And now let me introduce the author; John Day.
So John. Bent Penny, your latest novel to hit the shelves. Just come out today and I would guess you are very proud of this work; and so you should be, so why don’t we kick off this interview by you telling us all about it.
I believe I have created a surprising plot. A story that opens like a pretty simple case, but just as the onion layer is peeled away, it takes a bizarre turn. It keeps doing that with increasing peril until near the end. But it is far from the end. Alongside this plot, there is another different story, meshed into it. Some might call it a sub plot, but I have coined the word, branch. Ultimately, the nightmare journey for D.S. Penny Britain comes to a sudden and startling ending.
I will have done my job well, if the reader finishes the story with their mouth wide open in surprise, and mutters “Wow, I never saw that coming!”
What are the back-stories for the main characters and will we see them again in future novels?
The only enduring character is Penny. There will be a brief reappearance of a couple of her colleagues, in the next story called Dirty Penny, but they are incidental. You will get to know Penny quite quickly and appreciate she is what she is and would want her on your side, not against you. We have all met people who don’t quite fit social norms, who are focussed and brilliant at their job. You might think the same about Penny until you get to know what she is capable of.
Has any of your own personal character gone into any of these characters, or characters in any of your other books?
Ah, I often wonder that about other authors. I will admit to writing about characters I would like to be. Max Fortune in the 3 Max & Carla series. Max is a bit of a MacGyver, uses brains and ingenuity, not brawn. I see myself in Max. Carla is my dream girl. Super smart like my wife, but very kick arse.
In The Glass Beacon, Peter the master spy is ruthless and inventive, or so it might first appear. However, he cares about his team of spies and takes risks with his own life to protect them. He also has a sister who is autistic and to see how he cares for her, even kills for her, in an act or retribution, he is a softie deep down. I like to think the no nonsense, but deeply caring and inventive aspects are mine. There are two key women in that story. One is quite normal, the other is cunning, scheming and manipulative. I know it is wrong, but I find highly intelligent women a turn on.
Perhaps Penny is a turn on as well, I couldn’t point out any single person I know that fits her type, but that is not to say I haven’t met her.
What kind research has gone into this book and was it difficult to get the information you required?
In the sense police procedure plays a small part, I have a friend who provides that knowledge. However, other areas are well covered in daily life. After I formed the skeleton plan for the story, there were a number of news reports that closely followed the story line. I looked into those aspects more closely and was, quite frankly, shocked. You just have no idea what is going on in the life of the person you work with, perhaps are even married too.
I just hope Bent Penny does not become a ‘How to do it book’ for criminals.
Out of all the books you have written, what’s your favourite? Oh and tell me what you love; or hate about the characters.
I have a deep love of The Glass Beacon. When I decided to write Bent Penny, I worried about how to maintain my reputation for fast paced, intense reads. Crime is so commonplace, it is hard to be surprised anymore. I must say, I was hard pressed to imagine a good enough plot. However, it all flowed, no, it gushed out when I sat down to write. I had planned to write an adventure story, but ‘Three Ways to Hell’ can wait.
It is odd, but I love all the characters, and there are a lot of them, in The Glass Beacon. In order of preference, Peter, the German master spy. Anna, one of Peter’s team, a scheming treacherous bitch if ever there was one. Cathy, Peter’s Autistic sister. Sundown, an English man working for both sides. I suppose I must admit to Sir Philip Stern, section chief at MI5. He was sort of characterised by the late Sydney Greenstreet, popular as the bad man in the Bogart B&W movies.
There are many more key people, but best you read the book.
Now moving slightly away from Bent Penny and moving onto the personal side of things can you tell me. What do you think is the most frustrating thing about being a writer?
Marketing and everything it entails.
How would you describe your own writing style?
I balance show and tell to maintain a fast pace with a full, entertaining story.
For example, an extract from Bent Penny.
The confident and composed face of Techie-Tim as he swung open the door, turned deathly pale. His jaw dropped, his forehead wrinkled and his eyes popped open wide, as he realised it was Penny the pig, and not Dave. He looked like an arachnophobic facing a tarantula.
Would you ever consider writing in another genre?
No, I would not enjoy it and for me, enjoying myself and pleasing readers is everything to me. It is hard enough selling good books. Why ruin a reputation with a bad one?
When you first started writing any of your novels; did you plan them first or did you just get straight into the writing.
My first book was written straight from my head, for my own entertainment. That was 15 years ago when I ran my own companies. I wrote during plane journeys.
Since I retired, I decided to write and publish. I realised a good plot required pre-planning. All my sold books were planned.
If you did have some sort of plot worked out first did you use something like Scrivener or have you sticky notes plastered all over your desk?
I don’t need another layer of complexity. I simply write chapter headings as the steps through the story. Then I add sentences to build the chapter. I keep a list of character details and key notes, all in a Word document. Then I pick a chapter and when I am asleep, that section is dreamed. I can bash it out the next day. Finally the whole thing is worked on to add description, build tension… Finally it goes to my wife who edits with me working alongside.
What do you enjoy most about your writing. Is it the plotting or perhaps the research or is it simply sitting in front of your computer and typing away.
Definitely the plotting and scheming. I am actually there in the scene as the character of the moment, good or bad, and I love it. Rather like a solo chess player. When I switch character, I try to outsmart the opponent. This way, it becomes less ho-hum than it otherwise might. Also, the character can only use what he goes in with. If there is a safe to break, he/she cannot magically find a set of keys. That is why I never read fantasy, it has to be doable. Carla in Fugitive, had to break into a high security building to steal cars. She did it by using the weakness of all those systems, against itself. That and a lot of manipulation of the characters in play. No spoilers, sorry.
Personally, what do reviews mean to you as an author?
Is the book right for that reader? I wish readers would check out a book before buying. You can easily see if the writing style is to your taste.
Did the reader read the book? With Extinction Event, a reviewer complained about the dinosaurs. There were no such things in the book, a spy/adventure story set in current times.
Is the reader just being kind? I so hate those reviews, no one believes them.
Is the reviewer wilful? I expect all authors have had those.
Is it a great review? I love those. Most serious bloggers do a fantastic job giving great insight, but no spoilers. Others might say “Excellent read”. Well, if it is excellent, there are no negatives to chew over.
All are evaluated and learned from.
Do you know of any unsung heroes in the writing profession that deserve a mention?
Yes! There is this guy, Peter something, begins with a B. I have been reading his book, and I was glad I got stuck into it. Ellie Midwood was unknown when I read and reviewed her 4 WW2 series. However, she has carved out a good reputation now.
There is a self-help book by Aireton & Postlethwaite, Success at 60+. I liked their innovative approach to writing such a book.
Apart from detective stories which other books do you enjoy reading?
I hope to find time to read a few Clive Cussler books, more adventure than thriller. I went off the most recent books, but the early stories will be worth revisiting. A long dead author, Dennis Wheatley, his books came my way recently and I might read those to see why I enjoyed them in my late teens. They covered things like war time spies and occult. Readers may remember The Devil Rides Out.
Who is your favourite author and why?
Chris Ryan. I would not say I was an SAS worshiper, though I have immense respect for them. It is just that he writes the spy like tales I enjoy.
When you are reading books by other authors, what do you feel you want from that book? In other words, what do think makes a good book?
There has to be a good plot. Full of tension, unexpected twists and outcomes. It must be credible, or at least make me suspend belief. A fast pace and characters I can have regard for. There is no order to this, all are prime requirements. Lose one and you lose me.
Apart from writing what else are you really proud of?
I don’t use the word proud. But enormous numbers of people love my simple photographs. Only today I had two souls who wanted copies so they could get them printed and framed.
How long did the book take to write and was it more difficult than anticipated and if so why?
Bent Penny took 3 months. I thought it was going to be difficult, because it was a substantially different sub-genre. But it proved easy. The Glass Beacon took 6 months and was changed by cutting the sex scenes. A publisher and the BBC were not keen on that aspect. I only included them because women asked for it as a response to pre-publishing reviews. Odd that!
Has there ever been a moment in time that sticks out as being a turning point in your writing life?
Fugitive was the first book I published and I couldn’t face social media to market it. Well, it shot to number 9 in the Amazon top 100 for quite a while, so I never bothered to do any marketing. I published Extinction Event and Fire Ice and they went well, but dropped back. When I published The Glass Beacon, I tried marketing, but soon realised it was misplaced in the market. That is the point I decided to write Bent Penny. We will see if it is a turning point with the sales, though Pre orders are most surprising. Still, that may be because of reputation.
If you were to change anything, what would you change?
I would not want to have discovered writing. Having been forced to experience social media as a marketing platform, I would have been spared that.
What do you do to relax in your spare time?
Photography in the air, on land and under water.
I have many technical talents, so if I had a lifetime ahead of me, I would develop those.
I travel the world and write on location. I spend months on holiday meeting strange and interesting people in their environment. Can you imagine living your whole life on a Pacific Island with no power of any kind, just a small lorry and digger, donated so they could dig drain trenches. No radio, no TV and no phone or computer. They are actually happier than us.
One child I met, about 6 or 7, wanted to take my photograph. She had a small cardboard ring box and that was her pretend camera. Priceless!
Would you like any of your books to be made into films? If the answer is a yes and there had to be many changes that altered the story or the feel of the novel, would you still be happy to do this?
None of my books are simple enough to translate into a film. The Max & Carla series could easily be broken up into a TV series. It was uncanny how it just divided up as a pilot and 24 episodes. Each episode commenced with a new mission and ended on a cliff hanger for the next one.
John, I want to say many thanks for your agreeing to have an interview with me. It has been an absolute pleasure and the only thing left for me to do is wish you the very best of luck with your new book, Bent Penny. I'm sure it's going to be a great success.
British author John Day (pen name) moved from the UK to the beautiful Channel Island, Alderney about 10 years ago with his wife, Carole.
Apparently, according to heraldry research carried out by his late father, there are proven links to royalty, even a coat of arms (in the loft). You will all have heard of King Charles II and Nell Gwyn, perhaps you will also know she was his long time mistress. Well, it appears these are the loins he has descended from. That explains his passion for oranges perhaps.
Inspired by a dream one night whilst on holiday, perhaps it was the wine maybe the rich food, we shall never know, the sudden desire to write surged through his active loins.
Writing the first book was easy, then came the second, a great improvement and then the third, better still, called Fugitive.
The first two have been rewritten and will be available soon.
This action packed thriller became an Amazon UK best seller after just a few weeks and is still there now in the top 100!
John is an adventurer, a schemer and plotter. He writes at night, when he is asleep!
He has used this problem solving technique all his life, for business and during personal tragedy, when life seemed to have no mercy.
So far, in life and his gripping stories, it has always shown him the answer.
John believes action packed, fast paced thrillers should be crammed with tension and excitement. He says, if you want a great time, why would you want it to stop.
The most recent inspiration for a book took place during a long Pacific cruise at the beginning of this year.
It was the food this time, honestly!
This is when The Glass Beacon was conceived. A WW2 spy story starting and ending in Alderney.
Amongst his other interests are Photography or as he likes to describe himself, a Happy Snapper! His photo website has a remarkably large following.
Well today I have got a great interview with an author by the name of John Day. Over the years John has written some well acclaimed books such as The Glass Beacon. Now he has a new book out called Bent Penny, which is poised to do very well indeed. Anyhow before we start the interview let's have a quick look at his Bio.