So the lovely Mr Marley who I met at the last First Monday Crime has a book coming out fairly soon and I thought it would be nice to chat to him about his journey towards publication – I have Stand Still on my tbr pile and so am sure I’ll have more to tell you about it later. But hey before that there was this…
It was a pleasure to meet you at First Monday Crime – and to find out about your rather great sounding book, and its lovely to be able to ask questions prior to reading it. Firstly, tell us a little about what made you want to be a writer and a little about the inspiration behind the novel.
I have always been a reader since childhood, The Asterix and Obelix books were amongst my earliest loves swiftly followed by Gobbolino The Witch’s Cat! And from there an urge to write just naturally followed. My parents also both read, and my early teens were filled with the book my Dad would borrow from the library or pick up at a second hand store. These were mostly dime Westerns and writers like Elmore Leonard and Jack Higgins…I was soon hooked by the thrills and spills therein.
My debut novel “Standstill” was purely a product of many years daydreaming whilst commuting across London mostly on the Tube. It would often occur to me how much the great city relied upon its tubes, buses, taxis and overground services. And like most crime writers a delayed tube can be forgotten about if you are standing there imagining grand larceny or a murder etc etc…
I was also very fortunate to know some Flying Squad officers. The access they gave me to their experiences and those of their colleagues helped immeasurably in bringing both the plot and the all important dialogue together.
How long did it take you to complete? How many drafts and how much angst? Before you felt you had something to present to publishers and other bookish types?
Ha! Now herein lies a tale! I think this was the most painful part for me. It took me around 2 years to write the first draft and, I suppose, naivety helped in that there was no process, it was literally just research then write. I splurged the book out by writing in the very early mornings (sometimes I was woken up by characters in my dreams at 4.30am) and then went about my day job (running my TV production company) the rest of the time, usually whilst yawning!
I was then introduced by a friend to my editor and it just felt like the right time to share the pages with anybody who would care to look. But, Jaysus was I nervous about…ha! There then followed a further three drafts, mostly because it was pointed out to me that there were very few female characters in my original draft. The gauntlet was laid down…write a significant female please. And so another two years passed until the book you will read and hopefully enjoy now.
Then I guess came the submission process. I’ve heard that this can be the really painful part, having to deal with rejection and hope in differing measures. Was that long and drawn out or were you fairly lucky? And how did it feel when you got there and realised you were going to be published?
I was lucky, my editor introduced me to Avocado Books, a new imprint, and they liked it straight away. I am keenly aware that this is not a common occurrence so I count myself really blessed. Also Avocado share a lot of my fiction sensibilities so it was really great from the get go.
I don’t think the fact that I am about to publish has truly sunk in yet. When you get the first proof copy of your novel, that’s an electric moment right there, but seeing the actual book in strangers’ hands? I can’t even begin to guess what that will feel like…I think you can tell I’m really excited at the thought of it though.
And now? Not long until you are on publication day and all that comes with it. Excited?
Incredibly…so much so I have already had a stress dream about passing a charity shop and seeing my book in the window which of course made me freak out, both while asleep and awake… but I ma sure that will happen at some point. I really want my stories to find, surprise and delight an audience…that is what its about for me…entertainment. The thought that people might enjoy the book really inspires me.
What about your own reading habits? Who are your “go to” authors for when you want to lose yourself in a book…
I am a bit biased and I tend to veer almost always to Crime Fiction. I particularly like American authors as I am a bit of a closet Yank. But sometimes I will force myself to pick a book in the fiction section at random and read. I have been rewarded many times by doing this. Most notably Perfume by Patrick Susskind. That book just about blew me away, very dark, very challenging read from an emotional sense.
My go to authors? That is easy: James Lee Burke is a true master. Elmore Leonard for the dialogue and pace. Don Winslow for his exhaustive research and handling a plot and Carl Hiaasen if I want a book to make me laugh out loud.
Tell us about you in 5 easy soundbites:
* Tea, coffee or other?
The world runs on Tea as far I am concerned, my books should be sponsored by Tetley!
* Something you wish you were good at but are not
I have dreams where I believe I can sing…in the real world it frightens my dogs when I do
* Soap operas or crime dramas?
Crime every time…
* Winter, Spring, Summer or Autumn?
I love the month of October…
* One book you recommend to everyone...
Burning Angel by James Lee Burke…just brilliant on every single level for my money.
Standstill by JA Marley is published 15th September by Avocado Books, price £8.99 in paperback
About the book:
When young, ambitious thief, Danny Felix, is dragged out of bed by a psyhcotic cop in an early morning raid, little does he know that he’s about to be plunged into the robbery of a lifetime.
Corruption, coercion and chaos follow the very bent Detective Inspector Harkness everywhere he goes and now he has Danny by the proverbial balls.
But even the deadliest criminals leave a trail, one that dedicated flying squad officer Christine Chance is getting closer to, while trying her best to be mother to a seriously ill daughter.
Can Danny escape Harkness with his life intact? Can he avoid detection by Chance?
And most importantly does he have what it takes to use the teeming streets of modern day London in order to pull off the theft of the 21st Century? Danny thinks he can…but there will be bloodshed….
You can find out more HERE
And follow John on Twitter HERE