Good Morning! Thank you for stopping by Plot Monster. Please welcome Paul Heatley to the blog today.
What inspired you to be an author?
I have stories that I want to tell, a head full of them. I don’t think there was any inspiration as such, more a general NEED. I HAVE to be a writer. When I was in high school, from the ages of about fourteen to sixteen, every day I’d come home and get straight on the computer and I’d write. Some truly fucking awful horror stories, if you’re curious. I kept writing after high school, but it stopped being an every day thing. I’d get antsy, easily agitated, and I couldn’t understand why. It was finally when I hit my mid twenties that I realised it was a feeling of standing in place, of spinning my wheels. Writing satisfies a need within me to feel as though I’m doing SOMETHING.
What genre do you write?
I write crime fiction, noir. Sometimes I write about gangsters and sometimes I write about losers looking for a way out of, or maybe just a way to brighten, their miserable lives. Sometimes it’s a mixture of both.
What is your current project?
What were you like as a child? Did you like to write then?
I was quiet, I was shy. I liked to try and write comic books – I’d fold over sheets of paper and draw out these stories based on television shows or movies I’d seen, rewriting them in my own way. I can’t draw, though, that’s worth noting.
What is your favorite book? Why?
The Clown, by Heinrich Boll. It’s a fantastically written, morose tale set in post-war Germany about a travelling clown whose wife has left him for a Catholic. Themes of identity – personal and national – and religion and family run throughout, and it builds up to a perfectly subdued, ambiguous ending which has always stuck with me, and is one of the best I’ve ever read.
What is your favorite book that you have written? Why?
Tough one, but I think it’s currently Violent By Design, the third part in my Eye For An Eye series and the direct sequel to An Eye For An Eye. I got to go bigger with this story, I really fleshed out the world these characters live in, along with their personalities and relationships. Also, it’s an absolute bloodbath. I always have the most fun writing the violent stuff, and honestly, this one does what it says on the tin.
Do you ever use a pseudonym? Why or why not?
No, I don’t. I’ve never had any need. All my work is my own and I put a lot of effort into it under my own name. If it’s gained any kind of recognition at all it’s because of that effort, and I’m not looking to start at the ground floor again, especially not when I’ve barely got off it.
Do you have a writing routine?
Usually I write late at night, around nine pm until 11, sometimes until midnight, depending on how things are going. In terms of my process, I tend to plan everything in a notebook by hand first – character names, then a brief outline – then I write it out on the laptop, referring to my outline.
How do you decide on character names and plots?
Names have always been tricky for me. I used to always worry I was recycling the same names over and over again, so what I do now whenever I come up with a name is check to make sure I haven’t already used it in a past work. Surnames, particularly, I find difficult. I’ve actually got lists of first and last names, male and female, in one of my many, many notebooks, that I can pick from at random.
Are you a full time author or do you have a day job?
I have a day job. I work at a second-hand bookshop in the north east of England called Barter Books. It’s located inside an old railway station and became quite famous as it’s where the original Keep Calm And Carry On poster was found.
What is your latest book and what was the inspiration for it?
I’ve talked about Violent By Design already, but the next book I have out is due February 22nd of 2019 with All Due Respect, who published my title Fatboy, and this one is called Guillotine. It tells the story of a young lady trying to make an escape from her gangster father with one of his employees, and also involves her ex-boyfriend, a combat vet turned hitman. It started life as a short story before it grew to become something much bigger. The inspiration came one day while I was at work (back when I worked at the Alnwick Gardens, so actually quite a few years back now) and I saw a girl who worked in a different department sitting behind a desk. She had amazing blonde curls. And that’s it. That’s literally where the seed that became Guillotine came from. I transferred those blonde curls to the heroine Lou-Lou, and a few aborted short stories, drafts, and rewrites later, I had Guillotine.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write every day. You’re not going to be great at it straight away, you might not even be good, but stick with it and you will get better. In the words of Henry Rollins, ‘I’m not talented, I’m tenacious’. Writing is a like a muscle. You’ve got to exercise it, and if you do that it will in turn take care of you.
“Another great Heatley crime joint—pulp to the fullest, but literary in scope. The dialog smacks of the streets. Heatley has an adept ear, and he’s got the writer’s chops to translate what he hears. These characters are so real that I’m left wondering if Heatley has a real-life roster of some nasty, nasty friends. Violent By Design reads like a mob story in technicolor–believe me, Heatley ties up all the loose ends.”
– Matt Phillips, author of Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, and The Bad Kind of Lucky
Have you read any of these books?