Hello everyone! It's that time again. What time? Well an interview and giveaway time! This time I present to you John Barlow author of Hope Road. So without further ado here is our interview.1. Let's begin with your book, can you tell me a few things about Hope Road?
It’s a mystery: psychological, literary, character-based... and it features John Ray, the half-English, half-Spanish son of a crime boss. John has spent his life trying to escape his criminal background, but when things start to fall apart it turns out that his background makes him the perfect amateur detective. That, plus the fact that his girlfriend is a cop. The book is similar in tone to Kate Atkinson’s Started Early, Took My Dog, and is set in the same English city, Leeds.
2. What triggered the idea of the series, where did it all begin?
I’m from a criminal family! Well, not quite... I was originally planning a book involving a counterfeit money plot, but then I discovered that an uncle of mine had been an arms dealer. He died on a flight from Amsterdam in ’84, his throat cut. At the time he was wanted by the British police for the theft of munitions from the British army, and there were all sorts of rumours about his other activities. This prompted me to think about the idea of families, and to ask what it would be like to have been born into a real crime dynasty; I don’t mean the Mafia, just some family who are all criminals by profession. This is John’s situation, and will run through the LS9 series.
3. How did you create your main characters, are they based on anyone?
I guess John Ray embodies most of the qualities I wish I had: he’s uncompromising, courageous, a bit louche... He’s a natural charmer, but he doesn’t fool everyone. Plus, the occasional willingness to use his father’s name gives him an edge; he’s not a good boy, exactly.
4. What do you love the most about your novel?
John’s girlfriend (Denise) had initially been quite marginal in the plot. But my agent kept on telling me that Den was crucial, and as we continued working on the novel, it was in fact the relationship between John and Den that became the emotional heart of the story. There is a crime to be solved, and in that sense it’s a traditional mystery; but it’s also about why we lie to those who love us most. It’s almost a love story told in the language of crime.
5. Where do you usually draw inspiration from?
When I see something (as with the discovery of my uncle’s past) and I try and see what interests me about it, what leads to a good story or situation. It doesn’t have to be anything important. Anything can trigger thoughts, feelings, ideas...
6. What do you think is the best and what's the worst thing about being a writer?
Best: working in your pyjamas, setting your own schedule, playing truant whenever you fancy.
Worst: no coffee room where you can chat with colleagues, the money’s a bit up and down.
7. How was your trip through writing and publishing so far?
It’s been fine. After spending all of my twenties writing unpublished novels, I finally had my first piece published in the Paris Review (a novella), age 32. It won the magazine’s Discovery/Plimpton Prize, and that got me a two-book deal with HarperCollins. I then had a book of non-fiction out with Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and I also began working as a ghost writer. These days I continue the ghost-writing, and also do some journalism, mainly features for a food magazine. Hope Road is the first of a proposed nine-novel series, so I guess mysteries will be more or less center-stage going forward.
8. Do you have any tips or suggestions for new writers?
If you don’t enjoy it, don’t bother. You’ll probably never get rich, and there can be a lot of negative feelings to deal with. If you can’t NOT write, tough luck, and welcome to the club.
9. What should we expect from you in the future? Are there any more projects under construction?
Eight more mysteries. I also really want to try my hand at kids’ stuff. My five year-old is just starting to read properly, and I want to write him something. I’m thinking about a six year-old super-sleuth...
So what are you waiting for send an email and this novel can be yours!
The first five people to email John (address on his website) will be sent an ebook of the novel in the format of their choice.