Author Joel Hames Answers all our Questions
- What’s your latest book called?
The Cold Years, Sam Williams #3 (November 2018)
- First of all – Can you give us the ‘elevator pitch’ version of your latest book.
When the bad guy’s dead, there’s nothing left to do, right?
Not when you’re being questioned over his murder.
Not when you know you’re innocent, but you’re wondering whether your girlfriend is.
Not when there’s a psychopath on the loose, and you’re top of his list.
- Tell us something about yourself that we likely don’t know! The more obscure the better!
I played Wembley* twice in a band that was fronted by Cilla Black’s son.
(* Wembley Conference Centre)
- Do you write in silence, or with music? If you write to music, give us the top three songs on your writers’ playlist this week.
Silence because I share an office with my wife and she threatens to chop things off me if I so much as breathe too loud.
- Are you a Plotter or Pantser?
Plotter, hardcore. I’d show you my scenarios and ideas sheets and character analyses, but they only make sense if you’re either criminally insane or me. And I’m both.
- Have your characters ever ‘gone off script’ – hijacked your story and taken it in a direction you didn’t expect?
Yes, in ‘No One Will Hear’, book 2 of the Sam Williams trilogy, Sam’s one-time nemesis, supposedly a bit-part player, took on a life of his own to the extent he threatened to take the whole thing over. Ended up being my favourite of all the characters I’ve written.
- If you could spend time with any character from any of your books, who would it be and what would you do?
The villainous Edward Trawden. I’d like to interview him from behind a secure glass wall and ask him probing questions like Clarice and Hannibal in ‘Silence of the Lambs’.
- Which of your characters can you say you would least get along with in real life?
The eternally irritating and unreasonably self-important Detective Inspector Olivia Martins, the unswattable fly in Sam’s ointment in books 2 and 3 of the trilogy.
- Do you read your reviews?
Yeah. I’m not gonna lie about this one. I don’t cut them out and frame them or anything, but I do like to see the good ones and giggle at the silly ones.
- What has been the toughest criticism you have been given since becoming a published author?
That my first novel, Bankers Town, wouldn’t be popular because of its subject material, despite the engaging characters and great writing (not my words, I hasten to add). Trouble was, I couldn’t change that. You can’t take a novel set inextricably in the world of high finance and move it to a New York police station or Mars, however much more entertaining that might be. Needless to say, the critics got that one right. Police stations have featured far more heavily in my subsequent novels, although Mars has yet to make an appearance.
- What is the best compliment you have received?
I like being told I’m imaginative and have a great writing style – who wouldn’t? – but one of my reviews from last year acclaimed me as the best British writer of the moment. Now, I know there’s no more truth in that than there is in a politician’s tax return, but I’m gonna take it anyway.
- Do you have a day job when you are not writing? If so, what do you do?
I am my wife’s compliance officer. It’s almost unimaginably boring.
- Can you name three authors who have inspired your writing?
Kate Atkinson for her Jackson Brodie novels, which taught me that crime, at its best, can be as good as any other genre.
JK Rowling because I just love the way she writes. Full stop.
Normal Mailer for the easy narrative style and the way he modulates the tension like a boss.
- What was your favourite book as a child?
Tricky. I remember loving ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ so I’ll go with that.
- What scene in your latest book was the hardest scene to write (without giving away too many spoilers!)
There’s a scene in my WIP (work in progress – new character, new everything) where the main protagonist puts on a “show” via webcam for a guy she’s trying to impress (by which I mean infect with malware, but that’s just the kind of girl she is). It was tricky to get the balance right between the action on screen and the action on the page, and between too dirty and not dirty enough. Fun, but not easy.
- Do you have any other author friends? If so, can you name a few and have any of them given you a piece of advice you would consider invaluable on your publishing journey?
John Bowen (whose ‘Death Stalks Kettle Street’ and ‘Where The Dead Walk’ are absolutely top-notch cosy crime and supernatural thrillers respectively).
Louise Beech (who never fails to move, and whose latest ‘The Lion-Tamer Who Lost’ had me in bits).
S E Lynes (who is, in my humble opinion, the best writer of psychological thrillers out there at the moment and her latest, ‘The Proposal’, is the blood-chilling best).
Iain Grant and Heide Goody (who write brilliantly funny and utterly mad romps).
For Bonus Brownie Reader Points – Answer our five fabulous frivolous questions:
- What is your biggest fear?
All my work simultaneously disappearing from the laptop, backup hard drive and cloud.
- If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?
If time travel counts, that one. If not, the ability to dispel all anger and unpleasantness through the power of music. Like Orpheus, but with a piano and an off-key baritone.
- If you could write one line to be etched into your tombstone, what would it read?
His books are still available on Kindle, folks!
- If you could give your younger self ONE piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t work too hard and don’t worry about screwing up.
- Finally – Who are your latest Cover Crushes?
Sorry, I can’t think of any!
You can purchase Joel’s latest book: The Cold Years (Sam Williams Book 3) here on Amazon.