Wednesday 18 May 2011

Dancing With Myself: DECLAN CONNER interviews DECLAN CONNER

At about this time last year, I found out that I was the winner of the WATERY GRAVE INVITATIONAL competition.  I can't put into words exactly what it meant to me; suffice to say it was a point in my writing life when I no longer felt the need to add clarification if I ever mentioned to anyone that I was a writer.

The fact that the winner the year before had been Hilary Davidson made it all the sweeter.

When the wonderful Naomi Johnson contaced me a couple of weeks ago to see if I wanted to take my place in this year's contest, I had mixed feelings.  The first was great pride.  The second was fear.

In the end I felt that the pros outweighed the cons.   I didn't want to feel like I'd backed off like a nervy sportsperson feigning injury and I do like the idea of the stimulation the contest offers.

Now the list is out at the Drowning Machine, I'm wondering if I shouldn't have pulled the 'dodgy hamstring' line out of the bag.  The list is intimidating and quite amazing. 

It's not the winning, it's the taking part they say.  To all of us involved, good luck and let's enjoy the zing of rubbing such a lot of talented shoulders.

Yesterday I had a tough teaching day.  There are times when working with children can drain everything out of you. 

Thankfully, a review of Dirty Old Town by the enigmatic Sabrina Ogden put the spring back in my step.

I'll be over at My Friends Call Me Kate with a piece on punch-lines, so I hope I'll see you there.

Today's Dancing With Myself interview is by a writer who is doing rather well with his e-books.  Declan Conner came up with the excellent idea of writing mysteries for lunch-breaks and it works really well.  Coming up with the concept is never enough on its own, so it's nice to have the quality there to back up the idea.

Here he is, the charming Declan Conner.

Dancing with yourself: DECLAN CONNER interviews DECLAN CONNER

Do you think you're mad to agree to interview yourself?

At first the notion skipped through my mind, but then I thought, Why not, I've had some practice from developing my serial killer's character.

Survival Instinct, (The dark side of dating,) the name of your book. Does it get confusing having two titles?

Not really, Survival Instinct is the name of the thriller series. The dark side of dating gives you an idea of the theme. The book is the first of the series. The second book, Russian Brides is almost complete and will be released in late July/August.

Does Survival Instinct fit neatly into a slot on the genre bookshelf?

I would say so, If were to expand on the thriller tag, I think the best description would be as a psychological, serial killer, mystery thriller.

So it's all blood and guts.

No there is more depth to it than that, although it has its share of characters brought to life (and to death). It's a sort of a Two and a Half Men meets Psycho.

Don't you think there are enough serial Killer books on the market? What makes yours different?

Well, I don't have my 'Crossword Killer' leaving things in every orifice, or skinning his victims. A serial killer is what he is and just that ... a scumbag.

'Crossword Killer'. You mean he kills crosswords. That's different.

Don't be so stupid, I knew you'd say that. I suppose it comes from our being on the same wavelength.

Wait a moment; I nearly missed something, Two and a Half Men and Psycho? How do you justify mixing humor with death?

It's not a question of justifying it; I like to take the reader through a whole raft of emotions as the story develops. If I were to shock them at every turn of the page, I would have to change the genre to horror.

 So what's the story about? (Yawn)

Well, as I said, it's a mystery thriller, so I can't give too much away. Having said that, I give the reader all the serial killer's motives in the first chapter, but I don't tell them who he is. It is then for the reader to discover which of the characters I introduce who could be the killer. As the story develops, I add another dimension to the mystery as to why the killer appears to be stalking my main character, Jamie Jameson and implicating him in the murders he commits.

Hero or villain?

Hero for me. Jamie is the type of guy women will want to take home, to put him under their wing, and to give him a big hug. The guys may see him differently and want to give him a kick in the pants for his naivety with women. One thing is for sure, they'll both want him around when things get tough.

So where does Survival Instinct come into it?

Surviving life is something we all have to face in everyday modern life, whatever your gender. Particularly if you're middle aged and single. Many faced with divorce, or the breakdown of a relationship, have to overcome fears and self-doubt when cast out of the safe cocoon of a relationship to start life again. Survival instinct comes from meeting those hidden fears head on and for some it is not easy. This is especially true for my main character.

Jamie is newly divorced and coerced to join the local singles' club by his work colleagues. Instead of finding a woman, he finds a friend in Bill, a womanizer and his alter ego to Jamie's bashful nature. They make for a fun team with their antics, trawling the local dating scene. But danger is never far away. Needless to say, the stakes are raised when the local police chief, Detective Hogan and FBI agent Hammond go after Jamie as the main suspect, after the women he dates start turning up as corpses. But just what the CIA have got to do with the case and why the serial killer would take hostages to lure Jamie into a showdown with the cryptic messages he leaves, I'll leave you to find out as it heads for an explosive ending.

What's the best compliment you have had from a reader? And the worst?

The best was from a lady author when she said. "Freakin' awesome, you must have had so much fun writing and developing the characters of Jamie and Bill. I couldn't put the read down. I was reading it on my computer and on my iPod on the train and at work. I want everyone to know this is a gem that keeps you guessing the outcome until the end."

The worst was from a forum troll. it read, "Give up writing."

Why is it so cheap? Was the forum troll nearer the mark?

Lol, I hope not, I spent a year having the work in progress critiqued over 1,000 times on an author site before putting to a professional editor. The price reflects a motivation to reach as wider audience as possible.

Is this the only book you have published?

No, I have Lunch Break Thrillers, a compilation of not so short mystery thrillers. I published the book in February and it hit the bestseller rank for its category in the UK. It's quite a Buzz, being sandwiched between Stephen King and Agatha Christie. (In the charts that is).

Just one last question. You haven't treated this interview like a psychological test, by telling me what you think I want to know, rather than the truth?

Who ... me? I'm as straight as my plot twists.

That's what I figured; I suppose I'd better ask where we could buy it.


  1. Great fun, Declan, the books sound entertaining, too.

    Nigel - sounds like things are going from strength to strength. Good to hear - looking forward to the punchlines piece.

  2. Thanks Julie. I've seen your book about quite a lot. Hope you're bouyed by the reviews and comments.

  3. Thanks, Julie. Good luck with your book.

    And thank you, Nigel, for the opportunity. It was quite a fun, if not crazy experience interviewing myself.

  4. Fun interview!

    Nigel, if you'd pulled that 'dodgy hamstring' excuse, I'd have had to fly over and give you one.

  5. Cool interview--sounds like a winner of a book!

    Nigel, yeah, from everything I've seen with teaching so far, it seems pretty rough and draining. But you're a resilient type and mentally tough. That's why you'll kick ass at Watery Grave again, I'm sure.