My next interview is with a writer who's name will, before very long, be on everyone's lips. Well certainly for those who read crime fiction. His name is Tony Forder and his debut novel, Bad to the Bone is out now. It's already done extremely well for itself, and I have no doubt in my mind it will go down, for many as a great read of 2017. If you want to know a little more about it then all you need to do is read on and fond out all about Tony Forder, and Bad to the Bone.
So Tony; Bad to the Bone, your debut novel. It’s been a great success so far, and I can only see it getting better for you. I know why it’s done so well, and that is because it’s a great read. But what I would like to know is, why do you thinks it’s a great success, so come on Tony; tell me all about it.
First of all, let me say thank you very much for including me on your blog, and also for your very kind words about my book. I think it's done well for several reasons: the cover is great and people are drawn to it, intrigued by what lies beneath; readers have come to expect a certain product from Bloodhound Books, so that can only help at the point where it is heavily publicised; the blog tour is a wonderful idea, and getting all those reviews out there in that first week is critical; I suppose then you need a decent book at the end of it, and I like to think that its characters and plot drive the story, with injections of dark humour when it's needed, and of course having a surprise ending always helps. It's an overall package, of which I am only a part of.
What are the back-stories for the main characters and will we see them again in future novels?
DI Bliss is a decent man doing a difficult job in the best way he knows how. A personal tragedy and a case that hit the media for all the wrong reasons have left him feeling insecure and overwrought. He also had to contend with being diagnosed with a chronic illness. What he needed was a nice, easy investigation upon his return from suspension. What he got was a case of huge importance to everyone around him, one that, if it failed, would have wrecked his career and that of his DS. DS Chandler is a bright and enthusiastic female detective who, whilst younger than Bliss tends to mother him. They have a great affection for one another, and I hope that comes across. Penny has her own demons and is fighting hard to find her son, abducted and removed from the country by the father. And yes, they return in the second book of the series. Bad to the Bone is set in 2005, and I took a gamble and brought everything up to date for book 2. So an awful lot has changed – but you'll need to read it in order to find out whether the two are still working together.
The next thing I would like to ask you, is about the title, Bad to the bone. To me, and I would imagine many others too, this easily conjures up an image of a very evil person indeed. So my question is, did you think of the title first before you started to write the novel, or did it come at any other time in the process?
There is a character in the book who helps out the team, and the book's working title was The Bone Woman, which is what the team call her. As the story progressed I realised she would end up playing more of a peripheral role, so I dropped that. It got me thinking about other phrases containing the word 'bone' and when I thought about the awful nature of murder, Bad to the Bone just seemed to fit. So no, definitely not title first.
Now, for everyone that hasn’t read Bad to the Bone. What would they gain from reading it?
I hope they will find a storyline that initially intrigues, then captures their imagination, before eventually sucking them in and not letting go until the very last word. Moreover, I hope the characters play a significant role in propelling the reader along with them, that they are interested in and care for Bliss and Chandler, and others. Ultimately, if I got most things right, they will gain pleasure and some satisfaction from it.
How would you describe your own writing style?
That's a tough one to answer. I think it's a style that makes it easy on the reader – I don't force them to pick up the dictionary every few minutes. I like to inject humour along the way, but I think the main thing is I like the prose and dialogue to flow naturally. It's fiction, but I don't like to force things.
I know this is a common question for writers but tell my why do you write and what made you start writing in the first place.
Reading Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen made me want to write. I loved reading before that, but that was my first fantasy novel and I realised that anyone could have a stab at that sort of thing because you didn't have to base anything in reality. I write because I can't imagine not writing. I write for pleasure. I write what I want to read.
What do you think is the most frustrating thing about being a writer?
Trying so hard not to break the 'rules' and then reading a book where they are broken on every page. I'm thinking about things like POV, and the understanding of what the narrator of your book can and cannot know. I work hard at that because it's easy to stray, and having done so for 100,000 words only to then read a book where they didn't keep it up for 100 is a little irritating. I want to be a better writer. I want to be a good writer. So yes, it's frustrating when you see it being so badly abused.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
For me it's overcoming that initial anxiety as to whether a storyline can give you 90-100,000 words without padding. Can you make it interesting enough to carry the reader along with you? This is where I think your characters come in, because during those lulls – and you need to draw breath occasionally – your characters will hopefully keep people reading. The real challenge comes in knowing whether a storyline can work, and how quickly you reach that conclusion.
What do you enjoy most about your writing. Is it the plotting or perhaps the research or is it simply sitting in front of your computer and typing away.
Everything. Whatever I am doing at the time. I love the furious flow of that first draft, love the first edit afterwards, the research, drawing up the characters. I love typing THE END but conversely I also hate it, because I really don't want to stop moulding that book. I always have enough spare energy at the end to put together a few new storylines, so there's always something else to be getting stuck into. It's only when I'm not writing that I grow anxious about it, fearing it's not good enough or not panning out the way I'd hoped.
Now many people say, that, to be a good author one has to read a great deal. So with this in mind, my next question is about you as a reader. So Tony, tell me, who is your favourite author and why?
My favourite crime writer is Michael Connelly, the creator of Harry Bosch. For me he is the master, consistently putting out books I and millions of other people want to read. A great plotter, with dynamic characters, who injects great intrigue into his work. I love Charles Dickens – I think he was a master of making the smallest detail extraordinary. And I think Stephen King is another who regularly shows us all how it should be done.
When you are reading books by other authors, what do you feel you want from that book? In other words, what do you think makes a good book?
Depends who and what I'm reading. Sometimes I enjoy taking a journey with a bunch of characters, sometimes it's the mystery, or it could be the thrill, perhaps even the hunt. Basically, it has to keep me turning the page within the boundaries of the genre I have chosen.
Apart from writing what else are you really proud of?
My daughter. I once feared she was too much like me – opinionated, intolerant of fools, even if they are bosses, speaking her mind. I had come to consider those things as bad, yet now I appreciate the fact that she is her own person who won't take shit from anyone. She has grown up to be a beautiful young woman, hard-working, and has carved out a great career and a great life for herself. She may have got her best features from her mother, but my genes are floating around in there somewhere.
Tony, it’s been a great pleasure in interviewing you today. You have given me some great answers, and with that, all that I need to do now is wish you the very best of luck, not only with Bad to the Bone but also with everything else you have up your sleeve. Take the very best of care, and once again many, many thanks.
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Peter. I wish you the same for The Burden of Truth and beyond.