Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Author Interview: Malcolm Holt

Tell us about your short story collection Hard Drive and the inspiration behind it.
I had two new crime stories ready to release into the wild and following Trestlegate and my disassociation with TP, I wanted to find a way to get the three Crime Tyne Shots stories back on Amazon as soon as possible. I also wanted to hook up the first story featuring my character Slinger with the others, so I put the six stories together and ‘Hard Drive’ was born. It’s a mixture of old and new, with nothing borrowed and nothing blue.

Do you prefer to write about your home town? 
Newcastle, like most cities, has a dark side away from the tourist areas and the stag and hen parties and it’s easier for me to write about where I live. Ian Rankin was very successful writing the Rebus books based in Edinburgh, so I thought...why not? Having said that, I’ve got two books coming out soon that were not based in Newcastle.

Is any of your writing drawn from real experience?
I hope not. I would like to think that my life is very different from the people in my stories. My writing is drawn from my vivid imagination or is inspired by a real event or just a good headline in a paper.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished reading ‘Hit and Run’ by the talented Edinburgh writer Doug Johnstone. I recently re-read all the Rebus books in chronological order. Next up, all the books from my fellow ex-TP writers, of course.

Are you working on a new story or novel at the moment?
I am juggling with two books at the moment and I am planning a double launch at Easter. ‘27’ is a crime novella set in a fictional town. I started it before the short stories were first published. ‘Bulldozers and Dirt’ is a dark comedy that started out as a draft television script and I am adapting it for a book. It’s a story about two dysfunctional dairy farming families at war. Further down the line, I will be publishing ‘Boots, Chaps and Cowboy Hats’, a fun travel book about my quest to find and experience the old cowboy spirit in Texas. I am also writing a book over the Summer about getting up close and personal with nature. It’s another fun travel book called ‘Fishing for Gators’. That one was inspired by a real guy in Florida who I stayed next to. He used to go fishing in a lake full of alligators. 2012 is shaping up to be a busy year.

Where can our readers find you online?
I am on Facebook and Twitter (@Tynewriter) and I have my blog ‘A Bit on The Side’. The Side is actually a well-known street in Newcastle.

What do you most like about writing?
It gives me the opportunity to get all the imaginary people out of my head without medication. It’s a lonely world at times because you are on your own, but it can be quite cathartic. If I’m having a bad day, I’ll have someone killed in a story. It’s also a lot of fun.

What do you dislike about writing?
Nothing really. Now that I am self-publishing I am my own boss. No deadlines to meet, no contracts to negotiate and you get to meet a lot of other great writers out there. So, there are now no real negatives.

What is the best piece of writing craft advice you have been given?
Get a decent laptop. Being serious, I would say just write what is in your head. You can always edit it later. Your writing, not your head.

Which author(s) would you say have most influenced your writing?
I have been fortunate to have been able to share a pint or two with Ian Rankin in the Oxford Bar in Edinburgh on a few occasions. Allan Guthrie is also a favourite Edinburgh writer. I have all Kinky Friedman’s books. He once told me that you are never too o-l-d to start writing, so I did. He made me an honorary Texan. I’ve been to the Lone Star State a few times so I feel that I do qualify for the honour. I am hooked on the television series ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and like ‘The Shield’ before it, the writing for those series has been very sharp and inspiring.

What are your strengths as a writer? What do you feel you do well?
I have always had a vivid imagination and that helps. If people are happy to read my work then I must be doing something well. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

What are your weaknesses? Where do you feel you could improve?
Too many doughnuts from Greggs. I think most writers will agree that your writing improves with age, like a good wine. You develop your own style of storytelling. Hopefully it will continue to grow.

If you had to pick a soundtrack to your novel what songs would you pick?
Anything by the Drive-By Truckers. Their songs tell great stories, often with dark undertones. I have all their albums. I also like the White Buffalo who I discovered from watching my favourite television series ‘Sons of Anarchy’.

Describe for our readers the genre(s) you write in and why they appeal to you as a writer.
 I guess I now fall into two distinct genres. The crime fiction stories are one side of my writing and humour is the other. I’ve always valued the benefits of humour. It doesn’t have to be slapstick. Humour can be quite dark at times and it can work well, even in the darkest of stories. Maybe if I’m successful I will be laughing all the way to the bank.

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