Hey everyone, a very warm welcome to my little blog for the 5th day of #Fahrenbruary. If you are not really sure why you’re here or what the hell a Fahrenbruary is, then here’s a couple of handy links to help explain:
Fahrenbruary? What’s that all about then (via me, The Beardy Book Blogger)
#Fahrenbruary: Fahrenheit – The Anatomy Of A Transatlantic Love Cult (via It’s An Indie Book Blog aka Matt Keyes)
Ok, now that that’s all sorted, below I present to you a Question and Answer session with the brilliant Ian Patrick, author of the Sam Batford books Rubicon and Stoned Love. You can find out more about these superb thrillers in the Q&A and via the links at the end.
TBBB: Hi Ian and thank you very much for agreeing to take part in this Q&A.
First off, How did you come up with your ideas for Sam Batford, Klara et al?
IP: As far as the characters go they just emerged as the book progressed. Rubicon started as a short story for a competition. Batford emerged out of the first chapter. I never set out to write about a corrupt cop but that’s what came out of the writing. He’s a challenge to write and be in his head each day!
TBBB: Are they based on anyone you know?
IP: No! If I knew anyone like Batford I’d have banged him up many years ago. As for Klara Winter, I’ve met many women in the job who are fine, determined leaders. So, yes, some traits would be there but they would all be positive in terms of detective ability and resilience rather than of a personal nature outside of work.
TBBB: If you could be any character in Rubicon or Stoned Love which would it be and why?
IP: I’d be Razor as I always fancied owning an underground club but it would be cleaner than his but still with great bands. Plus his house has a through floor lift and I’d need one of those as I already have one. I’m like a Dalek – I can’t do stairs.
TBBB: Given your previous life as a policeman, how much is based on real life experiences?
IP: I’ll let the reader decide on that one.
TBBB: Sam is a great character; he’s clever, resourceful, and deceitful and underneath it all, a good cop who has fallen to the dark side. Would you buy him a pint or avoid him like the plague?
IP: I’d definitely buy him a drink. I’d berate him for entering my head and taunting me on a daily basis while having a laugh at the situations he puts me in. Then I’d remind him who holds the pen and see how he reacts to that!
TBBB: How long have you wanted to be a writer? What was it that finally spurred you on to do it?
IP: I’ve written for over twenty years. Rubicon is my second novel. The first will probably never see the light of day. Nice story, but would need a rewrite and the willingness to do that on my part. My journey into crime writing came out of a very harsh critique of my first attempt at a novel. I sulked for twenty-four hours then saw that No Exit Press were looking for a new writer and wanted to judge a short story that was crime related to pick a winner. I was living in Harpenden, where they are based, and naively thought being a local writer I stood a chance!! I came third and was really proud at that achievement so carried on from where I’d left off and Rubicon was born.
I had to take early retirement from the police after twenty-seven years service due to a diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy (Medical science hasn’t seen my condition but it falls within that range of dystrophies – so technically an undiagnosed muscle myopathy). Still being relatively young I knew I needed a new direction or I’d go insane. I’d been in a demanding and challenging environment so to go from that to nothing wouldn’t have helped me at all. I don’t how long this gig will last, but I’m giving it everything until readers say they’ve had enough of me!
TBBB: What do Fahrenheit Press and Fahrenheit 13 mean to you?
IP: Everything. FP gave me a chance at being a published writer. They were prepared to take a risk where others wouldn’t and I hope it pays off for them, I really do. When you write about dark subjects and urban crime there aren’t many publishers willing to take the risk as they don’t see huge sales as a result. My hope is that Rubicon gets green lit and from this my audience widens. Great for FP/13 as it will bring more people to the press. There’s some incredible writers among the stable.
TBBB: Is it important to you to be published by an indie press?
IP: Totally. Indie is where it’s at and always has been. In the creative world of books and music it will always be the independent labels that nurture and grow the artist. I’m realistic that my writing style and subject matter isn’t what’s considered ‘mainstream’ but I can live with that. I’m not a mainstream kind of guy.
TBBB: What does your writing day involve? Do you have any routines or writing superstitions? Those things that you just have to do?
IP: I wish I could say I have a routine but I don’t. I have a growing family and as much as my wife takes on the main role it’s still a joint effort. It’s a rare day that I can just sit and write while gazing out the window dreaming up prose over a light lunch, skinny latte with extra foam, tall glass, while James Brown plays in the background. I had a career where you always carried a notebook and pen and that’s now transferred from true records of crime to fictional.
Being a cop has meant I have learned to write anywhere so although I have a dedicated writing space I’m rarely in it. I’ve written in the back room of a nursery hall, a car waiting for kids, café, library and pub. I do write daily though. I don’t concentrate on a daily word count, as every word written is progress.
TBBB: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
IP: I only ever know the beginning. I have a rough idea of the crime type but not how it will be executed or who will be committing it (apart from Batford!) this is definitely a throwback to policing as you never knew anymore than what you were initially presented with, be that a crime scene, statement or prisoner in custody. I did work on a pro-active paedophile unit and sometimes all you had was an image from a computer. From that we would try and locate the victim and scene. It is possible but not easy. However, when you have a strong motivator to succeed you can move mountains to achieve your ultimate goal.
So, no, I haven’t a clue (see what I did there..) what will happen until I start to write and the characters arise and take me on the journey. This way I have to work out how to detect what is being presented to me by the criminal minds. What could possibly go wrong with that approach…? Before I started writing novels I’d read other authors saying how their characters just ‘spoke to them’ and thought it was highbrow bullshit. Little did I know…
TBBB: Do you plan ahead several novels in advance or book by book?
IP: As above. I never plan, never. I don’t say this in an arrogant way or as something to be proud of as with everything in life, it is finite. At some point the ideas won’t arise then I will have to reconsider my approach. I’m hoping that’s way off though!
TBBB: Do you plan to write any books outside of the Batford series?
IP: I’d like too, yeah. I have an idea for a dystopian novel. I’ve penned about 20,000 words on that but resting it for now. I’d also like a go at a script as I do enjoy writing dialogue and find myself drawn to visual writing, which will suit film. All wishes but so was writing a novel and getting published so I’m up for pushing myself and seeing what I’m capable of pulling out of the hat as I’ve surprised myself so far!
TBBB: Your plots for Rubicon and Stoned Love are highly complex things, so how do you keep track of all of that? Have you ever forgotten who is double-crossing who and have had to start over again? Does you editor have a constant supply of paracetamol nearby to counteract the inevitable headaches in trying to make sure everything adds up?
IP: Haha! First off, thank you for the compliment, that’s most kind of you. When I first started working within the Organised Crime arena briefings sounded like a plot from another planet. The terminology, general mannerisms, speech, everything was a mindfuck of information. In the early days you could be in a briefing getting an idea of the makeup of the organisation and the job and I may as well have been a cut out of Homer Simpson dreaming of doughnuts! With time and experience it just became second nature so the plots are challenging for me to write as I have to be sure I understand them but more importantly the reader can follow them without getting a Homer Simpson moment too often! This especially applies to readers in the US. For example a saloon car here is a sedan there.
As a reader It’s one thing going back a few pages to clarify you understand the situation but if that’s happening too much then it spoils the flow and would be understandable if a reader ditched it.
As for editing, I read through it all about five times. I have two beta readers’ I trust implicitly; one of them being my wife. Both people are key to helping me make sure it’s the best I can do before I press send to Chris, at Fahrenheit.
Chris then decides if he wants to risk his money again as it’s a book-by-book agreement. It’s not a given each time. So that’s a tense time for me. So far he’s said yes each time and it then gets sent to an editor within FP and finally out to the world.
Once Chris says yes, it’s his book then it’s the readers. My job is done. I only hope it brings some joy to those who pick it up and make time to read it. It’s a rare privilege and one I’m very thankful for.
TBBB: The covers for Rubicon and Stoned Love are superb and perfectly reflect the book. How important is a good book cover to you?
IP: The cover’s everything. We all know that as book buyers. No matter what anyone says we all adore a great cover, don’t we? That’s why we can own different versions of the same book if the cover differs (if we like the book, obviously). I know authors whose publishing houses give them input with the cover design but for me the whole buzz of not knowing what it will be really adds to the whole experience of getting the book published. Also I’m a writer not a designer. At Fahrenheit it’s such a great feeling as you are guaranteed a spectacular book cover. I’ve had some great feedback on the cover art for both Rubicon and Stoned Love so it’s clear to me that the cover sells a book. Once you see the cover the next stage is looking at the back to see if you like the story. If you get a double hit then you buy.
TBBB: Which do you prefer: eBook or physical book? What do you think are the pros and cons of each?
IP: I love the accessibility of Kindle as you can change font size or listen to audible. The ability to read, at night, too. I also love the physical book as I’ve grown up with it and love a stacked bookshelf.
TBBB: Tea or coffee? If tea, milk first or last, if at all?
IP: Coffee, milk no sugar.
TBBB: Favourite biscuit? Or are you a cake person?
IP: Jaffa Cake
TBBB: Oooooh, now there’s a whole other debate right there: are Jaffa cakes cakes or biscuits?
IP: Rich Tea! Scrub the Jaffa cakes as the world’s screwed up enough with debates to add another! 😂
TBBB: Hahaha, well… is that what Sam would’ve done? Backed out of an argument so easily?
IP: Yes! 😂
TBBB: What’s your favourite shade of white?
IP: A whiter shade of pale.
TBBB: Have you any pets?
IP: Two dogs and four tortoises.
TBBB: Silk or cotton bed sheets?
IP: Open air.
TBBB: Bath or shower? If bath: bubbles or bath bomb?
IP: It’s a shower now, as I can’t get in or out of a bath! 😉
TBBB: What was your favourite toy as a child? Or even now?
IP: Six Million Dollar Man with bionic arm. Then my Amstrad turntable with disco lights in the hood.
TBBB: Oh man, my favourite toy was also the Six Million Dollar Man doll (alongside my Star Wars figures and my Evel Knievel wind-up stunt bike that never went straight and always crashed into the skirting board).
TBBB: So, it’ll be no surprise to hear that my favourite TV show as a kid was the Six Million Dollar Man. I used to spend a lot of time pretending to be Lee Majors/Steve Austin and wishing I was actually bionic. I even hid electronics up my sleeves and down my shirt. What was your favourite TV show growing up? Did you have any heroes you wanted, or pretended, to be?
IP: Well we have identical taste in Steve Austin! I had to wear an eye patch as a kid to correct a lazy eye. I constantly used the adhesive patches on my arm to be like him! I loved Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry series but my hero was Stuart Adamson. His lyrics were so powerful as was his playing. I adored Big Country / Skids and their music never left the Amstrad deck. Still do.
TBBB: As you know, this is the Beardy Book Blogger, so, if you were to grow a beard, what style and colour would it be?
IP: I have a beard and can make my own oils and balms! I’ve tried the Yeard but my wife conducted a beardtivention and I was mistaken for someone who was homeless once but that’s another story! I do have beard envy where yours is concerned. A fine foliage you have, sir!
TBBB: Thank you very much 😁 If you could have any superpower what would it be and how would you use it? Would you be a superhero or a supervillain?
IP: I think compassion is a superpower and I’d like to see more of that.
Thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to read this and to you, Martin, for hosting me here. IP
Oh, shush now, Ian. My thanks go to you for agreeing to answer my questions and for giving such thoughtful and insightful answers.
If this has piqued your interest in who Sam Batford is and what he’s been getting up to, and in to, you can buy both books direct from Fahrenheit Press at the wee links below:
“Two cops, both on different sides of the law – both with the same gangland boss in their sights.
Sam Batford is an undercover officer with the Metropolitan Police who will stop at nothing to get his hands on fearsome crime-lord Vincenzo Guardino’s drug supply.
DCI Klara Winter runs a team on the National Crime Agency, she’s also chasing down Guardino, but unlike Sam Batford she’s determined to bring the gangster to justice and get his drugs off the streets.
Set in a time of austerity and police cuts where opportunities for corruption are rife, Rubicon is a tense, dark thriller that is definitely not for the faint hearted.”
“Detective Sergeant Sam Batford has been lying low at a remote safe house in the highlands of Scotland. He’s doing his best not to attract the attention of the enemies he made, on both sides of the law, during his last under-cover operation but Batford knows he’s just killing time.
Inevitably the sharks begin to circle and as Batford is called back to front-line action in London he’s thrown into a deadly game of cat and mouse where it seems everyone is out to get him.
After having to endure a frustrating resolution to their previous undercover operation together DCI Klara Winter from the National Crime Agency is determined to prove that Batford has crossed the line into criminality and finally bring him to face justice.
All Sam Batford wants is to outwit his enemies long enough to stay alive and come out ahead of the game.”
The third book in Sam Batford’s series FOOLS GOLD will be out very soon.