Crime Writers | Rod Reynolds

Having met Rod Reynolds at Monday Night Crime I knew I wanted to feature him on my Crime Writers Series.  He was a brilliant panelist but also everyone spoke very highly of him in terms of personality but also his writing ability.

So a few tweets and an email later, here is my interview with Rod Reynolds.  As always, links to books are at the bottom (just click on the book title)!

Crime Writers | Rod Reynolds

Crime Writers | Rod Reynolds

Who are you and what have you written? 

My name is Rod Reynolds and I am the author of the Charlie Yates series, published by Faber. My debut novel, The Dark Inside, came out in 2015 and is loosely based on a set of real life killings known as The Texarkana Moonlight Murders, which took place on the Texas/Arkansas border in 1946. The sequel, Black Night Falling, came out in 2016 and is set in the nearby town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, a hotspot for the Mob in the 40s, and the town that served as the inspiration for their plans for Las Vegas. My third novel, Cold Desert Sky, is published in July and is set in Hollywood and Vegas, just as the first casinos were opening.

Why do you write crime fiction? 

It’s what I’ve always been most interested in as a reader. Although I never really looked at labels or genres, just picking up books that interested me, I always seemed to gravitate towards crime. And one of the things I’ve learned as a writer is that you have to write what you enjoy, otherwise 100k words becomes a real slog.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? 

No, I only started writing in my 30s. I’d always been a big reader, but never dreamed of being a writer because, growing up on a council estate in north London, I didn’t know anyone who did anything like that. Even when I left university, I ended up working in advertising for almost a decade. It was only when I turned thirty and started trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life that I decided to give writing a try. And I loved it so much, I knew I’d found my passion.

How did you become a writer? 

I took a year out of my previous career to try writing a novel. I didn’t know anything about it so I signed up for a distance learning course to get a grip of the basics. I wrote every day, working longer hours than when I was in a job – because I just loved it. I finished my first (unpublished) novel in three months and although it was rejected everywhere (I sent it to about 40 agents), I had some very positive feedback that encouraged me to try again. Then just as I was about to go back to work, I stumbled across the true life story of the Texarkana Moonlight Murders and started researching the book that would eventually become, four years later, The Dark Inside.

You undertook the City University’s Crime Writing Masters course? How did you find this? Do you recommend courses like this for aspiring crime writers? 

I really enjoyed the course and found it helped me a lot in a number of ways. And the City course was the first to offer a qualification specifically in Crime Writing. But I’m very clear whenever I answer this question that doing a Masters is not a prerequisite for becoming a published author; I’m fortunate enough to have met a lot of authors at this point, and probably the minority took an MA. I think what counts is understanding that writing is a skill and it requires practice, hard work and dedication. For me, the route to that was signing up for a masters degree, but that was a personal choice; I didn’t sign up for the degree expecting to get a publishing deal out of it – I did it because I loved writing and wanted to get better at it.

What influences the content that you write? News? Books? Personal experiences? Previous jobs? 

All of those things. I think most writers allow themselves to be influenced by all sorts of things – it’s part of the skill. My books are specifically influenced by real life places and crimes, but beyond that, all sorts of elements go into them. I’m always looking out for character traits in people I know to help bring my characters to life, for example.

Do you have to do lots of research when you are writing? 

I’ve done a fair amount, because I wanted to nail the real life elements of my novels and make sure I knew the historical facts before I started writing. I studied history, so I enjoy that part of it, to be honest. I also had to research the places my books were set, as they were all parts of the US that I wasn’t that familiar with (apart from Las Vegas). But the key is to make sure you then draw on that research sparingly. Research should give the reader the confidence that the author knows their subject – it shouldn’t take up page after page. A little goes a long way.

Do you have a writing routine? 

Not really. I have two young kids so I’m also a stay-at-home dad, so my day is structured around school and nursery runs. I do get a couple of hours each morning when my youngest is at nursery, and then it’s naptimes, evenings, whenever I can find the time. I tend to work to a target word count each day and each week, depending on what time I expect to have.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome this?

I’ve never had the kind of block you read about, where I literally can’t get anything out, but I’ve spent my share of time just staring at a blinking cursor. I’m not sure there’s any way around it other than to just write; it’s hard if you feel like whatever you get down is wasted because you think you’ll just end up deleting it, but honestly, if you can force yourself to get to that computer and start tapping away, eventually it will come. I find I have to reassure myself that nothing is ever really wasted – even if I delete it the next day (and I’ve done that plenty) it’s just part of the process.

Which authors and books do you like reading? 

I love reading so there are way too many to mention. American authors have always been my biggest influence – James Ellroy, James Lee Burke, Raymond Chandler, Don Winslow and many more – but I also love reading what current writers are producing, and there’s a huge amount of talent out there right now. To pick just a few – Mick Herron, David Young, Steph Broadribb, Caz Frear, Susi Holliday, Tim Baker, Mark Hill…I could literally go on for hours, but those are some of the most recent ones I’ve read so they’re fresh in my mind.

Your first two books are part of a series, was this the intention from the outset?  Would you ever consider writing a standalone book? 

Originally I planned my second book to be set in the same universe but with a different set of characters – but when I got my deal with Faber, they liked Charlie Yates so much that they wanted to bring him back. Hence a series was born! So, in truth, The Dark Inside was written as a sort of standalone – and I’d have no qualms about writing another (although there are challenges to either approach).

What are your future writing plans? Can we expect another book in 2018? 

Yes, Cold Desert Sky publishes in July, and I’m in the early stages of writing something very different at the moment. Watch this space.

If you could recommend just one of your books to my audience, which one would it be and why? 

Definitely my first, The Dark Inside. Not just because it’s the start of the series and because everything that happens in the subsequent books stems from the events of that one, but because it was my first and I spent so long with it rattling around in my head, I think I’ll always have a particular attachment to that one!

How have you found the overall writing experience, from ideas and writing the novels, to getting an agent and being published? 

It’s been a blast. I love writing, and that hasn’t changed from pretty much the first day I started out. Certainly there are highs and lows, and I’ve experienced both, and it’s a career that requires a lot of self-discipline, patience and persistence. But when it’s just me, at a keyboard, with no distractions, it’s a great feeling.

Where can people find more information out you? (Website and social media?) 

You can find me on Twitter, @Rod_WR, and on Facebook. I love talking books, my own or other people’s, so don’t be afraid to @ me.

And I’m also usually at First Monday crime, the monthly event for anyone interested in crime fiction; check out the website https://www.firstmondaycrime.com/ and do come and say hello!

Books

The Dark Inside                                                                                                                                                                                                    Black Night Falling

Black Knight Falling

Black Knight Falling

The Dark Inside

The Dark Inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A massive thanks to Rod Reynolds for taking part in this Crime Writers interview series.  Do check out Rod’s books and also, if you do like reading crime, consider coming along to First Monday Crime.

Rebecca x

p.s. if you have liked this interview and have some other favourite crime writers why not drop me a message and I can see if I can interview them.  Or if you are a crime writer reading this, send me an email if you would like to be interviewed.  Email can be found on my contact page here!

Crime Writers | John Gilstrap | 25 Days of Crime Writers

Lawyer In The Making followers for this Crime Writers Q&A… meet John Gilstrap.
I was beyond excited when John Gilstrap emailed me back saying that he would take part in my Q&A series.  He has had a great writing career and one of his books saw Warner Bros buy the rights for!
Crime Writers | John Gilstrap

Crime Writers | John Gilstrap

 Who are you and what have you written?

I’m John Gilstrap, and over the course of two decades, I’ve written 18 novels, four screenplays, and a handful of short stories  My most recent thrillers have featured my series character, Jonathan Grave, a freelance hostage rescue specialist.

Why do you write crime fiction?

The only stories that float into my head are crime stories.In my fictional world, justice always triumphs over the bad guys.  There’s something very compelling about that.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, always.  Literally, for as long as I can remember.  Even in elementary school, I loved to write stories.

What influences the content that you write? News? Books? Personal experiences? Previous jobs?

All of the above influence my storytelling. I often say that it’s hard to conceive of a better time to be a thriller writer. It helps that my past jobs have included 15 years as a firefighter and EMT, plus years in the weapons manufacturing business.

Do you have to do lots of research when you are writing?

I tend to write within the boundaries of things I understand, but there are always holes in my expertise.  I’m blessed to have many friends and contacts who are very, very knowledgeable in some pretty esoteric areas, and they’re very generous with their time.

Do you have a writing routine?

I guess I must, because I’m able to produce a book every year, but I don’t think of it as a routine.  My deadline arrives every September 15, but then with the various levels of edits, it’s usually mid-January before I can really move on to the next story. Early on, I spend two or three hours a day writing the book.  Come summertime, though, as the deadline looms, I’ll end up writing eight to ten hours per day.  I’m always exhausted when I turn a book in.

Your first (technically fourth) novel, Nathan’s Run was received so well with Warner Bros. buying the movie rights shortly after the book rights were sold.  How did that feel?

The feeling is hard to put into words, to be honest. During that first week in March, 1996, I earned the equivalent of roughly 10 times the money I had earned, cumulatively, during my whole life leading up to the sale. (For perspective, I was 38 years old when I wrote NATHAN’S RUN.) That night changed every conceivable thing about my life.

I found it really interesting to read that after the huge success of your first and second novel, Nathan’s Run and At All Cost (after selling both the book and movie rights) you returned to a full time job.  Did you still find time to write?

Here’s one I cannot explain. When I went back to a day job (my wife called it my big-boy job), I was more prolific as a writer than I’d been up till that time. I think it had something to do with the forced focus. When writing is your only job, and deadlines occur only once per year, procrastination is easy. Throw in a job with responsibilities and a commute, and procrastination is not an option.

What made you decide to return to writing full time?

From the first day when I returned to the day job, I promised myself that as soon as the job ceased to be fun, I would walk away from it. That’s exactly what happened. For lack of a better way to put it, the intra-office corporate bullshit ran me out.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome this?

I don’t think writer‘s block is a real thing. There are days when I’m not motivated, and there are days when I feel hopelessly lost within a story, but so what? As a professional, my job is to power through the moments when it feels easiest to quit. When I feel like I don’t have a good idea, I start writing the best bad idea that’s floating in my head. I see creativity as a flow, once it starts–once a writer starts writing anything–it keeps going.

Which authors and books do you like?

I’m an omnivore. I read a lot of nonfiction, but I also read thrillers. It’s always a mistake to name names, because I will always forget someone. That said,k off the top of my head, I read pretty much everything written by Nelson DeMille, Reavis Wortham, Stuart Neville, Tess Gerritsen, Jeffery Deaver, Eric Larsen, and many more.

If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers which one would it be and why?

Hmm. You know that’s a really tough question, right? My most recent Jonathan Grave thriller, Final Target, has a lot to offer for pretty much all readers–except those who are looking for romance. My most recent non-series book, Nick of Time, would be a good choice, too. That one tells the story of a terminally ill teenager who runs away with her childhood crush–who happens to be wanted for murder.

Where can people find more information out you? 

My website is www.johngilstrap.com. Email: john@johngilstrap.com. Facebook: JohnGilstrapAuthor. Twitter: @JohnGilstrap

Books

As always, the links below are all clickable and take you to Amazon. I have tried to share as many of John’s books as possible but do check out his website for the complete list.

Final Target 

Nick of Time 

Friendly Fire

High Treason

Against All Enemies

End Game

Threat Warning 

Damage Control 

Hostage Zero

No Mercy 

Thank you John for taking part in this series! I have loved hearing more about your writing career.

Rebecca x

Crime Podcast | Crime Bites

Crime Bites. Interested in crime? Love podcasts? Fascinated by criminology?

Then Crime Bites might be for you.. actually there is no ‘might be’ about it… Crime Bites will definitely be for you.

So what is Crime Bites?

Crime Bites is a podcast by criminologist Professor Elizabeth Yardley.  If you love all things crime, criminology and watch documentaries then her name might sound familiar.  Thats because Elizabeth regularly features in crime based documentaries, giving her opinion or explaining why people do things etc.  She has been on Crimes That Shook Britain and also Britain’s Killer Kids, as well as others.

Crime Bites makes sense of crime, but also looks at society’s response to it.

Elizabeth Yardley is also a criminologist working at Birmingham City University and she specialises in the study of homicide and crime in the media. Combining the two you get the essence of her podcast, Crime Bites!

Crime Bites is a monthly podcast and it explores crime and society’s response to it.  The podcast draws on criminological ideas.

Other criminologists, from all over the country also feature on the podcast.  Elizabeth discusses with them some of the concepts used in their daily jobs, as well as trends, key cases and aspects of criminology that they are researching in more depth.  It also touches on programmes of interest, the media’s response and also societies response to crimes committed.

I really enjoyed listening to their discussion on various television crime dramas or documentaries – as someone that is a huge crime geek (when it comes to podcasts, books, TV series, documentaries) it is fascinating to know what other people think of them.  As well as what criminologists make of it – they (like lawyers) view things in a different way to people that don’t necessarily come from that field of work!

 

Should you listen to Crime Bites?

Yes – you can probably tell from how I have been writing that I really enjoy listening to this podcast.  The guests that are featured are always great and easy to listen to.  You feel like you are learning a lot whilst listening, but it is also an easy listen.  I get super excited when a new episode appears.

I also really liked the episode “Social Media Homicide Confessions: Stories of their killers and their victims”.  As you might have guessed, this episode looked at crimes where people had confessed their killings on social media.  The question was posed, “Is this only a recent thing?” because there are circumstances in history where people went to the papers etc.  It was interesting to hear their thoughts on the topic of social media confessions and changing times.

Other episodes have looked at tv programmes such as Doctor Foster, Mind Hunter etc.  They have also discussed crime related topics linked to sexting, websleuthing, prisons and even dating apps.

Do you like listening to podcasts? Do you like crime ones? Have you listened to Crime Bites before?

Rebecca x