:“Amelia Hartliss Mysteries” series, Book 17
What would you want the world to give you if you discovered the cure for cancer? Jeremy Ceremony thinks he’s done just that, and he wants cash. Some people are calling him ‘Jermy Cer-money’ because of it. Strangely, Melia has never heard of the man, but several people she does know, love, and care about are afflicted by the disease and she would really like it if none of them died. Well, some do and some don’t. Why that should be is a mystery. It’s also a mystery that Salford seems overrun by people with grudges, eager to settle scores and balance the books, maybe quickly, while they are still alive. If only Mickey was here to help her, but Melia is alone – not for the first time – facing a terrifying old adversary, someone whose feelings for her have only just been realised. What is she going to do, now and in the future? Some people say she needs to move on, and apply for that top job at the Unit. But for the life of her, Melia can’t seem to make up her mind about anything. Maybe Deputy Director Caulfield will have to do the thinking for her. (If only he would stop finding bombs in bags, life would be so much simpler – and last longer.)
How did you come up with a title for your latest book?
I like to be topical. Sitting down in 2020 to work on a new thriller, I just knew for sure I would have to get a reference to virus, vaccine, Lockdown, or anything from my current experience.
‘CO-VID 2020’ just seemed ideal to meet that need.
How do you pick a cover for this book?
Luckily, I live in Salford England, which is known around the world as ‘Media City UK’. It’s no surprise that there are writers, film makers, artists and illustrators living in the immediate area.
For the last few years I have been able to call on Mike Ather, an exceptional artist who lives just around the corner from my house. He is a great person to work with. He takes up any challenge. When I told him I wanted a cover that included a vision of zombies emerging from the ground, it didn’t phase him at all, even when – Well, I told him the story was going to be told in three parts, three short novels, like a Trilogy, and I wanted each cover to be similar, but say ‘Part One’, ‘Part Two’, ‘Part Three’, and although the pictures on the front are the same, the books are colour coded – Red, Amber, Green, like traffic lights.
When and where do you prefer to write?
If you called on me unexpectedly, you would probably find me in the kitchen. I write books that are very plot heavy, so I need lots and lots of planning. I would most likely have small and ripped pieces of paper spread out all over the table, and I would be busy shuffling them back and forth, sideways, up and down, until everything seemed to be placed into an order that felt right.
When I actually start entering text I can do that anywhere, on a sofa, in bed, or leaning up against the washing machine. There was a time, when I would even grab a laptop and head for the garden, but such outside appearences are frowned on at the moment in Britain. We’ve all been ordered to stay inside.
Do you need peace and quiet when you are wrting?
I’m not one of these writers who puts together a Mix Tape of favourite old pop songs, or even the Classics, as inspirational music.
When I write I need to pay attention to the voice in my head. I can’t talk to anyone else and I certainly don’t want to have to listen to other people’s conversations. It distracts me, and sends my stories off into unwanted realms.
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
This has never happened. But what has happened is that I have asked people to suggest characters for me to use in more than one of my books. In a recent novel, ‘Global Markets, Part 2’ I wrote to my Mailing List and asked them to fill in a ‘Character Form’ that I had invented. They had to fill in their own details on the left hand side and facts about their imaginary character on the right. I managed to work all of their suggestions into the narrative – although one ‘character’ had to undergo a change of sex, and one started the book with an alias, only to be revealed later as the suggested character.
We all had a lot of fun with that. To me, it started out with me thinking I was making a film and inviting all my friends to play the bit parts – taxi driver, bartender, Border Guard. However, that was only the intention, and it turned out to be far more complicated. Contributors were pleased to discover in the end that they took major parts in the ‘movie’, often starring roles!
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
Again, I’m a bit of an unexpected novelist. As well as writing books I have been involved in my local Community Radio Station for many years. It’s called Salford City Radio and it broadcasts on 94.4fm or you can find it online at SalfordCityRadio.org
My wife and I have a weekly programme at 11am on a Wednesday. We play music and Folk-type songs – some of which we write and perform ourselves – and we have been going out and interviewing people for years, (although a lot of that has been confined to the internet in the last year, because of the virus). We save long conversations and then edit them down into 3 minute segments and put them between the musical interludes. So, you see, it’s a question of Yes, I am an interviewer and have been for a while, although my targets are seldom writers. I much prefer ordinary down-to-earth people – you can learn so much!
Where can I find you when you are not writing?
I am a great disappointment to my family and friends. When I’m working at the kitchen table, or when I’m in front of a keyboard, then they can just barely understand that as ‘writing’. But then they conclude that when I’m not doing that, I must be present, right here, with them. However, sometimes, when I’m having dinner, or attending a get-together, you will find me staring out of the window – writing.
My conclusion is that I’m ‘writing’ most days of the week and most hours of the day, if you understand that my writing is all about plot. There are people in my stories and they move around, interact and clash. Before I can put it all down on paper I need to know where they will be and what they will be doing. So, it might seem like a blank look on my face but the thought in my head might be, ‘How a I going to end Chapter 7?’ or ‘How does the Doctor get back to the hospital before them?’ That planning and sorting takes up most of my brain power. I haven’t got room for much else.
What distinguishes your books from other modern crime fiction mystery thrillers?
In a word – No Swearing. Oh sorry, that’s two words. Darn.
But it’s true. My ‘baddies’ might be big, bad bank robbers, kidnappers and terrorists, but for some reason they never stoop to profanity.
It’s just a quirk of mine.
Thank you, Mike Scantlebury
About the author
What can you say about Mike Scantlebury –
that isn’t taught in schools already?
Well, he says he was born in absentia (the small town on the Bay of Biscay), beside the dock of the bay, but moved to England when young, and not yet able to navigate astutely. His family settled in the West Country of England, near a cross culture called Temp Chelney, where his father became a map maker and mushroom farmer.
When the borders were changed in the 1980s, Mike packed a service record and moved to an apartment in the nearby city of Bristol. This is where he first got involved in folking, flaking and faking. Later, he became disenchanted.
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