Tony Black Sumonning the Dead Blog Tour Q And A

“We have a dead child, and a crime scene that has been remarkably well kept for us.”

A young child lies mummified in a barrel. His hands, cable-tied, appear to be locked in prayer. As forensic officers remove the boy they are in for an even bigger shock – he is not alone.
With his near-fatal stabbing almost a memory, DI Bob Valentine is settling back into life on the force but he knows nothing will ever be the same. Haunted by unearthly visions that appear like waking dreams, he soon understands he is being inducted into one of Scotland’s darkest secrets.
When the boy in the barrel is identified as a missing child from the 1980s, it re-opens a cold case that was previously thought unsolvable. When further remains are unearthed, the facts point to a paedophile ring and a political conspiracy that leads all the way to the most hallowed corridors of power.

1. What have you been up to with your writing since we last spoke?
Well, the last few years has been pretty much all about DI Bob Valentine, Summoning the Dead being the third in that series. I have a fourth one mapped out but before I get to that there’s a new series kicking off with Bay of Martyrs. It’s co-authored with an Aussie writer called Matt Neal and set in SW Victoria. This one’s looking like being the start of a new series too, featuring an investigative reporter called Clay Moloney. I also have an American-set novel on the cards which is nothing like anything I’ve writen before and I’m toying with a new DI Rob Brennan book.
2. So far what was your favourite book to write in terms of characters and plot?
I think The Last Tiger was the biggest departure and the most interesting to me in terms of the research. It follows the demise of the Tasmanian tiger and has a historical setting. I’d like to return to this area but it’s all about finding a subject that interests you enough.
3. What do you see for the future for DI Bob Valentine?
I think he can run to a few more books but he is getting pressure from his wife to quit and there’s the dodgy ticker to consider too, so who knows.
4. Have you any events coming up that you can share with us?
I’m doing a few for Book Week Scotland: Montrose, Dumfries, Morningside and Danderhall. The week after that I’m off to Dundee again.
5. Which out of all your lead character has been your favourite to write about and if you could team two of them up and write a novel staring them, who would you chose and why?
I liked Marti Driscol in His Father’s Son, it’s great fun writing through the eyes of a child. Perhaps I’d team Marti with my Edinburgh PI Gus Dury in a kind of generational clash, I think that would provide some effortless comedy.
6. What has been your stand out moment so far as a Scottish crime fiction writer?
Perhaps sitting in a yurt, in Berlin, in the middle of winter, wrapped up in a parka and reading to a very polite German crowd from my very Scottish novel, Gutted.

Amazon Author Page

October 2016 crime author of the month interview with Les Wood 

1. How did you get started writing? I’d always been interested in writing creatively – in my job as a science lecturer in a university I have written for textbooks and academic papers, but these can be as dry as dust and so I looked for a way to express myself in a more imaginative, creative way. I started writing short stories and some poems, mainly just for my own pleasure at first but then began to take it a bit more seriously. I enrolled on some part-time Continuing Education courses on Creative Writing at Glasgow University and was lucky to have some superb tutors taking those classes. Later, I applied for the MPhil in Creative Writing at Glasgow – a difficult course to get on to, but highly prestigious. Again, I was lucky enough to be offered a place. I found the atmosphere on this programme to be tremendously supportive and encouraging. Also, around about this time I started submitting stories to competitions and anthologies and some of these were picked up and published, including one story which was one of the winners of the (now defunct) Canongate Prize for New Writing.



2. What drew you to write a crime novel? 

I suppose this novel is actually an ‘accidental’ crime novel. It started life as a very short flash-fiction piece about a bunch of disparate guys who have assembled in a derelict bingo hall, waiting for someone to arrive. I quite liked this story and began to wonder a bit more about who these guys were, why they were together in this place, who they were waiting for and what it was they were going to do. From there, I constructed their back-stories and worked out a detailed plot about them doing something dangerous and exciting – in this case setting up a heist to steal the world’s most famous diamond when it is exhibited in Glasgow. That’s when it became a crime novel! I had great fun inventing all sorts of obstacles for them to overcome and, importantly, given their complete ineptitude, how they overcame them. Whether they succeeded or not, you’ll have to read the book to find out!



3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing? 

I’m a great admirer of Iain Banks, both in his ‘straight’ fiction and in his (Iain M Banks) science fiction. He has a fantastic way of manipulating plot and detail across sometimes huge canvasses. I also love Stephen King, for the way he can completely suck you into a story within two pages. He’s sometimes sniffily dismissed as “just a horror writer”, but this is grossly unfair; his best stuff stands with any other great writing. In terms of crime fiction, I like James Ellroy – such intricate, convoluted plots – Val McDermid, Christopher Brookmyre and Peter May. I also devour short stories (particularly American short fiction). Whether any of these has specifically influenced my own style of writing is hard to say, but I’m sure I’ve absorbed something from all of them (as well as others).




4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest? 

I did send early versions of the manuscript to a few publishers and had a couple of rejections but I just kept at it. I was lucky that someone at Freight Books took a chance and sent the manuscript to a specific crime editor for review, who said that they should go for it.



5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one?

I think it would have to be two favourite characters – there are a pair of identical twins in the book, one of whom is a bit more dim-witted than the other. They run a tattoo parlor, but have become embroiled in the heist to steal the diamond where they both will play a pivotal role by having to pretend to be each other. I had a lot of fun playing these two off against each other – gave lots of opportunities for comic relief.



6. What kind of research have you had to undertake for your Novel?

Not very much to be honest – I did find out a wee bit about how tattoos are done (though not to the extent of actually getting one for myself!), and I discovered a little about rare, coloured diamonds. There is a big set-piece in the book which takes place in what is probably an architecturally-impossible building – I didn’t research whether such a structure could really be built, but I just had a great time using it in the story (plus part of me would really like to see it if it did exist!)



7. Are the characters in your novel based on any real life? 

Absolutely not – I’m not sure I would want to know any of them in real life!



8. What do you think makes your novels stand out from all the other Crime Fiction Novels out there? 

I think Dark Side of the Moon plays with convention a wee bit – it is essentially a high-concept Hollywood blockbuster storyline, but set in Glasgow, using real Glasgow voices and characteristics. I like the idea of having ordinary Glaswegian guys in such a high-stakes situation and seeing how they cope with it. They are not your Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis-type heroes!


9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa? 

I hope not! See answer to question 7!


10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned?

I’m just about halfway through my next book. While Dark Side of the Moon is a heist story, this one is a chase story, starting in Manchester before moving to Glasgow and then the Scottish Highlands. Not quite The 39 Steps though! There may be one character from Dark Side of the Moon who makes an appearance in this one.



11. What was your favourite scene to write in your novel and why?

The book is made up of mainly quite short chapters, but there is one long, extended chapter (which takes up about a quarter of the book) where the characters are all in different locations and the action jumps to and fro between each of them, gradually building tension and excitement as things come together. I loved writing this section – I rattled through it and hopefully that is reflected in the pace of the story as it builds towards the climax.


 12. As an up and coming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share?

I guess, just to keep writing – try out those short stories, send them in to anthologies and magazines and see if there are any that are perhaps worth expanding into something bigger. I’d also advise joining a writing group – one where you can get good feedback with honest, but fair criticism.

Boddice, a crime lord looking over his shoulder for good reason, has assembled an unlikely band of misfit crooks. Their job is to steal a famous diamond worth millions, known as The Dark Side of the Moon. Despite the odds, the crew’s self-serving squabbles and natural incompetence, the plan progresses.

As events build to an explosive climax no one really knows who is playing who. Full of twists and turns and laugh-out-loud moments, this is a hugely enjoyable romp from entirely the criminal’s point-of-view, with not a single cop in sight.

Twitter: @leswoodwriting