How did the Aidan Snow thrillers develop? Did you start out with a series in mind?
At the time I started writing the first Aidan Snow novel I was living in Kyiv and reading a lot of SAS thrillers, only one of these mentioned Kyiv and then it was factually wrong. This got me thinking that I could write my own thriller set in Ukraine as although I wasn’t an expert on the SAS I was an expert on Kyiv. Aidan Snow is basically me, if I’d been in the SAS. I wrote the first book to see if I could and once I’d finished it knew I wanted to turn Aidan Snow’s exploits into a series.
You taught drama at a school in Ukraine – how did you get into that, and how much of that experience and structure do you use when writing?
After getting a Drama degree I did a PGCE so I could teach it. But then I realised that the world was a huge place, hence I was headhunted to join an international school in Kyiv. I set up the Drama department for the first International Baccalaureate (IB) School in Eastern Europe. Improvisation was a skill I had to rely on as an actor/teacher and this I think makes it easier for my mind to think of story ideas, settings and characters.
‘Hetman’ introduced Aidan Snow to readers back in 2008 and a lot has changed within the digital publishing industry since then – including the book title! If you could give 2008 Alex Shaw one piece of advice, what would it be?
Get an editor. I am still plagued by typos that I missed (when it was self-published), that my subsequent editors have missed but that readers don’t.
The Detective Kerri Blasco series has me pretty excited. I love Kerri, how she psyches people out. Readers may also notice similarities between David and Detective Sergeant Alex Brand, Kerri’s boss, partner, and love. Those two men are – omg – my kind of hero… ditto highly intuitive and emotional Kerri, a rock star with a passion for victims. Kerri goes more by her gut than by-the-book Alex; she sometimes drives him nuts with her rebel approach, but Alex and other NYPD cops are often in awe of her ability to see and feel what others don’t. She can read a crime scene like she can read a person’s face.
How has your approach to writing evolved since 2012? What do you do differently now?
Yes, it’s evolved. I’d like to think I go deeper now, into feelings, psychology (Kerri is amazing at “reading” people), character development in general. I know cops personally, so a lot has rubbed off. I’m fascinated by how they observe: a room, a crime scene, a person’s face and body language. Kerri is best at that. Often, her instincts and emotional responses are what carry the story forward. Kerri, in a word, has freed me. When she tells Alex, “You’re doing it wrong!” …she spews and I spew and the writing just moves.
What’s the best and hardest parts of being an indie author?
Best is having control – to experiment, promote, change price, change covers, etc. Also the royalties, I’m happy with Amazon’s 70%.
Hardest, of course, is the marketing. That, I’ve narrowed down to BookBub, Twitter, Facebook, ENT, and Robin Reads. I’m not keen on being all over Facebook all the time. Honestly, I’d rather spend the time writing.
I should mention here that I’ve been previously published by Simon & Schuster, but will never go back. Traditional publisher royalties are awful, & editors get laid off mid-stream in your book’s year-long plod through the editorial process. Your book becomes an orphan for months. It’s too slow. Trad pubbed authors wind up having to do their own promotion anyway, so why bother?
What are your plans for 2017?
I’m working now on the next Kerri Blasco thriller. She’s in real trouble this time. A serial killer is after her.
Finally, where can we find you and your books?
Embryo (first in a series of six titles)
Fear Dreams (Detective Kerri Blasco Book 1)
Her Last Breath (Detective Kerri Blasco Book 2)
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