I’m thrilled to be joined by crime thriller author Karl Holton for this week’s Author Influences.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
As a small child (going into junior school), everything I read at school at this age is long gone from my memory; mainly because I know that I really didn’t like children’s stories. I had four books at home that I loved; one named Fascinating Facts that covered a huge range of subjects written around 1970. I also had a Greek mythology storybook; an enormous old encyclopedia written around 1930 and a copy of Treasure Island. I still have the originals of the last three in my library today.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I wouldn’t describe myself as good and I really didn’t like the vast majority of what we were forced to read at secondary school. I just didn’t enjoy writers like Hardy, Austen or the Brontës. I struggled with Chaucer and Dickens was just about ok. On the positive side, I have always loved Shakespeare from the moment I was introduced to it, particularly the tragedies.
We read many one-off books and some of these I enjoyed (i.e. Orwell) but we were never allowed to choose what we read. Once I realised there were writers that I wanted to read that school would never introduce me to, I spent most of my time reading them.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
Right now, I’m rereading a bunch of great classic books I’ve never had the time to reread. I’m also reading quite a bit of non-fiction, especially if I think it offers something interesting in research terms. So, I do read subjects like true crime, mathematics, science and history.
The two things I love reading are philosophy and poetry. These have had the most impact on me since I started choosing what to read and certainly do impact my writing. If you read what I write and you have an idea what to look for you’ll see it strewn throughout. My characters, particularly Danny Benedict (given elements of his back-story), think in these terms. So his thoughts and dialogue are injected with it.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I would really like to try Science Fiction. I was so obsessed with this when I was really young it is something I have locked away in my mind.
History is a subject I’d love to dedicate time to at some point.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I’ve never known anyone who writes so there’s no one that I knew personally.
If I was picking one single author that’s an inspiration it would be Agatha Christie. I know some parts of her writing aren’t that popular given modern taste but when it comes to twisting plot arcs she is the queen.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
No one still writing; the authors I focus on to that level are all dead but there’s so many of them it will take me a lifetime to even get close to reading everything by them to a reasonable depth.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
There really is quite a few that I’ve read and a massive number that I know I haven’t. If I was forced to pick one piece of fiction it would be The Stranger (L’Etranger) by Albert Camus. I first read this at seventeen and I’d already read quite a bit by associated philosophical writers. This was an example of me choosing something school would never let me read. Reading this is life changing when you understand, even at a simple level, what he is saying to you.
I need to add something else … anything by Dylan Thomas.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real-life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Yes, I use real events in my plots quite a bit. I’m more than happy to employ the Agatha Christie approach and steal from reality.
I also use very real locations. For example, if someone looked carefully they would spot that I use actual buildings and properties. I find it enhances the authenticity of the moment in the narrative.
Thanks for taking part, Karl. I really enjoyed reading your responses.
Karl Holton is the author of the Shadow Series. Book one, The Weight of Shadows, was published on 26 July 2017. Here’s what it is about:
When you have spent your life in the shadows, what would you do at the dying of the light? Three years ago the best murder detective in London is blamed for the death of his colleague and kicked out of the Met. A man with secrets buried in the past and present returns to London, the city that started the mysterious career which made him a billionaire. The two need each other. But they have no idea how much. A gripping crime thriller mystery with twists from the beginning to end.
Book two, The Wait For Shadows, was published on 28 December 2017. Here’s the blurb:
An assassin wants revenge but doesn’t know who to kill. A drug dealer wants revenge without the muscle to kill. A ‘wild beast’ can help them both. Can anybody stop it? The last six days in ‘The Weight of Shadows’ were just the beginning. Danny Benedict and the whole team must get ready — it’s day seven. The second book in the ‘Shadows Series’. Every morning you can watch the sunbeams glitter, certain you no longer need to wait for shadows.
About Karl Holton
Karl Holton is a crime thriller author. His first book, The Weight of Shadows, came out on Amazon on Kindle and paperback in July 2017. This was the first book in a crime thriller mystery series, known as the ‘Shadows Series’. The second book in the series, The Wait for Shadows, came out in December 2017.
Karl previously worked in financial markets for over thirty years, before deciding that he had to write. He couldn’t leave this dream any longer.
He lives in Surrey with his wife and two children.