I would like to introduce you all to John A. Marley. I met him at Goldsboro Books Crime in the Court event back in September. His debut novel, ‘Standstill’, was published by Avocado Books on the 14th September. I asked John some questions.
Can you tell me a bit about your book, ‘Standstill’ please.
Standstill revolves around an ambitious young thief called Danny Felix who finds himself dragged into an audacious plot to pull off the biggest robbery London has ever seen, He is co-erced into this by a corrupt, psychopathic policeman called Inspector Harkness, who is simultaneously being investigated by another Detective called Christine Chance. The robbery is huge, the characters intense and London looms large as a character in it’s own right throughout. Expect violence, a fast moving story and the odd bit of black humour along the way.
What made you decide to write it?
I have always read and loved books particularly pulp crime fiction and so I just really wanted to have a crack myself. It’s been tremendous fun and, most importantly for me, truly creative.
Where did you get your idea from for this book?
It was an amalgam of thoughts all born during endless commutes in and out of London by train and tube, and latterly when I met my wife and her family, some of whom are retired ex Flying Squad, the plot just gelled for me…and I was off and running…
I see it is the first of a series. How many books in total will there be?
At the moment I have five books in my head…but who knows…Danny might lead us on more merry dances…
Did you have to do any research and if so, what did it entail?
I researched extensively. Whilst I obviously wanted it to be entertaining, Standstill had to have an authentic core. I met and spoke with many Flying Squad detectives, some retired some still serving. I recce’ed most of the locations in the book, especially where the robbery takes place and I used pretty much every scrap of info, anecdote and observation that I gleaned from the many real cops (and the odd reformed villain too)… I was very lucky, lots of people were generous with their time and thoughts for me.
Would you like to see ‘Standstill’ made into a film?
Ooh yes, and any crime fiction writer who says no to that is either lying or they’re lying…take your pick! Films play a huge part in Danny’s life, and indeed in mine (I started out as a film critic in Northern Ireland and I was one of Barry Norman’s producers at the BBC).
What do you hope people will get from your book?
Entertainment! I want them to not notice their commute, or read just one more chapter before lights off, or enjoy it on a sun lounger somewhere hot and nice. i want them to want to know more about Danny and I want them to laugh, cry and gasp along the way. No pressure!!
Did you always want to write?
Yes. I love words, language, I always have, and when you have that mindset I think it becomes a compulsion, a need. Playing, working and living through your words and use of them is to be celebrated at every turn. My heroes (apart from Eric Cantona) are people who can take words and weave magic with them. Funny magic like Groucho Marx or Elmore Leonard. Thrilling magic like Michael Connelly or Denis Lehane and of course beautiful magic like James Lee Burke or Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Words are to be played with and respected, they make our world a better place.
Apart from writing what else do you do?
I love my football, travel is a great passion, I have two Cocker Spaniels, Bobby and Baxter, who really run the show and I enjoy cooking and real ale, but not necesarily in that order.
How has social media helped you as an author?
I love how crime readers and writers have so much access to each other and the feeling of community that generates. Social Media helps make that happen. I love how you can discover new writers and encourage new readers especially with Twitter…I’m generally a fan of it and Facebook…
Have you got any advice for anyone wanting to write a book?
Do it! Just do it. You’d be surprised at how it happens once you have started. It’s the old saying, a word becomes a phrase, a phrase a sentence, a sentence a paragraph and suddenly you’ve written a page. Then you can roll from there. Even if you never show it to anyone, just the act of committing a story or thoughts to paper or laptop screen is hugely beneficial and therapeutic. It’s fun! If you want to write a story in which the Queen’s pants fall down then guess what…they do! Creativity is at its best when it is done out of sheer joy, writing a book or short story can be the release of that joy.
Who are your favourite authors?
I’d need a toilet roll to get all the names on, but if pushed, James Lee Burke is my favourite. His lyrical prose combined with hard boiled plots, just makes my heart swell. I also like Westerns, if you have not read “St Agnes’ Stand” by Thomas Eidson, you’ve missed a gem. Elmore Leonard…Denis Lehane, my fellow Irishman Brian McGilloway writes wonderfully, Craig Johnson’s Longmire books are fun…I could go on and on…oh, make your kids read the Asterix and Obelix books, they play with language beautifully and teach them how funny word play can be.
About John A. Marley
John A. Marley is a writer and TV producer with a proven track record in creating and producing distinctive, original entertainment and factual programming and formats for both a UK and international audience. His eclectic portfolio of high-profile shows include Britain’s Ultimate Pilots: Inside the RAF; Britain’s Flying Past; Staraoke; Best of Friends; Skatoony; Noel’s House Party; Through the Keyhole; SMTV:Live/CD:UK; How Euro Are You? and live coverage of The Oscars. In 2008, John set up his own production company Archie Productions. Prior to this, he enjoyed a wide and varied career in television with creative roles at Talent Television, Planet 24, Carlton Television and Walt Disney UK.
John’s writing career started with a poem about two brothers who both liked sausages. Their names were Butch and Dutch, and his Primary School teacher Mr. Murray liked it so much it made the main noticeboard at the entrance to Holy Child Primary School in West Belfast. A little older but none the wiser, he ended up as a film journalist in his native Northern Ireland, contributing to local newspapers, BBC Radio Ulster and latterly writing as the main film critic for the glossy magazine, Northern Woman.
In the course of writing his first novel Standstill, John was determined to make it ring true to the work of the Met Police’s legendary Flying Squad. He was lucky enough to be able to call upon the experiences and stories of several officers from the squad, some serving and some retired, which he found invaluable. Most importantly, the female serving officers he met were very generous with their time and anecdotes, helping him to create the character of DC Christine Chance and rounding her out with some of the realities of being a woman in a 21st century police force.
John’s love of good stories came from the Irish predilection for telling a good yarn and the fact that there was nothing quite like sneaking away his Dad’s battered paperbacks to read. And so pulp fiction such as The Edge Westerns by George G. Gilman, the adventure novels of Alistair MacLean and the thrillers of Jack Higgins all served to whet his appetite for a good story told at pace. These days, his reading tastes still focus on thrills, spills and good plot and he can’t walk by a James Lee Burke or an Elmore Leonard without pausing to read a few pages…even if it is in a busy bookshop. Standstill is his debut, and the first in a planned series.
‘Standstill’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-
Website – http://www.jamarley.com/
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