Today I’m fortunate to present Pete Adams, author of The Kind Hearts and Martinets series, well, he says it’s a trilogy in 8 books and the fourth, Ghost and Ragman Roll, is to be published by Urbane – May 18, 2017.
Hi Pete, thanks for agreeing to this interview!
Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?
Pete: My family are Londoners but I was born and raised in Orpington, Kent, England, now a part of the London Borough of Bromley – am I a Londoner? Who can say, I spent a lot of my youth in Stepney where I had a car cleaning round, and my extensive London family, north and south of the river, certainly influence my writing – I moved to Portsmouth on the south coast of England to go to School of Architecture, and apart from a spell in Canada, here I have stayed – I love it, and set Kind Hearts and Martinets in my adopted home City.
Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?
Pete: It has to be equally character and narrative driven – then I would say that wouldn’t I, having written a series of eight books with the same central characters. I find the narrative can often evolve from the principal players; how I think they would react to an event, personal circumstances and so on, and romance, I love romance in a story – I may look like a hard nut but I am a bit of a softy:
See, hard nut…!
Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?
It would probably be more accurate to ask who.
I’ve always wanted to write, just never had the self belief. I’m a daydreamer and I cannot walk the street without conjuring stories about people I see, imagining what might be going on in their lives – or what story I could weave with them in it.
However, it was listening to a radio interview with Michael Connolly, an author I like, that inspired me. Connolly was asked the question, “Do you have a mind map of the novel before you start?” The answer motivated me, because I could never conceive of a full novel, and the thought of mind maps put me off. Connolly replied that he had an idea for the first chapter and then allowed the story to evolve and had no idea where it would lead.
I listened to that interview in the car driving back from Leeds, and when I got home I started my first book – that would have been about seven or eight years ago.
Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I am also an architect and I have to balance writing with my commitments to my practice. There are conflicts when I am energised by my current work in progress and the need to work the day job, but, over time, I have found a satisfactory balance.
I am an early morning person, ridiculously so, some say, but five, and sometimes earlier, in the morning can be such a peaceful time and it enables me to either write or get a lot of my practice workload done before the pressures of the day, freeing up time for writing later. However, weekends are exclusively for writing, and I squirrel myself away and luxuriate in the wonderful world of invention and make believe. I cannot imagine a day going by where I do not write or edit, or read – now that is difficult to balance.
Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Oh what a wonderful question, and here my Publisher would leap in and say quirk indeed , as Urbane feel that my books have a style / genre that is difficult to nail down, but my Publisher is pleased that my books are developing a growing following.
So what is the style? My Publisher says “he likes my crime novels, they make him laugh”. The books have been likened to Tom Sharpe with the pace of Janet Evanovich, and one person flattered me by saying they were like a cockney Wodehouse. Not too sure about that, but it lifted me for months afterwards; I adore Wodehouse. People have said that my books made them laugh, cry and think; I’ll take that.
I am proud of a recent review from German author Skadi Winter, who said after reading A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza, that it was, in her view, the best contemporary British novel she had read in a long time.
Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.
All eight books in the Kind Hearts and Martinets trilogy are written and Urbane are about to publish the fourth, Ghost and Ragman Roll – out 18th May 2017, although I am building a preview launch team for any of your readers who would like to review an advance copy (they must post a review – preferably a brilliant one – on Amazon and other platforms, Waterloo Station would be good).
The genre is Crime thriller that will make you laugh, and although all the books are a part of a series and there is a continuing thread, each book can be read as a standalone, and many readers tell me they read A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza, then went onto read books 1 and 2. I did the same with Steig Larson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – I read book 2 first and it hooked me onto the trilogy (although he only did 3 books in his trilogy).
A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza has appeared all over the world, not least of which was a trip on the Trans Siberian Railway, from Moscow to Beijing, including a Siberian wedding and the book being read by Genghis Kahn:
…and the Far East…
A Barrow Boy in a couchette and in Laos
I am hoping to build my readership in America having had some good reviews from the US and Canada and good reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus.
Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The most surprising thing was that I could do it, and even more surprising, people liked my writing, not least a mainstream publisher – I was about 57 when I started and I wrote purely to amuse myself.
When I get ‘stuck’, I generally re-read books I have written and it stimulates me to press on. However, the more successful you become the greater the pressure to keep on performing, or so I am told. In this respect I am glad I have written all eight books for Kind Hearts and Martinets, and so it is mainly editing and rewrites for the subsequent ones.
I have started a new book with all new characters and storyline, it is called Larkin’s Barkin’, and I have other sketches in the pipeline – time is my enemy.
Having said that, readers have told me they love the characters in Kind hearts and would want them to continue, and I have to admit that having drawn a line under the series I feel bereft – I’ve lived with these people for so long, and so, after book eight is published, if there is still pressure to continue, I will likely succumb; if I do not do so beforehand.
Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?
I can offer a trail from Ghost and Ragman Roll out 18th May 2017.
Opening to Chapter One – follows the Prologue
The fat bastard hotel manager Brian Pinchfist was no longer fat. Whether he was still a bastard remained to be seen? He claimed to police he’d been kidnapped and held, underground for sure, and by people unknown to him who disguised their appearance and voices. He had been found by a Portsmouth Ranger, Jet (John Edward Thomas) Norris, having been unceremoniously dumped beside the incongruously garish, pastel coloured bathing huts on Eastney beach; the third one in, the pink one. Frozen, soaking wet and filthy, his almost skeletal body lost in his baggy shabby rags, he had shivered uncontrollably on a foul, early November morning. He had only a motley crew of noxious smelling tramps for company, if you excluded or could see, the equally skeletal Ghost, who was hauntingly showing concern for Pinchfist’s welfare. Standing off from the toxic collection of human detritus was Jet, who, although more aromatically agreeable, had an equally comparable toxic personality.
The street people were too polite to mention that Pinchfist, this skinny, raggedy bastard, smelt pretty much as they did, except for maybe the meths and Special Brew. Jet was not so circumspect in his verbal exchanges to Fat Bastard or to the tramps. He was often on the receiving end of critical denigration, not least his colleagues calling him Knob-head when he wanted people to call him Jet; a cool name. So, he enjoyed any opportunity to pass on some vitriol, in equal measure, in the manner of all good bullies.
Apparently, during his near three months of captivity, the fat bastard was made to negotiate every scrap of food, frequently unsuccessfully, and had to learn to go without, or so he claimed. The Doctors said he was in reasonable shape considering, saying it was as though he had been on a well controlled emergency diet; quite remarkable. There appeared to be no ill effects if you ignored the pong, they said, ignoring the pong and Pinchfist himself, who cowered, cartoon like, behind a drip stand.
Pinchfist was unaware he had been missing for so long and looked forward to being reunited with his family, and thus was amazed when, after hospital discharge, he was immediately arrested and within a short time incarcerated again, although this room did have a window, even if it had evident bars and the police were moderately polite. His confusion was exacerbated when it was explained to him that the cell’s Teasmade was on the blink, though they did give him a sausage sandwich, but that sense of temporary rapture was spoiled when the Chief Inspector, a man called Jane Austin, said he would like to shove the sausages up his arse; meteorologically he said, but probably meant metaphorically?
Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?
I am in discussions with my Publisher about book 5, Merde and Mandarins, and hopefully the full series of 8 books. I also hope Urbane will consider publishing anew, books one and two that I self-published before signing with Urbane, maybe books one to three as a box set (I already have the box).
After Kind Hearts my current work in progress is called Larkin’s Barkin’ – a story of a disabled youngster in the East End of London growing up in the sixties, his life of being bullied, and how he overcomes this. The writing of this has disturbed me and the story has become quite dark – there is the wit of the East End, but this is more malevolent than my other books – where this will lead I am not sure, but there are several strands already developed that really excite me. I have another two books that are in early sketch form.
I have also been enjoying writing short stories, one of which was included in the anthology Dark Minds published by Bloodhound Books, which topped the Amazon charts over Christmas and is still in top 100 in UK, USA, Canada and Australia. My story, Pop Dead – the Pension Papers, has been received very well, one review saying “Pete Adams your story in Dark Minds is a piece of genius”.
I have written more stories and maybe someday a publisher will carry my own anthology – I read these stories at café style literary evenings and they go down well – see below, unfortunately you can’t see the audience having such a wonderful time:
add laughter soundtrack
I have also written and illustrated a series of nonsense books for children 8 to 13 or so, and for grownups who have not grown up – I have three of these that have been reviewed as akin to Spike Milligan (flattery indeed) – I am now seeking a Publisher. A sample below of the drawing style in these books and a more intimate view of yours truly, the author; I think I cut a dash:
Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Travelling to the London Writers’ Club as often as I can – I love their evenings, and going to do readings as widespread as possible. I am not in favour of Sweetheart, Vanity publishers, an author puts heart and soul into their book and should not have to ‘pay’ for it to be published – how can you trust an opinion if someone wants your money?
Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
I do not have a web page as yet (I am useless at technology), but I do have a Facebook page for my books and where I also review other writers; I always respond to messages:
My books are also on Amazon, where I do have an author’s page but I think I messed it up – as previously mentioned, I am not good at IT – my books are:
Book 1 – Cause and Effect self published and currently on e-book only – https://www.amazon.co.uk/CAUSE-EFFECT-Kind-Hearts-Martinets-ebook/dp/B00BG12YO2/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487662321&sr=1-9&keywords=Pete+Adams
Book 2 – Irony in the Soul self published and currently on e-book only
Book 3 – A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza – Published by Urbane https://www.amazon.co.uk/Barrow-Boys-Cadenza-detective-Martinets-ebook/dp/B01080YCJQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487662321&sr=1-1&keywords=Pete+Adams
The latest review says: “It took me a while to get used to all the silly names DCI Jack (Jane) Austin has for his colleagues and I often wondered how his delightfully drawn partner, Mandy, put up with him. But their loving relationship gives a great beating heart to this crime thriller which tackles social issues alongside crime as the plot sweeps you along from Portsmouth to London and the seat of government.
This is an unusual book, interweaving comedy and crime but it definitely works. There is an exuberance in A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza which is totally delightful and, for me, unexpected. Having never read anything by Pete Adams before, I shall be looking out for the next in this series.”
Book 4 – pre-order – Ghost and Ragman Roll – Published by Urbane https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghost-Ragman-Roll-Hearts-Martinets/dp/1911583034/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487662321&sr=1-5&keywords=Pete+Adams
Dark Minds Anthology – Bloodhound books –