About the Book:
STONER STORIES anthology collects the first five JJ Stoner quick thrillers and includes an all-new, previously unpublished story, SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP.
This collection reveals the shadowy secrets of covert operative JJ Stoner, who uses sharp blades, blunt instruments and his innate persuasiveness to discreetly resolve tricky situations for the British government in six action-packed episodes. And there’s more – an insight into the author’s inventive methods of dealing with death, and an intimate encounter with an ice cold killer…
Sneak preview from SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP:
‘I’m here for the music. For the festival. And the only baggage I carry is that, which you are welcome to examine as you will. No weapons. None at all.’ His smile was a gentle smile of innocence.
‘You’re a musician as well as a murderer, Mister Stoner. We have no problem with either talent.’ Again she smiled, a radiance matching his own in its insincerity. ‘And we’re both of us – all of us – aware that in the same way you’ll be able to find an instrument should you decide to play something, so you’ll be able to find a weapon should you decide to kill someone.
‘We have no problem with the music. Just the other thing.’
About the Author:
Frank Westworth shares several characteristics with his literary anti-hero, JJ Stoner: they both play mean blues guitar and ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Unlike Stoner, Frank hasn’t deliberately killed anyone. Frank lives in Cornwall in the UK, with his guitars, motorcycles, partner and cat.
Frank Westworth’s new collection of quick thrillers, The Stoner Stories, has just been published. While he was waiting to unleash his murderous musician, JJ Stoner, on the world, Frank took time out to answer a few questions for us…
1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.
Just to be awkward – as a chap should be – I have two types of ‘typical writing day’. The first is the typical writing night. When I can make the time, I load up the Harley with vitals and an ancient Dell netbook on which I write nothing but fiction, and head off to a cheap hotel. Park up, disconnect from the Net, fire up the netbook and write until my eyes are too tired to see the screen. Next day; ride further to another lodge and repeat. Repeat again until I run out of time. Coffee, lots, and alcohol occasionally, depending on what I’m trying to write.
The second kind is aboard ships – cruise ships. Every afternoon I pile back to the cabin after a suitable lunchtime intake of inspirational food and … ahem … drink, set up the same netbook and write until the Better Half comes back from the gym.
I carry around all the cues, small familiar items. My own brand of instant coffee. And a rubber Tasmanian Devil which is actually a USB stick on which I store all the copy. There’s nothing else on it and it lives separate from the netbook so I’m unlikely to lose both. I like to nest, if you like. Set things out in a familiar pattern wherever I am. Don’t go online. Switch off the phone. I almost never have any idea what’s going to happen so writing the book is just like reading someone else’s, if you can picture that. I’m always fired up after a decent haul on the motorcycle, and that energy carries the story along.
2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?
I started writing non-fiction in 1984 or so, went full-time in 1988, and still write allegedly technical copy for a living. It pays for the rest and is fun. Fiction though? I’m a big reader, and wrote a novel in 1990 or so, just to see whether I could. I like inventing stories, and I love inventing characters. So…
The first book was so bad that I binned it. Not bad in any serious sense, except … it was a typical End Of A Relationship thing and was far too personal.
3. Who are your favourite writers/inspirations?
Too many to list, really. Inspiration is easiest: everything out there. Every person and every situation have a tale to tell. The secret is in being interested in other people and learning from them.
Favourite writers? In no particular order: James Crumley, RJ Ellory, Haruki Murakami, Jack Grimwood, Fred Vargas, Barbara Nadel, Iain Banks, Quentin Bates, James Church, James Lee Burke, Karin Fossum, John Connolly, CJ Cherryh, Lee Child… the list is probably endless. I study how the guys on this list write their stories, though, to see how the good guys fly.
4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?
Yep. The third novel in a series of three is out in March 2017, and I’m writing the fourth at the moment. Every good trilogy has more than three parts! And the collection of six short stories is coming out any moment now. There’s another short story under way too. It’s fun to switch between the styles of writing required for short and long tales.
5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.
The characters and the fictional world come first. I think about the characters a lot; who they are, where they are, how they got there; where are they going and why? Then, as soon as the character list is established and they all start interacting in my head, I look for a plot. It needs to be a conflict. Everything in fiction revolves around conflict, be it rivalries in love, in work, in aspiration, or maybe the result of an action – or a failure to act in some cases. Plots are the easy part. The characters are difficult.
6. Favourite character from one of your own novels?
Oh. Just one? That’s very hard. Pause for thought here.
OK. JJ Stoner is the central character in all my stories, and when the first full-length novel – A Last Act Of Charity – opens we find him with his regular girl, known mostly as the dirty blonde. She’s a hooker by trade, and their relationship is as unusual as you might expect for a hooker and a spook. I really like her, and wish there was more space to talk about her more – maybe in a short story sometime soon.
She’s black African, very tall, thin, dyed blonde stubble on her head and some small blue tears tattooed below one eye. I know why and how she got those, but… I’m not saying. Physically, she’s modelled on a waitress in a central London Pizza Hut. Really.
7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook. I always reply, private Fb messages are fine.
8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?
The first took maybe four years, because I re-wrote the front end so many times trying to get it right that I wasted ages. Then – writers being generally a very friendly bunch – top-bestselling author RJ Ellory read the manuscript and really beat me up about it. He gave me loads of suggestions, ideas, ways to work. Invaluable. It was fast after that.
The second took maybe eighteen months and the third a little longer, because the day job took up a lot more time than I’d expected.
10. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?
JJ Stoner. He is almost always confused by almost everything, but finds almost everything fascinating. I’m very like that – very analytical. He plays loud blues/rock guitar, as I do, and he rides a Harley, as I do. However, he’s an ex-soldier, which I’m not (though both my brother and sister are) and he’s very violent, which I’m not. Not at all. He also likes to drink and to run and…
11. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?
My mother wanted me to be a Roman Catholic priest. I was a musician for a while. Somewhere between those, most likely.
12. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?
Two truly successful, accomplished and seriously high-sales authors told me that I really could write, and that I should carry on doing it. And then … they both said I should write more. That was brilliant.
WIN! A Gripping Crime-Thriller
To celebrate this week’s launch of THE STONER STORIES – a collection of six quick thrillers by Frank Westworth – we’re giving away a signed paperback copy of THE CORRUPTION OF CHASTITY by the same author; ‘a dark, gritty thriller full of contradictions.’
In ‘Chastity’ covert operative JJ Stoner is trying to keep a low profile, unaware that he’s being stalked by more than one killer woman. ‘The writing is stylish, clever, razor-sharp, and we are left in awe of the Killing Sisters, with all their murderous skills and their sexual savagery,’ said Crime Fiction Lover. What happens when our underworld investigator confronts an ice cold contract killer? One lucky winner will find out!
On top of that, ten runners-up will receive an ebook edition of FIRST CONTRACT, the short story which introduces JJ Stoner to an unsuspecting world. A decade ago, Stoner was a soldier. He killed people for a living and made no bones about it. On a scorching day in the Iraqi desert, when British blood stained the sand, he over-stepped the mark. Men died in compromising circumstances; too many men for an easy explanation. Faced with a dishonourable discharge and accusations of murder, Stoner accepted an offer from a stranger who represented an intelligence agency. Suddenly, Stoner found himself half a world away and about to execute his first private contract…
It’s easy to enter this giveaway, and stand a chance of winning either a signed paperback or an ebook quick thriller. All you need to do is:
-like the MurderMayhemandMore page on Facebook
-like, share or comment on the pinned ‘giveaway’ post at the top of the page
You’ll automatically be entered into the prize draw.
Folk who aren’t on Facebook can also enter – just drop an email to email@example.com and head it up ‘Stoner Stories Giveaway’.
The giveaway closes on 21 November 2016. The winners will be picked at random from all entrants. No alternative prizes are on offer.
Thanks to Frank Westworth for joining me today!