I am very excited to be taking part in the Dead Of Night by Michael Stanley blog tour today. I have read the book and it’s bloody brilliant, but unfortunately I haven’t had time to write my review yet. However, instead of my review I have a very special Author Influences with Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip instead.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Michael: I read all the usual books, but a few others stick in my mind. The Hobbit, of course, made me fall in love with Tolkien, and I immediately ploughed into The Lord of the Rings although I was much too young to really appreciate it. I also remember being fascinated by The Tree That Sat Down by Beverley Nichols and read it several times. Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass were big favourites too.
Stanley: Over the years growing up, I read a huge variety of books: Enid Blyton, The Hardy Boys, Teddy Lester’s Schooldays, Alice in Wonderland, Biggles, Nevil Shute, historical fiction, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Bernard Shaw, Alan Paton.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
Stanley: Yes and yes! In high school, I had wonderful teachers who instilled great enthusiasm in me for language. I was even excited by grammar! In addition, every other year, the school produced a Shakespeare play (I played Salerio in Merchant of Venice), which gave me a love for the power of drama.
Michael: I wasn’t particularly good at it, but I did like it. I recall writing ridiculously long and, no doubt, boring essays with no regard for the poor teacher who had to mark them!
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
Michael: I do read a lot of crime fiction and that was certainly a factor in the attraction of the genre. When I was younger, I liked science fiction – the more science or character driven kinds such as Clement’s Mission of Gravity and Farmer’s The Lovers. I tried my hand at writing it when I was a student. Fortunately, none of my stories was ever published!
I also read widely in non-fiction – history and biography mainly.
Stanley: I read mysteries and thrillers, as well as history. Both genres have influenced my writing. The two books that had the greatest impact were Nevil Shute’s On the Beach and Alice in Wonderland – the first for the power of words to pull a reader into another world; the second for the appeal of imagination.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Stanley: I’d probably write about people on whom events have had a powerful impact. This interest probably emanates from my passion for the poetry of World War I – the bitterness of the soldiers and the agony of their families.
Michael: I think I might try science fiction again because the alien settings allow one to explore people under new and unusual stresses. It wouldn’t be the space adventure kind, though.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Michael: I would say PD James and John Le Carré. I think they are both superb writers. They make one think: ‘Could I do that? Could I at least try?’
Stanley: As mentioned above, Nevil Shute and Lewis Carroll influenced me greatly, but no one inspired me to be a writer. They influenced me more on how I wrote.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Stanley: All the authors on the Murder Is Everywhere blog, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Tim Hallinan, Kent Kruger, and Seon Meyer.
Michael: There are a few authors whose books I must read as soon as I can. John Le Carré and South African crime author Deon Meyer are in that category.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Michael: Two examples –
Le Carré’s The Mission Song. Although not generally regarded as one of his best novels, I felt that the characterisation of the African translator Salvo was brilliant. The African corruption theme has been done to death, but here it’s balanced by the much more cynical British corruption. It’s very hard to make all that work!
Deon Meyer’s Fever. The slightly future setting and the post apocalypse South Africa are brilliantly combined in a coming of age story. Again, characterisation is everything. I think that’s what good writing is all about.
Stanley: So many! Charles Dickens, John le Carré, P D James, Nevil Shute, Lewis Carroll.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Stanley: All our characters incorporate aspects of many people. So I’m not concerned about a law suit. However one friend, whose name we used in A Carrion Death for a character whom we killed off, has threatened to sue when we become a mega-success. I’m not losing much sleep!
Michael: Our book Deadly Harvest is loosely based on the real case in Mochudi of a young girl, Segametsi Mogomotsi, who was abducted by witch doctors and killed for body parts. When we were working on our first book, the then director of the Botswana CID told us that was what we should be writing about. We felt he was right, even though it was several years later before we actually did so.
Our rotund Detective Kubu isn’t based on anyone we know, but many of his characteristics are!
A huge thank you to you both for taking part.
Michael Stanley’s latest standalone novel Dead of Night is out now. It is an absolute corker and here is what it’s about:
When freelance journalist, Crystal Nguyen, heads to South Africa, she thinks she’ll be researching an article on rhino-horn smuggling for National Geographic, while searching for her missing colleague. But, within a week, she’s been hunting poachers, hunted by their bosses, and then arrested in connection with a murder. And everyone is after a briefcase full of money that may hold the key to everything.
Fleeing South Africa, she goes undercover in Vietnam, trying to discover the truth before she’s exposed by the local mafia. Discovering the plot behind the money is only half the battle. Now she must convince the South African authorities to take action before it’s too late. She has a shocking story to tell, if she survives long enough
to tell it…
Fast-paced, relevant and chilling, Dead of Night is a stunning new thriller that exposes one of the most vicious conflicts on the African continent…
You can buy your copy HERE.
About the Authors
Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both
were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. On a
flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a
wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their
first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the
Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards,
including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and
their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for
an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’
award. Dead of Night is their first stand-alone thriller.