Q&A with Thriller Author Michael Parker

Today I’m thrilled to have British thriller author Michael Parker answer some questions about his books and his writing.

Michael ParkerMichael is the author of ten books. His first novel, NORTH SLOPE was published in 1980, and is now available as a POD paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

You can find out more about Michael and his books at www.MichaelParkerBooks.com


1. What drew you to writing the types of books that you write? Books that interweave historical events, mystery and elements of the thriller genre.

Having been brought up with children’s classics through to ‘grown up’ fiction, I became fascinated with authors such as Hammond Innes, Desmond Bagley, Denis Wheatley and many others. I discovered new authors in the library such as Nigel Tranter who wrote ‘The Master of Gray’, a novel about Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots. One of the writers who had the biggest impact on me was Mickey Spillane with his Mike Hammer novels. Ed McBain was another. So there was a fairly eclectic mix of authors from which I learned the art of story-telling in different genres.

2. A couple of your books involve events from WWII. Is this period of particular interest to you? Do you think you’ll write another book set in this time?

Devils TrinityWhen I learned that the British invented centimetric radar to defeat the Nazi wolf packs in the Atlantic in World War Two, it fascinated me enough to want to write something. I invented a fictitious island off the north coast of Scotland for the story. Apart from the military research, I studied much about whaling and life on a remote island and how the island community lived. I don’t think I’ll write another war story though.

3. Where do your ideas for books come from?

Usually from some relevant fact. i.e., The discovery of oil in Alaska (North Slope). Centimetric radar (Shadow of the Wolf). Constructing a railway line from Mombassa to Uganda in the nineteenth century (Hell’s Gate). An American project to divert the Gulf Stream in the nineteenth century, later abandoned (The Devil’s Trinity). The sale of Nazi gold by the Bolivian government (I had a friend who was involved in the early stages (A Dangerous Game). There are other reasons, of course, but mainly inspired by real life events.

4. One of your reviewers described your books as ‘impossible to put down’. How do you create tension and compelling forward momentum in a book?

I believe it is important to keep the reader ‘hooked’. An opening paragraph is the first hook, but each scene should, I believe, finish with a hook too; this encourages the reader to want to read on. When I put my characters in seemingly impossible situations, I have to come up with a way for them to extricate themselves without inventing something that would seem unlikely. The elements of those situations must be planted elsewhere in the plot without the reader realizing why they are there.

5. Your book that was released earlier this year, A Dangerous Game, is set in present-day America and Mexico. Do you have a preference for writing in the present or the past?

Eagles ConvenantI’ve no particular preference; it depends on where my inspiration has come from. Writing in the present means keeping up with modern trends like technology etc., whereas writing in the past means I can avoid such things as cell phones, computer hacking, forensic science etc. But whichever way I go, it doesn’t make it easier.

6. Please share a bit about the book you are currently writing.

I have brought Marcus Blake back (A Covert War) to investigate the death of a British cabinet minister. Officially the minister died from cancer, but a suicide note was found by his body with a disgusting revelation about his private life. The police and the coroner are all satisfied it was suicide, but one man believes it was murder. Marcus has a part time secretary working for him. Her name is Vereen and she is a single mother on benefits who likes smoking marijuana. Marcus learns of a private clinic where illegal genetic engineering is carried out. The cabinet minister was connected to this in some way, but his secrets have gone to the grave. Vereen comes under the influence of a nightclub owner who is involved with a satanic set and is also linked to the dead minister.

I am about halfway through the first draft and have a couple of dead bodies in there so far. This novel isn’t inspired by anything other than to change direction a little and develop a mystery thriller.

Stubborn Characters, Future Spy Thrillers, and Abundant Creativity with Kasia Radzka

Podcast episode 29Today I’m interviewing Australian author Kasia Radzka. Kasia has a series of crime thrillers featuring her ‘stubborn’ investigative journalist sleuth Lexi Ryder. Kasia and I discuss the origin of characters, writing habits, and whether or not outlining a plot works for her.

I’ve added a new segment to the podcast where I mention new books being released by former guests. I’ll add this intro to the audio recording each week, though it won’t be included in the YouTube video.

This week two guests of the show have new books out. Malcolm Richards, who I spoke to in Episode 11, has released his next book in the Emily Swanson series; the book is called Cold Hearts. You can learn more at Malcolm’s website.

As well, Renee Pawlish, who I spoke to in Episode 22, has a new book in her Dewey Webb PI Series called Murder in Fashion. You can learn more at Amazon.com.

You can find out more about today’s guest, Kasia, and all her books on her website KasiaRadzka.com.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

Transcript of Interview with Kasia Radzka

Alexandra: Hi mystery readers, I am Alexandra Amor. This is It’s a Mystery Podcast and I’m here today with Kasia Radzka. Hi Kasia.

Kasia: Hi Alexandra, how are you?

Alexandra: Very well, how are you?

Kasia: Good, thank you. Thanks so much for having me on the show.

Alexandra: Oh you’re so welcome, it’s my pleasure, I’m looking forward to talking to you very much. Let’s give everyone a little bit of information about you.

KasiaRadzkaKasia Radzka is an author, athlete wannabe and blogger living with her husband and son on the Gold Coast, Australia. In her lack of spare time, she likes to run marathons, eat fine food and drink good wine, discover new places and write action-packed novels. She’s currently working on book number four in her Lexi Ryder Crime Thriller series. So that’s what we’re here to talk about today.

Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about Lexi.

Kasia: Okay, Lexi is an investigative journalist who likes to get herself into trouble. So trouble seems to follow her around everywhere and I suppose she likes to get into the way of people who do bad things.

Alexandra: Was she a character that you, let’s say, that you created from some sort of inspiration or did…where did she come from?

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Writing Thrillers on Trains, Visual Story Ideas, and Kidnapping Plots with Rachel Amphlett

Podcast episode 28Thriller author Rachel Amphlett grew up reading thrillers. She mentions both Dick Francis (perhaps my all-time favorite mystery author) and Enid Blyton in our chat; those were two authors who introduced me to the world of mysteries as a young person as well.

I asked Rachel about writing in a genre that is predominantly occupied by men, but like JF Penn, she doesn’t let that phase or stop her. Her Dan Taylor series concerns a former British soldier struggling with PTSD, as well as an injury received during a run-in with an IED.

You can find out more about Rachel and all her books on her website RachelAmphlett.com. And as with so many of my guests, Rachel has a book – and two book extracts – available for free. You can find that on her website.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

Transcript of Interview with Rachel Amphlett

Alexandra: Hi, mystery readers, I’m Alexandra Amor. This is “It’s a Mystery” podcast and I’m here today with Rachel Amphlett. Hi, Rachel.

Rachel: Hi.

Alexandra: How are you?

Rachel: Good, thanks, and thanks for having me on the show.

Alexandra: Oh, you’re so welcome. It’s great to have you here. Let me introduce you to our listeners.

RachelAmphlettBefore moving to Australia in 2005, Rachel Amphlett lived in the UK and helped run a pub, played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a subeditor and editorial assistant. Her thrillers appeal to a worldwide audience and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Michael Crichton, and Clive Cussler.

Thank you so much for being here with me today, Rachel. The thing that I found so intriguing about your books, or one of the things, is that you’re a woman writing in a man’s world. We mentioned J.F. Penn just before we started recording and the conspiracy theory-thriller genre really is dominated by men.

Can you talk a little bit about that? What drew you to this genre?

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Former Police Detective Writing British Police Procedurals with Darryl Donaghue

Introduction

Podcast episode 20Author Darryl Donaghue is a former British police detective. This means he is uniquely positioned to write British police procedural novels, which are among my very favorite type of mystery novel. (One day I might even work up the guts to write one of my own.)

One of the writing challenges Darryl put to himself for his Sarah Gladstone series is to examine what life is like for a police detective and explore how that career affects someone who is also a wife and mother. Will Sarah be able to continue with her chosen career and how will she handle the pressures from both police work and in her role in her family?

Darryl himself was faced with the choice between his passion for writing, and his detective career. He chose writing, much to readers’ delight. As with so many of the authors on this podcast, Darryl offers his first book for free on all platforms, so that readers can try it at no risk. He also has a Sarah Gladstone short story available for free on his website.

You can find out more about Darryl and his books on his website DarrylDonaghue.com. He’s also on Twitter.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

Transcription of Interview with Darryl Donaghue

Alexandra: Hello, mystery readers. I am Alexandra Amor. This is It’s a Mystery podcast, and I’m here today with Darryl Donaghue. Hi, Darryl.

Darryl: Hi. How are you doing?

Alexandra: Very well. How are you?

Darryl: Good, good.

Alexandra: Good, good. I’m very excited to have you on the show today. So let me give our listeners a bit of an introduction to you.

DarrylDonaghueDarryl is a former British detective who now writes crime fiction novels. He quit the police two years ago to concentrate on writing and now, independently publishes the Sarah Gladstone thriller series via Amazon and all the other e-book retailers. The series offers a realistic modern view of policing from the unique perspective of a young police officer starting her career. He is currently working on the third book in the series which will be out soon. So we’ll look forward to that, and we should point out as well, right off the top, why don’t we, that there’s a short story, a Sarah Gladstone short story available on your website.

Darryl: Yes.

Alexandra: So people can check that out if they want to, and the first book in the series is free…

Darryl: That’s right.

Alexandra: …so people can really get a feel for what Sarah is like.

Why don’t you tell us a little bit about her. So she’s a mother and a wife and a young PC, as you say in the U.K., when she starts out.

Darryl: She is 33 years old, and she’s got twin girls, sort of a happy family situation. She’s just started in the police. So in “A Journal of Sin,” the first book, she’s about two years into service of that one, so she’s not a detective yet. And the short story, it gets you inside into her first day out as a uniformed officer. The idea of the series is we’re going to watch her career grow. As each book goes on, she’s going to become more experienced.

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Texas Lions, Florida History and College Inspiration with JC Gatlin

Introduction

Podcast episode 19Have you ever met anyone who raised a lion cub? I hadn’t until I chatted with author JC Gatlin.

JC lives in Tampa, Florida now, but he grew up on a ranch in Texas, where he and his brothers raised an honest-to-goodness lion. I’ll let him tell the story. It’s fascinating.

Now JC is the author of three mystery novels, with a fourth to be released later in the summer of 2016. Today we discuss what inspires his writing, some of his writing practices, why he’s drawn to writing stand-alone mysteries and more.

You can find out more about JC and his books on his website JCGatlin.com. He’s also on Facebook.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

Transcript of Interview with JC Gatlin

Alexandra: Hi, mystery readers. I’m Alexandra Amor. This is “It’s a Mystery” podcast, and I’m here today with JC Gatlin. Hi, JC.

JC Gatlin: Hello.

Alexandra: How are you today?

JC Gatlin: I’m pretty good. How are you?

Alexandra: Yes, me too. Let me give our listeners a little bit of information about you.

JC GatlinJC Gatlin lives in Tampa, Florida. In addition to regular fishing trips, he wrote a monthly column for New Tampa Style Magazine, and then began penning several mystery/suspense stories. He also maintains a blog about the art of spinning a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat mystery yarn. Coming from a large family with five brothers, JC grew up in Grapevine, a small Texas town just outside of Dallas. He moved to Tampa in 1999, and most of his stories feature the rich landscape of Texas and Florida as a background.

So let’s begin maybe…well, actually I have a question that’s completely unrelated to mystery novels.

JC Gatlin: Go for it.

Alexandra: Can you tell me a little bit about Hakeem, the lion?

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Character Driven Psychological Mysteries with Malcolm Richards

Introduction

Podcast episode 11Character development is probably my favorite things about stories. Any kind of story; books, films and TV shows. Today my guest, author Malcolm Richards, seems to share this obsession with character. His psychological mystery series features an amateur sleuth whose own journey is as central to the story as the mystery she is solving.

The author of four novels, with another just about to be released, Malcolm Richards has an interesting past career as a pirate. (I’m just kidding about the pirate part. He’s from Penzance though, so we have to make that joke.) 🙂

You can find Malcolm at MalcolmRichardsAuthor.com, where one of the novels we discuss in this episode, Lost Lives is available for free. Malcolm is also on Twitter. And Facebook.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also watch the episode on YouTube.

Transcript of Interview with Malcolm Richards

Alexandra: Hi everyone, I’m Alexandra Amor, this is It’s a Mystery Podcast and I’m here today with Malcolm Richards. Hi, Malcolm, how are you?

Malcolm: I’m good, Alexandra, how are you doing?

Alexandra: I’m good. We’re here today to talk primarily about your two Emily Swanson mystery novels, and so let me just introduce you to everyone.

Malcolm RichardsCornish-born Malcolm Richards, is the author of the psychological mystery novel The Hiding House, and the Emily Swanson mystery thrillers, a dark and emotionally driven amateur sleuth series. Filled with characters from the sidelines of society, his novels are as much about the protagonists finding themselves as they are about finding the next tightly plotted clue. Malcolm lives in London, and has worked as a teacher of young people with emotional and behavioral needs, a teacher of creative writing, and as a copywriter, scriptwriter, and editor. So, it’s great to have you here today, Malcolm. I love that you say that your books are as much about what the characters are going though as about the plot and the mystery. Those are the books I like to read and to write as well. Yeah.

Malcolm: Yeah, me too. Because I’m into kind of character-driven different stories. Definitely.

Alexandra: Exactly.

Tell us a little bit about Emily. I read the description of the first book and I loved that it said she’s a troubled young teacher who has moved to London. As soon as I read that I thought, “Ooh, tell me more.”

Malcolm: I think the crux of the first book is that there are two mysteries going on. One, very much centered around Emily and who she is and where she came from, and the driving mystery though the novel of the missing tenant that she’s trying to find. But so, I think, we learn that Emily is from the countryside, she comes from a small village and she’s just moved to London and the mystery around her is the fact that she’s moved there with not knowing anyone. She has no job and no one seems to know anything about her. And she moves into this apartment building called the Homeswood, where she meets her neighbor, Jerome and another neighbor, an older lady called Harriet.

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