– ‘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 ‘The Pain of Strangers’ blogtour, organized by Zooloo’s Book Tours.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Andrew Barrett has been a CSI since 1996, and one way or another, Andrew’s life has revolved around crime ever since.
In 1997 he finished his first crime thriller, A Long Time Dead, and it’s still a readers’ favourite today, some 150,000 copies later, topping the Amazon charts several times. Two more books featuring SOCO Roger Conniston completed the trilogy.
Today, Andrew still produces authentic crime thrillers with a forensic flavour that attract attention from readers worldwide. He’s also attracted attention from the Yorkshire media, having been featured in the Yorkshire Post and interviewed on BBC Radio Leeds.
He’s best known for his lead character, CSI Eddie Collins, and the acerbic way in which he roots out criminals, and administers justice. Eddie’s series is six books and four novellas in length, and there’s still more to come.
Andrew has recently discovered the delights of writing stand-alones, with one under his belt another under way.
He is a proud Yorkshireman and sets all of his novels there, using his home city of Leeds as another major, and complementary, character in each of the stories.
When damaged people reach positions of power, there is no hope for the innocent.
In 1987, Norton Bailey became known as the Madman of Mabgate. A damaged person in a position of power, he built a machine to take care of his problems and used money as bait.
CSI Eddie Collins is feeling alone and adrift. Even work is unreliable and tense, and brings conflict with bad people. One damaged person in particular seeks to choose how Eddie, and the victims he tries to protect, will die.
Is there still no hope for the innocent?
Forensic evidence has always lit up the way, but now the light shines dimly. It’s just bright enough to illuminate the fight of Eddie’s life.
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?
Hello, everyone. My name is Andrew Barrett (please, call me Andy), and I live in West Yorkshire with my wife, Sarah, and our two daughters, Ellie and Lottie. We have two dogs – a German shepherd called Boomer (or dickhead, if he’s raided the bin again), and a fox terrier called Basil.
I work in West Yorkshire too. I am a CSI for West Yorkshire Police and have been since 1996.
I used to write for pleasure – horror novels, and some fantasy stuff, but was never serious about it. I tried to get publishers interested but they threatened me with legal action so concentrated on enjoying my writing and learning how to do it properly.
After joining the police, I thought it an obvious transition to begin writing crime thrillers, and I did, beginning with A Long Time Dead, and featuring SOCO (Scenes of Crime Officer) Roger Conniston. I loved it, and haven’t stopped since.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
One thing you should know about me is that I have a really bad memory. I think it’s something to do with all the aluminium fingerprint powder I use. So that’s my excuse for not giving you a long list of books I loved as a kid. There are a few that do stand out, however. I wonder if you’ve read them too: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. The Secret Garden. These were books from when I was really young – when the world was still in black and white. Guess what I bought last month? Yup, The Secret Garden. I bought several other classics that I never read as a kid but felt I should have – Lord of the Flies, for one.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I have an admiration for an author who doesn’t write in the modern crime thriller genre, but who does write compelling historical fiction – Bernard Cornwell. I was smitten by his writing after reading his Winter King Trilogy – an Arthurian story – and have become a fan of his. I would like to know how he manages to create engaging characters in a huge number of books without seeming to repeat them. I’m currently creating book seven in the CSI Eddie Collins series, and I have to constantly check myself for fear of using the same simile or metaphor that I’ve used in previous books.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Let me be selfish here, and invite my own character, Eddie Collins. On his Facebook Page, he’s always calling me Spangly Carrot, and mocking me for making his life so hard. I want to sit him down, give him a good meal, a good drink, and explain myself to him – and also to apologise for being so mean. Once I was satisfied that he understood my reasons, I’d kick him out and tell him to grow up!
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
A few, yes. I always write in Candara, 11pt. I find Times New Roman difficult to read sometimes, and Arial and Calibri a little too bland. Candara is like a holiday for your eyes. Yes, I converted your questions to Candara before I began answering them 😉
During the editing process, I always use a red Bic pen, fine point. I cram a lot of notes into the margins, and this pen is great to read, even in my tiniest and scruffiest handwriting.
I also used to have a green hoodie. I wore that each time I wrote until the cuffs frayed and fell apart and the elbows wore through. Gone to hoodie heaven now.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
I had to declare my business interest to West Yorkshire Police, and they granted me permission to be a writer so long as I didn’t include any true victims in my books. I’ve stuck to that but have never found it difficult to come up with my own anyway.
I have created somewhere in the region of 300 characters, and only one of them has any passing resemblance to a living person. In The Third Rule was a nasty, slimy git called Stuart, and he was based on someone I used to work with (he’s retired now). I chose to do that because I had a real dislike for this man, and that transferred across nicely into the narrator and Eddie disliking Stuart, too. So I used that dislike as a tool rather than to expose him, and I think the book is better for it.
Only once has a full novel idea dropped out of the sky and into my lap. You should have seen me scrabbling around for a pen! As it was, I dictated most of it before the memory of it evaporated. That book became known to me as 1977 and features an old man in home who… nah, not telling. Other than that, I only ever little bits of ideas, and I have to grow a full book from them. Not easy, but fun. Most of the time.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I’m a pantser all the way. I get my head down with only a rough idea of where the story should be going, and I don’t stop until I get there. But that’s when I begin to scratch my head and wish I’d made some kind of plan. That’s when I sit down with a sheet of A3 and a pencil and make up a flow chart detailing what’s happened and what options are open to me to get the writing flowing again. I choose the option that’s the most realistic while trying to maintain a good pace.
I’m writing CSI Eddie Collins book seven right now, and I’m just heading in the direction I need to take it, but will, at some point soon, have to make a bit of a roadmap. This will be a complicated book with a few sub-plots, so I need to help myself out with it.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Do not rush. If you rush your book and rush to publish, you will regret it. Take your time, make sure the book is the right one to begin a series with, make sure it’s as good as you can get it – no matter who you have to rope in to make sure that happens.
What do I mean by that comment about series? I created Eddie Collins to appear in a standalone book called The Third Rule. This book was a forensic crime thriller with an unintentional dose of politics in the background. I liked the character so much that I wrote a crime thriller series for him. Then I regretted having The Third Rule as the series opener – because of the political flavours in it – and so I’ve had to cut it free and have written The Pain of Strangers as the new, replacement, series opener.
Do not rush.
Do beware of genre constraints. I wrote The Third Rule as a 260k word epic. I let myself go and wrote to please myself. In general, a crime thriller is about 90k words, and although readers enjoy a unique story, they do not like really big books (usually).
What are your future plans as an author?
My future plans are probably the same as most authors: to do it full-time. I’m still a full-time CSI for West Yorkshire Police, and while I find it very rewarding, satisfying, and challenging, and while I am very proud indeed to work for WYP, I really want to wake up each morning and write.
I think about writing the very moment I wake up, and it’s the last thing I think of before I close me eyes. Yes, I really am that obsessed by it.
As a writer, I have several more novels in the pipeline for Eddie, and I have a couple of standalones I want to write, and even more novellas and shorts, too. All I need now is the time to write them.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Of course: I couldn’t choose between these two, so I’ve put them both in.
Here’s the opening chapter:
Maureen Bailey hurried through Leeds city centre; a see-through umbrella kept the drizzle away but it couldn’t shield her from the nerves she felt. Her face was pale, the lips she licked constantly looked like ones stolen from a corpse, and her heart threatened to stop working right then and see her drop to the wet pavement like a sack of—
“Mummy, slow down.”
“Mum, is this really necessary?”
Maureen stopped dead and stared at her children. She took a breath, and shut out the noise of the crowds and the noise of rain pummelling the umbrella. “I can’t slow down, Libby. I need to be somewhere in,” she flicked her sleeve up her arm and glanced at her watch, “fifteen minutes. I have an appointment.” She stood a little straighter, a little taller and her gaze met Norton’s eyes. “I don’t know what you think you know, but this is very important. To me, I mean. And it’s important to you, to both of you; it’s for your futures, so you need to cooperate; yes?” She glared at them both. “And you need to keep this to yourselves.”
“Keep what to ourselves?”
And here’s one from a few chapters in. It features Eddie and Benson, and a dead body:
The noise of rain on the tent roof was loud enough to have them shouting to each other across a body and four yards of wet pavement. Benson stood rigidly in one corner wearing the largest scene suit Eddie had in his van, and even then it looked like it had been sprayed on. Every time he breathed in his eyes bulged a little.
Eddie put the camera aside and knelt next to the body. The kid was maybe twenty-five years old, shoulder length brown hair, tattoos on his knuckles: left was ‘love’, right was also ‘love’. He loved everyone, apparently. Eddie acknowledged that, and asked, “Do we know who he is yet?”
“I asked him. He ignored me.”
“I’ll do that too if you don’t treat this with some respect.”
Benson coloured up and cleared his throat. “No. We don’t know who he is yet.”
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Andrew Barrett.
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!