I have a new novel out. You can order it here or here (if you don't have a Kindle, there should be US copies available soon via Amazon.com). As my own website is undergoing a refurb, I hope you don't mind me mentioning it here. It's a thriller that links three real events - the Houndsditch Murders, the Siege of Sidney Street (about which I blogged on here) and the sinking of Titanic. I won't tell you any more than that, though I will provide one more link, to a rather nice review that appeared yesterday which offers a few more details and doesn't sound like me giving it the hard sell...
Anyway, during the publicity I've done so far, and on Twitter and Facebook, as well as by email, I've received a few fair questions about the book. So, in the spirit of rampant egomania, I've decided to use this space to interview myself and ask and answer a few of those questions.
The Titanic has been done to death. What made you choose that as a subject?
While it has been done to death, there have been comparatively few fictional treatments of the sinking. While in the US in 2010 I bought Killer Angels by Michael Shaar, a novel about Gettysburg. In his introduction he talks about why he wrote the book, and he said that writing fiction allows you to get into the head of those involved and lets the reader experience, in some way, what it might have been like to have fought in that momentous battle. That resonated with me. I'd long been harbouring the idea of writing thrillers set against the backdrop of real events, as a way of seeing them anew. I made a list of the sort of events I wanted to feature. The Titanic centenary was looming, so it made sense to start there. Sidney Street was also on my list, and as it took place shortly before Titanic sank it seemed a good idea to link them.
I also wanted to revive the Titanic as a human tragedy rather than a shipping one. So many websites that discuss the ship are dominated by marine architects and naval engineers arguing the toss over helm orders, rudder size, actual position, even the time on board when it hit the iceberg. The fact is that 1500 people died, and that sometimes gets forgotten.
Isn't there a danger when you fictionalise real events that you play fast and hard with the truth, and end up maligning the memory of some decent men and women?
I made a conscious decision to stick to known facts and weave my story around those facts. That said, there are so many half-truths and myths surrounding Titanic, that you can have some fun exploring them, and I do. Most of my main characters are fictional. The exceptions are Bruce Ismay, the President of the White Star Line, and Captain Smith, both of whom have been condemned ever since the sinking. I like to think I've been kinder to them than some, though any book that sticks to know facts can't help but be critical of some of the decisions they took.
Why have you written it under a pseudonym?
This book is very different to my two previous novels, and was written for a different publisher. It seemed neater and easier to write it under a new name. If it is to turn into a series of books set against the backdrop of real events, disasters and tragedies - and in the current climate I'm not even looking at chickens never mond counting them - then it made sense to create a new identity. Plus in the fractured, fragmented, febrile world of modern publishing having more than one identity is not a bad idea. I strongly believe that, in the whole ebook v trad publishing debate, writers should take whatever is the best route for that book to the market. The same goes for identity.
Does this mean Nigel Barnes is dead?
No, he lives. The third book in the series, provisionally titled One Soul Less, ('surely One Soul Fewer?' - Ed) is written and is currently being edited. I've also written a short story involving Barnes and DCI Grant Foster. I'm just looking at the best way to release them to the world. That will probably mean a digital release later this year, even as early as this summer, but keep an eye on my website (when it's rebuilt) for more info.