So we all know (Well anyone that knows me!) that I’m quite a fan of Neil White’s crime fiction. As he embarks on a new series of books, starting with “Next to Die” out on Thursday, I tracked him down to find out a little bit more about him….Here is what he had to say.
Do you have any rituals or habits when writing?
Distracting myself is my main habit. I find it hard to sit and do nothing but write, and so I might be at the computer for four hours, but around three hours of that is browsing newspaper websites or just generally messing about, like deciding to make another coffee or deciding which CD to put on (which then gets turned off because it is too distracting).
I’m not very ritualistic about writing. Sometimes I might sit down for a concerted spell of writing and do hardly any, or I grab what I think will be a quick thirty minutes at the end of a long day and it flows and flows.
Have you considered writing a book out of your usual genre?
I do want to write a book about Johnny Cash, but from a very specific angle. It’s something I might do if I get a spare couple of months, and I’ll do it just for me. As for fiction, I have never considered anything other than crime. It’s what I read and it’s what I watch and it’s what I do in my day job.
Bookmark or Page folder?
Page folder. Bookmarks are too organised and deciding which bookmark to use would take up too much time.
Kindle or Print book?
I have a Kindle, and have enjoyed reading books on it, but I only ever turn to the Kindle when my print book pile has been finished.
Have your experiences as a Prosecutor influenced any of your story lines?
Not directly, but I have used little asides I’ve heard rather than cases. The main influence is that I am comfortable in that field, and so I don’t feel like my research is starting from scratch.
Desert Island book?
That’s a tough question. Probably To Kill A Mockingbird, but only because it’s the only book I’ve read where I have immediately wanted to re-read it.
Favourite character from a book?
Lisbeth Salander. My main gripe with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was that there wasn’t enough of the girl with the dragon tattoo. I thought she was a very interesting character, and it was good to see her come to the fore more in the later books in the trilogy.
Rugby: Union or League and why?
The simplest reason is that I grew up in Wakefield, and Wakefield is a rugby league city, the largest place in England without a football team. We lived on the same street as the Wakefield Trinity ground, St Catherines Street, when I was around five, and my father used to take me and my brothers to games when my mother was at work at a nearby variety club. I became hooked, and have stayed hooked. I am still a season ticket holder at Wakefield Trinity (now called the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats).
Rugby league is everything a crime fiction novel should be: fast, violent and exciting. I love the incessant eighty minutes of biff and bash, blood and muscle, sometimes a tactical arm wrestle, other times fast and furious. I have played rugby union, and the last time I carried a ball in anger was in a rugby union game, but rugby league is the sport for me, and always has been.
For any film buffs, the Wakefield Trinity ground was used in the 1962 Oscar-nominated Richard Harris film, This Sporting Life (as was the team). The player who knocked Harris out at the start of the film was the Wakefield captain, Derek Turner, and the rugby scenes were filmed prior to a Wakefield-v-Wigan cup game, with players from both sides pitching in.
Don’t ask me any questions about rugby league. I will talk about it all day.
In a recent interview with Neil during Favourite Authors week I asked him about his favourite book that he had written. As it talks about Next to Die here is what he told me back then.
That’s a hard question to start with, because it is hard to be objective about them, and perhaps the ones that have been the hardest to write have been better books because of that.
My favourite is the one due out next month in hardback and ebook, Next To Die, because it was the first book where I felt I was starting from a good position. My previous books were five in a series and then a standalone, but of course the series stemmed from a debut, Fallen Idols, where I was still learning how to put books together, perhaps not wholly comfortable with what I was doing, and if I went back I would perhaps change one or two things.
Next To Die is a new start for me, because it enabled me to develop a new series but from a starting point where I don’t feel like a complete newbie anymore. For instance, in my earlier series Jack Garrett was a journalist principally because I wanted to avoid having a lawyer as a main character, as whenever I found myself writing something legal I became more interested in making it accurate than interesting. One of the two main characters in Next To Die is a lawyer, a criminal defence lawyer, and I didn’t have the same fear, and because I’m a criminal lawyer, I felt like I had “come home”. That isn’t to say that I feel like I am in any way accomplished at what I do, but I feel less bewildered by it.
To nominate as a favourite a book that is due to come out may come across as being a cynical marketing ploy (*innocent face*) and so if I am forced to choose my favourite from the ones people might have read I will choose my fourth book, Dead Silent. If I think about why, I would say because it is the only plot I came up with in the previous six books where the lead character generated the story. I will try and explain.
In all the other books, I tended to have an idea of an angle and then fitted the story around that. In Lost Souls, I became interested in precognition and an arts professor called David Mandell. Last Rites was connected to the Pendle Witch legend. Cold Kill was based on the BTK killer, and in Beyond Evil I was trying to create a low-rent, Lancashire Charlie Manson. Dead Silent had a different genesis. Jack Garrett was a freelance crime reporter, and I wondered what would be the ultimate scoop for a crime reporter, and I guessed that it would be to locate Lord Lucan, the long-disappeared aristocratic nanny-killer. So I came up with the idea of Jack being approached by someone who knew a long-disappeared murdering toff, Claude Gilbert, who would come out of hiding through Jack, provided that Jack could prove his innocence first.
I didn’t hide the Lucan background, as a lot of the fake sightings of Claude Gilbert in Dead Silent were in fact “real” fake sightings of Lord Lucan, and the two locations crucial to the Lucan story were used in the book: the basement where the nanny was killed, and the pub to where Lucan’s wife ran in order to escape him.
So Dead Silent is the answer. The pace is slightly more gentle than the others, and it’s the fact that character generated the plot rather than an idea being fitted around the characters. Ironically, it has the lowest sales figures too.
Thank you so much Neil!
Review: Next to Die.
Coming 26th September from Sphere
Luckily I got my hands on a beautiful copy of this book before I imploded – Thanks Mr White and his publisher for the advanced copy. My chronic impatience was satisfied at last….
Joe Parker is a criminal defence lawyer with a reputation. Sam Parker is a detective on a mission. Years ago they suffered the loss of their sister to a violent crime – a burden they both dealt with in different ways. Now their worlds will collide again when a fresh set of murders hits the city – on opposite sides of the fence what will come first…the law or family?
Its no secret that I’m a huge fan of Neil White’s crime writing – each one has been better than the last and this one is no exception. For pure story flow and engaging with the reader its the best yet. We see the story unfold from several perspectives, Joe and Sam mainly with another voice in the mix. They are rivals the two brothers, that rivalry tinged with respect for each other that comes across very well. You may well fall in love with these two – I certainly did. Perhaps Joe more than Sam but hey, thats all in the eyes of the beholder. I did spend a fair amount of time yelling at them (in my head of course, my daughter cured me of the tendency to do it out loud some time ago!) to just TALK to each other in order to prevent the approaching mayhem and yet we move inexorably towards what may not be the happiest of endings. One thing Mr White does extremely well is create uncertainty when it comes to the chances of survival of those characters you become attached to…no-one is safe.
Another thing this author does extraordinarily well is the death scenes. Heck I love a good death scene – any avid reader of Crime Fiction does…and the clever thing about the way they are written here, and in previous novels, is the ability to make them both gruesome and heart wrenching. Sob. Not that easy to achieve. It doesnt matter if the character doing the dying is someone you’ve only read two lines about or someone who has been there through it all – you are still going to feel the loss. It all adds up to make a great reading experience.
So. Great story, well told, a yarn, a tale, a wonderful thing. Fun and disturbing, yet another great addition to the Crime genre and one you don’t want to miss. There are crime books and there are CRIME books. This one is definitely the capital version.
Usually I would finish a review by saying “If you havent read this author before you need to start…..” but in this case, as this IS the start of this particular series of books, you can just read this one if you like! And you will. Then you will have a lovely back catalogue to work your way through as well.
Find out more here : http://www.neilwhite.net/
Follow Neil on Twitter here https://twitter.com/neilwhite1965
Purchase Information clickety click here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Next-Die-Neil-White/dp/0751549444/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380003914&sr=1-1&keywords=neil+white
Also Available: A selection.
To find out about all of Neil’s great books http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/neil-white/
Happy Reading Folks!