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 I finished my first (unpublished) novel in three months and although it was rejected everywhere (I sent it to about 40 agents), I had some very positive feedback that encouraged me to try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!

25 Days Of Crime/Thriller/Psychological Suspense Writers

You all know that I love all things crime/psychological suspense related, so criminal dramas, documentaries, podcasts and books.  So when I decided to start interviewing some crime authors, I was rather excited.

There are however, hundreds and hundreds of authors I could feature and would love to feature, so it has been really hard picking just a handful to feature this time.  You have absolutely no idea how excited I am for this mini-series and because of how many authors there are that I would love to feature on my blog, I am already planning on extending into next year.  Maybe not everyday, but a couple a month!

In the run up to Christmas I thought I would interview some of the crime writers both here in the UK and abroad.  Some are long-standing authors, others are just about to be published – I wanted to understand more about why they write crime novels.

I also wanted to chat about their writing routines (as some of them still work full time jobs), their previous experiences (some have a background in the police or psychology), their love of crime, how much they research, where they get their inspiration from as well as being nosey and asking they who their favourite authors are.

I will also be sharing links to their books, which would make great Christmas presents or stocking fillers, even a secret santa present.  Books really do make great presents, not only do they give people the chance to relax, but they are a great way of escaping the day to day challenges and stresses we all face!

I can’t wait for you to check out this series, and hope you enjoy delving into the minds of some amazing authors in the run up to Christmas!

Rebecca x

p.s. For ease I am going to be using the hashtag #25daysofcrime on Twitter as #25daysofcrimethrillersandpsychologicalsuspenseauthors is just a little bit too long!

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

Lawyer In The Making is going to the National Justice Museum

I am going to the National Justice Museum next week. Excited is an understatement.  It is no secret that I am a massive law geek and whilst I love sunny holidays and also city breaks. I also love going to crime and justice related places.  That include museums, castles, prisons etc.

Whenever I go on business trips I always try and find something law related to go and see or do.  I even managed to do that when I went to California for 3 weeks on a sight seeing type holiday.

I have an ever-growing list of crime and law related places I want to visit, both here in the UK and abroad.

National Justice museum

So on Monday I will be in Nottingham, and I am heading to the National Justice Museum.  It has been on the list of places to visit for a while, as I have heard great reviews.

The weather isn’t meant to be amazing Monday/Tuesday in Nottingham, so it will be good to kill a few hours.

Plus I have heard that the pub/bar in a church is next door so that is always handy.

What is at the National Justice Museum?

So what is at the National Justice Museum? A series of cells to check out, various methods of punishment and lots of history (as well as more modern topics).

Our impressive collection is made up of over 40 000 objects and archives. It is the UK’s largest collection relating to  to law, justice, crime and punishment.

I am really looking forward to checking out some of the Great Train Robbery evidence as well as the dock from Bow Street Magistrates Court, which was used in notorious cases such as the trials of Oscar Wilde, Roger Casement and the Krays

I am going to keep this blog post short and then fill you in on my thoughts once I have visited.

Have you visited the national justice musuem? let me know on social media!

Rebecca x

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Why not watch my professionally filmed Lawyer In The Making Q&A Video?

Is the news always negative?

Every now and then, well actually more often than not, I turn the radio on in the car and listen to the news and the only stories making the headlines are negative ones.

It is common practice nowadays to hear about crimes, murders, police investigations, prison enquiries and so much more.

Whilst I appreciate that this needs to be shared, sometimes that is all that is shared.

You aren’t telling me that at any given time there is nothing else happening in the world, no other news stories to report on, or some uplifting pieces to share.

I am aware that the world we live in, is sadly one where crimes committed are a daily occurrence, and I am not naive to think this does not go on.  However, every now and then I would love to hear an uplifting story, or even something that was not crime related.

is it too much to ask to have some positivity in the news every now and then?

Whilst I do understand that there is so much going on in the world, from terrorism, wars, politics, religion and even poverty, and we definitely NEED to be hearing about these things, do we really need to be hearing constantly about all of the crimes that have been committed?  Plus that handful we hear about each day isn’t even half of what is going on here in the UK on a daily basis.

How nice has it been over the last few weeks to see the news dominated by people’s achievements at the Olympics, stories of people who have fought so hard to make it to the Olympics and even go on and win medals.  Stories of people beating the odds to represent Great Britain.

These are the stories children need to be hearing, they need to be encouraged and shown how hard work can pay off, whatever field they want to go into.

They need to be reminded that having an education (not necessarily going to university) but sticking school out is necessary.

They need to be reminded that getting into trouble at a young age isn’t cool, it is stupid.

They need to be reminded that bullying other class mates doesn’t make them big or clever, it makes them a horrible person.

Why can’t these olympic athletes be people that the children in our schools aspire to be? Why can’t the children working tirelessly to raise money for various causes be the role models for children today?

Is it possible to take the focus less off crime, and instead remind people what it means to be a decent human being?

There will always be crime (I know that) but let’s take the focus off that, share the news stories like we have to do so, but also infiltrate them with stories that inspire, encourage and motivate young people to live a life free from crime.

Let’s take the glamour out of committing crimes because it really is having a huge impact on the children of tomorrow, and I for one don’t like where this is leading.

Rebecca x