DEADLY DINNER: James Nally on 7 dead people he’d invite for dinner

Category: Interview

‘EXHILERATING STUFF’ – The Sun

James Nally’s debut crime novel Alone With the Dead is a thriller with a twist. What would you do if you dreamt of dead people? If your life was spent caught between the living and those who have passed on?

We decided to ask James what he would do in a similar situation – if he could have dinner with 7 dead people, who would they be? James didn’t just give us an answer, he made a whole video….

So, do you agree? Who would you have chosen?

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Alone With the Dead is out in paperback and eBook now

Author Q&A with The Hunt’s T. J. Lebbon

Category: Interview

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The Hunt is such a gripping read and the characters really come to life on the page. How did you go about researching the book?
There were areas of the book I needed to research and was keen to get right. Firstly the landscape, which I wanted to make as much a character in this book as the people upon it. The only way to know the real Welsh mountains of Snowdonia, both the geography and the feel, smell, and touch of the landscape itself, is to go there. I paid a couple of visits whilst writing and revising The Hunt, climbed Snowdon, hiked in the mountains, really tried to get a feel for the atmosphere of that place. It’s a wild place, and with the aid of a good map it’s pretty easy to get off the beaten track. The ruggedness of the land, and the dangers, aren’t easy to imagine without seeing and experiencing them first-hand.

I was also interested in the psychology of someone who might want to take part in a human trophy hunt. I researched trophy hunts in Africa, read a lot about who takes part in them, and why. I find it hard enough to understand why someone would take any pleasure from shooting a wild lion in the head with a high-powered rifle, even less so when the animal is wounded to stop it escaping, corralled, and essentially defenceless. Going one big step further – to hunt humans instead of animals – was difficult, but it’s something I can see happening sometime, somewhere. Who knows, maybe it’s already happened. There were also smaller areas I had to research – weaponry, computer and web technology, helicopters. All of my previous novels have been horror or fantasy novels, where a lot of the time I’m making up my own worlds. This made The Hunt probably the most heavily researched book I’ve ever written.

PortraitYou’re a regular participant in athletic endurance events. How much of your own experience did you draw upon when writing about the physical struggles Chris faces in the book?
This was a classic case of write about what you know (at least, I know a little bit about it). The inspiration to write The Hunt came from my love of endurance sport, something I’ve been passionate about since I turned 40 overweight, unfit, and wondering where the future would take me. I discovered running, then cycling and swimming, started entering races, ran my first marathons, competed in my first triathlons, and then completed my first Ironman race. It was a huge change to my life – one that continues now – and because I’m a writer, I was often looking for ways to incorporate my new-found love into my fiction. I’d been considering writing a thriller for some time, and the idea of combining endurance sport with a fast-paced chase thriller seemed perfect.

There’s a lot more to the story, of course, but at its core it deals with a man able to keep ahead of those intending to kill him. He knows the mountains and trails, knows how to pace himself, understands the nutritional aspects of such a long pursuit. And for that, I dipped very heavily into my own experiences. I have first-hand experience of how much it can hurt pushing yourself to those limits, as well as what it feels like to enjoy pushing yourself. There’s a lot of me in Chris.

What was the first book that really made an impression on you?
When I was maybe 6 or 7 I read Shadow the Sheepdog by Enid Blyton. There’s not too much I remember about it, other than being enthralled, and fascinated at seeing the world from a dog’s point of view. It was the first time I read a book again and again, and funnily enough my sister still has that copy.

The second book is The Rats, by James Herbert. My mother gave me this to read when I was 10 or 11, and I never looked back. Herbert was a favourite through my teens, and many copies of The Fog, Domain, and The Dark were passed back and forth among me and my friends. I met him a couple of years before he died and thanked him for The Rats. The book introduced me fully to the horror genre, and is partly responsible for me doing what I do now.

What are you currently working on?
I’m currently writing my second thriller for Avon, tentatively titled Every Man (although I suspect that title might change). I don’t want to say too much about it, other than it’s just as fast and furious as The Hunt.

The Hunt is out now.

A Day in the Life: C. L. Taylor, author of THE LIE

Category: Author Post

20150407_081806My day begins at 5.30am when my partner gets up for work. I stir briefly then fall back asleep, only to be woken again at 6.40am when my 3 year old son appears in the doorway of our bedroom and announces, “Sunshine is up, Mummy.” After years of 5am starts we’ve trained him to wait until the sunshine appears on his Groclock before he comes into our room. 6.40am is practically a lie in these days.

After milk for my son and coffee for me we get ready for the day then, at 8am, I take him to nursery (the scooter helps speed up the journey).

I return home by 8.30am and promptly stack the dishwasher, clean the kitchen floor and do all the washing. Actually that’s a lie. What I actually do is make another cup of coffee and sit in front of the TV. After the hustle and bustle of the morning routine I like to zone out in front of the TV for an hour and catch up on whatever I recorded the night before. Whilst I’m watching TV I do my bit on social media – I update Facebook and Twitter and, if I’ve got new book out, I obsessively check my ranking and reviews on Goodreads and Amazon (a terrible habit I really wish I could give up).

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After about an hour I go into my study which is one third desk, one third treadmill and one third guest sofa bed. Until the beginning of this year I held down a day job and worked from home but now the study’s just for writing (and occasional guests). The level of messiness directly reflects what stage of a book I’m working on. My second psychological thriller, THE LIE, is due to be published on 23rd April so I’m busy promoting that as well as writing the first draft of THE FORGETTING, my new novel.

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The Post-It notes decorating the sides of the laptop are all the promotional articles, blog posts and short stories I need to write to promote THE LIE and the ones on the wall behind it are plot points and character notes for the new novel. I also have several notebooks and reference books to do with the new novel stacked up on the floor beside the desk.

20150401_180136I begin by attacking the new novel. My deadline for handing in a completed first draft of approximately 100,000 words is 20th July so, as I only write four days a week (I spend Fridays hanging out with my son), I need to write a minimum of 1,500 words a day. I normally manage about 1,000 in the morning, break for lunch at 12pm, and then squeeze out another 500 words. Once that’s done I try and fit in a blog post or article and then, at 3pm, I take a break to do some exercise – I run on the treadmill or do a workout DVD. I’m often too busy to do that, particularly at the moment when I’m juggling two books, so I’ve come up with a solution that means I’m not spending eight hours a day sitting on my bum – a treadmill laptop tray!

I set the treadmill to a 1.0 or 2.0 incline and a speed of about 2.5km/ph and then I start typing. It sounds tricky, like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time but once I get into the rhythm of walking and typing I barely even notice I’m moving. I can manage about an hour’s worth of writing this way until my back starts to twinge and I have to sit down again.

By 4pm my concentration is shot so I move into the living room and read for about forty-five minutes. I’m very lucky in that I receive quite a few advanced review copies of other author’s books so there’s normally a sizeable pile to choose from.

At 4.45pm it’s time to put on my coat and collect my son from nursery. Once home watches TV or play on the Wii whilst I rush around the kitchen like a woman possessed, stacking the dishwasher and wiping down the surfaces. Then there’s just enough time for a game or a story with my son before my partner gets home at 6.30pm and we start the bedtime routine.  After that I cook the dinner and collapse in a heap on the sofa.

 

The Lie by C. L. Taylor is out Thursday, 23rd April. You can pre-order the eBook or a physical copy today. You can find the latest from Cally via Twitter, her Facebook page, and her website.