I’m thrilled to have Mike Thomas join me today for this week’s edition of Author Influences. Unforgivable, the second in the DC Will Macready series is out on 27 July 2017 and I’m excited to be taking part in the blog tour at the beginning of August. I will now hand you over to Mike…
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
The books I remember enjoying when I was very young were by Richard Scarry. From there it was Enid Blyton, and in my early teens I became hooked on horror and fantasy, devouring writers like James Herbert, Stephen King and Robert R. McCammon. The first horror book I was ever given was called Plague Pit by Mark Ronson. It had this amazing, pulpy tone and the cover was of a mildewed skull with one eyeball peering at you. I think I was about ten years old and the book fascinated me but scared the bejesus out of me, too. From that point – seeing how these authors could affect you so profoundly just via words on a page – I knew I wanted to be a writer.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I always leaned towards the creative side of things at school. This is another way of saying I was unimaginably awful at mathematics and the sciences, to the point where I’d skip double algebra to go into town and hide in a café and play on their Space Invader machine (which was, technically, science). I thoroughly enjoyed English and art subjects. I studied English Language and Literature, and flourished under one of the teachers. She was incredibly inspiring and really pushed us to create – short stories, poems, novel chapters – and to read a broad range of genres. Was I good at English? I really don’t know. I’m making a living from writing in it now, so I suppose I was okay!
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I was a police officer for over two decades and made a point of avoiding crime novels. Now I’m writing them, so have had to play catch up in the last few years and I’m really enjoying it. I read Sarah Hilary’s Someone Else’s Skin while writing my new novel and I must say it made me raise my game. It’s a superb book and I love her protagonist DI Marnie Rome. Most of the time it’s work by the likes of Denis Johnson, Tobias Wolff and Chuck Palahniuk, or relatively new kids on the block like Donald Ray Pollock and Frank Bill. So-called American ‘transgressive fiction’. But I’ll read anything. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, the label on the back of a jar of pickles. I just love to read.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Some kind of non-fiction travel work. I’ve been about, and live in Portugal now, and one of my ‘other writing jobs’ has involved travel articles. Perhaps humorous fiction. Probably because I think I’m hilarious. My wife would, quite rightly, disagree.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I refer you to question one. Stephen King was a huge influence. As I was discovering books in the early Eighties he was already a literary superstar, and pretty much everywhere. I burned through Carrie, Salem’s Lot and The Shining, but It sealed it for me; I was fourteen when I took on that doorstopper and loved every page. Pennywise the clown, man. Scary.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Cormac McCarthy. Dan Rhodes – I love his work. For crime it’s usually the big guns: Connelly, Rankin, Billingham and so on. And I have a soft spot for American author John Sandford.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Anything by Cormac McCarthy. I think The Road is a masterpiece. Grim and troubling and occasionally very difficult, following the father and son as they walk the ashen world, but ultimately hugely moving.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
I’ve used quite a few events from my time in the police. Tweaked them here and there, of course, to fit the story. Many real life incidents I would never use, simply because people will think they are too far-fetched. You’d be surprised at what goes on out there! And as for real people? Nope. I’m a writer, therefore cannot afford to pay enormous out of court settlements!
A huge thank you for taking part Mike, I really enjoyed reading your answers.
Mike’s next novel Unforgivable is out on 27 July 2017.
Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .
In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .
MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.
But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.
Ash and Bones, the first in the DC Macready is out now … if you missed it you can read my review HERE.
About Mike Thomas
Mike Thomas was born in Wales in 1971. For more than two decades he served in the police, working some of Cardiff ’s busiest neighbourhoods in uniform, public order units, drugs teams and CID. He left the force in 2015 to write full time.
His debut novel, Pocket Notebook, was published by William Heinemann (Penguin Random House) and longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year. The author was also named as one of Waterstones’ ‘New Voices’ for 2010. His second novel, Ugly Bus, is currently in development for a six part television series with the BBC.
The first in the MacReady series of novels, Ash and Bones, was released August 2016 by Bonnier Zaffre. Unforgivable, the second in the series, is released in July 2017.
He lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and two children.