The Met Police’s Major Investigation Team East has its hands full: a rash of tit for tat gang related stabbings, a strangled housewife, the decomposed remains of a woman found in a ditch and more to come. Adding to their woes is their boss, Chief Inspector Matthew Merry, being distracted by his problems at home.
For Matthew’s wife, Kathy, her only concern is dealing with the aftermath of being drugged and raped by a co-worker. Will the trial of the man responsible be enough to give her the justice she demands. Or, as her therapist states, is it revenge she really desires. She doesn’t know. As her emotions see-saw from elation to depression, her only certainty is that her husband seems more concerned about his work than her.
And Matthew is only too aware of his failings both at home and work. But the police machine grinds on, seeking information and sifting evidence — justice is not their concern.
Did or do you like to read comic books/graphic novels? Which ones?
To be honest, no. I don’t dislike them, and I did once own a Terry Pratchett novel in graphic form, but I find it hard to engage with them. I find the visual image does all the work for you, whereas the written word enables you to put your own interpretation on things.
Whom did you inherit your love for books/reading from?
Most evenings my mother would sit reading, knitting and watching TV all at the same time, and my father, when he had the leisure, liked a good cowboy novel. Basically, I was always encouraged to read. My mother belonged to the local library, she’d get through four books in two weeks, and I’d go along with her; usually sneaking into the adult section to get at the sci-fi books I wanted. And both parents were more than happy to take me into a bookshop, whilst out shopping, to spend my pocket money on something.
When you need a murder victim or someone you can diagnose with a serious disease or someone who is involved in a fatal accident do you sometimes picture someone nasty you have met in real life and think ‘got you’ LOL?
No, I tend to find it more engaging for readers to have victims they can sympathise with. I very rarely use real people as a basis for my characters. I don’t know why this is the case, but I find that giving a character some basic traits then allowing them to evolve makes both the book and my writing it a lot more fun.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Sometimes there is a literary connection: as in Matthew Merry and Antonio Montepluciano. In Matthew I wanted a rather dour character and, thinking of George Smiley, I looked for an old English name that would be the direct opposite of the character. With Montepluciano I wanted a direct nod towards Inspector Montalbano, a favourite character of mine from Camilleri’s series of the same name. His father is a Sicilian wine producer, so picking one of my favourite wines – which has also featured in the TV series – seemed obvious.
In other cases, it is because I want to suggest a certain ethnic background as in Julie Lukula. Or because it simply sounds right: as in Charlie Parks, whom I couldn’t imagine being called anything else.
I always keep lists of names, to try and avoid confusion, especially when someone is known by more than one name.
Do you write other things beside books (and shopping lists 😉 )?
In a previous life I used to regularly write professional reports on a variety of things. These required specific formats and styles, so, in a sense, they helped in the development of how to use written language to convey a specific message. Occasionally I write a guest post for a blogger, not being constrained by a plot or having characters demanding they be heard, allows me a freer hand.
If a movie or series would be made from your books, would you be happy with the ‘based on’ version or would you rather like they showed it exactly the way you created it?
Depends how much they pay me. I can’t remember who it was but I remember one author who said ‘you cannot complain about how a book is portrayed on screen — once you sell the rights you no longer own it and it becomes someone else’s to interpret as they wish.’
Producers, actors, directors and screen writers will all have their say in how it turns out. If they retain the original title and you get your name in the credits somewhere then you are probably doing well.
The real answer, of course, is to write, produce, direct and star in your own creation, but that requires a degree of talent and energy that I’m too old to invest in such a project.
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
My first thought was Dr Who, he/she travels around a great deal yet always seems optimistic — although all that enthusiasm must be wearing. But as the character is fictional it doesn’t really count.
Then I thought of Edgar Allan Poe, I understand he struggled for many years before finally achieving success as a writer. I feel this would give us something in common to chat about.
Or, maybe, Tom Hanks. He just seems too good to be true but he also collects typewriters, which is a topic I find fascinating.
Do you have certain people you contact while doing research to pick their brains? What are they specialized in?
Google and the good people at Wikipedia are normally my first call for help. The internet is the greatest thing ever invented. Having grown up spending years in libraries searching through endless texts for specific references and information, to be able to access so much in the press of a button is a godsend. Keeping up to date on police procedure, law and forensic techniques is something of a must given the books I write. However, it can be surprising what you find yourself researching: everything from train timetables to typical weather conditions at particular times of year.
Is there someone you sometimes discuss a dilemma with?
Occasionally my wife, but in general no. That, after all, is the fun of writing; it is a solitary exercise and sharing it spoils the process.
What is more important to you: a rating in stars with no comments or a reviewer who explains what the comments they give are based on (without spoilers of course)
Any and every review is welcome, especially good ones. And, if what I read on Twitter and articles by authors is true, then, getting reviews is the biggest bugbear of every author — it is certainly mine.
The stars are the instant gratification but, in practice, the written comments are invaluable. Even if someone dislikes the premise of your book or a particular scene or character, at worst it makes you ask the question how can you improve on your next book.
Thank you, John Mead and Rachel’s Random Resources.
John was born in the mid-fifties in East London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs.
He has travelled extensively, from America to Tibet, and he enjoys visiting the theatre, reading and going to the pub. It is, perhaps, no surprise that he is an avid ‘people watcher’ and loves to find out about people, their lives, culture and history. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub; he writes.
Many of the occurrences recounted and the characters found in his novels are based on real incidents and people he has come across. Although he has allowed himself a wide degree of poetic licence in writing about the main characters, their motivations and the killings that are depicted.
John is currently working on a series of novels set in modern day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city.
Social Media Links
Amazon author profile: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B07B8SQ2ZH
Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17891273.John_Mead