Welcome to Thursday on Favourite Authors Week and today its the turn of Neil White, a rather nice chap!
Apart from Stephen King, Neil White is probably my favouritist favourite author (yes favouritist is a word because I said so!) I’ve always loved Crime Fiction but a while ago I lost that love…probably because I felt at that point like I’d read the same book over and over again for quite a while. Then I picked up Fallen Idols and everything changed. So, here is what Neil had to tell me about some of his Favourite things.
Favourite Book written.
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.
Favourite Book Read.
Like all favourite things, the answer changes every time I think about it, and the answer I give most times probably isn’t correct.
The answer I give usually is To Kill A Mockingbird, and this is because of one simple reason: it’s the only book I’ve ever read where I wanted to read it again as soon as I’d finished. Sometimes I give the answer Shoeless Joe by WP Kinsella, which is a whimsical Iowa-set story about a farmer who rips up his cornfield to build a baseball field. It is more recognisable as the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams, but it is beautifully written, and is the writing style I first tried to mimic, albeit in a crime setting.
I’m going to choose something different, however, because the problem with favourites is that your real favourites becomes swamped by later also-rans, and so you don’t know which is your real favourite, or even whether it matters. So I’m going to choose Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, for no other reason than Stephen King was one of the writers who really got my love of reading going as a teenager. I had always read, but Stephen King gripped me, and so I think he deserves the tag as the writer of my favourite, and Salem’s Lot stands out as terrifying me.
Food is about mood. Spicy food always wins for me though, and a curry will always tick the box. I’m not of the “make it hot” brigade, but I like to feel some bite.
I love the USA, and there isn’t a better day out than having an afternoon at Fenway Park watching the Boston Red Sox as part of an all-day boozing binge, but as for real beauty I would say the Catalan region of France.
France is a beautiful country, so varied and stylish and so much history, but with the area in the south-western corner you get all of that but with the most sunshine. The rolling vineyards, the wave of the sunflower fields, the shabby chic of the small villages and towns. Italy is very similar, but I haven’t seen enough of Italy and so will stick with France. I have bought so many “learn French” things, hoping to learn the language and move there, but have never quite managed it.
Favourite Tv Show and/or Film
Like books, the answer changes every day.
I will love most things with Denzel Washington in, and I watched Flight last night and thought it was fantastic. Field of Dreams and O Brother Where Art Thou are in my top five usually, and a friend and I went to where Field of Dreams was filmed, a small farm just outside Dyersville in Iowa. The farmer realised that if the film company built it, people would indeed come, and they do, and the farmer makes a living from selling merchandise from a hut. So we spent the afternoon sitting on those small wooden bleachers. listening to the crack of the bat as people played baseball and watched the slow waft of the corn at the edge of the outfield.
Life of Brian is just brilliant, just perfect in so many ways, but the film I will pick as my favourite is Quadrophenia.
I came into my life as a lawyer somewhat late, after spending my teens and early twenties unemployed. All of that “wasted” time was spent messing about on Vespas and Lambrettas, and some of the greatest weekends I’ve had were spent on scooter rallies, where thousands of dodgy characters would take over a small seaside town and get up to things that they would rather not have appear on their curriculum vitae. Those were fun times, although so many things happened that I will not discuss or admit but could have scuppered a career in the law before it had even started. So I shudder sometimes when I think back, but smile also, although it has left its mark in the form of a pretty bad tattoo on my arm. In my defence, tattoos back then were not the art form they are now.
This brings me back to the film, Quadrophenia, the tale of a sixties mod who lost his way when he became involved in the mods and rockers thing in the sixties. Although my scooter times were in the eighties, the whole scooter renaissance was started by the film and the way it coincided with bands like The Jam and then the ska bands of the late 1970’s. So it feels like the film is partly responsible for the way my life has developed, and we would often put it on before going for a ride out. The music is great, the scooters are great, and the memories are great.
Thanks Neil! My favourite book of Neils is a hard one to pick – I fell madly in love with the Parker brothers from “Next to Die” but as we are having a whole day dedicated to them nearer the release date I’m going to pick a different one….
This book killed me. Absolutely. I don’t usually cry at crime fiction it has to be said but this one had me reaching for the tissue box…oh and in places its pretty horrific in the best way. Neil’s use of descriptive prose to describe the darker side of a crime is always evocative – in this particular book, part of the Jack/Laura series, there was an especially emotional scene. For that reason its always going to be high on my list of favourites when it comes to Mr White’s books.
My orginal review:
For me this was a brilliant read that I simply could not put down. I would highly recommend reading Fallen Idols and Lost Souls before reading this if you want to get the full effect of the story and a proper feeling for the main characters. The story moved along well. Some of the descriptions may not be for the faint hearted, but for me that added to the fear you felt for Sarah and the urgency to turn the next page and discover her fate. As with all of Mr White’s novels, it left me wanting more, and I am looking forward to the next in the series out soon.
Neil also has his own page here so you can find reviews for all the books, including the new one, right there!
Thanks once again for taking part Neil!
Tomorrow we round the week off with Mr Will Carver.
Happy Reading Folks!