– ‘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 ‘A Dangerous Life’ blogtour, organized by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
To promote this book I have a guest post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Born in Enfield, North London in 1953, Len Maynard has written and published over forty books, the majority of them in collaboration with Michael Sims. Ghost story collections, the Department 18 series of supernatural thrillers, stand-alone horror novels, the Bahamas series of action-adventure thrillers, as well as a handful of stand-alone thrillers. As editors they were responsible for the Enigmatic Tales and Darkness Rising series of anthologies, as well as single anthologies in the horror and crime genres. The DCI Jack Callum Mysteries are his first to be written under his own name.
Website • “The DCI Jack Callum Mysteries” • Twitter • Instagram • Facebook
Book Title: A Dangerous Life
Series: The DCI Jack Callum Mysteries, Book 2
Author: Len Maynard
Publication Date: 28th July 2020
Publisher: Sharpe Books
Page Length: 287 Pages
Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
A body of a man wearing theatrical make up is found hanging from a tree on Norton Common in Hertfordshire. He has been tortured and his throat has been cut.
DCI Jack Callum, a veteran policeman with his own rules for procedure, heads the investigation into this puzzling crime. The clues lead him close to the answer, but the solution remains elusive.
Why was the man killed?
What were the victim’s links to London’s gangland bosses?
When an unsolved murder is uncovered that appears to be connected to the case, Jack realises he must use his team to their full strength to separate the innocent from the guilty.
Jack also faces a challenge he never expected as he is accused of an improper relationship with a young Detective Constable on his team, Myra Banks.
In a breathless climax, Myra puts her own life on the line to deal with a figure from Jack’s past, who has now become a lethal threat in the present.
Amazon UK • Amazon US
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 actually wanted to be a footballer when I was a kid, but you need talent for that and I was sadly lacking in that department. Next I wanted to be a rock star. To be fair I was a pretty good bass player and made it as far as the semi-pro circuit. But then I got my girfriend at the time pregnant and travelling from gig to gig became untenable. So I sold my guitars and amplifiers and settled into a world of domestic strife.
I needed some kind of creative output and I had read horror stories from an early age – writers like Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson and the like. How hard could it be to write stories like them? Bloody difficult as it transpired. But after writing without much success, my writing partner and best friend, Mick Sims and I, wrote a collection of short ghost stories. And after six fruitless years the book was accepted by London hard back publisher William Kimber in 1978. Success, we thought. We’re on our way. And so we were, but slowly, and it was another twenty years before we saw our name in print again.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
The first real book I remember reading that made an impact was by was No Boats On Bannermere by Geoffrey Trease which I read at senior school, and then William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. But in my early teens I wasn’t reading books. DC and Marvel comics were all I read. It wasn’t until I left school and I was commuting to work that I discovered the Pan Books of Horror and the Alfred Hitchcock short story anthologies. And from them I never looked back. At the moment I’m reading The Furies, a post apocalyptic/disaster novel by Keith Roberts that I first read when I was eighteeen and have re-read countless times since. It’s not his most critically acclaimed book (quite the reverse in fact) but, for me, it’s like a comfort blanket, an old friend I can read again and again and find something fresh and exciting every time.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
This sounds incredibly arrogant, and I don’t mean for it to be so, but there are so few writers I truly admire and, of those that I do, none of them are writers I would ask for advice. I plough my own furrow for good or ill. The only other writer I listen to is my former partner Mick Sims who has been on a parallel journey with me for half a century and whose opinion I trust without question. Mind you it wasn’t always that way, but after fifty years, all the kinks in our relationship have more or less been ironed out.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Obviously Jack Callum. I would be interested to see if he is really the decent bloke who appears in the books. I’d like to think so, but then I’m a sceptic by nature. There again I might invite his wife Annie to tea. (I’m secretly in love with her!)
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I used to. Christ I had a ritual for every occasion. I used to write longhand, but only with a Bic Crystal Medium Point ball point and only on an A4 fine lined pad. As I’ve moved from pen and pad to typewriter and eventually to word processor, the rituals have become fewer and fewerd, until today where they are non-existant. I’ll write anywhere, any time…as long as it’s on a decent Mac or PC that has an up to date version of Microsoft Word, or else just forget it. I’d rather not bother.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
I have been visiting unpleasantries since I first start writing. In primary school I wrote an illustrated verion of the Tinder Box, complete with decapitated villain – lots of red ink used. In secondry school I wrote a kidnap story complete with a assault on the young female victim which earned me a ‘See Me!’ at the bottom of the page. I like to think the teacher was going to congratulate me on by graphic prose…but I doubt it. I never ‘saw him’ and it was never mentioned again.
The point is, my stories have always veered towards the dark side of life. I suppose it’s just the way my mind works. If it’s any consolation, I have known a number of crime and horror writers over the years and, bar none, they have all been the sweetest natured of all the authors I’ve met.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I’m a panster. I come up with a premise and an opening and then let the story take me where it wants to go. The plot tends to ebb and flow as the story progresses, but then, when my sub-conscious has been working out the whys and wherefores, I will get an info-dump from it where the entire plot is revealed to me. That usually happens about halfway or two thirds of the way though. It’s happened to me so often now that I recognise that it’s just the way my storytelling mind works and I don’t have any need to doubt it. It will come through for me in the end. It hasn’t let me down so far…
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Do’s – Read, read, read and write, write, write. Writing is like a muscle – it gets stronger the more you use it. It doesn’t matter if you think you are writing total crap. Keep going. Suddenly it will all start to make sense and you’ll be flying.
Don’ts – Don’t listen to criticism unless you know and respect the person who’s doing the criticisizing. As a writer, or anyone who puts themselves out there in such a vulnerable position, remember that you can have twenty positive reviews of your piece and one negative review. But it will be the single negative one you’ll focus on and give yourself a hard time about. Just forget it, move on and grow a thicker skin. And never stop believing in yourself.
What are your futureplans as an author?
At the moment I’m working on the seventh DCI Jack Callum mystery called The Gilded Cage. I’m revving up my small publishing house to publish another local author of merit. I help run a local writers group, hosting zoom meetings and putting together a annual anthology for them which I publish under my LMP brand. Also I’ve had requests to write another of my Bahamas adventure thrillers, currently on book three, but there might be another in the works.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Jack has given a speech at a local girls school. He finishes and leaves the stage.
He trotted down the stairs and pulled up short when a voice spoke from out of the shadows. “Did you mean it?”
Someone was standing a few feet away from him, hidden by a fold in the curtain.
“Did I mean what?” he said, and a teenage girl stepped out from behind the folded brocade and stood in front of him.
“That the police were our friends and that we should come and talk to you, and you will help?”
Jack smiled indulgently. “We’ll always listen and help if we can…sorry I didn’t catch your name.”
“Well, Geraldine, do you have a problem you wish to discuss?”
The girl looked tearful. She nodded, a lock of her curly blonde hair falling out from beneath her Alice band and dropping down over her face. “It’s my brother,” she said.
“Well, what is it you want to tell me about your brother?”
“He’s dead,” she said, biting at her lip pensively. “I killed him.”
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Len Maynard.
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!