I’ve known this author on social media for a number of years, and had the chance to meet him last year at CrimeFest – given that my Dan Taylor series has just joined his Aidan Snow series at German publisher, Luzifer Verlag, I reckoned it was high time I interviewed him!
Welcome to the blog, Alex Shaw…
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.
Which do you prefer: writing short stories or writing novels? How do you approach these different mediums?
I enjoy writing both, but I get more satisfaction from completing longer works. I’d never written a short story until after I’d written several novels, which I’m told is odd. The shorter the piece has to be the more I plan and plot, because the word count is limited. But sometimes I get this wrong; twice over the last two years pieces that were meant to be novellas, for Amazon’s Kindle Worlds, became novels as I couldn’t stop writing. One of these was a novel which had Aidan Snow teaming up with Russel Blake’s ‘JET’. Now that was a blast to write
You’ve written SAS thrillers and vampire thrillers, as well as writing within the “Kindle Worlds” concept – do any other genres take your fancy?
Nordic Noir and perhaps something in a zombie sub-genre.
What have you got planned for 2017? Any writing projects you can tell us about?
I’m writing a Nordic Noir, set in Finland and Ukraine, this should be finished for 2018 and actually uses some of my existing characters. I’m also working on three other projects, one is a traditional Noir but set in 1990s Oregon, another is an action thriller following the exploits of an assassin and the third is a military thriller.