After a month long hiatus I’m pleased to be back with Author Influences. This week I’m delighted to be welcoming author Robert Scragg to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books. Robert’s debut novel What Falls Between The Cracks is out now on Kindle (more information on the book later) and Robert will be attending one of the panels at this year’s Newcastle Noir. So, let’s crack on and find out about the books that have impacted on Robert.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I’ve still got the copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that I had as a kid. Lost count of the number of times I’ve read them over the years. I also had a series of kids classics, that I also have in the loft (I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to book!) That includes titles like Treasure Island, Moby Dick and Robinson Crusoe.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was ok I guess – usually top half of the class, but never the star pupil. I enjoyed English Language more than Literature and took that up to A-level.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I love crime fiction, and that’s absolutely influenced my choice of genre to write in. Around 90% of what I read is crime, although I’m trying to branch out more. Read a couple of fantasy/sci-fi recently, which is a genre I used to be into in a big way. Also trying to read at least one non-fiction book every month to broaden my horizons a bit!
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’ve got plans to try my hand at children’s books at some stage. There are a few ideas bubbling around, but I want to get my feet under the table with crime first for the next few years, and then we’ll see. Having been encouraged to read as a kid, and loving books from an early age, I’d love to be able to help inspire those same feelings in the next generation of readers.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
If I look back at who I was reading in the run up to putting pen to paper myself, it’d be the likes of Jeffrey Deaver. He’s still a shoe-in on my TBR pile, but love some of his earlier stuff in particular, like The Devil’s Tear Drop and The Coffin Dancer. As for why, I’m a sucker for a plot that keeps twisting back on itself, keeping me guessing all the way to the end, at which point I still find that I had it pegged wrong. He’s a master at that. Harlan Coben is another. I love how real and vivid his characters are. His books helped me realise that some readers will come back for the character first, and plot second (not that there’s anything wrong with his plotting either!).
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
That’s a list that seems to get longer every year. It’s a mix of homegrown names, and international writers such as Mark Billingham, Mari Hannah, Howard Linskey, David Mark, Pierre LaMaitre, Greg Iles, Harlan Coben, Jeffrey Deaver. There’s more, but I’ll stop there!
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
The Natchez Burning trilogy by Greg Iles – an absolutely epic trio of books. The sheer scale of the plot is quiet something to behold; the kind of thing you’d have to take up an entire wall to map out. His characters are so real they practically jump off the page, and when I reached the end of every one of them, there was that amazing mix of ‘what a book’ at the same time as ‘damn, didn’t want it to end.’
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Not yet, but I’ve had a few friends request people they’d like to see in a body bag in future books, so you’ll have to wait and see.
Massive thanks, Robert, for taking part. Great answers and I concur with your list of authors you have to buy!
Did she slip through the cracks, or was she pushed?
When a severed hand is found in an abandoned flat, Detective Jake Porter and his partner Nick Styles are able to DNA match the limb to the owner, Natasha Barclay, who has not been seen in decades. But why has no one been looking for her? It seems that Natasha’s family are the people who can least be trusted.
Delving into the details behind her disappearance and discovering links to another investigation, a tragic family history begins to take on a darker twist. Hampered by a widespread fear of a local heavy, as well as internal politics and possible corruption within the force, Porter and Styles are digging for answers, but will what they find ever see the light of day?
About Robert Scragg
Robert Scragg originally trained as a solicitor, then had a random mix of jobs before taking the dive into crime writing; he’s been a bookseller, pizza deliverer, Karate instructor and Football coach. He lives in Tyne & Wear, is a founding member of the North East Noir crime writers group and is currently editing the second Porter and Styles novel, as well as working on a standalone set in the North East.