I hope you’re all having a wonderful week!
It’s been a little while since I last posted on my blog, thanks to a pretty hectic writing schedule these past few months. However, I’m delighted to say I’m back today with another fantastic author interview with J.D. Kirk, who is someone I’d describe as a real pro – just take a look at the blurb for his debut crime novel, A Litter of Bones – that’s quality stuff, even before you get inside the novel, and it’s even better once you do. As a fan of atmospheric settings myself, I couldn’t help but enjoy the way he’s woven a tale around the Scottish Highlands, and the style is so readable.
Let’s hear from the man himself…
Tell us a bit about yourself- how did you get into this writing gig?
I decided I was going to be a writer back when I was nine years old. We’d just done a class project on Roald Dahl, and that was the first time that it occurred to me that people could make money from writing. I loved both writing and money, so it seemed like a match made in Heaven.
My first published piece of writing work was a letter in a Batmancomic when I was around eleven, and while they never paid me a penny, seeing my name in print was enough to cement my ambition.
Fast forward thirty years (eek!) and I’ve written over a hundred books under various pen names, as well as comics, animation scripts, and even a few feature-length movie screenplays. I also ghost wrote a non-fiction book based on the – ahem – science of Roald Dahl’s stories a few years back. If you look up the details of the book in the British Library database, it has both my name and Dahl’s listed as authors. So, technically, I co-wrote a book with Roald Dahl from beyond the grave.
What’s your latest project?
I’m about to publish my debut crime novel, A Litter of Bones. It’s set in the Scottish Highlands, where I live, and opens with a child being abducted.
The investigation quickly connects the abduction to an old case that was believed to have been solved, but as the Senior Investigating Officer on the original case digs into this latest abduction, he starts to have doubts about whether he caught the right man all those years before.
A lot of my books are funny (or meant to be, at least) and despite the darker themes in this one, there’s plenty of black comedy, too. I think it’d be very difficult to survive very long in the police force without that sense of humour to see you through the more difficult stuff, and that’s what I’ve tried to replicate with this book. It’s not a comedy by any stretch of the imagination, but that seam of humour is there in some of the characters.
What inspired it?
It’s actually based on a true story. Albeit based VERY loosely.
A few years ago, I was out walking in the middle of nowhere with my daughter and our dog, and the dog vanished into the trees and wouldn’t come back. After instructing my daughter to wait, I set off into the trees, then returned a minute or so later to find her gone. Just gone. Aside from the trees, I could see for miles in every direction, and there was no sign of her anywhere.
And then she popped up from behind a bush, laughing her head off, and my heart started beating again. But that terrified moment of utter helplessness when I thought someone had somehow taken her stuck with me for weeks, and I eventually used it as inspiration for this book.
Got any advice for people just starting out?
A lot of people who ask me for advice are young writers keen to get their first book out, and I always advise the same thing: Live a bit.
It’s impossible to write convincingly about fear if you’ve never been scared. You can’t make a reader fall in love with a character if you’ve never known love yourself. As a writer, it’s important to read, yes, but it’s even more important to experience life up-close and first hand.
Scare yourself. Amuse yourself. Get jealous. Fall in love. Travel. The more of the real world you can experience, the more convincing your fictional worlds will be.
Also, buy my books. They’re excellent. (Ish.)
If you could, what do you wish you could go back and ask your Old Self?
“What did you do with all those old Star Wars figures?”
Actually, “Do you think that second packet of biscuits is really such a good idea?” would probably be a better question.
Finally, where do you see yourself in five years?
I rarely plan anything, and just sort of stumble blindly through life waiting to see where it’s going to take me next. I’m pretty happy with where I am now, so I suppose I’d like to be doing the same sort of thing as I am now, only somewhere with a bit more sunshine.
My son turns 17 this week, and my daughter is going on 10, so any five-year-plans I have these days are more concerned about them and seeing them happy in whatever they’re doing.
Their five-year-plans, on the other hand, seem to involve spending as much of my money as they possibly can.
…Thanks, J.D.! I love your advice to new writers and couldn’t agree more. I’d highly recommend your debut crime novel to anyone who enjoys well-written fiction – and, even better yet, it’s out TODAY!