Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing, New York
Publication Date: October 19, 2013
Book Links: Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Synopsis: Love is a battlefield.
The aftershocks of an affair reverberate out to those in the lives of the lovers, who will NOT take it lying down.
Jack Connor's lives an idyllic life by the Portsmouth seaside married to Caitlin McAllen, a stunning billionaire heiress, and working at his two jobs as the Head of Radar Engineering of Marine Electronics and as the Director of Engineering of McAllen BlackGold, his powerful father-in-law Douglas McAllen's extreme engineering company in Oil & Gas. He loves his two sons from his first marriage and is amicably divorced from his beautiful first wife Marianne Connor. Their delicately balanced lives are shattered when sexy Michelle Williams, with whom Jack is having a secret affair and who is pregnant with his child, is found dead and Jack is arrested on suspicion for the murder.
Jeremy Stone brings London's top defence attorney, John Stavers, to handle his best friend's defence.
Who is the bald man with the tattoo of a skull seen entering the victim's house? Who is "KC" who Caitlin makes secret calls to from a untraceable mobile? Has powerful Douglas McAllen already killed his daughter's first partner and is he capable of killing again? Is Caitlin's brother Ronnie McAllen's power struggle with Jack for the control of McAllen Industries so intense that he is prepared to kill and frame his brother-in-law? Is the divorce from Jack's first wife as amicable on her part as they believe it to be? Are his sons prepared to kill for their vast inheritance? Who are the ghosts from Caitlin's past in Aberdeen, Scotland haunting the marriage? What is the involvement of Jack's manager at Marine Electronics?
The cast of characters is made even more colorful by the supporting entourage: the big Scott and his gang, Hosé and Heineken, who carry out Douglas McAllen’s “troubleshooting;” McAllens' bumbling solicitors McKinley and Magnus Laird; Caitlin McAllen’s handymen, Cossack and Levent; and Jeremy’s sidekick, the gay black actor working in the London West End.
While Jack is charged and his murder trial proceeds in the Crown Court under barrister John Stavers’ expert care, Jeremy runs a race against time to find the real killer and save his friend's life, if he is in fact innocent, in a tense saga of love, desire, power, and ambition.
Interview: Q. Please tell us about the inspiration for your current release.
It all came together at several levels. The first thing I knew was that I wanted to write a mystery and thriller series featuring an engineer. Hence my series lead Jeremy Stone (I wanted to call him Jeremy Reid, too late) came into being.
I secondly knew I wanted to base the first story in Portsmouth, the beautiful seaside town that is the birthplace of Charles Dickens. I love the town itself and Dickens has been a great influence in my life as a reader and a writer. My mother loved Dickens’ work and one of the earliest memories I have is of her reading ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘David Copperfield’ to me long before I could read. She had a big rack with classis stuck between piles of Readers’ digests in the attic and I have spent many hours up there as a child digging out and reading the classics.
As for the central plot of the story, it is the dual or the complementary plot of an earlier short story I had written, ‘The Closet’. In ‘The Closet’ I look at the troubles of a protagonist who is blinded by romantic love. In that story I am right inside my protagonist’s head, using a limited and very close third person POV, telling the reader how it feels for him–– the joys, the fears, the angst…
In ‘The Reckless Engineer’ I wanted to do the dual of that plot. There I again look at the troubles my protagonist, Jack Connor, gets into because he is a bit of a playboy, acting recklessly, blinded by passion and romantic love. This time, however, I hardly give him a voice, keeping his in custody for much of the story. Instead I look at the effects of his actions from the perspectives of his family, friends, and work colleagues.
Q. How did writing this book affect you?
It has been a very rewarding and enlightening time, both the writing of it and everything that has come afterwards. When the story progresses chapter by chapter, taking shape exactly as you initially envisioned, it is an exhilarating experience. And then there are the anxious times in between when you are stuck and cannot move the story forward, or the last few paragraphs you have written do not feel write and you scratch them off and re-start again; but the story and the tempo picks up again and then you are off to another exhilarating spell of the ride. The process is very self-educational––you learn a lot from the books you read during the writing and from the process itself.
Later on you have about 2 months during which you are working on fine-tuning and enhancing every aspect of the manuscript through 3 or 4 rounds of editing with your editor. I was so very fortunately to have found my editor, Debbie Gilbert at Soul Mate Publishing and I have learned a lot from her––to make the writing more visceral, to deepen the character and the POV, and where and how to quicken the pace and where to hit a valley do a slower build-up.
One of the best things experience about this has been the friends I have met. I don’t like the word “fans” because it has connotations of a one-way relationship. Many of the people I have met through their reading my books and through the blogs I have toured have become great friends. One reader wrote to me that I have helped her a lot with my short story, ‘The Closet’, because she finds it hard to follow long books due to being dyslexic; she asked me to please continue the short story series, ‘Summerset Tales’. That has been one of the best moments of my experience.
Q. Is there anything you haven’t written about that you would like to in the future?
There are so many. Summerset Tales #2, “The Bank Job”, is more than half written. This time my protagonists are in the early 20s. This book is very YA friendly. (I have deemed the present books 18+ because they deal with the somewhat gritty subject matter of infidelity.) The Reckless Engineer #2, “Buy, Sell, Murder” is also nearly half written. I then have the main plotline, the main characters, and the first chapter of a stand-alone full-length novel, ‘In Plain Sight’.
I have also been thinking about something based abroad similar to Leonard Woolf’s ‘Village in the Jungle’. There are a lot more ideas than I have time.
Q. Which of your characters would you want to be and why?
Definitely my series lead, Jeremy Aiden Stone, (urgh, I hate that last name; I so want it to be “Reid”) is modelled a bit after myself and a lot more after what I should like to be. He lives the life I want and I live it through him.
Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I’d want to be better at handling meeting people face-to-face in real life. I can do it very well online, but I find it an anxious experience doing so face-to-face. It would certainly help me during real physical book tours and book signings which I have shied away from so far.
Q. What are you currently reading?
I am re-reading ‘Wuthering Heights’ because it is one of the all-time greatest love stories. I read it in my early 20s. I am very good at writing suspense and mystery, but I need to enhance my skills in writing great romances and there is no better way to do that than reading 9and studying) some great romances. I am also reading ‘The Luminaries’, this year’s Mann Booker prize winner.
Q. All of the books you’ve read, which book has impacted you the most?
For my full-length suspense series I have to pick Patricia Highsmith’s ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ series. I love her brand of psychological thrillers arising out of everyday life. I really like her deep character building, perfect POV handling, literary writing, and world building that bring beautiful settings to life for us. She does not skimp on any of aspects of writing and I have learned a lot from reading her.
That is as a writer. As a reader I love Charles Dickens’ ‘David Copperfield’ because my mother reading it to me is one of the earliest memories I have; and then I loved reading it up in the attic when I could read myself.
Q. How do you like to spend your spare time?
What spare time? Ha, ha. I eat, sleep, do my engineering work, write, and work on book promotions… There is not enough time in for anything else.
I do try to go out for a run or a walk by the river or along the beach, depending on where I am, about 5 times a week. I read a lot and I love watching art-house movies.
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Seize the day. “Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future; concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha
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