Interview: Author David Khara talks to us about The Bleiberg Project

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Today, I’m pleased to welcome David Khara, author of The Bleiberg Project, a new conspiracy theory action thriller from France.

The Bleiberg Project is an adrenaline-pumping conspiracy thriller and the first in the Consortium Thriller series by the French writer David Khara. Are Hitler’s atrocities really over? This thriller full of humour and humanity was an immediate sensation in France, catapulting the author to the ranks of the country’s top thriller writers. It is now available in English.

Before we get started with the interview, here’s a little taster of the book (please note contains strong language):

Excerpt

“Besides work and getting high, what do you do all day?”

No answer. You’re out of luck, pal. I’m pig-headed. “The journey will seem shorter if we talk, don’t you think?”

He sighs. “When I’m not on an assignment, I paint.” I can’t help laughing. “You think that’s funny?”

“I’m picturing you on a stool with your palette and brush, gazing at a green valley or a snowy mountaintop. Sorry, but with your look and build, it’s funny!”

“If you’re just going to make fun of me, the trip is going to seem very, very long.” He clams up.

“There’s no harm in a little fun. OK, I’ll stop,” I snort, laughing even louder. Why do giggling fits always hit at inappropriate times?

“What about you? Besides driving home from clubs dead drunk, what do you do?”

Bastard. That’s below the belt. On second thought, I guess I deserved it. “I try to survive. I thought about blowing my brains out, but I’m too much of a coward. So I drink. I smoke like a chimney. Every day, I destroy myself a little bit more.”

“Suicide isn’t a sign of bravery, but of giving up. We all make mistakes. You don’t judge somebody by the number of blows they can give.”

“What do you judge somebody by, Mr Freud?”

“The number of blows they can take.”

His words hit home. “You’ve taken a lot, right?” I ask. A long, long beat.

“More than you can ever imagine.”

Why am I not surprised? This guy’s been around the block. I’d bet my life on it. “How do you do it?”

“Pardon me?”

“Blowing guys away like that. How do you do it?”

“Who said it was easy?” He sighs heavily. A long awkward silence.

(Excerpted from The Bleiberg Project by David Khara. First published in French as Le Projet Bleiberg, ©2010 Editions Critic. English translation ©2013 Simon John. First published in English in 2013 by Le French Book, a digital-first publisher specializing in best-selling mysteries and thrillers from France.).

And now, for the interview

Author David Khara

Author David Khara

So David, your new book, The Bleiberg Project, is a thriller with links to World War II. What was it that inspired you to write a novel along that theme?

The whole idea for The Bleiberg Project idea came while I was driving to my office, listening to the news. A pharmaceutical company was doing research on an orphan disease that touched fewer than 100 kids in Europe. A man said that the study was being ended because the budget was 50,000 euros short. I was stunned. These companies make tons of money, amazing profits, and 50,000 euros is a drop in the ocean. When I got to my office, I started looking into the subject and found articles establishing links between Nazi and Japanese scientists during WWII and pharmaceutical companies. I also found information about how Allied governments were interested in the results of immoral and incredibly cruel human experiments. Through my research, I realized the world we live in rose up from the ashes of war, and was built on the corpses of 60 million victims. I wanted to write about it, through entertainment to make it more bearable.

What research do you do to ensure the atmosphere, locations and characters feel authentic?

The answer is pretty easy: 1000 hours listening to survivors, watching documentaries over and over again, and reading biographies. The point was not for me to merely tell the stories. I needed to get in the minds of both victims and criminals. I wanted to be there with them. This inspired many of the characters of the series, even those set in the present day. And everything that happens in the past is, at one point or another, is based on the truth.

Tell us a little about your writing process, do you plot out the story events before sitting down to write, or do you drive right in and see where the story takes you?

It is a very delicate mix of both. I’ve got a few dots I need to link together to get the whole picture. I do not use notes, nor do I write an outline. I know what I’m going to write, and since the novels are built as puzzles with chapters taking us back in time, I have everything in mind before starting. That means I constantly think about it. There is just no day off when I start working. Still, the absence of a written script gives the characters some space to explore unplanned directions. My job is then to make sure they don’t stray too far from the plot and my goals.

How do you organise your writing day: do you have a favourite time and place to write?

My writing day is a well-established ritual. I write in my garden, a cup of coffee on the left side of my computer, and my cigarettes (bad, I know) on the right side.  I put sunglasses on, then headphones because I need music to keep me in the mood of each chapter. With that, I’m ready for 6 to 8 hours of intensive writing. I usually work from 10 in the morning to 6 in the evening, with a break for lunch. When I’m not in the mood for writing, I go back to my research.

And what’s next for you, are you planning your next novel, or already well into the writing of it?

The Morgenstern Project, the third book in the Consortium thriller series, was just released in France, so I’m traveling a lot for book signings and interviews. My next novel is planned, and I’ll start writing it pretty soon and it is about time because I’ve had it in mind for three years now and lots of readers ask for it. The Bleiberg Project movie production should move to a new phase soon, which will have a direct impact on my schedule. 2014 will be a very busy year, believe me.

A big thank you to David Khara for dropping by to talk to us. To find out more about David and The Bleiberg Project, you can check out the link below:

Web page: http://www.thebleibergproject.com

The Bleiberg Project is out now and available via Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

You know you need another bookcase when …

many books!

many books!

 

I love books.

It’s a simple fact.

The problem is, even though I’ve got a Kindle, I’m still hopelessly addicted to hardbacks and paperbacks.

And that’s a problem. I’m always running out of shelf-space and so my books begin to take over the floor – I think the photo speaks for itself!

What’s your solution to an ever increasing book collection?

Daily Ponder: Reading is like …

postcard illustration by Sean Freeman

postcard illustration by Sean Freeman

I adore this postcard. It’s been proudly displayed on my bookcase ever since I picked it up at the fabulous Goldsboro Books.

Credits to: Pan MacMillan, 2666 by Roberto Balano, postcard illustration by Sean Freeman.

Fancy doing an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Thriller Novels?

English: City University The City University d...

English: City University The City University dates back to 1894 when it was founded as the Northampton Institute (being located in Northampton Square). It achieved university status in 1966, as an independent institution outside the University of London federation. It has always had strong links with the City of London and the Lord Mayor is the university’s chancellor. This attractive sign stands outside a rather less attractive concrete building on Spencer Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever thought of doing an MA in Creative Writing? How about one that specializes in crime thriller novels?

Well, if you’ve ever toyed with the idea, this could be the perfect course for you …

City University, London, added a Crime Thriller Novels strand to their already hugely popular MA in Creative Writing in 2012. I’m lucky enough to be one of the first cohort of students, and I’m having a fantastic time. It’s lots of work, lots of reading, and it’s challenging and encouraging all at once. I’d certainly recommend it.

Sound like it’s something you’d be interested in?

If so, you can find out more over at the City University website at: http://www.city.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/creative-writing-novels

Also, there’s an open evening on Wednesday 19th June from 5pm – 7pm, so you can meet the tutors and ask questions about the course.

Review: Chilled to the Bone by Quentin Bates

book cover

book cover

What the blurb says: “When a shipowner is found dead, tied to a bed in one of Reykjavik’s smartest hotels, sergeant Gunnhildur “Gunna” Gisladottir of the city police force sees no evidence of foul play, but still suspects things are not as cut and dried as they seem. As she investigates the shipowner’s untimely death, she stumbles across a discreet bondage society whose members are being systematically exploited and blackmailed.

But how does all this connect to a local gangster recently returned to Iceland after many years abroad, and the unfortunate loss of a government laptop containing sensitive data about various members of the ruling party? What begins as a straightforward case for Gunnhildur soon explodes into a dangerous investigation, uncovering secrets that ruthless men are ready to go to violent extremes to keep.”

It’s easy to like Gunna, she’s strong and determined, yet compassionate and giving: a hardworking detective and a dedicated mother juggling the complexities of modern life. As Gunna starts to unravel the threads that bind a set of seemingly unconnected crimes together, she uncovers a secret community that she’d never realised existed. When a witness goes missing, the question is can Gunna find the truth, and the culprits, before the sinister man impersonating a police office does?

Told through several viewpoints, in addition to Gunna’s, over the course of the story we learn how initially unconnected events have brought the main point-of-view characters – Baddo, Hekla and Joel Ingi – to their current situation, and how, even though they may not realise it, they are bound together by the secrets they keep and the choices they have made.

The tension builds steadily throughout the story. Each character is conflicted, some are criminal, but through showing their many facets, and relationships both work and personal, Bates has a way of making each of them empathetic.  I found myself caring about each of them, compelling me to keep turning the pages, hungry to find out what would happen.

I’ve never been to Iceland, but I loved the evocative imagery of this novel, and the chilling sense of cold, that made the setting really come alive for me. At first the Icelandic names took a little bit of getting used to, but they add wonderfully to the authentic feel of the story, and I was soon used to them (although I’m not sure that my pronunciation would be correct!).

This is a beautifully crafted, intricately plotted, atmospheric thriller.

Highly recommended.

 

[With thanks to C&R Crime for my copy of Chilled to the Bone]

Review: LIKE THIS FOR EVER by S.J. Bolton

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What the blurb says:

“Bright red. Like petals. Or rubies. Little red droplets.

Barney knows the killer will strike again soon. The victim will be another boy, just like him. He will drain the body of blood, and leave it on a Thames beach. There will be no clues for detectives Dana Tulloch and Mark Joesbury to find.

There will be no warning about who will be next.

There will be no good reason for Lacey Flint to become involved … And no chance that she can stay away.”

It’s hard to write a review of this novel without included spoilers and I don’t want to spoil the story for you. So all I’m saying is that Barney, an eleven-year-old boy with a gift for spotting patterns, is looking for the connections to help him solve the child murders while he’s home alone while his Dad works late. He’s also Lacey Flint’s neighbour.

The story is shown primarily from three perspectives – Barney’s, Lacey’s and Dana’s. This lets you, as the reader, in on a lot more of the facts than any one of the main characters have – a sure-fire recipe for heart-banging moments!

The story is artfully plotted, with many possibilities for who is behind the killings. This, and the multiple twists and turns, create an unputdownable puzzle that kept me reading well into the night.

But it wasn’t just the puzzle that kept me reading. SJ Bolton creates such deeply drawn characters, like the smart, often strong and yet also emotionally fragile heroine, Lacey Flint, that I felt compelled to read on just to stay with them on their journey within the story.

As well as motivation to murder, the story touches on a number of themes including modern-day vampire culture, online stalking and how social media influences, aids and inhibits investigations.

Utterly gripping, tense and suspenseful: this is a real page-turner of a crime novel.

Highly recommended.

[My copy of Like This For Ever was provided by the publisher]