Q: Can you tell us a little about your book (The Spider's Banquet) featured in this issue of Book Savvy?
A valuable mediaeval manuscript is kept, unknown except to a few scholars, in an isolated monastery, until, in a bewildering sequence of events, it is copied, sold and stolen - not necessarily in that order - and the focus of deaths. Real history is interwoven with fiction as the detectives seek to unravel the web of deceit and murder and to identify the spider at its centre. (The title is a reference to Roussel's ballet of 1913, but its relevance becomes properly apparent only at the end of the novel.)
Q: When you write what emotion do you seek to evoke in your readers?
Not an emotion so much as an intellectual stimulation: joy in the things of the mind!
Q: Many of the book reviews for your novel have described it as enthralling, intriguing, full of suspense as well as entertaining and even erudite, how do you manage to combine all these virtues in a detective crime novel?
I try not just to tell a story but to embellish it with outside references intended to set up resonances and provide interest for the reader. I make sure I check that there is a proper balance between developing particular points and moving the story forward with a variety of styles (e.g. narrative, conversation, authorial commentary) and changes of scene where appropriate. I also try to appeal to readers' interest in forensic detail, in the psychology of murder, in the breaking of alibis, in 'thrills' and in the more intellectual aspects of the genre. I give the reader a chance of solving the crime. I use a style of English that I think will gain and hold the reader's attention.
Q: You have written over a dozen crime novels and are a member of the Crime Writers' Association, why do you prefer to write in this genre of fiction?
As a member of the Crime Writers' Association, I declare my interest in the genre. It is a genre which has proved extremely popular with authors as well as readers in the last 150 years. It is one which requires a great deal of ingenuity if it is to successfully draw the reader into a crime in which the disclosure of the culprit is of interest. On the other hand I confess to using the genre as a vehicle for other purposes. A crime novel maintains the reader's interest as a thread through a variety of other topics and issues.
Q: How do you get the inspiration for the deft plots of your novels, is it all imagined or do you get some inspiration from real life experiences?
A writer must draw on experience to be confident of not indulging in pure fantasy, my plots emerge out of the assembly of characters and the original situation (this is how the characters would react in these given circumstances; their actions and reactions would lead to these specific events).
Q: Which of your novels is your favourite?
The favourite amongst my own novels is Jagger, which focuses on the short career and untimely death of a popular and apparently harmless schoolmaster, but the one which has sold best is The Spider's Banquet.
Q: What is the first thing you did to promote your book once your publisher accepted your manuscript?
I sent fliers off to lending libraries, bookshops, local newspapers and local radio stations.
Q: Do you use social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to promote your books and have you had any success with it?
Yes. I have used Facebook - with some success.
Q: Do you do more promoting online or offline and which do you prefer?
Offline. I think I have not generally exploited the internet as much as I should, even though I have used Facebook and I have my own website.
Q: If you had to pick just one book marketing tool that you've used to promote your book, which would you say has been the most effective?
Thank you for your time. We wish you every success in your writing career.