or worse?’
‘If you love me, we could find a way. I don’t know how, but we could find a way.’
Something broke then. An invisible thread that had been joining them together. Mona took her hands from his face and pulled away. ‘No. We couldn’t,’ she said, an imperial hardness filling her words. ‘I love my family and my country. My life is there. You and I have had such a wonderful time, but when I leave Oxford, it’s over.’ Her lips were set tight and he could see the implacable certainty in her eyes. ‘I’m so sorry, but I really thought you understood.’
Hassan didn’t know what to say. Should he have known? Why? She’d never said a word about bloody Anwar. Was he supposed to be psychic? He’d been nothing more than a toy for her. Why was he surprised?
Mona looked at him, waiting for him to respond, but he didn’t trust himself to speak. An elderly couple were making their way towards them along the path, arm in arm. They looked as though they’d been married for a lifetime. ‘Well, if you’re just going to sit there,’ she said, eventually. ‘I’m going to brunch. Are you coming?’
‘Of course I’m not coming to fucking brunch.’
‘Suit yourself,’ she said, before getting up and walking away, her back stiff and the blue scarf flowing behind her.
As Hassan sat alone on the bench, head resting on his hands and the misery washing over him, he realised he was greeting an old friend. He’d allowed himself to believe that he could be happy, but the reality was that this was all there was. All there had ever been, waiting at the end of every tunnel.
Failure. Pathetic, weak and oh-so-familiar failure.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Tony Salter.
Win 5 x PB copies of Sixty Minutes (Open INT)
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The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!