From a darkened corner of the room a figure appeared. ‘The Weight of Shadows’ is all he said, before collapsing at my feet; an ornate handled knife buried in his back. What could the victim’s last words possibly mean?
I met with author, Karl Holton, at Greenway House, and he had staged a dramatic introduction to his new book. He is an Agatha Christie fan and it seemed fitting to visit her holiday home. The house is deemed ‘the loveliest place in the world’, on the website, and it certainly lived up to expectation. I marvelled at the glorious view of the River Dart. Appropriately, Karl wanted to conduct the interview in the library. I inspected the library for a body, again, but it was safe. The light and airy library seemed a fitting place to inspire the great Agatha Christie. Karl waxed lyrical about the house and gave me some interesting facts about the great author.
Karl: Did you know that this house inspired Dead Man’s Folly? It’s one of the Poirot novels and it was the last ever ‘Poirot’ made by David Suchet playing the role of the great detective. They made it right here in the house and this was what she did so well; she adapted what she knew directly into the narrative.
Jessie: No, I wasn’t aware of that. I love the Poirot novels – they are great fun. My husband can watch Poirot programmes all day. Who is your favourite TV Poirot? I like Albert Finney. I’m not sure if that was TV or film.
Karl: For me, David Suchet is the quintessential ‘Poirot’.
Jessie: Of course, yes he was brilliant – he was Poirot. We digress, can you tell me about ‘The Weight of the Shadows’?
Karl delved into his rucksack. Strangely enough, his rucksack was full of his favourite Agatha Christie novels, and he proceeded to display some of the novel on the table. Finally, the actor, who had performed earlier, reappeared with a copy of Karl’s novel. The cover of ‘The Weight of the Shadows’ is modern and suggests a fast-paced plot set in London.
Karl: At one level ‘The Weight of the Shadows’ is an entertaining crime thriller mystery with plot twists and turns. At another level it is the first six days at the beginning of a series that introduces some interesting characters and a narrative that has subtle and, I hope, thought provoking subjects.
Jessie: Crime thrillers are always popular. It’s a great genre to establish a fanbase. What have the reviewers said about your new book?
Smiling, Karl started to recall some of the reviews.
Karl: “an intriguing plot, thoughtful, profound themes, complex troubling characters, and language that make us shudder for its honesty, clarity, and confidence” – Piaras O Cionnaoith
“irresistible book, impossible to put down” – Bookgirl Sulagna
“a story that is intense and heart-pounding!” – Elaine Emmerick
Jessie: I’m impressed that you have already commenced your second book. We are in an ideal place to read. Can you read an extract from the book to tempt the reader?
Karl: It’s a real privilege to read here in Agatha Christie’s library.
Benedict was motionless with one thought. Never give up.
She pushed the tip of the blade in and under the skin on his chest, near his heart.
Karl: This extract is only a few words, but the importance of these at the start of the narrative is significant.
Jessie: A great choice – you certainly hook the reader into the narrative. I can tell that you enjoyed constructing the narrative and the characters. How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?
Karl: The euphoria of finishing was quickly met by the realisation that as an indie author the work had just started. Apart from the marketing, reviews, social media etc. I remembered that I needed to start working on the second book in the series.
Given the second book in the series starts the day after the end of this first book I’ve not really had the opportunity to miss the characters.
Jessie: Who would you like to read your book and why? This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family.
Karl: If I were choosing an author it would be Agatha Christie. We could discuss the pace of the plot and sub-plots.
If it were someone famous (and alive) I’d ask Stephen Fry to review the book. Within the series I’m going to try to examine and compare some cognitive and emotive subjects through the plot, characters and narrative. I’d really like to discuss these with him.
Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?
Karl: Well I hope it has a plot that keeps you guessing and is enjoyable as it begins to reveal itself. If you read some of the reviews you will notice that it’s not clear what the connections are at the start and then the plot arcs entwine; that’s very deliberate.
Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?
Karl: ‘Nice nails’ – you’ll have to read the book to see why I might have written that down.
Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?
Karl: This is a really interesting question because it will very much depend upon what type of author you want to be. A full-time author who wants a publisher to do everything for them will have a very different set of challenges compared to an indie with a job who is happy selling a few books a month. I’m going to give you my answer based upon what I am, which is an indie who is trying to make this my full-time job.
My single biggest challenge is becoming known enough so that people take a chance and buy, read and review the book. As an indie author, you have no one to help this happen so you need to do it and this takes a significant amount of both time and commitment. In a world where we have over 200k books published in the UK per year and possibly 1 million in the US, just being seen is a challenge that any aspiring author should not understate.
I have discussed this issue with other authors, both published and indie. Personally, I think many really talented authors will either give up or just never be seen because they get lost in this ‘jungle’.
Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?
Karl: Get an editor.
Karl is a chartered accountant who previously worked in financial markets for over thirty years. He has collected books his whole life with a focus on London and crime fiction. He is married with two children and lives in Surrey.
Karl is very animated when talking about his book. It is clear he is dedicated to his writing and is very industrious. Many reviews say that the book is ‘spine tingling’ and ‘irresistible’ I do hope that Karl’s debut novel is successful and wish him the best of luck with his novel.
Blog = http://karlholton.com
Twitter = @KarlHolton
Facebook = @KarlHoltonAuthor
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