Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Interrogating a suspect...

I stood outside the Interview Room, collecting my thoughts. This was going to be a tough one. The guy on the other side of the table knew how to handle what was coming far better than I did. He was an old hand at this; he could run rings around me if he wanted. I would need my wits about me if I was to obtain the answers I needed for my investigation.
With trepidation I grabbed the door handle and twisted.
He was already sitting, waiting; a smile playing over his face.
I swallowed hard, and sat opposite. I hoped he didn’t pick up on my nervousness.
I switched on the tape recorder, stated the date and time for the record, and shuffled the notes before me. There was no turning back.

“Crime Thriller writer Andy Laker, we’ve brought you here today to help us with our enquiries. Before we get to specific questions, tell us a little about yourself.” [Let him speak first while I try to calm down.]

Andy Laker: “I’m usually a private kind of bloke, but you look nervous, so I’ll humour you. I’m a family man, always have been. I love my home comforts, so it may surprise you that I left home at 16 to join the Royal Navy and travel the world. After I got married and the kids came along it got harder to go away, so I had a change of uniform. I joined the police service and had 25 years of good and bad times and met some interesting characters. After 25 years I was medically retired and that was quite a culture shock, because I’d always been an active person until Multiple Sclerosis put a stop to it all. I can’t go anywhere now unless it’s in this wheelchair, but hey, these things happen and we have to make the most of them. I decided if I can no longer do what I’m good at, at least I can write about it. I’ve always known there was a book or two in me and now fate has given me the opportunity to bring them out. You’re sweating. Do I intimidate you?”

I chose to ignore his attempt to control the interview and ploughed ahead.

“I recently read ‘Time to Think’, your debut novel, and was impressed by the authenticity of the characters. How many of them are based on real villains and cops?”

Andy: “If I was to analyse them I dare say I’d find elements of real people, but I didn’t ever intentionally base a character on a real life person. Initially they’re all plot driven. Whenever I need a character to play a specific part I create someone suitable. Once they are formed in my head, I can visualise them and it’s then a process of writing what I see. I might make an exception with you in my next book though.”

“The story you told: is it based on real cases?” [Short, sharp, incisive… I hope.]

Andy: “Again, not intentionally. Some of the anecdotes are based on experience, but I always think it’s better to stay in the world of fiction. That way no one can recognise themselves. Once or twice I’ve had people say they know a character was based on them, but they’re wrong. At least it shows they can visualise the characters from my description and that’s always been my goal.”

“I understand you were on the Force, yet your description of prison life and how Jason Mayfield, your protagonist, a copper behind bars, survives was chillingly convincing. How did you achieve this?” [Let’s see if he implicates himself…]

Andy: “I’ve visited many prisons and spoken with plenty of people from both sides of the bars. As I say, once the character is created I can visualise them and their environment. ‘Time to Think’ isn’t autobiographical if that’s what you’re getting at. If I’ve ever done anything wrong, I wasn’t caught and no, I’m not going to confide in you.”

“How do you, as a Crime and Mystery novelist, develop your stories?” [I wonder if he’s got an inside source.]

Andy: “In my later career I spent a lot of time de-briefing officers. Contrary to what many people believe, they’re not robots. They have feelings and are often affected by what they see. I made it my duty to get to them as soon as possible after an event to make sure they were okay and give them a shoulder to cry on or to swear at. It’s touch- feely I know, but so much better than having a ticking time bomb on your hands. As a result I know how things can and do progress. When I’m writing I do a walk through in my head, applying different scenarios to see if a plot line is realistic or full of holes. If something doesn’t work, I change it to something that does. In that sense it’s quite a clinical process, really. The art is not letting it come across as such in the final draft.”

“Can you tell me where we can find ‘Time to Think’?” [We need as much evidence as we can get with this one.]

Andy: “Initially I tried to get publishers interested, but as any aspiring writer will tell you, it’s not an easy thing to do. I stopped trying when I read a quote that said “There’s only two people’s opinions that matter with regards to a book. The author’s and the readers’.” I firmly believe that to be true and immediately stopped bothering with anonymous publishers who can make or break a book in an instant, with no regard to the pains the author has gone through. From there I decided to publish with Amazon’s KDP site (Kindle Direct Publishing). I appreciate that restricts my audience to anyone who owns a Kindle or has a free Kindle App, but they are a growing breed. Anyone wishing to read my book can search for the title ‘Time to Think’ or author Andy Laker on Amazon. Alternatively they can follow this link

“Will there be a continuation of Jason Mayfield’s story and what can we expect?” [We need to know what he’s planning…]

Andy: “Yes definitely. I always intended to complete a trilogy. Book number two in the series is nearly finished and will be published on KDP in the spring of 2015. I’ve already got a plot for book three in my head and I’ll start that as soon as number two is published. Many of the characters from ‘Time to Think’ will reappear and a few will feature more prominently. They will be two completely new stories, but there will be a through line linking the series. I can’t give too much away at this time, but I can promise you the follow up books will be every bit as good as ‘Time to Think’.”

“Thank you for coming in today, Mr. Laker. We’ll be in touch if we need any more answers.” I declared the interview over, stated the time again and switched off the recorder. That went well, I thought.

Time to Think, a superb, gritty Crime Thriller from the pen of Andy Laker can be found in the Evidence Room or on Amazon here, if you can't wait for the case to come before the judge. If you want to check out Andy Laker's alibi, he claims he was here:

Help us with the Investigation: follow Andy Laker here:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Guest: Katie Lindon

My Guest this week is not a writer, at least not of books, though she's a dab hand with computer code. That may surprise regular followers of this blog. What will surprise you even more is knowing she is an ex-NSA super-spy, with a wealth of covert and clandestine missions in her file. Let's see if we can't prize out a detail or two. Ladies and Gentlemen...

My friend and fellow thriller writer Seumas Gallacher has tagged me in a little game called 

Meet My Main Character
Blog Tour

The Rules are simple...
…the taggee must write a post answering the same seven questions about their Main Character… then the taggee becomes the tagger and chooses five other authors… sort of like a chain letter with all the potential to become a global virus.

Now with several suspense thrillers already penned and a plethora of personas to chose from, who should be subjected to the interrogation is an interesting dilema.

My readers are particularly enamoured of the dynamic I created between two that share main billing in the series of novels that form 'the CULL'. Special Agent Amy Bree, the ex-FBI agent who is the younger half of the duo, has already been subjected to an uncomfortable interview; an experience she didn't enjoy (you can read that here: ) so it seems only fair her enigmatic partner should be placed in the spotlight this time.

…now meet my main character.

1. Tell us a bit about your main character? Is she fictional or a historic person?

Katie Lindon is a fictitious character, firmly based upon others who have worked in the clandestine world of cyber-intelligence and who have had the misfortune to cross my path at some point. Her name, however, originated from a request by a cousin of mine to feature her 12-year-old daughter in one of my books. Katie, my Katie that is, is a little older though, which could explain why the younger version is still not speaking to me.

When we meet Katie Lindon she has just left the Tailored Access Operations unit at the National Security Agency for a job with a strange outfit called Office 312, a covert operation within Homeland Security reporting directly to the Vice President, although it's a Vatican priest who appears to be running the show. Why has Katie given up her long career in intelligence for this peculiar adventure? Well, as she nears her sixty-second birthday, she's thinking about retirement; the chance to develop her pet project, and make some serious retirement cash selling it to the Intelligence community, is foremost in her mind. She's been an active field agent on many a dangerous assignment, especially in the 'bad old days' when to access an enemy's computer, you had to be in the same room with it. Despite still possessing a sharp mind, keen instincts, an abrasive no-nonsense attitude and an agility that defies her age, she has been relegated to a windowless room at the Fort Meade headquarters of the NSA for the last few years.

Now she finds herself partnered with a disgraced ex-FBI agent with almost no field experience and tasked to hunt down a serial killer.

Yet not only is everything very distinct from how it initially appears, what will happen to her, and her new partner, will radically change them and the way they view the world.

2. When and where are the stories set?

The tale kicks off in Washington DC in the present day, but quickly takes the protagonists to Houston and Chicago, then onward to Europe (Austria, the United Kingdom, and Slovenia), then back to the States (for Amy) while Katie is off to Bolivia. The first three books climax with a return to the Eternal City of Rome, Italy. They get around, and having access to a private jet helps.

3. What should we know about her?

Katie was born in the UK, the daughter of the then Head of the London CIA station. Her mother was English and they lived in the UK for the first 13 years of her life. Curiously, despite returning to the States, Katie has retained her British accent... and a preference for tea. She is an expert with a computer and has developed her own Artificial Intelligence surveillance system called SANTA. Many people refer to her as Mrs. Lindon, which prompts the inevitable question about a Mr. Lindon, but it's not until book 3 of the series that we learn about her other half.

Her skills are not limited to computers, however; she possesses the full range of abilities of any top covert agent, everything from martial arts, through weaponry to thinking on her feet while under extreme pressure. When we meet her, she's a 'kickass granny' but events ramp this up to an awesome new level, unsuspected by her or her partner when they start out on their quest.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

The series is primarily a fast-paced tale that spans three continents (so far) and is reminiscent of the level of action of '24' or the Bourne movies, yet there are hidden depths. The overall theme is the effect of change upon individuals and society; how we handle it, how we accept or reject it. In the climatic scene in book 1, Katie undergoes an experience unlike any she has encountered before; something that will mark her life for ever. How she reacts to this, how her friend and colleague responds also, is the underlying subject of books 2 and 3.

5. What is her personal goal?

All she wanted was to make some money and be able to travel to some of the places her missions have taken her during her career, but this time as a tourist. A simple-enough goal, one that prompts her acceptance of this one last job-change. Yet matters go terribly wrong and her objective is forgotten in the light of the new challenges she faces. To say more would mean major spoilers, so, dear reader, you'll have to read the first book to find out what put her on this new path and how she handles it.

6. What are the titles of your novels, and can we read more about them?

Currently there are three full-length novels in the series:

And these are the global Amazon links where you can find them:

the CULL book 1 – Bloodline
the CULL book 2 - Bloodstone
the CULL book 3 – Blood Feud

All three books can also be obtained in one download here:
the CULL books 1-3 - Blood Box box set
7. When can we expect the next book to be published?

The fourth book in the series, 'the CULL - Blood Demon' has been announced and will be available for Christmas 2014. 

There are some MAJOR surprises lined up for this one!

Mysteries are revealed...

...some characters are not who they seem to be...

...and the tale goes ballistic! Hang on to your seats!

And now, for the next victims…

1.  Gritty Crime Thriller author, and one of the most admirable people I know, Andy Laker 
2.  Blogger of the Year and author Scarlett Flame
3.  Fantasy novelist and part-time Dragon, Paul Cude
4.  Conspiracy author mate Laurence O'Bryan
5.  Fellow mystery thriller writer Jan Ryder

…many thanks to Suemas Gallacher, a.k.a. That Man!, for press-ganging me aboard the Tour… check out his blog (Scottish-English dictionary required). 

Eric @