Interview with Richard Rippon
I would like to introduce you all to Richard Rippon whose new book, ‘Lord of the Dead’ is out today in paperback and as an eBook, published by Obliterati Press. I asked Richard all about it.
Can you tell me a bit about ‘Lord of the Dead’ please?
It’s a crime thriller set in the North East. Someone is taking women from Newcastle and brutally murdering them in the Northumbrian countryside. A team of cops investigate, assisted by gifted university psychologist, Jon Atherton. They have very little physical evidence to go on, so it’s up to Atherton to build a profile and get under the skin of the killer. There’s an added complication in that a woman on the police team is someone he’s had an affair with.
Where did you get the idea for this book from?
I always wanted to write a serial killer novel, but I never had a strong enough idea. Then I remembered a non-fiction book I’d read about twenty years ago and something clicked. I don’t want to give too much away, but that provided a scenario and a motive for my killer. Once I’d decided what my main character was going to be like, I was up and running.
How long did it take you to write?
It took a couple of years. I wrote mainly on the bus, to and from work. There’s a lot to be said for writers using public transport. It gave me about an hour and half each workday when I could focus on the book.
Did you have to do any research at all?
Yes. Two of my closest friends are a police officer and a nurse, so they helped to make sure procedurally and tonally I was being authentic in their respective fields. I also corresponded with a historian, a forensic scientist and someone who lives with cerebral palsy. I think I take dramatic license occasionally, but I wanted everything to feel grounded in reality.
Did the characters in your book speak to you at all whilst you were writing?
I partially based Atherton on a younger version of my uncle, so I always heard his voice when writing his dialogue. He’s a fiercely intelligent bloke, with a big heart and a funny turn of phrase. He also has cerebral palsy and so does Atherton, so this all helped to shape the character.
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
Not myself, but some family members who’ve read it, think they can recognise themselves or others. It’s led to a few awkward conversations about composite characters and so on. Sometimes I do borrow certain characteristics from people I know. It helps to draw upon real people, locations and situations.
What has the experience of getting published been like for you?
It’s been a long road. I won a New Writing North Award in 2009 for my first novel, The Kebab King. It led to me signing with an agent, but the book didn’t get picked up, so I self-published (it’s available for Kindle on Amazon) and got started on Lord of the Dead. There was more interest in it, to the point that we started talking to a publisher about sequel ideas, but then they went cold on me. I felt a bit frustrated and decided to have a break from writing. Nathan O’Hagan got in touch out of the blue, asking if I had anything finished he could read for Obliterati Press. I knew Nathan from my time in Liverpool in the 90s. I loved what he and Wayne were doing with Obliterati and was extremely happy they wanted to publish me.
Will you be celebrating when your book is released into the world?
Absolutely. We’re having a book launch event on 3rd November in Newcastle, which is open to all. Having a book published has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, so I really want to celebrate and make the most of it. I hope it’s the first of many.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
Principally, I want it to work as a thriller. The main job as a writer is to keep the pages turning, otherwise everything else is pointless. I hope they find it a tense and compelling story, with well-written characters and a terrifying villain. On another level, I hope they’ll enjoy reading a book with a protagonist who has a physical impairment. Of the 24 official James Bond movies, 17 have a villain with some kind of impairment, so they’re broadly presenting this idea that physically different means ‘bad’. I want Lord of the Dead to be the antithesis of this. Atherton has a disability and he’s not the villain, or side-lined as a supporting character. He’s front and centre. He’s the hero.
Have you got any other writing projects on the go?
I’ve started on a sequel to Lord of the Dead. The working title is The Life of the Flesh, but that could change. I’ve also been working on some screenplay ideas for movie and TV.
What do you think of social media and has it helped you?
I work in social media, so I love it. Twitter in particular has been indispensable to track down the experts I mentioned. There’s a social media element to the book’s plot. I thought it would be interesting to see how a serial killer case could play out in today’s modern world where people publicly document their lives so readily.
What advice have you got for anyone wanting to write?
I started with short stories and flash fiction. It’s a good way to get into the habit of writing without throwing yourself straight into a novel. There are lots of websites and magazines with open submissions. Look for competitions. Winning the New Writing North Award gave me the confidence to keep going, helped me make contacts and got me an agent. Join a writers group. Usually, writers only work in isolation, so you never get much feedback on your work. Get people other than your family and friends to read your stuff. Don’t try to emulate the flavour of the month. Write what you want to write about, otherwise you’re really not going to enjoy it.
Who are you favourite authors?
My favourite authors aren’t really crime writers and I’m actually quite embarrassed about how little I’ve read in recent years. I like Irvine Welsh, Chuck Palaniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy amongst others.
What do you hope to be doing in five years time?
I’d like to think I might have written another novel or two. I see Lord of the Dead as the first in a trilogy, perhaps with a spin-off series featuring a supporting character. I’d love to write or co-write a movie or TV show, but as long as I’m doing something creative, I’ll be happy.
About Richard Rippon
Richard Rippon has been writing since 2007, when his short story, Full Tilt, was long-listed for a Northern Dagger award. In 2009, he won a New Writing North Award for his first novel, The Kebab King. Since then he’s had a number of short stories published in newspapers, magazines and online. In 2012, he was commissioned to write a short story (The Other One), which appears in the Platform anthology. He lives on the North East coast with his wife and two children, and works in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Richard was also a social media phenomenon in 2016, as one of the men behind the twitter sensation #DrummondPuddleWatch.
You can follow Richard on:-
Twitter – @RichRippon
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/richard.rippon.3.
‘Lord of the Dead’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-