Feb 16, 2013

Carol’s ‘Close Up’ with Crime Author Graham Smith!

 

 Carol Bridgestock

 

 

Oh, gosh there is so much I want to know about Graham Smith the author and so, I’m sure, will our readers! Now, where to start mmm…

Psss… before we start I know that Graham has orgainsed a ’Crime & Punishment’ weekend event of writing masterclasses, that is certainly a ‘no brainer’ for writers and authors – you can read more about it here or contact Graham directly. (All his contact details are at the end of the interview).

 

 Author Graham Smith

Hello Graham,

You are a writer of novels and short stories I understand. Tell me, your detectives, are they based on someone you know or are they an amalgam of several influences?

I write gritty fiction filled with twists, turns and surprise endings. My influences come from every book I’ve read. The good books have taught me what works and the bad tells me what doesn’t. Particular influences on my detectives have been outlandish characters such as Gene Hunt, DI Roberta Steel, Reacher, Tom Thorne although every mystery I’ve ever read has been absorbed and now filters into my writing. Authors such as Simon Kernick and Matt Hilton whose books are pace filled adrenaline boosts have also shaped my writing. To me as a writer the most important thing I have to do is make the reader desperate to turn the next page. I named one of my characters after my grandfather and some of Grandad’s traits have surfaced in the character.

 Have you ever co-authored a book?

I have only co-authored once and it was on a short story with Rosalind Smith-Nazilli. We have both released our own stuff both before and after the collaboration. I wouldn’t be averse to co-authoring again in the future but I’m flying solo just now.

 Do you find it easier writing alone or with a co-author?

I loved the experience as I threw down the first draft of the story filled with action and Rosie came along and added depth before editing the story into a better shape. Which means I got to do all the fun stuff, leaving her do the drudge. If you will – I built the house but she came along, did the decorating and furnished my house to make a home.

Must be a man trait that’s what Bob does! ;-)

 Did you harbour childhood fantasies about having a book published or did you have other ambition?

I’d always fancied writing something but becoming an author didn’t feature on my bucket list until I was in my late 30’s.

 What kind of research do you do for your books?

Where possible I visit the places I write about to get a feel for the area. My research assistant (Mr Google) is very helpful and while details are important in a full blown police procedural, the crime thriller author can dispense with detailed analysis of forensics in favour of an over view. I also cheat massively and copy down any relevant pieces from the books of others so I can use their “science” should I need to. Obviously I do not cut and paste this stuff, I just save it as my research should I ever need it.

 Tell me about your short stories did you write short stories before you progressed to novels?

I started off writing a novel a couple of years ago and flapped around half heartedly until a friend give me the kick up the backside I needed to write more often. He also introduced me to short story writing and I flipped between the two for a few months before getting the impetus I’ve needed to concentrate on finishing the second draft of my novel. However there are a bunch of short stories in my head which are demanding to be told.

 Have you ever written anything other than crime?

I’ve only ever written crime but I have looked at it from all angles. Fast paced thrillers, psychological nerve shredders and the odd standard police story mixed up with mystery and of course “what if?” scenarios.

 What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and who gave it to you? And what advice do you, in turn, give out to writing hopefuls?

I’ve been lucky enough to speak to many authors and they have all said much the same thing. Read a lot and write regularly to hone your craft.

 Your covers are very distinctive and eye-catching. Did you any input into their design?

I’m very lucky that I have a friend who is a graphic designer and he does my covers after I give him a rough outline of what I want. He never fails to amaze me with his fantastic designs.

 

It’s a heart stopping moment when you see a cover of your novel for the first time isn’t it.

How long does it take you to research and write a book, where do you start?

As I am only writing in the evenings or on days off it can take me a year to write a book with some time spent doing research. My day job as the general manager of a hotel and wedding venue keeps me very busy and I am also a director of a Destination Management Organisation for tourism in Dumfries and Galloway. I’ve also organised a weekend of crime writing master-classes at the hotel I run and I’ve taken on the role of publicist for a crime festival in a local town. Couple all that with a wife and young son, my reviewing for www.crimesqaud.com and the CWA and there isn’t much time left for writing.  More info on these events can be found at www.crimeandpublishment.co.uk and http://www.moffatbooks.co.uk/events.htm

 You’re certainly a busy bee! I don’t know how you have the time to write. Respect! What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?

I can write almost any time of day but I find that late evening when my wife and son have gone to bed is a good time for me. I put the telly on low in the background and pound the keys for a while.

 What’s your favourite nibble whilst you’re writing? Are you a savoury or a sweets guy?

I don’t nibble when I’m writing as I don’t like oily or food coated  fingers anywhere near my laptop and I’m such a messy eater I would surely spill onto my keyboard.

 Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?

I do everything on the computer. I have a spreadsheet for characters with their physical attributes and I have a chapter list which I use to record a two or three line synopsis of each chapter after I’ve written it. Zoë Sharp gave me this tip and it is invaluable to me for editing and recordkeeping purposes as it saves one hell of a lot of scrolling back to find out eye colours or other points I can’t remember.

I do something similar as I use the Modus Operandi sheet that we used in the police force – works a treat!

 What do you draw inspiration from? Is it actual cases?

I draw my inspiration from all kinds of places such as the news, overheard conversations and throwaway lines I’ve heard. I also like to dismantle jokes and reassemble then as a short story. Punch-lines are often good because they come from nowhere and as a writer I love having a twist in the tail of my tales.

 Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?

I try not to set goals as such and while I do keep an eye on word count I tend to not write unless I have at least an hour to concentrate. In this hour I aim for a minimum of 500 words but I have been known to start writing at 11.00pm with the aim of writing for an hour only to discover it is suddenly 3.00am and I’ve hit over 3,000 words.

 Do you own an eBook reading device? Which do you prefer a paperback or an eReader?

I have a Kobo eReader which I enjoy using and find very convenient. However it will never usurp the love I have for physical books. The feel smell, sight of them will always trump and electronic toy, however good it may be.

My thoughts exactly, how anyone can relax reading an electronic device amazes me!

 Who are some of your favourite authors and what are you reading now?

Authors who climb automatically to the top of Mount To Be Read are Stuart MacBride, Matt Hilton, Lee Child, Peter James, Chris Ewan, Simon Kernick, Mark Billingham. This list could continue until I wear my fingers away on the keyboard.

I’m just about to start reading So Low So High by Pete Sortwell. Pete is an online buddy of mine and a publishing stable mate of yours. SLSH is his debut novel and I’m very excited to be reading it ahead of everyone else. This is one of the best things about being a reviewer. Free books before they are even published.

Great idea Graham! :-)

 Are there any particular writers who have influenced your writing?

Every writer I’ve ever read has influenced me by letting me learn what is good and what is bad about writing. Since I started reviewing I have learned how to dismantle a novel into various components and this knowledge is invaluable to me as a writer.

 What do you think of book trailers?

I don’t tend to pay them much attention to be honest. I think that they may or may not work for some people but I get new books sent to me from publishers all the time. My reading choice is influenced by the words on the book cover. Be they the synopsis on the back or the name on the front that is what I use to select my next read. As a reviewer I NEVER read someone else’s opinion of a book until I have read the book and written my own review as I would not want my own opinion influenced.

 How do you come up with the titles of your books?

I just think about the content and then find an appropriate title. Gutshots: Ten Blows to the Abdomen and Eleven the Hardest Way are short story collections which do exactly what it says on the tin. Harry Charters Chronicles was a no brainer for me as it encapsulates the noir private eye stories of yesteryear which is the subject of that collection.

 Can you tell us a little about what you’re working on now?

I’m working on the second draft of my debut novel which has a working title of “The Ironmonger’s Error”. It is about a middle class couple whose children are kidnapped to force the father to pay his gambling debts. The police are unaware of the kidnapping until halfway through the novel and are pursuing two different spates of thefts.

Sounds great!

 Tell me a little bit of something about you that we haven’t already learned about Graham Smith.

I used to play rugby for South West Scotland Schools and I was in the team the first time SW Scotland beat both the Ayrshire and Borders Teams. I have played darts against Jocky Wilson and Mike Gregory and I once punched Emu on the nose.

Great stuff! :-) I love asking people that question!

 More about Graham and where you can ‘find’ him:-

Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. For the last eleven years he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

 An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well respected review site Crimesquad.com for over three years.

 He has three collections of short stories available as Kindle downloads and has featured in anthologies such as True Brit Grit and Action: Pulse Pounding Tales as well as appearing on several popular ezines. His first collection Eleven the Hardest way has been longlisted for a Spinetingler award.

 He can be found at any of these places on a regular basis

Twitter – @GrahamSmith1972

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1316200537&ref=tn_tnmn

Blog – http://grahamsmithwriter.blogspot.com/

 Amazon Author Page

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

http://www.amazon.com/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

 Goodreads

http://www.goodreads.com/grahamsmith

  

This is the first part of the Harry Charters Chronicles

 

Detecting Malicious Murder

 

This is how it started…

Ignoring the knock on my door, I reached for the bottle of rye. I’d already had too much but the headache making my eyeballs throb wouldn’t treat itself.

‘Either let yourself in or beat it.’ I yelled.

The door creaked its way open to reveal a broad I knew from way back. In fact I’d known her when she was merely narrow. Now she was the broadest broad in the whole damn neighbourhood. She’d kept the pretty face she’d been blessed with although the years were smoothed away by the extra pounds. Five kids in four years had smashed the hourglass figure which had once entranced every man she met.

‘Your ghosts can still find you when you’re inside a bottle.’

‘When I put the bottle inside me I can’t find them. Now why are you here?’

‘I want you to find out if my Bert has been alleycatting it.’

This is what my life had become. Trailing errant husbands and frightening bad debtors. For some years I’d been one of the top private dicks in town. Then a case had ended badly for all concerned. Now I kept company with Jim Beam and Jack Daniels while feeding the habit with the kind of moronic jobs I used to pass to my underlings.

‘Who’s he been walking alongside?’

‘I’m not sure but I think it may be the girl from the garage.’

 

Graham it has been a real pleasure to talk to you today – you’ve been brilliant.

Good luck with the upcoming event – only wish we could make it but we’re 300 miles away. Maybe next year we could try fitting it into our annual book signing tour in the north and staying at the hotel too. :-) I am so looking forward to reading the ‘The Ironmongers Error’ in paperback very soon!

Ta’ra for now,

 Carol x

Titles by Graham Smith

 

 

4 Comments

  • Great interview, some unusual questions. Well done both.

  • Enjoyed that.

    The precis of each chapter is something I do too – great minds and all that! ;-)

    Good luck with the ‘crime’ weekend – a top idea which I hope becomes a regular fixture.

    Regards,
    Col

    • Thanks for visiting the site Col! Maybe you’ll do me a ‘Close Up’ when you have time? :-) Best, Carol

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