I have a review coming up for this book, but was lucky enough to get the opportunity to put a few questions to author Pete Adams about writing, reading and his stories.
First, here is Black Rose:
Blurb: A continually bullied runt of a youngster, Chas Larkin discovers his chutzpah and decides to take on the London gangs.
In the sleazy and violent East End of 1966 London, he is unwittingly assisted by Scotland Yard and MI5, who use the boy to delay an IRA campaign in the city. Together with the mysterious DCI Casey, an enigma amongst the bomb-damaged slums, they stir the pot of fermenting disquiet.
But can Chas achieve his midsummer night’s dream of total revenge?
Black Rose is a story of matriarchal might, of superstition, of a lucky charm tainted with malevolent juju, and of a young man’s smoldering anger and thirst for retribution.
Without further ado, here is Pete Adams to tell us more…
As a writer:
Do you have any writing quirks / odd writing habits?
If I was a Sci-fi writer I would have quarks. But quirks? I am sure my family would affirm that I have many, but I suppose the one that is most dominant is my early starts – stupid-o’clock, as they are known in my house – rarely later than 5am – today – 3.30am and, I am particularly heavy on my keyboard – I put my fingers on a diet but still I need to replace keyboards regularly.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I am an architect and have had my practice for more than 40 years, designing buildings across the UK. Currently I design healthcare buildings, Medical Centres, extra care buildings, brain injury recovery units, mental health facilities, but over time my practice has designed many types of building. So, I like designing but these days I find the Philistine clientele, with some rare exceptions, are not interested in the art of architecture, just how much you charge. Sad, but a reality of the world we live in and, I write about that, generally as a sub-text.
Other than this I love classical music and, I read. I am a slow reader, but I get fully involved in a book and I put real effort into the reviews I give.
And then there is daydreaming… now, I love that…
What do you most love and/or hate to write?
I like BIG projects. I also like to write colourful stories with multi-layers, slightly larger than life characters and within this I can talk about issues I care about whilst keeping the reader engaged and strangely, portray reality as I see it.
I truly do not get on with Sci-fi and fantasy. Having said that, I was recommended to an author, Victoria Simcox, recently who has a 4 book ‘Fairy Tale’ series and it has me captivated; just finished book 3 of a 4 book series and I will be reviewing this today. I think what I like about these books is they are not formulaic and have more than a reference to ‘social-justice’– something that means a lot to me, and, love – I am a sucker for romance.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I read them all. Frankly, I have not actually had a bad review, some 3 stars but in the review you can see why they rated is so. One, for instance, noted that my Kind Hearts and Martinets series was set in Portsmouth, UK, and he was disappointed it did not have more about Nelson and the historic ships, and that I called The Mary Rose, Henry the 8th’s Hairy Nose – that actually caused me to belly laugh.
Good reviews give me a real lift, and especially detailed reviews where the reader has clearly picked up on all the messages.
A big message is that although there is a central male protagonist, the stories are driven by strong female characters. This is deliberate and as my books proceed, so the female characters will become more and more important – this starts to become clear in Black Rose, both on the dark and the light side.
I’ve had 3 comments that have stuck and encouraged me to keep going:
“Pete Adams’ books will make you laugh, cry, and think”.
Spoken to me at a launch party: “There is a thin line between madness and genius, I think your books are in the realm of the latter”.
And just recently, “Pete Adams is the Salvador Dali of thriller writers.”
Whatever anyone says, my writing is funny, yes, in places, but the books are truly serious and have an end goal – I always quote Peter Ustinov, a guiding light for me when he said: “Comedy is a funny way of being serious”.
As a reader:
What is your favourite book (other than your own!)?
Oh, this is so tricky. I have to say I do not have one but do find myself getting absorbed when I find a writer I like. For instance, Lizzie Chantree (romance novels with fantastic twists) – I’ve read all of her books now. A.J. Griffiths-Jones – her Skeletons in the Cupboard series is fantastic observational writing. I love historical novels, not hysterical, although I love them too. I recently discovered John Broughton who writes very much like Bernard Cornwell – I’ve read 4 of his so far and have another in my TBR list. Mary Deal I have loved all of her books and Australian writer, Isobel Blackthorn – great stories and some of these are ‘courageous’.
As a reader I do find myself not just enjoying the story, but also studying writing style, sentence structure etc. which brings me onto my favourite go-to writer:
P.G. Wodehouse – love, love, love those books.
Which author do you feel deserves more love than they get?
That is tricky. I get asked to read and review many new and less well-known authors and I think the tragedy is that there are some fantastic writers out there that may not get the limelight they deserve. Why? Because most mainstream publishers and agents are ‘safe’ and push what is known to be popular until it becomes so exceedingly boring it crushes innovation and creativity.
Of course there is a place for the run-of-the-mill, thrillers, police procedurals, romances etc. but agents and publishers need to look for what is next and they just might be pleasantly surprised.
I speak as an author that has had to weather this until I found a publisher willing to take a chance and I then found my latest publisher who bought wholly into my writing and encourages me. We need more of this.
So, in answer, there are too many to list.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Shock horror – I never really read fiction until I was just past 40 years old and then I took off and all thanks to a wonderful librarian – and there is a story there as well.
What book is top of your TBR pile right now?
With regards to THIS book:
Having read your Kind Hearts and Martinets series previously, I know that you had a very distinct style in those books, combining surrealism, running gags, a kind of ‘stream of consciousness’ narration, with some very serious political and social messages. Will we see more of these features in this latest story, or something completely different again?
Black Rose is something different, but not. It is intended to be book 1 in the Larkin’s Barkin’ series, starting in London’s East End and set in 1966. Books 1 and 2 deal with serious matters of the time but with subtle real and surreal twists. It may well continue on as a family saga and provide a back story to Kind Hearts and Martinets and the various subsequent series.
In short there are proposed 14 novels with an overall title Hegemon Chronicles: 12 of these books include series:
- Kind Hearts and Martinets – 5 books
- The DaDa Detective Agency – 3 books (Book 1, Road Kill – is published, Book 2, Rite Judgement, is due out in a few months). These are very much in the style of Kind Hearts, but with a real/surreal DNA – I love these and they serve a purpose within the whole narrative, as well as providing amusing notes but later in the series they will pack a punch.
There then follows one more book for the Hegemon Chronicles:
Wigs on the Green – A Blood Sport (written and will come out as book 10)
- The Rhubarb Papers – book 1 – Dead No More published just now – it again is a crime thriller series and parallel story, to supply Hegemon.
- Book 2, A Misanthrope’s Toll, contributes to the Hegemon narrative.
Operation Rhubarb was an MI5 and Scotland Yard joint undercover investigation of Brockeln Belland, a City of London Bank of impenetrable pedigree, that was brought to a violent close ten ago.
One survivor of the blast, now 16-year-old Juliet, is seeking the truth about her parents’ death. As the old case notes land on a Scotland Yard Detective Inspector’s desk, Juliet’s back door inquiry opens a deadly can of worms that the Establishment presumed buried.
Soon, secrets about the 200-year-old institution begin to come to light. But can they take down whoever is behind the crimes, and find out the truth about Juliet’s family?
Larkin’s Barkin’ – historic crime thriller series – 2 books, Black Rose and book 2, A Deadly Queen – 4 Wars contribute to Hegemon Chronicles.
There then follows as Books 13 and 14 – concluding the Hegemon Chronicles series: Murder in a Royal Peculiar – Part one (written) and Part two (this may generate a new series titled An Avuncular Detective).
After this, I will decide whether to carry on the individual series of DaDa, Rhubarb, Larkin’s Barkin’ and An Avuncular Detective. Or start something new?
The subtitle, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Chutzpah’, is intriguing. Can you tell me a little bit more about the influences behind this story – fictional, political or personal?
This again is multi-layered as are most of my titles.
I am often inspired to write by pieces of music, Merde and Mandarins (Shostakovich piano concerto number 2, second movement). Rite Judgement, Stravinsky – the Rite of Spring.
Black Rose was driven by Mendelsohn’s, Midsummer Night’s Dream but the storyline behind Larkin was generated at an Arts gathering in 2015 – those present were asked to select an object from a glass cabinet and instantly write a 5 minute story and read it out. I chose a burned, half eaten, crumpet with the following note:
“This homemade crumpet was one of a batch baked in the kitchen of the ‘Cat and Fiddle’ pub in Stepney, in London’s East End, on June 8th 1924. Bessie O’Riordan, who ran the pub, made crumpets every year on her son Jack’s birthday, because they were his favourite food. Unfortunately, Jack had been missing, believed killed in action since 1917, but she continued to make them every year in his memory.
Regulars were given buttered crumpets to eat with their pints every June 8th, but in 1924, she burned the first batch. Bessie was about to throw them out when the owner’s grandfather entered the pub and announced the birth of a son, Sam, to Bessie’s surviving son. He asked her for one of the burnt crumpets to keep as a token to remember Jack, his grandson, and commemorate the birth of Sam – the crumpet is now well beyond its sell by date and should not be digested.“
I composed a short story and read it out; Chas Larkin was born. Returning home, and well into the night, I wrote the opening chapters of Larkin’s Barkin’, archived it and resurrected it a few years later.
And Chutzpah? This is a word I like and had been floating around in my head for a long time and I combined it with the story. I love Titles – I invariably start each book with the title, and I have a list of titles waiting to be written.
Is Black Rose planned as a standalone novel, or as the start of a new series? Are there any crossovers with your Kind Hearts characters?
There is a crossover of all characters that becomes more obvious as you read the books, preferably in order, but each book stands alone as a novel. I have often had comments back where readers have read a random book and subsequently gone on to read the whole series from the beginning.
It is the lure of the long, interrelated and various series that attracted my current publisher.
For pure, Jack (Jane) Austin and Mandy fans, then The DaDa Detective Agency series is for you – read Road Kill first, it is the link between, Kind Hearts and the new series and is inspired by The Canterbury Tales where nobody goes anywhere.
Is there anything else you would like new readers to know before they dive on into your book?
Remove your straight jacket, open your mind and allow me in for a time, you may enjoy the ride…
Black Rose is out on Amazon right now!
Check the following links to find my thoughts on Pete Adams’ Kind Hearts and Martinets series: Book 1, Cause and Effect; Book 2, Irony in the Soul, Book 3, A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza, Book 4, Ghost and Ragman Roll and Book 5, Merde and Mandarins.
Oh, and don’t forget to pop back and visit me again later this month, when I will be bringing you my review of Black Rose!