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:

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