As part of the blog tour for his new book (actually two, because he’s that awesome – The Domino Killer and The Death Collector) I’ve been lucky enough to interview Neil White. I have to admit that Neil is a new discovery for me, and I was introduced by a lovely lady I’ve recently heard referred to as ‘blogging royalty’ (so true!) Liz Wilkins. If his books are anything like as entertaining and intelligent as his Q&A answers I can’t wait to get stuck into my first one! So, as they say, without further ado…
- Which of your characters is most like you?
I would say that Joe Parker is the most like me. He is one of the brothers in my current trilogy; one a detective, one a defence lawyer. I’m a criminal lawyer in my day job, which I still do three days a week. It gets me out of the house, or else I would become a hermit.
He is the one I see as me, albeit a younger version. I like the “being younger” part.
- If you could be friends in real life with any of your characters, who would it be and why?
Probably Laura McGanity, the female co-lead in my first five books. She had a certain weariness about her that would make for a good old whingeing session. She’d tell me straight when I’m being a silly arse.
- Have you ever written a character that you’ve disliked so much you’ve scrapped them from a work?
More changed than scrapped. I can’t recall a specific one, but there have been characters that I thought didn’t work so changed them to make them different in some way, so as to make the story work better.
I’m not one of those writers who will say that the characters exist outside of the books. I’ll never say that I “discovered” the character. They are entirely mine. So characters don’t surprise me when I write. I just find myself writing something different from what I first intended. In other words, I changed my mind.
A character I dislike is just one I’ve written badly or is a bad idea. Or perhaps I’m just a curmudgeon.
- Which of your characters would frighten you if you met them in real life?
Probably the villain in Cold Kill, my fifth book. He was based on Dennis Rader, a serial killer from Wichita in Kansas, and it was his utter ordinariness that attracted me to using him as a template. The biggest threats are the ones you don’t see coming.
- Describe your latest book in one word.
- Describe yourself in 5 words.
Tall. Grey. Noisy. Cumbersome. Oafish.
- Do you ever consult friends when you’re stuck with a plot?
No. I don’t like discussing plots because I worry that away from the books they sound a bit lame. Books are about how a plot is written, not necessarily the plot itself. If I get stuck, I take some time out and think about it, sketch out some ideas. I get there in the end.
- What’s your personal kryptonite?
Rice pudding. Foul stuff.
- If you could converse, a la Dr Dolittle, with one type of animal, which would it be and why?
I would ordinarily say a cat, because I like cats, but I can’t help thinking it would just respond, “feed me or sod off”. A chat with a sheep would be okay. Laidback. I’d ask how it was, and it would chew some grass and respond, “not so bad”, then go back to chewing.
- Tea or coffee?
I start the day with tea but usually move onto coffee to get myself going. Coffee is too harsh first thing, but at some point I need a kick.
- Describe a typical writing day – where does it fit for you? Are you an owl or a lark? Do you write in short bursts or intense sessions? Do you write quickly and edit to death afterwards or write with more care in the first place
Sitting at a computer and then just generally messing around, and at some point I decide to write some words. I’m best in the morning, more efficient, but I tell myself that I’m a night owl, so I put it off until later, missing my best time.
For me, it is all about getting something down, moving the plot forward. Once I’m there, I like to really strip it down, try to make it something I like. Getting the plot down is like taking the limestone from the quarry. The editing is making the sculpture.
- Which genre are you most comfortable writing? Is there any genre you haven’t yet written that you’d like to try? What’s your favourite age group to write for?
I’ve only ever written crime, but horror would interest me. I like the idea of frightening people, because I remember fondly the fear when reading the likes of Stephen King.
As for reading group age, adult. I suppose this is because I write for myself.
- Can you tell us a little about your next project?
I’m starting a new series about a criminal lawyer and a private investigator. I like the idea I’ve come up and I can only hope other people do when it’s finished.
Neil White was born and brought up around West Yorkshire. He left school at sixteen but studied for a law degree in his twenties, then started writing in 1994. He is now a lawyer by day, crime fiction writer by night. He lives with his wife and three children in Preston. If you’re new to his work, perhaps you could start with his first book in the Parker brothers series, Next to Die. Check it out on Amazon here…