Pete Adams latest book, ‘A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza’ was published last year. I asked him a few questions.
Could you tell me a bit about your Kind Hearts and Martinets series please?
I see Kind Hearts and Martinets as Good -v- Evil ; a politician or civil servant, a powerful Corporate magnate, or just a Machiavellian character, will carry on with a despotic action when reasonable argument demonstrates that it is just plain wrong; he feels he is right. In each book of the eight book trilogy, there is a theme of stubborn refusal to tilt the tiller from the set ‘path’; it is a simple fact, everyone else is wrong.
Each book stands on its own and can be read as a separate novel, although there is a continuing thread suggestive of a malign conspiracy, but of what, and that is carried through to book 5, where all of the threads are woven to a neat conclusion? Really? Things are not that simple surely, and after all, there are another three books.
The series of books also looks at how people react to the martinet persona and consequent actions, and how those with the ‘courage’ to act, often cannot see the irony in their actions, in so much as they are also convinced they are correct in what they do; is this the dilemma of life? And do the ends justify the means? I think this is why, of the eight books, I like book two, Irony in the Soul, because it sets the course for the subsequent books but examines the irony in the motives not only of the perpetrators but also the main protagonists, the dipstick DCI Austin, who has never solved a crime in his life but has a heart of gold, and his long suffering, over a short period of time, partner in work and in love, Detective Superintendent Amanda Bruce.
I like to see Kind Hearts and Martinets as a series (trilogy) of books with a narrative ranging from adventure, to violence, to abject misery to insuperable and often illogical love, to the conclusion that change is not always for the best, but change we must if we are to move on.
How many more books in the series are there to come?
It is a long story, if you pardon the pun, and Kind Hearts is a trilogy in eight books – explanation can be offered if sought, but that is another saga.
Books 1 and 2, Cause and Effect and Irony in the Soul, I self published on Kindle and I then signed with Urbane for book 3, A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza, out in June 2015 and formally launched at Waterstones in October 2015.
Book 4, Ghost and Ragman Roll is a rollicking adventure and introduces some additional characters that get taken on in later books and more of the mystery is unveiled – the manuscript for this book is with the Publisher now.
Book 5 – Merde and Mandarins – the five books are wrapped up; the end – not likely but a moment to pause and reflect, enter book 6.
Book 6 – The Duchess of Friesian Tun – I stepped out of the novel framework and wrote this as a ‘stage-set’ narrative (certainly a challenge that I loved) where the story of Kind Hearts and Martinets is mulled over by a set of ‘off-the-wall’ characters, loosely based on The Canterbury Tales but where the characters go nowhere; the ‘play’ contained principally to one set, with aside vignettes – I am really pleased with it.
Book 7, Rhubarb in the Mammon, and the story is re-launched but seemingly as a new narrative, but later on, as it slides inexorably into book 8, the stories clearly meld. Rhubarb is finished but I can’t leave it alone because I love it so much, but also because it has a partner in the sequel, and so I go back and amend things to suit events in book 8.
Book 8, Umble Pie, New scenarios, new characters whom I love to bits, and old favourites who return for the barnstorming finale to Kind Hearts and Martinets, it even left me breathless as the story travels from serious (but makes you laugh) to an edgy though epic conclusion. Umble Pie is my hardest task so far – I set myself the challenge of weaving a ‘real’ transference of narrative to the sequel / and a ‘surreal’ onward narrative; the DNA spiral of Kind Hearts and Martinets. I have the first draft complete and will return to it in a few weeks to commence editing and rewriting.
Book 9, Larkin’s Barkin’ is off from the starting blocks and currently passing from synapse to synapse as I walk my dog along the seafront; completely new.
I also have, by way of a madcap distraction, written and illustrated, two ‘nonsense’ books based around imaginary adventures with my granddaughter, called Whopping Tales – they are children’s books, not for children, but for adults who have not grown up. I will post you an example of my illustrations, my granddaughter and I. I have written two short books so far, and a third is about halfway and I’m on a mission to complete it this month and seek a niche Publisher for the upcoming Christmas market.
Book one is out to a panel for comment; authors, professional reviewers, and readers who contact me, and I have to say that the response is tremendous and has given me a great momentum to make this project happen. I will package the comments up as part of my submission, so, if any of your readers are interested I can send the MS, it takes about 2 hours to read and allow a further half hour for falling off your chair laughing.
Where did you get the idea for this series from?
Simple – from real life, its social injustices, its unfairness and its evil, countered by the bountiful love of most people who do not have to pass along a path predetermined by some martinet twat who cannot conceive that people are individuals, that life is richer if not mapped out by someone with their own agenda. In other words, and one of my best reviews said this “the books are crime thrillers that make you laugh, cry and think” and in that, each book tackles serious issues both in narrative and in character development, but does it in a slightly larger than life way, not so much a literary lampooning cartoon , but not far off it, and here I always quote Peter Ustinov, “Comedy is a funny way of being serious” and this is what drives me, that and I’m a sucker for a good story, and romance, I love romance..
Are you anything like your main character, Jack Austin?
A lot of people suggest this but quite simply, Jack Austin is an ugly, overweight oaf, with far too much confidence for his own good, and barrels through life regardless of what obstacles he may encounter, relying on the fact that it will all be alright at the end of the day, whereas I am…
…Let me get back to you on that one.
But, the very perceptive of readers correctly observe that Jack, nicknamed Jane, Austin, is a rather obvious, crass even, foil for the characters that do the real work in the novels, and most of them are very strong women; it just happens to be my experience in life.
How long do you spend writing each day?
Oh dear, not long enough. I started writing late in life, I had to have been about 56 -7 and it’s as though there are not enough hours in the day to keep doing the thing I love most, apart from my family that is. Having said that I am an architect by day and I have to focus on my practice, but rarely a day goes by that I do not write, and I feel it on those days I don’t.
I am often up in the middle of the night and write, and if I am free to write with no other distractions, I will generally start around five in the morning and stop about lunchtime, when I take my dog for a walk along the seafront – its wonderful living beside the seaside, and not just because of the ice creams, ‘Giss a lick of yer ice cream mister…’.
After that I like to read, catch up TV, but most of all read if my eyes are not too tired and then I like to write reviews of the books I have read.
Do you have a favourite place to do your writing in?
I am not blessed with the opportunity to have an option of a favourite place. I have an old house that was 80% renovated when the recession hit – my lubbly jubbly writing study is not complete, and so I write under the stairs alongside the central heating boiler, the washing machine and tumble drier, but it is cosy and it has produced eight novels and two and a half Whopping Tales – I am not sure how I will react when I have the luxury of a big room and a desk? Probably cry and sit beside the washing machine and tumble drier, mid-cycle…absorbing the inspirational vibrations of a 1400 spin.
Are you working on any other writing projects?
Book 9 is started, Larkin’s barkin’ – new characters that already I love, and I am finishing book three of Whopping Tales and this is getting such a tremendous response that I may have to think where it goes after publishing.
What’s the best bit of advice you have ever been given regarding writing?
You don’t need this, and you don’t need that, and what does this serve in promoting the story, and you can’t say that, can you, really? Oh, and move over I want to put some laundry in the washing machine.
Do you see yourself still writing in five years time?
I cannot ever see myself stop writing, I love it so much.
Now that you’re getting used to social media would you say it is of benefit to you?
Absolutely, and I resisted my Publisher ‘suggesting’ Twitter for so long and that was a mistake; I now have my book being read in Australia, Germany, Switzerland and the USA and I’m followed by the Trans Siberian Railway (you need to look out my book page for that) , in fact I’ve just had some brilliant reviews from the USA in Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, very big coverage in America. My Publisher and I have great hopes that my books will go well across the pond, pretty much how the Janet Evanovich books went well in the UK, unless he means the pond in St James’s Park; I’ll get back to you on that, promise not to duck the issue.
If I were asked my opinion on what gets the most responses for an author, I would say that it is coverage from book bloggers, and interviews such as your own Sonya, and, I find the questions help me crystallise my own thoughts and motivation, and the bonus, it’s just so nice to have exchanges with people who, like myself, love books – I always respond to messages from readers and bloggers and they are most considerate of my ineptitude in using social media, electronic gadgetry and the fact that I press return too many times and send back gobbledygook (editor – palese sort taht bit).
You have a crazy sense of humour. Have you ever thought about becoming a comedian?
People always say that I should be on the stage, there’s one leaving in ten minutes; the old ones are brilliant aren’t they, and there is no doubt I am old (though as you will see from my picture, I don’t look it). I used to do after dinner speaking and loved it, was better at MC’ing dinners though, where I could ad lib in reaction to events. I once MC’d a Lord Mayor’s dinner in Portsmouth, at half time I was requested to ease up as the people had paid to eat their dinner and couldn’t do it laughing. But, as I have aged, I think it is not worth the stress, especially if they are expecting you to be funny all the time – sometimes I want to be serious – Nah, just kidding; except in actual fact, my books are very serious indeed and it says all that I believe about today’s society; still, misery is optional.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
It has to be reading. I do like TV but invariably it is all recorded stuff or catch up and I absolutely love Nordic Noir, in books and TV – it gets down to real life with real characters, not phoney Hollywood people with sparkly teeth and fat wallets.
I used to play rugby really badly and if the ball would only have stopped hitting the wicket, I wasn’t bad at cricket – I love watching both sports now.
My family is important to me and I’m proud of my kids, my daughter who travelled the world and then came back and qualified as a midwife with an amazing degree, and gave me Isla Rose (my granddaughter who narrates in Whopping tales) and my son, now at Conservatoire, studying classical violin performance and jazz guitar – I absolutely love classical music and my son is getting me into Jazz; Snarky Puppy, I know, but listen to them and that is what my son plays.
About Pete Adams
Pete Adams is an architect living in Portsmouth, where he sets his books. With a writing style shaped by his Bermondsey and East-End of London family, Pete’s Kind Hearts and Martinets series of books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; crime thrillers that make you laugh, with a dash of social commentary. A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza is book 3; he’s currently writing book 8 – so, lots to come.
Facebook: book page where Pete also reviews other books; he enjoys this page; fun posts, reviews of his books, interviews…silly pictures… https://www.facebook.com/Peteadamsauthor/?ref=bookmarks
Twitter: @Peteadams8 – I’m new to this, so still like a monkey with a machine gun.
Amazon author page: books:-
Cause and Effect – Book 1: http://amzn.to/1WiW5dk
Irony in the Soul – Book 2: http://amzn.to/1YNRrFL
A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza – Book 3: http://amzn.to/1YNRxgr
Matthew Smith is kindly giving away three copies of ‘A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza’. To enter just leave a comment about this interview.
Terms and Conditions
This competition is open worldwide.
The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 3rd April 2016.
The winners will be randomly chosen within 7 days of the closing date. Their details will be passed on to Matthew Smith who will send out the prizes.
Good luck! 🙂