WE ARE ON THIS CASE LIKE A BONER FIDO BLOODHOUND… AND MY MEN ARE BARKING AT THE LEASH’
In this darkly comic novel, Clifton Gentle is an ordinary man without much to distinguish him. Not much, that is, apart from being a serial killer who is leaving bits of his young male victims scattered around North London.
DCI Dave Hicks is the larger than life policeman determined to catch him. His attempts to find ‘the nutter’ through a combination of spoonerisms, personal abuse and a belief that something will turn up don’t go well. All that turns up are yet more body parts.
In a sleazy London dogged by growing squalor and an IRA bombing campaign in the last days of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership, the gruesome murders spur an over-the-top media and merchandising frenzy.
When and where do you prefer to write?
I have a desk on the first floor of my house in front of a window so I can watch people coming and going. I’ll write at any time of the day, as long as I have got tea to drink. I am very flexible though and wrote SHWTD in around 20 different places.
Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?
It helps. I love music, but can’t play it when writing. I definitely can’t write and talk, but can block out most noise apart from car alarms.
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
I would love to write with David Peace, author of the Red Riding Quartet and Tokyo Trilogy, who is not only a great storyteller, but has a daring almost confrontational style which stretches the boundaries. I pale into insignificance beside him.
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
The baddies are usually more interesting aren’t they? Although I’m a goodie in real life.
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
Groucho Marx would have been incredibly entertaining and make me laugh. I played Harpo on stage once which was very physical, but at least there weren’t many lines to learn.
Where can I find you when you are reading?
I love reading in bed, but it does mean that I don’t get as much sleep as I would like. Train journeys are good, but I haven’t been on very many since the pandemic.
Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
I love going to the theatre and am a part time theatre reviewer in Bristol for StageTalk Magazine and Bristol 24/7, and am happiest having laughs with friends over a good meal with wine. I am a born again swimmer and cyclist.
What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
After waiting over 30 years to get my debut novel published it was an emotional moment. I didn’t cry but I got all warm and fuzzy inside and blinked a lot.
How do you come up with a title for your book?
The title comes first. Shaking Hands with the Devil combined a smutty schoolboy saying and a feeling of selling your soul. My next novel, An Old Tin Can, comes from a question about someone’s identity – ‘Are you a Billy or a Dan or an old tin can?’
How do you pick a cover for your book?
It’s such a critical element for any book. It’s true that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but everyone does. I didn’t like the proposed artwork from the publisher and decided to ask a graphic designer friend to put the various images together to give the right atmosphere for a comic crime story – and she did a brilliant job.
Thank you, Bryan J Mason and Zooloo’s Book Tours
About the author
Bryan J Mason wrote his black comedy about a serial killer in the late 1980s, but reluctantly put it away in a drawer after his agent narrowly failed to get it published. He concluded that he was a failed author, so might as well be a failure at something else instead. However, every ten years or so he dug it out and read it and each time he did was surprised to find that he still found it funny. He has now managed to get it published after making some changes, including firmly placing the action in the late ʼ80s and early ʼ90s for today’s reader.
He has worked as a brush salesman and rent collector, made sound effects for BBC Radio and been a tax inspector and occasional actor. He writes regular theatre reviews for StageTalk Magazine and Bristol 24/7.
He is a member of the Crime Writers Association and currently working on a new novel featuring a Jewish detective investigating a series of serial killings in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, called An old Tin Can.
Bryan lives in Bristol with his wife and has two children in their twenties.