Sunday, 31 January 2016

'Without Trace' Blog Tour Stop: An Interview with the Author Simon Booker.

Simon Booker is a screenwriter of prime time TV drama for the BBC, ITV and US TV. His credits include BBC1’s Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Holby City and The Mrs Bradley Mysteries starring Diana Rigg; ITV1 thrillers The Stepfather and The Blind Date; and Perfect Strangers, the CBS romantic comedy starring Rob Lowe and Anna Friel. He has written many plays for BBC Radio 4. He has worked extensively as a producer in television and radio and as a journalist. Simon lives in London and Deal. He is a volunteer facilitator in Restorative Justice, working with offenders at HMP Brixton. Without Trace is his debut novel. The second Morgan Vine novel is due to be published in 2017. He lives in Kent and London with his partner fellow crime writer M.J McGrath

A very warm welcome to you Simon, and can I thank you, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today.
Thank-you for hosting me on your site.
For the benefit of our International readers can you tell us a bit about the part of the world that you are currently resident in and why do you like living there?
I live in Stoke Newington in north London and am lucky enough to have a writing bolt-hole in a Kentish seaside town called Deal. The former has all the benefits of a small town - friendly, everything within walking distance - but is within easy reach of the centre of the best city in the world. And Deal is also friendly but more restful - an ideal place to hide out while writing.
Can I ask what sort of books did you like reading as a child?
I was an only child and spent a lot of time reading. I often searched my wardrobe, trying to find the door to CS Lewis’s Narnia. Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series was a favourite. In my teens I became obsessed with George Orwell, Roald Dahl and Sherlock Holmes.
Do you think the books that you read as a child have influenced your writing in any way?
I was fascinated by Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books and loved the ‘twist in the tale’ in Roald Dahl’s ‘Kiss Kiss’ short stories. A satisfying twist is still a great pleasure, both as a writer and a reader. I hope I've managed to pull off a great twist in Without Trace, my psychological thriller about a woman trying to discover if her old flame is a wronged innocent or a ruthless, manipulative killer.
Do you have a set routine when you are working on a novel?
I try to keep ‘office hours’. I generally work best in the mornings, writing until one pm. then taking a couple of hours to eat lunch, read and have a siesta. (NB: not a ‘nap’; much too elderly!) I then I work again until the early evening.
Where do you do your writing best?
The seaside house in Deal is especially conducive to writing. I work at the dining table, overlooking our small courtyard garden, watching sparrows and collared doves peck at the feeder and listening to the sound of the waves.
What helped you decide to actually write a crime thriller?
I've written TV drama for many years - including murder mysteries for the BBC and ITV - so the decision to write a crime novel seemed like a natural progression.
When you are writing a novel, how do you place yourself into the time period that you are actually writing about?

Without Trace is a contemporary novel, set mainly in Kent and London. I know both well and am particularly intrigued by the eerie landscape of the coast at Dungeness where my heroine, Morgan Vine, lives in a converted railway carriage.

How do you go about imagining, developing and give real lives and personalities to the characters that we read about within in your book?

Characters never appear fully formed; they develop as I write. Names are important. I’ll often change a character’s name several times during the writing process until I arrive at the one that feels ‘right’.

Did you encounter any difficulties in getting you book accepted and published?
Initially, Bonnier were keen on another crime novel I’d written but we decided that Without Trace would make a particularly striking début. That first book is still ‘in the bank’ and will, I hope, appear soon but not until after the second Morgan Vine Investigation, which I'm currently writing.
Did you have to undertake any research for your novel?

Some of Without Trace is set in a (fictitious) UK prison and I was able to draw on my background of running reading groups in prison, as well as my experience as a facilitator in restorative justice, working with offenders at HMP Brixton.

What is your favourite book and why?
I have great affection for Graham Greene’s ‘Travels With My Aunt’ and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ by Truman Capote. Both feature wonderful female characters, the kind of people I would invite to my ideal dinner party.
Are you currently reading a book at the moment, and if so what is it?

I always have too many books ‘on the go’. Current favourites include Savage Lane by Jason Starr (a brilliantly dark domestic thriller), Diana Athill’s memoir ‘Alive, Alive Oh!’ and ‘One Minute to Ten’, Dan Hodges’s book about the 2015 general election. I guess you could say I have eclectic tastes.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests that you enjoy in order to give you a break from your normal routine and your writing?

My partner is also a writer. She and I take long walks, watch a lot of movies and spend as much time as possible with our lovely friends. But as someone said, ‘being a writer is like having homework every day of your life’, so whatever we’re doing, our ‘writing brain’ is still ticking over in the background. It can be exhausting!

Can you give us a hint about any other books that you may have in the making at the moment?
I'm currently writing the second book in the Morgan Vine series. She’s an investigative journalist who specialises in miscarriages of justice. In Without Trace, she has to find out if the love of her life is a good man who has been wrongly convicted of murder or a devious killer who has manipulated her into helping to secure his release on appeal. Her adversary in the second book is a ruthless socio-path who loves playing mind games. ‘Baddies’ are often the most enjoyable characters to create.

Simon, I have been absolutely delighted and very honoured that you agreed to be interviewed for my literary site. I would like to thank-you again for taking the time to speak to us today.

My pleasure. Thank you for the questions.

Just released:
e-book edition: 28th January 2016
Paperback edition: 16th June 2016

Book Synopsis:

For four long years, journalist Morgan Vine has campaigned for the release of her childhood sweetheart Danny Kilcannon - convicted, on dubious evidence, of murdering his 14 year-old stepdaughter.

When a key witness recants, Danny is released from prison. With nowhere else to go, he relies on single mum Morgan and her teenage daughter, Lissa.

But then Lissa goes missing.

With her own child now at risk, Morgan must re-think all she knows about her old flame - 'the one that got away'. As the media storm around the mysterious disappearance intensifies and shocking revelations emerge, she is forced to confront the ultimate question: who can we trust...?

If you would like to find out more about Simon and his writing, the link to his website is given below:

Twitter: @simonbooker

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