Today I’m delighted to be hosting the latest stop on best selling crime writer Neil White’s blog tour. Neil’s kindly agreed to let me grill him about his latest books and his writing process.
And so, to the questions …
Your latest thriller – THE DOMINO KILLER – comes out this week, can you tell us a bit about it?
It’s the concluding book in the Parker brothers trilogy and deals partially with the running thread through the first two books, the murder of their sister many years earlier. As well as that, men are being murdered in Manchester, with a link between each one. The story starts with the murder of a man in a park, and it’s discovered that the dead man’s bloodied fingerprint was found on a knife near a body a few weeks earlier. What links them, and is there a connection with Sam and Joe’s murdered sister?
Your lead characters are brothers Joe Parker (a top criminal defence lawyer) and Sam Parker (a talented detective) – what gave you the idea for them?
It was really the notion of conflict, which I hit upon by accident when I was writing my first series involving a crime reporter and a detective who were also in a relationship. What seemed to work was that the reporter wanted to know about the cases his partner was involved in, and of course she wanted to keep him out of them.
When I realised I had to come up with a new idea, I stuck with the notion of two people who are close but have conflicting roles. Two brothers on the opposite side of the legal fence seemed to fit.
It fitted also with my own desire to make the books more legal.
I’d flirted with legal elements in the earlier books, but had always worried that I would become obsessed by making them so accurate that they ceased to be interesting; a day in court can occasionally be as mundane as any other job, punctuated by delays and often filled with so much routine.
When the drama does happen, however, it’s often pretty fun. I’m a prosecutor, and I’ve been shouted at and threatened, and at one point invited outside to “resolve matters”, and that’s just from the defence lawyers (yes, really, including the invitation to a street brawl). The criminals, on the whole, have been okay.
You’re a lawyer by day and a crime writer by night, what’s your secret to juggling these two roles?
I wish I knew it. I do what I have to do, and I don’t doubt that each job impacts negatively on the other through fatigue.
I’m not as good as I used to be after a day at work. I work just three days a week now, so I write off those nights, but I find it hard to believe that it isn’t that long since I was doing both full-time. I remember getting to the end of one of my books, I can’t remember which, and just said that was it, I was beat. I was shattered, a squeezed sponge. So I gave up a couple of days of work and now it feels more balanced.
The hardest thing is losing so much of my time. I never truly have a day off, and have taken my laptop on most of my family holidays.
What got you started writing crime fiction?
That is probably a two-part question.
What got me writing fiction? Because I always thought it was something I could do. That is just about as simple as it gets. It was something I was able to do well at school and seemed to stand me in good stead during university. I said even then that I wanted to be a writer, and at one point thought of giving up my law degree to switch to journalism, just because I thought putting words on a page was my strength.
So why crime? It’s because that’s what I read, and crime has always been my interest. As a student, I imagined myself in a courtroom, not a boardroom. I’m a criminal lawyer because I like crime. I write crime fiction because I like crime. Who couldn’t be interested in the extremes of human behaviour and emotion?
What’s your best writing moment so far?
Reaching number one in the ebook charts with my fifth book, Cold Kill. To go onto Amazon and see my book at the top of the pile on the homepage was unreal. It was something I couldn’t have imagined when I started out.
For those aspiring to publication, what advice would you give them?
That depends on what sort of publication.
If someone is aspiring towards traditional publishers, keep on plugging. If you’re good enough, someone somewhere will spot you.
If someone is wanting to self-publish through ebooks or print, engage an editor. I self-published in 2004, and it was the self-published book that got me an agent and eventually a publishing deal, but the one thing I hate about it is the failure to engage an editor. There are typos and grammatical howlers in it, and it would have been so much better for me to be proud of it still, but instead it’s the one I’m happy to see fade into history.
And, finally, what does the rest of the year have in store for you?
I’ve just signed a deal for three books with Bonnier, under their new imprint Zaffre, and it sounds like they have exciting things planned. It’s a move of publishers but that brings new challenges and new adventures. The first book should be out next summer; once I’ve written it, of course.
Fantastic! Thanks so much to Neil White for taking the time to come and chat to us on the CTG blog today.
Be sure to check out Neil’s latest thriller – THE DOMINO KILLER – which is out this week in hardback. Here’s the blurb: “When a man is found beaten to death in a local Manchester park, Detective Constable Sam Parker is one of the investigating officers. Sam swiftly identifies the victim, but what at first looks like an open and shut case quickly starts to unravel when he realizes that the victim’s fingerprints were found on a knife at another crime scene, a month earlier. Meanwhile, Sam’s brother, Joe – a criminal defence lawyer in the city – comes face to face with a man whose very presence sends shockwaves through his life. Joe must confront the demons of his past as he struggles to come to terms with the darkness that this man represents. Before long, Joe and Sam are in way over their heads, both sucked into a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse that threatens to change their lives for ever …”
You can also now get your hands on THE DEATH COLLECTOR in paperback now (released last week). Here’s the blurb: “Danger sometimes comes in the most unexpected guises. The Death Collector is charming, sophisticated and intelligent, but he likes to dominate women, to make them give themselves to him completely; to surrender their dignity and their lives. He’s a collector of beautiful things, so once he traps them he’ll never let them go. Joe is drawn into the Death Collector’s world when he becomes involved in a supposed miscarriage of justice, and when the case becomes dangerous, Sam is the first person he turns to. In this gripping thriller, danger lurks for not only the Parker brothers, but also those closest to them.”
To find out more about Neil and his books hop on over to his website at www.neilwhite.net and follow him on Twitter @neilwhite1965