– ‘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 not on a blogtour, but doing an interview with R.D. Nixon, author of ‘The Clifford-Mackenzie Crime Series’, to promote this series.
About the Author :
Terri Nixon is an author of historical fiction, family sagas, and mythic fiction
R.D. Nixon is the side of her that argues a lot, and writes crime / thrillers
She was born in Plymouth. At the age of 9 she moved with her family to Cornwall, to a small village on the edge of Bodmin Moor, where she discovered a love of writing that has stayed with her ever since. She also discovered apple-scrumping, and how to jump out of a hayloft without breaking any bones, but no-one’s ever offered to pay her for doing those.
She now lives in Plymouth, and works in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business at Plymouth University, where she is constantly baffled by the number of students who don’t possess pens.
Crossfire (The Clifford-Mackenzie Crime Series Book 1)
To what depths would you sink to protect your own?
A prank robbery has fatal consequences.
Five Years Later
Highlands town Abergarry is shaken by the seemingly gratuitous murder of a local man. The case is unsolved.
Ten-year-old Jamie, while on holiday in Abergarry with his mum Charis, overhears a conversation. To him, it is all part of a game. But this is no game and the consequences are far more serious than Jamie ever imagined.
Old wounds are about to be reopened.
Struggling PI team Maddy Clifford and Paul Mackenzie find themselves involved by a chance meeting. How deep into those wounds will they have to delve to unravel the mystery?
Fair Game (The Clifford-Mackenzie Crime Series Book 2)
It’s autumn in Abergarry.
The nights lengthen, the weather turns, and the atmosphere darkens as the community is rocked by a brutal roadside murder: a loan shark’s ‘bag man’, Craig Lumsden, is found bludgeoned to death in his car in the early hours of the morning.
The season for murder.
The case seems simple enough. and the fingers quickly point to the most obvious suspect. But things are rarely as simple as they seem…
A murder that’s too close to home.
Too close for comfort, and definitely too close for complacency for private investigators Maddy Clifford and Paul Mackenzie. Delving into the case brings at least one of them face-to-face with danger… Will life in Abergarry ever be the same again?
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?
Thanks for inviting me onto this ace blog, I’m thrilled to meet your readers! My real name is Terri Nixon, and I also write under the R.D name to separate my two different genres of writing: Terri writes historical family and community sagas, R.D writes contemporary crime. The R and the D are my sons’ initials (Rob and Dom.)
I’ve been publishing stories and books since the early 2000s, although I did write the very first draft of the Clifford-Mackenzie series in the mid 90s. My first publication came as a result of winning a competition I’d entered (incorrectly) at the very last minute, and then not finding the email from the comp organiser telling me I’d won. Bit of a miracle all round, really! I’ve now published sixteen novels, plus contributions to some anthologies and other short story collections.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a child I read books the way my friends watched TV. We spent long periods of time without the tellybox, at various intervals, so I’d lose myself in the usual Enid Blyton collections, Malory Towers, and the Pullein-Thompson pony club books. I was also a huge fan of Anthony Buckeridge’s Jennings series, and I still love those. I read my first Stephen King book (Firestarter) when I was about 13, and have feasted on his work ever since, but it’s interspersed with PG Wodehouse, Terry Pratchett and Walter Scott. I think Jennings was sort of Wodehouse for kids really, with very similar language and the same kind of innocent shenanigans you just want to be part of!
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Stephen King, for his absolute nailing of character, particularly the kids of a bygone era. And for his flawless portrayal of small-town mentality and people’s darker selves. He’s not afraid to muddy the people we’re supposed to root for, and bring them to the very point of losing our sympathy. That’s a gift I’d love to share.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Ooh, good question! There are so many brilliant characters I’ve come to know – been reading books for a loooong time! I think I’d like to get Louis d Pointe du Lac (from Interview with the Vampire), sit him down, and find out how much of what he said is true: when the books turn to Lestat’s point of view he says Louis had been lying about lots of things, and embellishing the story to suit his own tragic viewpoint. But then, can we trust Lestat either? Maybe I’d just put the two of them in a room together, and just eat cake and watch from behind the curtain, while they thrash it out!
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
While I’m plotting I like to play the Zen, untimed version of Bejeweled, but on silent mode. It’s a mindless, instinctive action (with some VERY pretty and deeply satisfying explosions!) and while I’m playing I tend to talk myself through what I’m thinking about, or any problems I’ve encountered. It’s a double-edged sword too, because it also means I get some truly stratospheric scores in the game!
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Haha! Never say never, but at the time of writing this I’ve only put people in my novels who’ve said they’re happy to be in them! I did write a cathartic short story once, that put my school bully exactly where I wanted them though. Ideas themselves come as a result of playing the long game; sort of like chess, where I’m thinking several chapters/scenes, or even books, ahead. For one of my series the timing worked out so well that I was actually still able to sow the seeds of the finale of book 3, into book 1, which was in the final edit stage after typesetting. That’s never happened before or since, so I have to cast my mind as far ahead as I can, and think about how something might have started. And no, no-one needs to be worried… at the moment! 😉
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I’m very much a plotter; I think you have to be to a degree, for any series if you want it all to hang together naturally. Having said that, although the big plot points are usually picked out in advance, to give me a structure, when it comes to actually crafting the individual scenes they might go in any direction, and frequently do! I’m always ready to switch directions though, and follow a path that might suddenly become apparent, but that I hadn’t necessary planned for. Plantser? That covers it, I suppose!
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Everyone has a different way of working, so all I can do is to pass on something I’ve learned over the years: don’t get too bogged down in preparation, or even research. You can plan, and make notes, and learn an admirable amount about your subject/time/location, but you want your story to come to vibrant, singing life. That won’t happen until you breathe some soul into it. So just… start writing! Learn as you go, whether it’s research you have to do, or getting to know your characters.
Another thing is that you can’t please everyone, all the time. Your style will be what it should be, so if one person says they don’t like the number of characters you have in your story, at least one other person will say they love them. Listen to advice, not opinions. (Unless someone says you’re absolutely ace, then listen to that one!)
What are your future plans as an author?
R.D. Nixon has one more book to write in the Clifford-Mackenzie series, then the field is wide open so it’ll be fun to see what happens next in the crime writing. I’ve had a plan to write a psych thriller based on the university campus where I work, so I might explore that a bit.
Terri Nixon has a brand new series of dramas coming out with Piatkus, beginning this December with (working title) Tyndall’s Folly. They’ll come out over the next 3 years, and I’ll be writing as R.D in between.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Fair Game. Clifford-Mackenzie Crime Series book 2.
Three Sisters, Glen Coe, Scotland. Thursday 15th November 2018
He stared out into the darkness beyond his windscreen, icy hands jammed between his knees, but reluctant to leave the heating on in the car; if there was ever a time to risk flattening a tired battery, this wasn’t it. The quarter-moon played fitfully with bulging clouds, occasionally outlining the menacing volcanic peaks that rose all around, and the time dragged on, but still there was nothing else out there except the rain.
For the millionth time since he’d arrived, his glance was pulled to the tyre lever nestled in the semi-darkness of the passenger seat footwell, inviting him to pick it up and admire its weight. For the millionth time he looked away again. No violence here, not tonight. He’d been a fool, that was the long and short of it, but there was a faint hope that he might buy himself some time, at least, and faint or not, he was going to grab it.
Popular in the daytime, even at this time of year, this beauty spot was always deserted once darkness fell, but the road that cut through the glen was still one of the main arteries from Glasgow, and several cars had passed by since he’d arrived. Another set of headlights lit up the rock face of the mountain, this time from the Fort William direction, and a car slowed. He sat up straighter, feeling sick, but the driver had only wanted to peer more closely at the famous Three Sisters mountain formation before carrying on up the winding road out towards Rannoch Moor.
The nausea remained, and he twisted the ignition key and buzzed his window down to let in some fresh air; rain blew in with it, and he welcomed the cool spray on his burning face as he thought over what he would say when Kilbride’s man finally turned up. Kilbride wasn’t an idiot, nor would he send one to collect his dues; he knew he’d get what he was owed, eventually, and that the interest alone would keep a roof over his head for months… Of course he’d wait. He had to.
The next car did not pass by. It slowed and turned in to the tourists’ viewing point, and as the terrified man watched it creep slowly closer, his hand, acting independently from conscious thought, dipped down into the footwell after all and tested out that tyre lever’s considerable weight. He slipped the lever inside his jacket, and yanked the zip back up just as the BMW Roadster drew up behind his own car.
The Roadster’s window whined down, and the face that glared out belonged to Craig Lumsden, Kilbride’s top enforcer, who bent and examined the back seat of the man’s car through the rear window. He appeared satisfied no-one lurked there.
‘All right, get out.’
The man did so, watching warily as the BMW circled away and returned to park more neatly next to him. He held the tyre lever tight against his side beneath his jacket, and hoped his movements didn’t look too obviously stilted as a result. ‘Where’s Kilbride?’
‘He’s not likely to be coming out here himself, now, is he?’ Lumsden got out of the BMW and studied him across the bonnet. A police issue nightstick was hooked into his belt, and sour bile crept once more into the back of the waiting man’s throat. The solid presence of the tyre lever should have been a comfort, but he found himself wishing he’d left it where it was; before he could even draw it into the open, Lumsden would have that baton out and extended, it would be just the excuse he needed.
He lifted his chin. ‘I need to talk to him.’
‘He doesn’t do talking,’ Lumsden said. ‘Not once the agreement’s been signed.’
‘Well if he wants his money he’s going to have to.’ He sounded stronger than he felt, even over the Beamer’s running engine, and that in turn bolstered his confidence. He met Lumsden’s eyes with something approaching calm.
Lumsden smiled, looking more shark-like than ever in the headlights as he passed in front of his car and came closer. ‘Are you going to bring your account up to date, or am I going to have to remind you who’s in charge here?’
‘If I can’t talk to him, maybe I can talk to you? Look, if you’re prepared to wait, I could cut you in…give you extra, when I’ve got it, to keep for yourself.’ He could feel the sweat, both on his palms and cooling on his temples as the wind blew into his face.
Lumsden studied him for a moment, then shook his head. ‘William said you’d try that one.’ He unclipped the nightstick in a disturbingly leisurely motion and flicked it to full length. ‘Now—’
‘Take my car!’ He hated the harsh desperation in his voice, but couldn’t hide it.
‘That pile of shit?’
‘You can tell Kilbride I never turned up, and then—’
‘I’ll not even report it stolen.’
‘I said shut up!’
He did. He watched the debt collector, feeling all his muscles tense to the point of aching, and wondered where the first blow would land. He folded his arms tightly across his chest and felt the outline of the tyre lever under his right hand, but there was still no way he could draw it out before the stick put him out of action.
Kilbride’s man was still watching him, his face all shadows in his car’s headlights, rain falling on his lashes, but he didn’t blink. He gave that smile again, the one that elongated his mouth but touched no other part of his face, then he stepped back and made his way around to the open door of his car.
‘It’s your lucky night,’ he said, twirling the stick. ‘I was just instructed to pass on a message, should you prove difficult.’
‘Whatever he wants.’ The man followed him, all caution fled in his relief. ‘What is it? Tell him I’m getting the money together right—’
‘You talk too much. And back off – you’re crowding me.’
‘Sorry.’ He stopped a few feet away and quashed the urge to ask again what the price of his reprieve would be.
Lumsden seemed to be thinking hard about his next words. Trying to recall the exact message from Kilbride? Or maybe he just enjoyed screwing with people’s heads. His phone beeped, he ignored it. Then he shrugged.
‘Mr Kilbride says that if I go back empty-handed, he’ll take something of yours to the value. Or possibly a teensy bit more.’ His smile was thin as he laid his hand on the door of his car, then he turned away. ‘Isn’t it traditionally accepted that the sons must pay for the sins of their fathers?’
The clang of the tyre lever hitting the ground, some unknowable time later, brought the man out of the howling tunnel into which Lumsden’s words had driven him. He stared, numb, as the steel bar bounced twice on the gravelled ground and came up against the sprawled leg of Kilbride’s debt collector, and then he dropped to his knees, vaguely aware of the sting of tiny stones through his jeans.
Hands clenched on his own thighs to keep from touching anything, he forced himself to look at Lumsden, slumped half in and half out of his car, and he wasn’t sure whether he was hoping for a sign of life or not. But there was nothing. Lumsden’s head lay twisted on the car seat, where he had been struck down even as he scrabbled for safety. Streams of blood pooled in the open eyes and ran in rivulets down over cheekbone and jaw; the rain diluted it and sent it moving faster, dripping into the open mouth and staining the teeth.
The killer—he was no more or less than that now—stood up and stumbled away from the two vehicles, until their light no longer illuminated the blood on his hands. How often had he hit Lumsden? Once? Twice? More? Christ, he couldn’t even remember. And what now? What if someone had driven by, while he was lost in the throes of whatever it was that had consumed him, and seen what was happening? Taken his number plate? Taken photos, or even a video on their phone?
He tucked his hands under his armpits and sat on the grass at the edge of the viewing point, staring up at the lumpen masses above him as if they held all the answers. But even the skittish moon abandoned him as he watched, and the Sisters were absorbed into the black void above them. As another car passed by, he belatedly came to his senses; there was no chance he would have been Lumsden’s only appointment tonight; no-one would come out here for one lousy collection. The next car might well be the next pickup.
He stood up again, on shaking legs, and gingerly picked up the tyre lever from the puddle of rain and blood in which it lay. He laid it quietly back in its footwell, and, leaving the BMW untouched and its engine still running, he drove home.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up these books and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, R.D. Nixon.
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!