Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Q&A with Colin Campbell

This week, Midnight Ink sat down with Colin Campbell, author of the Resurrection Man Novels. His latest, Adobe Flats, was released earlier this month.

Midnight Ink: How long have you been writing?
Colin Campbell: I had to think about this because I feel like it’s not been that long but when I look back it’s been quite a while. Darkwater Towers was published in 2000 (Blackie & Co.) and it was the fourth book I’d written. Assume a book a year but 12 months to get it published, then add on the years of practicing with short stories, I reckon about 1994. So, shit. 20 years.

MI: What influence have other authors had on your writing?
CC: We’re all readers first, so the main influence is they made me love reading. A good story told well.  Words forming rhythms that painted pictures in my head. Then the pictures started moving so it was like watching a film with added emotion. That’s what they did for me. Then I wanted to do that myself, tell stories.

MI: Who is your favorite mystery sleuth and why?
CC: That’s a hard one. Past or present? And who counts as a mystery sleuth? I grew up reading James Bond and Philip Marlowe. Never really got into Sherlock Holmes, although I liked the old black and white films. Nowadays? On TV I watch Raylan Givens in Justified. I read the Ace Atkins Quinn Colson books. Harry Bosch. But I really like Jack Reacher. Somebody taller than me who doesn’t mince his words. How can you not look up to that?

MI: What was your inspiration for this series?
CC: The seed was my agent, Donna Bagdasarian, suggesting I write something set in America. My early books were UK-based crime. I couldn’t see myself faking an American character as well as Lee Child did so my initial answer was no. Then I remembered being sent across the Pennines to Blackpool when I was in plain clothes. To interview a prisoner then eliminate him from the enquiry. That seemed like a good way to get an English cop to America. Just further than Blackpool that’s all.

MI: Tell us about Jim Grant.
CC: Jim Grant is an ex-West Yorkshire Police officer sent to America as described above. He was in the army but doesn’t like talking about it, claiming he was only a typist. He hates guns and prefers to talk his way out of trouble rather than fight. A dry sense of humor helps diffuse situations, but of course that doesn’t always work. In fact it hardly ever does. He believes in doing what’s right and not necessarily what’s legal. He likes the ladies but isn’t a womanizer. He is employed primarily by the Boston PD but by a higher power that can utilize him across America because they can disown him if the shit hits the fan. It often does but so far they haven’t sacked him.

MI: How do the Resurrection Man Novels compare to your past works?
CC: My UK crime novels were very much my tributes to the boys in blue. They dealt with uniform cops on the frontline of British policing. A lot of the stories were based on fact or thinly veiled incidents that I’d dealt with. Jim Grant is more into thriller territory. The stories are bigger and the stakes higher but hopefully with enough authenticity from a police point of view. Less about procedures and more about attitude. What a cop feels about the things he’s dealing with. And more sex than I remember from my uniform days.

MI: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
CC: Well, I was a cop for 30 years so I guess I’ve already done what I would have done if I weren’t a writer. Retired from that and now living my hobby. I also coach tennis part time so I suppose if I weren’t writing I’d do more hours on court.

MI: Do you have a favorite murder case from a book (either yours or another author’s)?
CC: Not sure I’d call any of them a favorite. The first one I photographed when I was in SOCO (CSI in America) was an old lady who’d been raped and violated before she was killed. That one’s stuck with me. After that I can live without murders in books. It’s the cops I like reading about. If you press me on it, maybe Oddjob being sucked out of the airplane window in Goldfinger. The book. They switched it in the film.

MI: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not writing or working?
CC: I’m getting stuck in a rut here aren’t I? I love playing tennis. And watching movies. Either at the cinema or in my home cinema on blu-ray.
MI: Do you have a favorite recipe?
CC: I can’t cook for toffee. (English expression. Google it.)

MI: What is your favorite part about being an Inker?
CC: There is a sense of being part of a community of writers. We spend so much time locked away in a room typing that it’s nice to meet up at conventions and chew the fat. We all have the same doubts. We’ve all struggled to get published. It’s nice to share that. And pat each other on the back.

Adobe Flats, the third Resurrection Man Novel, is available online and in bookstores now!

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