HIS BIGGEST CASE YET. BUT IT COULD BE HIS LAST…
NYPD officer Callum Burke is on a routine drugs raid when he bursts in on a scene of unimaginable horror – and two killers about to get away.
The men are caught but they won’t talk. All the cops know is that they’re Russian and extremely dangerous which means this could be the start of a savage new gang war.
Callum Burke is tasked with finding out what is going on. It’s Manhattan in 1997 and the city is being cleaned up. The pressure is on.
But when Callum discovers there might be more to the Russian involvement than just criminal gangs, he finds himself in deeper trouble than he’s ever known…
Did or do you like to read comic books/graphic novels? Which ones?
I grew up on those fantastic Batman seventies comics with Neal Adams’s amazing art. There was lots of supernatural stuff in Batman back then, it was really fun and atmospheric. As an adult, I love Garth Ennis’s run on the Marvel Punisher Max comics. It is some of the best crime writing out there and I was really lucky to have Garth read my last novel, Rat Island, and provide a very flattering compliment.
Whom did you inherit your love for books/reading from?
That would be my mum. My mum read to me every night when I was a child – Charlotte’s Web particularly stands out. She also used to love browsing in bookshops and took me along. She was a devotee of the library, too.
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?
Hah! I have to be honest and own up to the fact that I did do that with an assassination in my second novel, Seven Skins. I’m only human and I reckon any author who says they haven’t even considered doing it is telling a fib. As a writer, you are basically playing god, after all. My reasoning was the person in question would probably never read it and, to this day, I believe that’s true. Fingers crossed.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
For Callum Burke, the protagonist of my latest crime novels, I wanted a name that encapsulated the Gael and Ulster Scot communities in Northern Ireland, so Callum is Scottish in origin, and Burke is a surname more associated with Catholic Irish. Sometimes a name is borrowed from a football player I liked as a kid; or is an amalgamation of people. Jackie Shaw, the protagonist of my first three novels, was named after my dad – Jackie – and one of my favourite actors – Robert Shaw.
Do you write other things beside books (and shopping lists 😉 )?
My daughter is seven so I write her little stories sometimes – that doesn’t count as books, right? I used to keep a diary when I lived in New York, which gave me a lot of material for my last book, Rat Island, and my new one – The Sky Turned Black.
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?
My ego screams it should be a faithful adaptation; my bank balance screams I should be grateful for whatever I get.
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
Frederick George Abberline, the man who investigated Jack the Ripper. I’d like to pick his brains on the Whitechapel murders and know if he had any conspiracy theories that were too controversial for publication.
Do you have certain people you contact while doing research to pick their brains? What are they specialized in?
Yes, former New York City cops, for obvious reasons. Also, some family members who were police officers. For the Russian characters in The Sky Turned Black, I consulted a number of Russian immigrants I know.
Is there someone you sometimes discuss a dilemma with?
I’m blessed and cursed to have three big sisters, so that affords me a lot of perspectives when I’m not sure what to do; and, of course, my wife.
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).
The second. Stars are great if they’re in the four-or-five-star bracket, and I think it’s what a lot of casual browsers see and take note of on Amazon or Goodreads. You can’t learn from stars, though. Sometimes negative reviews can smart, but I have definitely used some in the past to try and improve my writing. Anyone who pays good money for my books has a valid opinion in my view, and I’m very grateful to them.
About the author
John Steele was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 1995, at the age of twenty-two he travelled to the United States and has since lived and worked on three continents, including a thirteen-year spell in Japan. Among past jobs he has been a drummer in a rock band, an illustrator, a truck driver and a teacher of English. He now lives in England with his wife and daughter. He began writing short stories, selling them to North American magazines and fiction digests. He has published three previous novels: RAVENHILL, SEVEN SKINS and DRY RIVER, the first of which was longlisted for a CWA Debut Dagger award. John’s books have been described as ‘Remarkable’ by the Sunday Times, ‘Dark and thrilling’ by Claire McGowan, and ‘Spectacular’ by Tony Parsons. The Irish Independent called John ‘a writer of huge promise’ and Gary Donnelly appointed him ‘the undisputed champion of the modern metropolitan thriller’.
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