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A Date With . . . James Roby

My guest this week is James Roby. Born in Detroit, James is a veteran of the USAF and served in many locations across the USA from Florida to Alaska, and traveled beyond America’s shores, too. Now he’s back in Detroit, a city that he loves and that is the setting for a series of novels featuring a team of investigators he calls the Urban Knights. We began by discussing his love for the city of his birth.

Thanks Frank for giving me the opportunity to spread the word about the UrbanKnights novel series. Well, Detroit IS home. I feel Detroit had a, pardon the pun, driving force in my early development. Good or ill, it’s made me who I am today. We’re all the product of our environment, of the things we’ve seen and done. Detroit for me, is a big part of that. Traveling the country, I encountered a lot of negative feelings about Detroit – a lot of it off base. I tried to be a representative of my hometown and help disperse some of the rumor and flat out lies about her. That’s why so many of my characters are based on real people I grew up with. Not everyone in the city is someone’s ‘baby momma’ or an ex-con. Some of them went to college, raised a family…the same things people everywhere do. That’s Detroit to me.”

Detroit is famous internationally as the USA’s “Motor Town” and fast cars feature in the UrbanKnights novels. I wondered what James drives himself.

“ I’m a Mustang man myself. Blame Steve McQueen in Bullitt. I’m on my third one and my next car will probably be another ‘Stang. I had a Chrysler and a Saturn in there too, but I’m a diehard Mustang fan.”

The American motor industry has suffered many set backs in recent years but James believes its future holds promise.

“ I don’t think it’s dead, by any means. I still see a lot of domestics around…and some of them are electric and hybrid. I hope this technology grows and becomes more widespread, if for no other reason, than to provide the market a choice.”

Detroit, too, has suffered – from a loss of population and some recent political scandals. At the same time the ratio of Black to White residents has reversed, suggesting the exodus was mostly of White people. That is something that inevitably features in James’s novels.

“In a lot of ways, Detroit is a microcosm of America in terms of race. You can see it clearly at the Detroit – Grosse Pointe border, one of the city’s more affluent suburbs. It’s like someone hit a switch. It’s a burden that has impacted the city and by extension, the country. Race and racism is like a big heavy weight around the leg of someone trying to run a race. Bad part is, no one but us is making us wear it. I lived through a lot of those changes, and it breaks my heart. There is, I feel, enough blame to go around.

With race so ingrained in the recent history of Detroit, it’s hard, if not impractical, to write fiction there and not at least touch on it. In the UrbanKnights, sometimes it’s subtle like a conversation. In Pale Horse, the main character, Jordan Noble and an old military buddy discuss why there are so few resources in Detroit to aid in their mission. Sins of the Father and my newest novel, Favorite Son, tackle gentrification, which in part, is driven by race.”

James went on to reveal a little more about this latest work.

“ A new casino is just opening in Detroit and instead of enjoying the grand opening, tragedy strikes. The owner is murdered in his office by persons unknown. The UrbanKnights are on the case and they quickly discover murder is only the beginning and this case will put them in conflict with powers far beyond Detroit’s borders.”

James’s stories are driven far more by characters and their motivations than by a preconceived plot.

“ I heard Dan Brown recently say the ‘story’ has been done. Basically, there’s nothing new under the sun. It’s up to the writer to make it interesting. I mean, whether it’s the latest action thriller or a historical drama, the setting may change but the elements are the same: Characters, conflicts, resolutions, etc. So, I feel character and motivations are the primary elements. You want to go on the ride with someone you like and are interested in. I often have an idea, not necessarily a plot, and the first question is, What would the UrbansKnights do? I would hope that’s what would make readers come back too.”

James writes early mornings and at weekends

“ I get up an hour earlier during the week for that quiet time to work on my books. I usually do catch up on the weekend.”

His stories are backed by lots of research.

“ I’m definitely a ‘pantser’. I get an idea and run with it. For example, I was walking down the street after seeing something on the news and the idea struck me – what if there was a terrorist attack in Detroit? What would [my leading character] Jordan Noble do, given his history in counter-terrorism? I just went from there. During the writing, after the thrill of a new idea wore I started asking questions: Why would a terrorist attack Detroit? How would that impact on the large Middle Eastern population in and around the city? Then there was the question of what agents of government would respond? What equipment would they use? You get the idea. So yeah, I have to research. A lot. I love Google. There is a ton of information out there. I also have some personal resources – people I met in the service, Police officers back home, that sort of thing.

It’s almost like an onion, each layer reveals another. My latest book, Favorite Son, took so many changes after the research started, it’s not even the same story! Research created a connection between me and the story. I go deeper and the story becomes more real.”

Like most of us indie authors, James wishes he could afford more professional help, especially with regard to marketing.

“ I fought this long and hard and finally gave in. I am currently working with an artist to redesign my first three covers. I’ve had a lot of ‘it’s ok’ responses to the covers I’ve designed. ‘It’s ok’ doesn’t sell novels. I’m also looking at some marketing services. If I had to give advice it would be, what you can do yourself, do. Otherwise, hire someone who is good at it. Also, unless you have a few thousand dollars just laying around, you’re going to have to prioritize. For me it was covers and marketing because that’s what gets the books in folks hands. You can also bypass some costs by tapping into different writing communities. I can’t put a price on how useful my writing group is. Check out social media for groups in your town. It will be worth it.”

(Images of the old covers are alongside, so you can judge for yourself whether they qualify as “okay” or “special”, FP)

James’s favorite writers are Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Dashiell Hammett, Ian Fleming, and Walter Mosley. but the one he would most like to meet is Walter Mosely.

“ Just to hear the story of how he brought Easy Rawlins, to compete in a media where there are so few African American heroes. And how he connects with his audience, what worked best for them in their marketing…that sort of thing. I have seen writing good and bad but the mystery I struggle with is the marketing. I truly believe that’s the difference between a sold book and a stack in your basement is the marketing.”

An ideal day for James would be different depending on whether or not he had won a lottery prize.

“ I guess in the real world, waking up late, watching the Saint (starring Roger Moore, of course) with the wife and my dogs. And being in Detroit, of course, I have to get a couple of coney dogs at Kerby’s. Throw in a steak for dinner and man, that’s a day. But for a fantasy, I’m seeing a cruise ship, a beach and long days of doing nothing.”

Asked to name something about him that might surprise his readers, James reveals his love of dogs.

“ My wife and I have fostered over 20 dogs. We volunteer with a local organization that spare dogs from being destroyed. Once they’re rescued from shelters, we provided them a home and help socialize the little rascals, until someone adopts them. Well, except for the two dogs we ended up keeping!”

I hope you have enjoyed reading about James. You can discover much more, and links to his books, on his website.

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A Date With. . . Max Power

My ‘date’ this time is Dublin born author Max Power. In his response to my first question he agrees that his Dublin childhood is an important influence, but goes on to say that it is only part of the story.

“The Jesuit maxim of ‘give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man’ is not something I buy into. It’s never too late to change direction. Perhaps the greatest influence in my writing has been the deaths of my mother, my father and my elder brother who died all too young aged 53. I struggled with grief when my mother passed in particular and I know in hindsight that I was damaged by not dealing fully with the loss at the time.

Love, loss and death are central themes in all of my books, I suspect largely because of how my life has developed. I have been asked for example, why I write across genre. For me there is no line that divides the twisting paranormal tale of Darkly Wood from the book I wrote about a little boy whose name I never reveal. Both are written in my voice and it is a voice that comes directly from my head to tell the reader a story.

I am a simple story teller, no more, no less.

Other writers will understand the huge effort that goes into writing a book, but I like to think that whoever reads my stories is sitting comfortably and hearing the lilt of my voice with each written word. It is certainly what I like to feel when I read a book and I spend a lot of time when editing, focusing on words that hopefully achieve this. I guess therein lies the craft.”

81nobyqnfnl-_sy300_Like so many indie authors, Max’s writing journey began quite late in life although he had always had stories in his head waiting to be unleashed.

“I have always been a writer I guess and I devoured books as a reader for as long as I can remember. I have a vivid recollection of being beaten by a De La Salle Brother for writing the title of my essay at the top of every page, just like I had seen in books. He ignored the fact that while every other boy in the class barely managed to fill one page for their essay, mine was 12 pages long. The shock of being punished for working so hard was unbearable at the time.

I have worked hard all through my life and part of that involved extensive travel, including a full year living and working in Australia. Along the way my children had to be reared and as you say, life gets in the way. I tend to work on multiple projects at once and one such current rewrite dates back to a book I first wrote in 1990. In short I have always tipped away, but I have finally reached a place in life where I have a little more time to dedicate to my writing and therein lies the answer.”

His first three novels were published in 2014. Subsequent books have appeared at longer intervals in what turns out to have been a deliberate marketing strategy.

“One of my primary degrees is in marketing, so I knew I had to get a batch of books to market to have any chance of developing a profile as a writer.

The first book I published was Darkly Wood, a true labour of love for me. I had already written first drafts of the next two books so in the first year I was working to a very specific plan – 3 books. I always work on multiple projects. Right now for example I am finishing Darkly Wood III, rewriting a book I mentioned earlier, a thriller called Apollo Bay set in Australia, there is a story set during the Irish Famine, and one that has a loose connection to Little Big Boy as well as a couple of other projects in development. I like to move from project to project at different stages as I feel it keeps me interested. I never have writers block and I think my methodology has a lot to do with this.”

81wqpmhuxil-_sy300_A recent reduction in published output is undoubtedly the result of what I chose to refer to as “a brush with ill health”. Turns out that was something of an understatement.

“My ‘brush with ill health’ saw me go to hospital for a relatively routine procedure. Unfortunately on the table things went wrong and to put it simply, my heart stopped and I had to be revived.

I had suffered a heart attack and ended up in a critical care unit for two weeks. It was a wrecking ball through my life. I am still relatively young and I went from being a healthy, fit man, to someone who couldn’t walk up the stairs without stopping for a break.

People asked me what was it like and I do have decent recall of what happened, though not a full memory of course. I was conscious up to the point a nurse climbed onto the table and started to squeeze a bag of fluids to which I was attached. I distinctly remember that the mood in the room changed and another nurse took my hand. She calmly told me that everything would be fine – that I would be fine.

I understood in that moment, I’m not sure why, that I was dying.

My life didn’t flash before my eyes but I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. I’m melancholic by nature although I cover it up for the greater world. I suspect in those moments, as I briefly crossed over, my natural self took over. I just felt sad for those I was leaving behind, my darling Joanna and my wonderful children. When I came around I was changed.

Bizarrely for a man who is a total sceptic and has no time for ghosts, spirits etc, I discovered that I now have a new dark companion who I have blogged about so I won’t go into detail here. I strongly suspect it is a delusional apparition, but there is a very dark and frightening, portentous element to his visits that make me uncomfortable.

In the last year I have had a run of bad luck health wise, mostly relatively minor things, but they have hugely impacted my writing time. As I type, I am struggling with a shoulder injury and to be honest, I have a serious pain in my backside with the recent list of creaky, old man ailments that have hunted me down one after the other. But on the bright side, my trips through the world of medicine are always good food for my blog.”

8197jivbbal-_sy300_Max’s often satirical, and always very funny, blog has a large following. He offers this advice to bloggers wishing to emulate his success:

“I approach my blog very differently than most bloggers – or at least I think I do. It is not a commercial enterprise, nor an exercise in narcissism. I love telling stories. Even in the flesh I never shut up. My blog is an extension of that side of me. I sit at my laptop and have a little wander through my thought process. I will tell a story, usually multi-compartmented, and my goal is either to bring a smile or just to share some often very honest truths about myself.

It’s not a confessional but I know from interactions with readers of my blog, that I often connect with others going through similar experiences. It is a sampler if you will, of my writing. It is my penny dreadful in a way, a teaser of me and a good place to practice being concise, which is important for me as a writer.

The advice I would give for whatever value that might be, is to know what you want to write about.

If you have to struggle each time you sit down to write a blog, then you haven’t discovered what it is you are trying to achieve.

My blog is what it is, it does exactly what it says on the tin. I do use imagery and spend more time choosing my images than I do actually writing the blogs as I understand the importance of the visual impact – again my history in the world of marketing coming out.

Like all my writing advice, I go back to the heart of what writing should be.

Be interesting, be relevant and always think of your audience first.

Some writers think too much of themselves and forget that ultimately they need to engage and entertain their readers.”

He does not (yet) have a special place for his writing:

“I write anywhere. Kitchen table, sofa, office at lunch break, hotel rooms when I travel, there is no special place. We moved to our current house three years ago and there is a space I’ve got my eye on, but with one grown lad, Joanna’s 93year old mother and three dogs, I have yet to find the time to confiscate and decorate. I write every day, if only a small amount it doesn’t matter. I alternate from a first draft, to editing different drafts or rewrites, and it is a slow process but I keep at it.”

81rjxrvczjl-_sy300_Although his books are strongly character driven they are mostly worked out in his head before he begins committing them to paper.

“I write every book in my head, start to finish. It can take months for me to develop a story, my mind is a whirlwind of noise, it never stops and that can be a bad thing. But among the clutter there is always my latest planned project. When I am happy with it, I sit down and write it through start to finish without any edits until I get the story down. My books are entirely character driven and perhaps the best example of this is Wormhold in Darkly Wood II. He changed how the book developed and was entirely responsible for me writing book III.

Originally he was supposed to have a far smaller part in the book, but as I inked him to life, I fell madly in love with his twisted horror and I couldn’t help myself and he became central to the story. I couldn’t end the book without curtailing his wild twisted beauty, so I replotted and realized I would need a huge book to get to where I wanted to go. The upshot is a third book in the series that wasn’t originally planned.

In general I allow my characters to take their natural course, but they ultimately stick to the end goal. I’m a far more technical writer than most people would notice. Writing a book in the first person without ever using the character’s name was an enormous challenge and within Little Big Boy for example, there was a need to write about terrible things that the reader had to understand but the narrator, my Little Big Boy didn’t understand and on occasion had to be oblivious to the events in the story.

It may sound simple, but I literally slaved over words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs, to achieve something that reads like it is falling off the little boy’s tongue, all the while revealing the sometimes unrevealable as my main character was too young to see or understand context and circumstance. I loved writing the book because I think I got into the space I needed to get to write it, the head of a seven year old boy. I also hated writing it, because I was very ill during the process so I struggled a lot getting this one finished.

Larry Flynn drove me to distraction. He is such a simple character in theory, but I understood his secret backstory so he diverted me quite a bit. I think both Larry and James Delaney in Bad Blood, had their own meanders but thrillers are easier to keep in line as they have a much more fixed structure if everything is to work out.”

91szeupvynl-_sy300_As I imagine we all know, the standard disclaimer “any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental” is only half true and Max is not afraid to admit it.

Little Big Boy has my face on the cover. I wanted a little boy on the cover and there were no copyright issues with my own photo. I stole many bits and pieces from people I knew in my childhood, but it was very much a case of taking all the fragments and creating something new.

In Darkly Wood some of the characters despite the strangeness of the tales, have origins in people I have met, but again they are only shadows of real people falling on my invention.

I did use one real name that might surprise people when they hear it. My daughter’s boyfriend has a friend called Zachary Westhelle Hartfiel. He is as Irish as they come despite his name and when I met him I told him that I simply had to steal his wonderful name for my book. I turned him into a swashbuckling chap in the vain of Black Adder’s version of Sir Walter Raleigh. He came to a dark end though. I would say that in general my main characters are pure inventions of my own, created in my mind as I plan my story.”

As you might imagine, Max includes a number of classics among his favourite writers.

“I love Charles Dickens, Henry James, George, Elliot, for example but I have a broad taste beyond the classics. Stephen King’s The girl who loved Tom Gordon is one of my favourite books but most people miss this short little gem in his catalogue of more famous books. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a cracker and I enjoy Flan O Brien.

Perhaps my favourite book, is still The Little Prince for its simplicity and for Alexander du Saint Expurés interesting life, I think I’d have to have him to dinner or a pint. As always with people I meet, I want to learn about them primarily. New people fascinate me and I think we have most to learn by simply listening.”

I always like to end my ‘dates’ by asking the subject to reveal something surprising abut themselves.

“There are things that if I put on paper people literally wouldn’t believe and tempted as I am, I’ll keep the strangest ones to myself. I can tell you that I have an empathic ability to feel the physical pain of others by touch. I can touch someone and from that touch I can literally pinpoint a point of pain on their body. I keep that to my self – until now – only Joanna can back that assertion up. There’s that and the fact that I have no tickles, never had. I used to tell my kids that they all fell out as I snapped back up from the bottom of a bungee jump – a little embellishment I know, but I simply can’t help myself I’m afraid.”

I thanked Max for some fascinating insights into his life and his writing. Do please check out his books, if you have not already done so. Probably the best place is on his website where every blog is ended with a set of links to your local Amazon store. He is also on Facebook.

A Date With . . . Tom Benson

My fourth candidate for “A Date With . . .” is Scottish writer Tom Benson. Tom writes across several genres and is also a founder member and administrator for the Independent Author’s Support and Discussion group (IASD) which brings writers together to help each other with everything from blurb writing to discussing the relative merits of different marketing strategies. I began by asking him about growing up in Glasgow in the 1960s, mentioning my mental image of the city as grey stone tenements and ship building.

“Your mental image is accurate and it’s how I remember the Eastend of the city where I spent my formative years. In 1960 our family moved west to a spacious apartment in a sprawling council estate. In the mid-60s from our secondary school we could see the hulk of the ‘Q4’ in Clydebank several miles away. When launched, the Q4 was named Queen Elizabeth II.

uppercylebow

Queen Elizabeth II at launch on the Clyde. Image found at classicliners.net

Work hard – play hard, was the maxim. I remember adults fighting in the street; both men and women. The reputation of a ‘hard’ city is well-deserved, but so too is the accolade of being one of the friendliest cities.To this day, for me, Glasgow has always been a city of extremes. I return to visit my mother, but none of the three siblings who have brought up families there. Occasionally on a visit to Scotland with my wife we’ll visit Glasgow but we do so as tourists.”

Tom signed-up for a career in the British army at 17. I asked if he would do the same today, knowing what modern warfare entails.

“I was the oldest child of six living in a household where ‘conflict’ was a way of life, involving my parents or my siblings. I was the quietest and most industrious. My parents could not have afforded me to go into further education so I joined the workforce (in an office) at fifteen. There was no ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ in my life.

Thousands of families are living now as we did back in the 1950’s and 1960s.

I’ve often wondered what my options would be if I were a teenager there now. I believe I would still sign-up, and sadly for the same reasons. There is no evolution for certain families, merely a life-cycle.”

Tom’s army career included a stint in Belfast in the 1970s at a time when the ‘troubles’ were at their height. I mentioned to Tom that I was there for a brief visit on business in 1970 and was shocked at the invective unleashed by a couple of male by-standers when an Army Land Rover patrol passed. When the men discovered I was English, from Coventry, they asked how I would feel if the Army was patrolling Coventry’s streets. I asked Tom how it felt to be on the other side of that situation – patrolling the streets of a British city and being spat at – and worse.

“I served on the streets of East Belfast in 1973. Our unit was the first non-infantry to perform the role of Internal Security there. We trained for months in Germany, but it was surreal to walk along British streets during day or night; with a loaded rifle. None of us were eager to do the task, but we’d taken taken an oath and signed up – it was our job.
I recall my first foot patrol. My thoughts went from anxious to professional in less than one minute. During our four-month tour, we were stoned (and not in a good way), spat at, and shot at among other things. On occasion we remained closer to a suspect device to steer sometimes ungrateful civilians to safety. You learn about yourself when you don’t retaliate against a teenager spitting at you, and when we were shot at, we responded by running towards the location of the suspect.
Juxtaposed to the negativity, there were many who accepted us, offering hospitality and friendship.”

4631438383_707x530Tom’s army life feeds into much of his writing. As well as the recently published 5 volume first person account of a man’s army experiences (which he insists is not entirely autobiographical), there is a series featuring a former soldier leading a small group determined to eliminate criminal gangs operating in present day Glasgow. I wondered if that is something he would have liked to do.

“Having survived bullying at school, I fought back on the first occasion in my military career. It was at that time I grew to despise injustice and criminality. On more than one occasion I involved myself in a scuffle to help others (male and female), because I refused to witness a person being beaten. I write about vengeance and summary justice, but I don’t believe I would wish to live on the edge. Notably, my characters have little in the way of a ‘normal’ lifestyle and have no dependents.”

One of the genre’s that Tom writes is erotica. In my ‘devil’s advocate’ role I asked did he think such ‘literature’ encourages the kind of attitude towards women exemplified by recent revelations from politics and show-business.

4634081987_162x233“I started writing erotica because there was so much badly written material in the genre. One particular book which has since gone on to be an international success is a woefully inaccurate tale of a relationship which involves sadomasochism. I was bitterly disappointed in the lack of knowledge shown by the author. (Aside: I wonder what book and movie series Tom could possibly talking about?)
My decision to tackle the genre was vindicated when my first attempt, an anthology of erotica short stories, was well received. I followed this with a novel, and then a series of novellas.

I have always held girls and women in high regard, and this is reflected in my writing.

My female characters are never downtrodden, and in many cases are equal to, or stronger than the males.
Most of the reviews (and private messages) I’ve received on my erotica are from female readers, and all of it has been positive. I now mentor a fellow erotica author.
In my opinion, nothing will sway a man’s judgement concerning women’s sexual appetites. Men will believe what they choose. Women, like men, have varying attitudes regarding sex. Most people have fantasies, and when somebody chooses to read erotica the content is obvious which makes it a conscious choice.
My personal affliction in erotica writing is that I insist on there being a story.”

IASD grew out of a website operated by fellow writer Paul Ruddock. After Paul reviewed one of Tom’s novels the pair discovered both were ex-Servicemen. Tom takes up the story:

“Camaraderie survives long after we leave the uniform. It doesn’t matter which service, or cap badge, male or female – the brotherhood/sisterhood continues.
Paul’s wish was to expand on what he’d started. Apart from minor changes in title the IASD grew rapidly when it became a group on Facebook. I offered my services — supporting Paul as an admin was the way forward. Ian D Moore (another ex-Serviceman) joined the group a few months later and he too became an admin.
Paul donated his original blog to the group a few months later, in October 2015. I’m not an expert, but I commenced rebuilding what is now the IASD blog/website. The group at the time numbered about 150 members and agreement was sought at every stage as I developed the site.IASD - globe 2
We have several members who are more adept than I am technically and I’m never too proud to ask for help or advice. We increased the admin team and brought on board a couple of members who have helped make the group successful.
The membership spiralled to 400+ at one stage, but many were freeloaders using us as a marketing tool, so over a period of time they ‘disappeared’. We in admin are all immensely proud of our members and their willingness to help the group live up to its name.”

This last sentiment reflects what he has found across the independently published writer community since starting what he describes as his “writing journey”.

“It is one of the few areas of ‘Civvy Street’ where I’ve seen a large group of people willingly offering support to their peers. From the outset, when I’ve seen inferior writing, but an author with potential, I’ve offered help and advice. I’m not an expert, but sometimes an offer of help is enough to show somebody they’re on the right track.”

Tom retired only recently from his second career, so his writing and the creation/development of IASD were all undertaken alongside a full-time job.

“I first tried creative writing in the mid-nineties. I toyed with my military memoirs and short stories. When my brilliant ideas were converted from thought to written word, my material was awful. I cut down on writing to read more, and I bought magazines and text books on writing.
4628160596_144x211I started writing seriously around 2007. I was a retail manager and to relax one day I wrote a poem. I was commuting for over two hours a day and wrote verse during every train journey and every lunch break. One day I converted a poem to a short story.
Over the next few years I stepped down to deputy, then reduced my hours, and finally moved to the local branch. At each stage I gained time to write. Evenings and days-off were filled with writing.
I am dedicated, whether it be the promise to help somebody else, or to meet a personal target.
Since retiring last November I’ve redecorated three rooms in our house and started on four writing projects. I’ve also read and reviewed twenty books.
My aims now include to continue cycling regularly, and learn to bake; though not while cycling.
I’m already underway with the publication of my novels in paperback.”

Tom is well organised in both the place and time of his craft:

“We don’t have a large house, but we have three bedrooms. When our son left home for university in 2000, we kept his bedroom available for his occasional visits. The room he’d used for his computer and studying became my ‘study’. As recently as last summer I performed an extensive makeover. I now have a modern, bright room, complete with a Mac which was a retirement gift to myself.
My window is large and I’ve fitted a Venetian blind which allows maximum daylight. The desk at which I write is in the middle of the room and end-on to the window. I’ve found ‘freedom’ in this position because for a few years I had my desk against a wall.
I prefer to write early, but it depends how long my morning cycle ride takes. I rarely watch TV, except for news or natural history programmes, so I write a lot in the evenings. I’m disciplined about regular breaks – including a full hour lunch-break.”

Robert Louis Stevenson, Wilbur Smith, Jeffrey Archer and Lee Child are top of his list of authors he’d like to share a pint or a meal with:

“I’d hope to discover to what extent they allowed the story to be diverted by the characters and how wide their stories veered from the original plan. I’d also be keen to learn how much time was spent planning as opposed to writing.”

4611584585_181x265
I thanked Tom for being so frank with his answers to my questions. I hope you enjoyed the encounter as much as I did.
Tom’s latest release, Amsterdam Calling, is now available in paperback. Ten Days in Panama will be released in paperback in the spring, part of his plan to publish all of his novels as paperback, including the five-part, fact-based fiction tale, A Life of Choice, during 2018. You can find a lot more about Tom, and his books, by following these links:

Author website, Erotica website, Writing blog, Writer and artist website, Facebook