In your own words, please describe your book.
His First His Second finds a perky young detective, Alicia Friend, assigned to the murder of two young women, both similar in appearance and both snatched from busy public areas. A third girl, Katie Hague, has also disappeared—similar looks, similar circumstances—so the powers-that-be are concerned about a serial killer.
Alicia’s personality grates a little on her new inspector, Donald Murphy, who is running the investigation. However, she soon asserts why she is held in such high esteem by her bosses—a fierce intelligence and expertise in criminal psychology is really quite helpful.
Alicia, though, works hard on the image she exudes, often finding it hard to maintain the “perkiness” or the “real Alicia” as she calls it.
The problems start to mount when Richard—the father of Katie, the latest to disappear—utilises his unique skills to launch his own investigation. He’s very single-minded, megalomaniacal (assuming he’s better equipped than the police), and something of a sociopath. He genuinely likes and respects Alicia, but isn’t above using her for information. He lets the relationship grow, yet is very reluctant to lose her if she finds out.
And someone out there from Richard’s past discovers he has surfaced, and is coming for him.
What genre/genres does your book fall under?
I call it a thriller, although it could fall under “mystery/detective”. I list it in the “police procedural” sub-category too, since it is principally about a police investigation. I lean more toward “thriller” because it focusses less on the minutiae of procedures (although I keep it as accurate as I can) and more on the interaction between Richard and Alicia, and how that informs the hunt for the kidnap-killer. He’s using her to get to the killer whilst making leaps and bounds of his own, so Alicia is always playing catch-up. If Richard gets something wrong, he dooms his daughter.
Is this book part of a series?
It could be.
I’ve written this in a way that it can be viewed as a one-off, but if there is sufficient demand I’ll pen a sequel next year. I know the opening act, and I know the form the killer will take, but I’m not sure about the main plot as yet. I have two other novels planned in the next six months, so hopefully people will take to them.
I would LIKE it to be a series, but I will write stand-alones in-between.
What was the inspiration behind your book?
The disparity between what people perceive and what’s really going on with someone. I knew someone—the inspiration behind Alicia herself—who always comes across as a bit ditzy, but who is extremely good at her job, very intelligent and simply enjoyed being herself. I fed that into Alicia and ramped up a few elements.
The story actually started with Richard as the protagonist, but I took him to some dark places and didn’t believe an audience would take to him. Alicia just grew and grew, and pretty soon that germ of an idea (a victim’s father pumping the cops for information so he can track the killer himself) became a much more important factor, almost as important as the investigation itself.
Also, I set it in my home town of Leeds, so I know the geography. I had fun dumping bodies in places I played as a kid.
What led you into writing? Was it a lifelong ambition, or the result of some type of turning point in your life?
In high school I wanted to be a horror writer. I would always turn creative writing exercises into horror stories. One in particular had a girl giving birth to a demon. Her hip bones cracked open, and her blood was black. The teacher refused to mark it and made me tone it down. Another assignment was to tell Heathcliff’s back-story (of Wuthering Heights fame), and I turned it into a cross between an Indiana Jones action sequence and some sort of body-horror torture-porn. It wasn’t as graphic so I got away with that one.
When I left school I went straight into work. I’m from a very blue-collar background (my mother died when I was eight, and my father was a bus driver) so I took the first job that came up.
It wasn’t until I got into reading crime novels that the writing ambition resurfaced. And when it did—I was about 28 by then—it never went away.
My girlfriend of the time, who I would later marry, persuaded me to go to university. I did a creative writing degree and never looked back. Ten years later, here is my debut novel.
So far, what has been the greatest moment in your writing career?
I have a collection of short stories out (A Writer’s Journey: Short Stories in the Evolution of an Author) that charts my early days as a writer. Not all of them are winners, of course but there are some prize-winners in there. When Snow is Due won me a £250 prize, that was pretty cool, and the same story was taken by a Canadian school authority (I forget which one) to use in one of their text books as an example of authorial voice.
Other than that, I had highs that were quickly followed by lows. Agents expressing interest, then saying “no”, that sort of thing.
Are you self-published or published through a small-press? Can you tell our readers what led up to that and your publishing experience?
I’m self-published. His First His Second kept gleaning interest from agents I sent it to. Three times the first three chapters got requests for the full manuscript, but in the end they kept passing for the same reason: it’s professionally-written, but it’s only “as good as” current clients. It wasn’t BAD, but it wasn’t ahead of established talent, which is where new writers need to be.
A few years later, I’ve now rewritten it again, upped the pace, added some thematic resonance, but with the advances in self-publishing, I just thought “why not” and decided to not go down the agent route again. Instead, I used beta readers—strangers to me, not friends and family—and I got some excellent feedback. I knew it was ready, so I did a lot of research into the industry, and dived right in.
What are you working on now?
I’m finishing off Three Years Dead, about an officer who is attacked and wakes up with no memory of the past three years. All he remembers is being a good cop, but in those three years, he’s lost his wife, his friends have turned their backs, and so he has obviously been up to no good. He needs to solve his own attack, and regain the trust of those he has disappointed. That should be out at the end of Feb 2015.
Then I’ll be editing Reflected Innocence, a novel I wrote last year featuring a private investigator traveling to France and south-east Asia in search of his mentor’s missing niece. It’s written in full, but about 20,000 words too long, maybe 30,000. Once it’s been to beta readers and through a professional edit, that will be out too—I’m aiming for late spring/early summer. Earlier, if His First His Second makes money.
In your own words, please tell us about yourself.
I grew up with my dad and brother in the county of Yorkshire in England. I like simple things and beautiful things. I now live in a small town in Staffordshire with my wife and kids, and the last few weeks have seen my neglecting them terribly. Luckily I have a very understanding wife.
I love movies and TV as much as I do reading, although my taste is more varied than my reading, which tends to stick to crime and horror, with the odd classy literary tome thrown in now and again. With movies I love any genre, as long as it’s a QUALITY movie within that genre. So GOOD dumb action movies are fine, but bad ones are not, no matter how great the special effects are. TV, again, I’ll watch almost anything of quality, from The Walking Dead to House of Cards, to Game of Thrones and BSG. While I can’t read fantasy and soft sci-fi, I’d watch great series all day long if I could.
What are some of your likes and dislikes?
Likes: good food, good red wine, good coffee, my wife, my kids (most of the time) and superhero movies.
Dislikes: rudeness, illogical reasoning, bullies, genre fiction written in the present tense (I don’t know why, it’s weird, especially since I don’t mind high-falutin’ literary fiction in present tense), any Michael Bay movie that isn’t Bad Boys 2.
How can readers connect with you?
I’m on Goodreads for starters
My website is being rebuilt slowly, but I’m at http://addavies.com – it has my blog and newsletter sign up.
Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know?
I make wonderful chili.
If there was one thing you could tell your readers, what would it be?
Really, my chili is fantastic.
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