Please enjoy this audiobook sample of Remorseless.
Thanks for taking time to speak with me, Will. First, what made you decide to become a writer?
When I was at school I won an essay competition aged 14 and since then I wanted to write a novel. My first attempt was dreadful but I was only 16! I never did get beyond the first ten thousand words…
So how long did it take to get published the first time and how did it happen?
It took me another 25 years before I made my second attempt at novel writing. A full time career and growing family meant I had little time to focus on writing. I originally touted my first two novels around UK agents and had some very positive responses but no one wanted to promote my work! In 2006 I met a small publisher in Thailand and he loved the novels so created paperback versions to sell to ex-pats throughout Asia and the English speaking Australasian market. The financial crises intervened and his small publishing house folded before we got any traction.
Would you have done anything differently?
I would have self-published from day one if Amazon and other online retailers had been available. I think the days of agents and publishers deciding what people can read are over — many hugely popular independently published works would never have seen the light of day thanks to these old fashioned ‘gatekeepers’ — I think the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon would never have happened under the old guard. When I was talking to prospective agents who ‘loved’ my work, they remarked that my books were ‘mid-market sellers’ rather than best-sellers so would not help me. Understandable, but the internet allows authors to find their niche, too.
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Keep on writing, don’t let negative criticism affect you, find your ‘market niche’ and go for it using the power of the worldwide web! Reach out to other authors for help, invest in the business of writing if you can afford to, and even if you cannot you must definitely set up your own website and blog.
What or who inspires or influences your writing?
Stephen King wrote a fantastic part-instructional and part-autobiographical book called “On Writing” that helped me enormously. I was struggling to get my first pukka novel underway as I had read all the ‘how to’ books and they dictated that I must plan out the entire novel, write thorough character studies, create detailed chapter plans each with a full synopsis etc — but then I found myself getting bored by the time it came to write the actual manuscript! So that did not work for me and would hardly have been good for readers either. King suggests spit-balling some ideas and then getting stuck in, editing later to make a coherent whole once you have the story on paper. That worked for me: each main character started to take on a life of his/her own and many of the things I had planned did not happen. The writing was great fun as the characters surprised me by doing their own thing! They created some cool twists in my novels, not me…
I know what you mean. I feel like I’m watching a movie in my head while I struggle to take notes on what I’m seeing.
My other major influence was a chap called Dr. Hare, the world renowned expert on psychopaths. I have had the misfortune to become personally entangled with a couple of these creatures in my life — not axe murderers, but seemingly normal folk who frankly have something missing in their psyches. Hare inspired me to write Remorseless, my crime novel with an out and out criminal psychopath as the villain. Hare’s books, especially “Without Conscience” (the inspiration for my novel’s title too), helped me understand psychopaths and how they impact the world in ways that are far out of proportion to their numbers: they make up just one percent or so of the general population, and around 25% of prison inmates. They are not all incarcerated, many are in respectable professions – doctors, judges, policemen, politicians, and bankers, etc. The financial crisis of 2008 can be laid firmly at their door.
Really? I was ready to blame someone else for that mess.
I have a crime related website that focuses on psychopaths in fact and fiction so I am a bit of an expert myself nowadays!
Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?
My sound engineer is just tweaking the audiobook version of my dark, gritty crime thriller, Remorseless. I chose to narrate the novel myself as I wanted to bring the characters to life as best I could and voice them as they sounded in my head…The women were difficult, but I tried to get close! Because I don’t use many dialogue tags (‘he said, she said’) a straightforward narration would not have worked well, so it is a little like a radio play in places, with my split-personality acting all the parts! There are no sound effects other than for telephone calls, and no music, so it is not a proper radio play, just a unique hybrid.
That must have been hard!
I found myself getting into character rather too well at times, and would wander around the house ranting at inanimate objects in full psycho mode…My wife wondered if there was an intruder in our house on one occasion! We’re divorced now…(Just joking!)
You had me there. What are your latest releases and when/where can we find them?
The new Remorseless audiobook is due to be released late December with a formal launch in January 2016 when it will be available at Amazon and other online retailers. I am also offering a free prize draw for 30 pre-release copies during December and I will also provide keen reviewers a free copy if they contact me directly via one of my websites.
After you got your first contract, were you asked to do revisions?
No, the novels were originally printed as written, but since then, based on reader feedback and some advice from a professional editor, both my novels were extensively edited and partially rewritten for the current editions. My other novel, “The Hack,” is a fast paced international crime adventure/thriller whereas Remorseless is more psychological/suspense/thriller. Both have elements of mystery with a bit of whodunnit and police investigation – which is why I am such a nightmare for traditional agents and publishers who like clearly defined genres!
How long have you been writing professionally, Will?
I suppose you could say 2002 was when I first got serious about novel writing, but after the crash and the failure of my publisher in 2007/8 I ended up focusing back on other business ventures. Since July this year I have been back on track and the last couple of months I have focused on creating the audiobook version of Remorseless. I have plans to complete the follow up for both my novels in 2016 – I am already half way through Mutilated, the second in the Remorseless series.
The next book sounds gruesome. What do you do for fun when you are not writing?
Drinking, eating, reading, movies, traveling, more drinking, more eating, and a fair bit of playing electric blues guitar.
Traveling and blues guitar both sound interesting. Do you write full-time or part-time?
Right now, being an author is my full-time job.
Where do you reside, Will?
For the past ten years I have lived in Asia and currently reside on the tropical ‘paradise’ island of Phuket. The surrounding area is stunningly beautiful and I highly recommend it to all who enjoy natural beauty.
I just Googled Phuket. What a gorgeous place! I think I have a photo of it on my phone. Tell us about your latest releases.
Well, a recent reviewer called my psychological serial killer, Peter Leech, who features as the villain in Remorseless, a ‘masterpiece.’ He is a very unpleasant chap and I break with convention by writing a lot of scenes from his point of view (POV). Traditionally, readers expect to like and identify with POV characters and villains tend to be written more objectively in the third person. In Remorseless I take the reader (and now, hopefully, the listener) into the mind of a genuine, hard core criminal psychopath. This is disturbing and off-putting for some readers, but for others it is akin to enjoying a horror film that scares the pants off you…One reviewer suggested having antacids ready while reading! Hopefully this approach gives the readers insights that might not be so clear in a traditionally written novel.
I would imagine you gained a lot of insight just writing the novel.
Remorseless explores the nature of guilt with the protagonists all suffering from this in some way or another too, so the plot is also affected in major ways. There is a bit of tender romance in there too, some detective work and some psychological suspense, plus some unexpected twists so it is not all hard core psycho action.
That’s good to know.
One reader said it starts out as a suspense novel then becomes a detective/murder mystery and finishes as a balls to the wall thriller.
What a description!
You can check out my true crime/crime fiction hybrid site at www.remorselessfiction.com where I focus on psychopaths – my thang. I have some vague plans to write a non-fiction book related to true crime too, but that is not a priority right now. Both of my novels have their own websites with lots of background info about writing, the characters, deleted scenes, etc. www.remorselessthrller.com and www.thehacknovel.com. I write occasional newsletters too so readers can sign up on my websites or contact me through them.
Thank you, Will, for spending time with me. I enjoyed it!
Thank you Ester for sharing my work and helping indie authors like me reach more readers