The Interrogation Room – An Interview With Sandra Ruttan

Next up in The Interrogation Room… Tom Leins catches up with Sandra Ruttan to discuss her new book, The Spying Moon (Down & Out Books).

Congratulations on the publication of your new book! How would you pitch The Spying Moon to potential readers?

Constable Moreau became a cop so that she could investigate her mother’s disappearance. Just miles away from beginning that mission she’s reassigned and sent to a border town where she faces racism and sexism from both suspects and the other cops she’s supposed to be working with. Will her personal mission undermine her ability to solve a teenager’s murder before more teens die? Or will her uncertainty about who to trust put her in mortal danger?

There’s also another thread throughout the story. This is a young woman who lost her mom when she was a child and spent her life in the foster care system. As a person who is part Aboriginal, she’s lost all connection to her cultural heritage. She holds on to the principles her mother taught her, which is why she does the right thing instead of what she wants when she’s reassigned. She’s a strong, respectable character. Her mother also represents a sobering reality – no group of people is at greater threat of violence in Canada than Native women. Moreau is trying to figure out who she is, find answers about her mother, and understand where she belongs. And she won’t have all of those answers at the end of this story. To me, that would be a fairy tale.

What do you hope that readers take away from the book?

Some people have to overcome obstacles every single day just to do their job. In spite of this, I think we all hope for good cops out there like Moreau, who tries to do the right thing, even if it means she doesn’t get what she wants. A reviewer referred to her as admirable, and that was such a great compliment.

Do you think that crime fiction has a duty to draw readers’ attentions to subjects that often slip through the cracks?

No. Crime is a pretty wide genre with lots of different sub-genres, and it isn’t always going to perform that function. That said, I’m drawn to crime books that do. I write about issues because I’m often thinking about big issues. If I was a trust fund baby I’d live my life on a picket line, I’m sure.

Your book has been published by Down & Out Books – do you have any favourite D&O authors or titles you would like to recommend?

I really enjoyed Dana King’s Bad Samaritan. Dana does a great job of balancing the challenges a male PI faces in the #metoo era. Marietta Miles delves into stories about very unexpected protagonists, and I am inspired by that. You know I have to stop, because the list would go on and on and on…

If you could recommend one crime novel that people are unlikely to have heard of, what would it be?

One? Literature by Guillermo Stitch. It’s a dystopian sci-fi crime thriller that is amazing. Now, if I could sneak a recommendation for Brian Cohn’s The Last Detective in as well and mention I’m looking forward to reading Shawn Cosby’s debut novel…

Which contemporary writers do you consider to be your peers?

This is the hardest question I’ve ever been asked. For me, the worlds that opened up to me through books were my escape. I was a very serious kid. I’ve never fit in. There’s a whole popularity/hierarchy thing in the publishing world, too. I don’t belong in that. I talk about books I’ve read and promote what I love and say what I think, even if it’s unpopular. That’s what I’ve been doing online since 2005. Sometimes, for a brief second, you can put someone on a reader’s radar or make a difference to a writer who’s struggling and needs some encouragement, and that’s nice, but I’m nobody in the book business. I’m just in my own corner doing my own thing. I don’t go to conventions or readings or anything so I don’t hang out with anyone. My husband should do that. He’s likeable. There are a few people I’d like to see again before I die, but at least one of them seems to have quit writing…

If your career trajectory could follow that of any well-known writer, who would you choose, and why?

Well, it’s too late to be Gordon Korman, which sucks. But once I hit grade 8 and hadn’t written a publishable manuscript that was the case. Really. He wrote This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall when he was in grade 7 and it was published when he was 14. I’m not even sure you can say you grew up in Ontario if you didn’t read that book when you were a kid. That’s why it gets mentioned on Letterkenny.

I honestly can’t think of anyone I know of that’s taken the path I’m hoping for now.

Finally, what are your future publishing plans?

In an ideal scenario I’ll be able to get Toe Six to the next level, publish the manuscript we’re half a centimetre away from signing and put out some great cross-genre novels by up-and-coming writers.

I don’t know if I’ll have another novel out. Always depends on how well the current one does. I do have a short story called ‘The Graves by the Juniper Tree’ out next month, though.

Bio:

Sandra Ruttan has been hit by a car, had her foot partially severed, survived a crash in the Sahara Desert and almost drowned. Who—or what—ever wants her dead will have to try harder. Ruttan’s books include The Spying Moon and Harvest of Ruins.

Website:

https://sruttan.wordpress.com/

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Book Review: Violent By Design by Paul Heatley

VIOLENT BY DESIGN

Author: Paul Heatley

Publisher: Near To The Knuckle

Release Date: September 2018

Set one year after the brutal events of An Eye For An Eye, Violent By Design opens with a raid on one of Newcastle mobster Neil Doyle’s drug houses. His new right-hand-man, Jimmy Finlay – fresh out of HMP Durham and keen to make a name for himself within Doyle’s firm – opts to keep the news from his ill-tempered boss and deal with things himself, only for the situation to go from bad to badly fucked. The culprit is a near-mythical ‘taxman’, whose past exploits sound so far-fetched that they are dismissed as junkie horror stories. The only problem is, he isn’t finished yet, and an all-out war erupts, splattering Newcastle red with blood. By the time the dust settles, it is clear that no one’s lives will ever be the same again…

Heatley’s recent novella The Runner was a nifty little companion piece, but this is definitely the book that fans of An Eye For An Eye were waiting for! Still coming to terms with the events of the earlier book, world-weary fixer Graeme Taylor has retreated from the city, and now lives at the very caravan park where the previous book ground to a halt – within spitting distance of his personal demons. Meanwhile, ‘Tracksuit’ Tony Gordon has traded his leisurewear for a proper suit, and climbed the muscle-bound ranks of the Doyle empire. And as for Doyle himself, he is vowing to go straight(-ish) with a bold new nightclub venture.

Last month I described The Runner as hardcore, dog-eat-dog Geordie noir. If that book’s antagonist, Davey Hoy, offered a canine-level threat, then I can’t even begin to work out where these savage motherfuckers come on the food-chain! The canvas is broader this time around, and the narrative scope more expansive, as Heatley serves up a ferocious rampage across the Newcastle underworld. Suffice to say, the various plot strands congeal in a glorious blood-slick mess.

Violent By Design is a shotgun-toting, tooth-ripping, skull-crushing treat, which cements Heatley’s burgeoning reputation. Cracking stuff.

Review by Tom Leins

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The Interrogation Room – An Interview With Nigel Bird

Next up in The Interrogation Room… Tom Leins catches up with Nigel Bird to discuss his new book, In Loco Parentis (All Due Respect).

Congratulations on the publication of In Loco Parentis! How would you pitch the story to potential readers?

When the systems let down a young child, teacher Joe Campion decides to take matters into his own hands. With justice as his compass, his personal life loses its bearings and his world quickly disintegrates.

What do you hope that readers take away from the book?

I’d like them to feel something. To experience the sadness, the tension and the humour of Joe’s story. I hope they get an insight into the mind of someone who is struggling to survive and maybe to look at others and see that most people are working really hard to keep afloat. Maybe they’ll see teachers in a different light, too. That they’ll be a little more understanding of how the job can carry too much weight even for those who don’t go so obviously off the rails as they try and cope.

This book was published by All Due Respect; do you read mainstream crime fiction, or are your tastes firmly rooted in the independent scene?

I read crime fiction from both the mainstream and from independents. There’s a lot to recommend a varied diet of books to any reader and that applies even more to writers. There’s exciting work coming from everywhere and we’re lucky to be around at a time when we have such choice and that publishers like All Due Respect exist. A lot of what I read was written a long time ago, so it’s a case of buying second-hand much of the time.

If you could recommend one crime novel that people are unlikely to have heard of, what would it be?

The first two that come to mind are:

William Boyle’s Gravesend, a superb and beautifully written novel that has a strong emotional charge.

Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock. It ticked boxes I didn’t know I had. This short story collection is a masterpiece.

Which contemporary writers do you consider to be your peers?

When I was focusing upon writing short stories, I had the good fortune to be published in a number of really great anthologies as well as to compile a couple. I see each of those collections as being communities of writers and that’s where my crime-writing roots lie. I also see Blasted Heath and All Due Respect as loose families of sorts and they are other communities which I’m proud to be part of.

If your career trajectory could follow that of any well-known writer, who would you choose, and why?

I don’t really see writing as a career anymore, so I’d be happy to follow the path of any author who just kept on writing. I wouldn’t mind having Simenon’s ethos or to knock things out with the rhythm of Ed McBain. They’d do.

Finally, what are your future publishing plans?

All Due Respect will be putting out a couple more of my titles, Smoke and Mr Suit. They’re both stories I think work well and that I’m proud of. After that, I have a novel that will be published at the end of 2019, the first in a series of police dramas. I have contracts for the first three, but if I’m still enjoying writing about the characters by the end of the third, it’s possible that there may be more.

Bio:

Nigel Bird lives on the east coast of Scotland with his family. As well as writing novels, novellas and short stories, he works in three rural schools as a Support for Learning teacher.

Website:

http://nigelpbird.blogspot.com

 

Book Review: Hell Ship by Benedict J. Jones

HELL SHIP

Author: Benedict J. Jones

Publisher: The Sinister Horror Company

Release Date: August 2018

Set in 1944 on the Strait of Malacca – the narrow stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra – Hell Ship follows the fortunes of nine survivors of the torpedoed Empire Carew vessel, adrift and barely alive in a lifeboat. After weeks in the water – surviving on condensed milk and seagull meat – the motley crew find safe haven on the Shinjuku Maru, an abandoned ship they encounter floating in a strange fog. Little do they realise, this ship harbours a grisly secret, which will make the horrors that they have already experienced pale in comparison…

With cinematic pacing and lashings of gore, Hell Ship is a satisfyingly sinister slice of nautical pulp horror. The superb, sadistic prologue – seamen splattered everywhere – sets the tone for the unrelenting sense of dread that follows, and the novella unfolds in an enjoyably gruesome fashion. Jones has fun with the period details, and breathes new life into the familiar cast – which includes the brutally efficient, axe-wielding sailor Busby and the quivering wreck of a commanding officer, Snell.

As the old adage goes, worse things happen at sea. Suffice to say, even worse things happen on the Hell Ship! Great fun.

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Review by Tom Leins

The Interrogation Room – An Interview With Martin Stanley

Next up in The Interrogation Room… Tom Leins catches up with Martin Stanley to discuss his Stanton Brothers series.

Firstly, for readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you pitch the Stanton Brothers series to readers?

The brothers (Eric, the brains, and Derek, the brawn) are a pair of criminals who make their money by stealing from other criminals (mostly drug dealers and thieves). They tend not to kill those they’re stealing from, because most of them know better than to involve the police in their business. Also, killing’s bad for trade – the police do stick their snouts in that kind of trouble.

How did you come up with the characters, and how have they evolved since their first appearance?

I came up with the idea of two bickering criminal brothers many years ago. They’re loosely (very loosely, I might add) based on stories I’ve heard from people. Their characters and the situations have been jumbled up and boiled down by my imagination over a few years into what appears in the novels and novellas. The brothers got their surname from the manhole covers. A few years ago, I found out that the DJ duo Stanton Warriors did exactly the same thing.

Because of the slapdash way I write, which is to come up with ideas and storylines long before I actually put fingers to keyboard, it means that I end up writing and publishing in no particular order. For instance, the latest book Fighting Talk is chronologically the first tale, but because of the way I write it means it has come around last. What this means is that I must think about the character narrative slightly before writing begins. However, Eric starts out a bit more sentimental and heroic in the earlier narratives, but becomes a cold-hearted bastard by the time The Glasgow Grin rears its nasty head. Derek remains a fuckwit throughout, but I doubt you’d want anybody else by your side in the event of a fight.

What are they up to in your new book, Fighting Talk?

They’re still working as debt collectors for Alan Piper in this one. Eric is sent by his boss to get to the bottom of why his favourite (think most beautiful) client has missed her last few debt payments. What Eric discovers leads the brothers into the path of a rather unpleasant dog-fighting syndicate. Although they have to break a few bones to reach that point.

What do you hope that readers take away from your books?

Honestly, I hope they get entertainment. I write readable prose, and can weave together some nice descriptions when the mood takes me, but I’m not a stylist. I’m more interested in telling a good story, one with a few twists and turns along the way. I’ll leave subtext and metaphor to those who are better equipped to use them.

What are the main positives behind self-publishing – and what are the chief drawbacks?

The positives are total artistic control. Nobody tells you what you can publish or how to publish it. The drawbacks are total artistic control – if you fuck up, it’s on you. Other drawbacks are that unless you’re very lucky then you’ll sell the total of fuck-all.

Even if you’re lucky and have a success (I had a modicum of success with The Glasgow Grin a few years ago – several thousand sales), maintaining it is incredibly difficult. Over the three years since The Glasgow Grin, I’d say I’ve lost about eighty to eighty-five percent of that audience. I haven’t published enough new content to maintain my sales figures and build on my audience. Quality control, advertising, book covers, marketing, it’s all on you. Which is why, from next year, I’m probably going to pitch new material to Indie publishers first. I just don’t have the time needed to do an adequate job of self-publishing.

Do you read mainstream crime fiction, or are your tastes firmly rooted in the independent scene?

Both. I like a mixture of Indie and self-pubbed authors and mainstream stuff. The more exciting writers and fiction seems to be coming from the Indie side at the minute. Independents are reworking old genres and rewriting the rules. Traditional publishers seem to be wedded to police procedurals or missing ‘Girls’. Unless there’s a twist, or some brilliant writing, the police procedural might be the dullest fucking genre in crime fiction.  How many sad cops with family issues can there be? I tend to be drawn to criminal protagonists or private detectives, and the grittier end of crime fiction.

Which contemporary writers do you consider to be your peers?

Paul D Brazill treads a similar path to my own, though he’s a far better writer (particularly his prose, which often leaves me more than a little envious). Keith Nixon is another writer I’d consider a peer, though again with stronger writing chops. I certainly respect and admire Ryan Bracha; he emerged around the same time as I did, though his stuff tends to be more experimental and he’s not afraid of taking risks. His best stuff is great.

If your career trajectory could follow that of any well-known writer, who would you choose, and why?

Maybe James Ellroy. I dislike his right-wing politics, and his tendency to ham it up for interviewers, but his books sell in big numbers and he gets critical respect, even when it feels like he hasn’t earned it (his most recent novel Perfidia being a case in point). His best novels are some of the finest crime writing you are ever likely to read. The LA Quartet should be read by anybody with even the slightest interest in writing crime fiction. If I write anything that’s even half as good as any of the books in that series, I’ll be able to say I wrote something good. Until that day, however…

Finally, what are your future publishing plans?

I’ve got a novelette, Get Santa, that’s been collected together with some previously released Stanton brothers’ shorts due in October; then in November or (more realistically) December I’m aiming to have another novella (currently titled Sexy Lexy) due for release.

After this I may put the brothers away for a while and finish The Amsterdamned (which is a companion novel to my first book The Gamblers). I will pitch this to Indie publishers and see what happens. If nobody bites, for any reason other than quality, I’ll self-publish in 2020. If it’s a quality issue, I’ll assess what I need to do to ensure it’s good enough to publish myself.

Bio:

Martin Stanley is the author of the Stanton brothers’ books (in reading order): 1) The Curious Case of The Missing Moolah; 2) A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Billingham Forum; 3) The Green-eyed Monster; 4) Bone Breakers; 5) The Hunters; and its direct sequel 6) The Glasgow Grin. He is also the author of The Gamblers, a violent crime thriller set in Bristol, and a Stanton prequel novella Fighting Talk.

Martin lives, works and socialises in London. He likes drinking craft and Belgian beers, watching classic movies and bingeing on TV shows. And he obviously loves to read (often with a pang of author envy).

Website:

www.martinstanleyauthor.com

 

Book Review: The Runner by Paul Heatley

THE RUNNER

Author: Paul Heatley

Publisher: Near To The Knuckle

Release Date: August 2018

Pitched as a prequel/companion piece to the author’s must-read 2016 book, An Eye For An Eye, this brisk, aggressive novella centres on Davey Hoy, a ruthless mid-level dealer who works for Newcastle’s notorious Doyle Family. Hoy’s already short fuse ignites when a bag of his ill-gotten gains is ripped off by Cathy, the girlfriend of his callow associate, Jackson Stobbart. Forced into action, the hapless Jackson sets out to retrieve the loot before Davey realises it is missing – setting in motion a memorably bloody chain of events.

The muscle-bound Davey Hoy is a fantastic antagonist, and his competitive streak and obscure motivations are an early sign that his knife-edge behaviour will spiral out of control as the book unfolds. Like An Eye For An Eye before it, The Runner has a chase dynamic, but the location and characters are entirely different, as the narrative swerves into the small coastal town of Amble. There are some neat call-backs to Heatley’s previous book, and I really hope to see the mythology surrounding the Doyle clan fleshed out further in future instalments.

The Runner is hardcore, dog-eat-dog Geordie noir. I look forward to the next book in the series, Violent By Design, in September!

Review by Tom Leins

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Book Review: Last Year’s Man by Paul D. Brazill

LAST YEAR’S MAN

Author: Paul D. Brazill

Publisher: All Due Respect (an imprint of Down & Out Books)

Release Date: July 2018

After a couple of piss-poor decisions, it’s very clear that trigger-happy middle-aged hit-man Tommy Bennett has outstayed his welcome in London. Fleeing the Big Smoke without his passport, Tommy’s options are sorely limited, and he makes the decision to return home to Seatown – his old stomping ground in the north-east of England. Tommy’s unexpected arrival is less ‘prodigal son returns’ and more ‘unpleasant smell wafts back through open window’, and the old rascal finds himself getting sucked back into a brand-new scam alongside a very old friend.

The rumpled, world-weary triggerman – with a long memory, and an even longer list of health complaints – is a perfect conduit for Brazill’s quirky storytelling style, and the story itself (think Get Carter played for laughs) allows him to play to his strengths. For an expatriate writer, Brazill’s knack for writing about small town English grotesques is pretty damned impressive, and unlike the hapless Bennett, this book is slim and spritely!

If anything, this yarn climaxes prematurely, but I suspect we haven’t seen the last of the incorrigible Mr Bennett. A booze-swilling, bladder-busting, brain-splattering caper. Great fun.

Review by Tom Leins

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Book Review: Sunk Costs by Preston Lang

SUNK COSTS

Author: Preston Lang

Publisher: All Due Respect (an imprint of Down & Out Books)

Release Date: May 2018

Sunk Costs is the story of Dan, a young drifter looking for a ride east. When a strange woman in a business suit picks him up on the highway, he thinks that his luck is in. Before too long, however, she has pulled a gun on him and suckered Dan into participating in an improbable scam to rip off her former employer. Intrigued by the prospect of making some fast money with a little casual deception, Dan throws himself into the woman’s scheme, only to have his head turned by a sultry accountant with an appealing counter-offer – before he even leaves the building!

Sunk Costs is a tightly plotted and satisfyingly duplicitous thriller. Lang’s writing is crisp and clean throughout, with some enjoyably dry one liners, and his style suits the subject matter perfectly. Dan is a great character: a resourceful slacker with few morals, who is seemingly unfazed by anything the increasingly bizarre situation throws up. Plus, he enjoys some nice interplay with his off-kilter partner-in-crime Kate (the aforementioned accountant), as the duo fumble their way through scattered clues in search of their elusive pay-day.

The tone is offbeat, without ever lapsing into madcap, and while their exploits sometimes lack a genuine sense of threat from the other interested parties, Lang has enough surprises up his sleeve to keep you on your toes. If you are looking for a smart, unusual, contemporary con-man caper, then you won’t go far wrong with Sunk Costs.

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Review by Tom Leins

The Interrogation Room – An Interview With Chris Orlet

Next up in The Interrogation Room… Tom Leins catches up with Chris Orlet to discuss his new book, A Taste of Shotgun (All Due Respect).

Congratulations on the publication of your new book! How would you pitch A Taste of Shotgun to potential readers?

I hope A Taste of Shotgun appeals to readers who like their fiction pulpy, dark and with a dash of absurdist humor. A few readers have compared the book favourably to the works of Jim Thompson and Jason Starr. I hope they’re right.

What do you hope readers take away from the book?

I hope it makes them think, as well as entertains. If the book has a theme it is about survival and how close to the edge so many of us are living, and what we have to do these days to stay afloat. How one little thing, an illness or an accident or an arrest for speeding, can lead to disastrous consequences. How the game is rigged for the few, against the many and no one seems to notice or care. In other words, it’s a goddamn laugh riot.

The blurb on the front cover namechecks the 1970s – do you have a favourite decade for crime fiction?

There will never be another time like the era of the great pulps masters, the 40s and the 50s. Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Charles Williams, Harry Whittington, Charles Willeford, Gil Brewer. They are the giants on whose shoulders we stand. Or would stand on if they weren’t falling down drunk all the time.

If you could recommend one crime novel that people are unlikely to have heard of, what would it be?

Peckerwood by Jedidiah Ayres. Okay, so people reading this blog have probably heard of it, but people who read this blog have heard of everything. So yeah, Peckerwood. The story explodes off the page with an unforgettable cast of shitbirds, corrupt lawmen, ex-bikers, backwoods babes, Memphis drug dons and a dogged states attorney out to make a name for himself by bringing down a crooked lawman. I might also mention that it is laugh out loud funny.

This book was published by All Due Respect; do you read mainstream crime fiction, or are your tastes firmly rooted in the independent scene?

Both, but I do try to keep up with most of the new books that Down & Out & company is putting out because they are just an awesome publisher. Without them we’d all be reading David Foster Wallace and Italo Calvino and William Gaddis and Julio Cortázar. I’ve read them, and trust me, it’s not fun. So buy Down & Out’s books while you still can, dammit.

Which contemporary writers do you consider to be your peers?

I don’t think they’d want to be associated with me, whoever they are. But they are probably the writers who publish with All Due Respect and Down & Out Books. Maybe Broken River. Those weirdos.

If your career trajectory could follow that of any well-known writer, who would you choose, and why?

Career trajectory? To quote Sam Shepard: “I’m not interested in a career. I don’t want to have a career. I want to do the work that fascinates me.” To me that means the continuing struggle to find something new and interesting to say in a new and interesting way. So I would choose Sam because he didn’t give a damn.

Finally, what are your future publishing plans?

I am working on the third or fourth draft (I lost count) of two more crime novels. One, called Love and Other Dead Things, is a straight-forward noir. Maybe too straight forward for the Me Too Generation. Might have to tweak that some more. The other, Leadwood, a twisty crime novel, involves the klan, a St. Louis billionaire philanthropist, and a couple of snoopy reporters and is set in the Mark Twain National Forest. (Go look it up.) I hope to finish both by the end of the year.

Bio:

Chris Orlet is the author of A Taste of Shotgun (All Due Respect) and In The Pines (New Pulp Press). He lives in Saint Louis, Missouri with his wife and daughter.

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The Interrogation Room – An Interview with David Owain Hughes

Next up in The Interrogation Room… Tom Leins catches up with David Owain Hughes to discuss his new book, South By Southwest Wales (Darkwater Syndicate).

Firstly, how would you pitch South By Southwest Wales to potential readers? 

I think Richard Ayre’s full blurb will sum this question up nicely:

‘Samson Valentine. Once the best gumshoe in the city, but now little more than a washed-up has-been. The question is, though, which city? And when?

Owain-Hughes is probably best known for his horror stories, but South by Southwest Wales showcases the sheer versatility of this brilliant writer, and the detail of both setting and characterisation combine to make one hell of a good read. In Samson Valentine, Owain-Hughes has created a classic flawed hero. A man who is inherently good in a world that has turned bad. And when things get personal, Valentine shows that he is not a man to cross.

In South by Southwest Wales, David Owain-Hughes presents us with a pure gem. Part Noir detective thriller, part insight into the dark world of alcoholism. This is a fabulous story that weaves its way seamlessly from 1940’s Chicago to modern-day Cardiff, thanks to the fractured mind of its main character.

I can’t think of a better evening than to sit in the pool of light from a shaded chintz lamp, sip a single malt, and get lost in South by Southwest Wales. Pure magic.’

–Richard Ayre

What do you hope that readers take away from the book? 

A deep-rooted love and admiration for Samson Valentine, for he’s a man who manages to turns the table on his shitty luck, crawling out of a gutter he’s found himself in. He fights for his life and those he loves, as he battles alcohol abuse, depression and personal demons. I hope his story will inspire others. Sam, a bloke with a set jaw and an iron will, will show what one person can do with a heart and bellyful of determined. Nothing is impossible.

The bulk of your work to date has been within the horror genre. What prompted the switch to crime fiction? 

I’ve had a thing for crime fiction for many years – especially 1930’s/40’s gangster crime – and so it came as no great shock to me that I wanted to produce a book within the crime/noir/detective genre. I also have a keen interest in detectives/P.Is, as they’re almost always portrayed in films/books/TV shows as lonely individuals – an aspect I love exploring when building my own characters.

However, I think the biggest prompt for me to write such a book, was to show people I’m not a one-trick pony; that I can write other things too, not just blood, guts and perversion. I had a golden opportunity here to explore some dark, interesting things, such as Sam’s delusional state of mind and hard-drinking habits.

Are the two genres uneasy bedfellows, or do they feed into one another? 

A bit of both, I think. I’ve never once though the two genres stood worlds apart and sometimes live in each other’s backyards. Just like horror, crime deals with real-life monsters, the human condition and whole host of other subjects – some taboo – a lot of writers wouldn’t touch if their lives depended on it.

Do you read mainstream fiction, or are your tastes firmly rooted in the independent scene? 

Mainstream, although I do occasionally dip my toe into in the independent scene. I love how bold some indie authors are, especially those who write extreme horror, who mostly leave nothing to the imagination. They are fearless, holding nothing back, and that’s how art should be, right? I know a lot of people don’t like lots of detail, but I do. I don’t want the monster hidden or the gore toned down. I want to see, feel and breathe a character’s pain in every detail as they’re mutilated, fall from grace, drink themselves into a black hole or some other nasty subject that rips a person apart, whether it’s from limb to limb, or from the soul outwards.

Who are your prime influences?

Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Bentley Little, Shaun Hutson, James Herbert, Guy N. Smith, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Ian Rankin and many others! I’d also have to add Alice Copper, even though he’s a musician, his music has inspired so much of my work over the years. It would be rude to leave him out!

If your career trajectory could follow that of any well-known writer, who would you choose, and why? 

Probably Richard Laymon. I have so much love and respect for him, even though I never got the chance to speak to him, and his work. He’s the reason I set out on a path to become a writer – his story triggered something within me, to get me going. When I read his novel One Rainy Night, it blew me away. I couldn’t believe there were writers out there jotting such insane stuff! Brilliant.

Do you crave mainstream success, or is developing cult status satisfying enough? 

I’d settle for cult status. Definitely. However, if you’d asked me a few years ago, I probably would have said mainstream – to take my writing to the highest level possible. These days, I guess I’m more realistic. There are so many people out there writing nowadays, that getting recognised is extremely difficult.

Finally, what are your future publishing plans? 

At current, I’m taking a breather. I want to catch up with my reading and to spend some quality time with my family. I also want to push this new novel, and give it time to see how it does, before I press on with something new. When I return to the writing, I plan to write the sequel to South by Southwest Wales.

Bio: 

David Owain Hughes is a horror freak! He grew up on ninja, pirate and horror movies from the age of five, which helped rapidly instil in him a vivid imagination. When he grows up, he wishes to be a serial killer with a part-time job in women’s lingerie…He’s had multiple short stories published in various online magazines and anthologies, along with articles, reviews and interviews. He’s written for This Is Horror, Blood Magazine, and Horror Geeks Magazine. He’s the author of the popular novels “Walled In” (2014), “Wind-Up Toy” (2016), “Man-Eating Fucks” (2016), and “The Rack & Cue” (2017) along with his short story collections “White Walls and Straitjackets” (2015) and “Choice Cuts” (2015). He’s also written three novellas – “Granville” (2016), “Wind-Up Toy: Broken Plaything & Chaos Rising” (2016).

Website: 

http://david-owain-hughes.wix.com/horrorwriter