Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Frank Westworth to Chat About Books.
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I’m Frank Westworth, author of three full-length crime-thrillers – so far – and a small pile of short stories. They’re all linked, although not in an entirely predictable way – and share a cast list. That said, they’re written from more than one perspective, hopefully. They’re all based around the working life of an ex-soldier who after leaving the army carried on contracting his services to a government agency.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
Mostly from following news stories down the years, being surprised at how many of them are inaccurate – according to those actually present at the scenes – and having an enquiring mind…
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
All of them are, to a greater or lesser extent. It’s less difficult to maintain a character’s identity if they’re based around a person familiar to the author. The secret lies in fictionalising folk to the point at which although they might – just might – recognise themselves, they shouldn’t be offended.
How do you pick your characters names?
That varies. I didn’t have the lead character’s name sorted for a long time, but the other major characters’ names came to me before I wrote them. So having found, for example, the dirty blonde (a waitress I saw in a London pizza joint) I wrote the character around her and a backstory I made up for her. Likewise the Hard Man, who was a previous boss…
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I’m pretty methodical. I sit down at a desk that’s not the office I work in – I’m a magazine editor by trade – and use a small dedicated laptop to write fiction. It’s not net-connected and has no distractions. I’m also very habit-based, so surround myself with only the objects I associate with writing fiction, trying to prevent it reading like a series of magazine articles.
I always know the scene I’m writing before I write it, so have the characters and roughly what needs to happen. Then I just make it all up!
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
Only five? In no order, then: Jack Grimwood, Lee Child, Walter Mosley, James Crumley, RJ Ellory
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Haruki Murakami. And, simply … How?
Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes. I read everything I could lay my hands on. Nothing has changed. I still read endlessly.
When did you start to write?
While I was at primary school. I always loved writing stories, inventing characters, situations, cliffhangers and adventure stories.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
That’s a curious one. One of my own books? I’m easy with the endings of all of them. Other writers’ books? I wouldn’t presume. An ending is much harder to write than a beginning…
Is there a book you wish you had written?
There are several. Hard to choose just one. Probably The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
Must Try Harder.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
That’s a crazy question! Jack Reacher, maybe. And we’d need to visit an OK Diner and stare out the window at nothing and no one for a long time. In silence.
What are you working on right now?
Two short stories and a fourth thriller novel in my established universe, and a SciFi novel.
Tell us about your last release?
The most recent full-length novel is a crime-thriller, The Redemption Of Charm. Each of the novels is – in theory, anyway – about one of three sisters; Charity, Chastity and Charm. They’re called the Killing Sisters because… that’s how they earn a living! Stoner, my ex-soldier, has to either face Charm or walk away. That’s the nub of this story.
Do you have a new release due?
A new short story, Six Strings, has just been released. The short stories are prequels which take place before the Killing Sisters novels. This is one of those ‘what if?’ stories. What happens when the authorities can’t prosecute a known bad guy – in this case a drugs dealer. In my universe, they hire someone like Stoner.
Amazon US: www.amazon.com/dp/B079FWDPS8
Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079FWDPS8
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
Nothing special at all. Maybe a nice cup of tea after a walk along the Cornish cliffs.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Author Facebook page: www.facebook.com/killingsisters
Author website: www.murdermayhemandmore.net
Author Amazon page: www.amazon.co.uk/Frank-Westworth/e/B001K89ITA/
Author Goodreads page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/576653.Frank_Westworth
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Just to say thanks to all the people who’ve read and reviewed the various Stoner stories; I really enjoy their thoughts and comments.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Frank 🙂
In a former life, JJ Stoner was a hard-faced military man. Now, discreetly and deniably, he resolves sticky situations for the British authorities. So when the Drug Squad can’t convict a particularly unpleasant pusher, Stoner is tasked with permanently solving the problem. But before he can deploy his very particular skill set, an old acquaintance steps out of the shadows and delivers disconcerting intelligence…
Six Strings is a quick thriller, an hour’s intrigue and entertainment. It features characters from the JJ Stoner / Killing Sisters series. You don’t need to have read any of the other stories in the series: you can start right here if you like.
As well as a complete, stand-alone short story, Six Strings includes an excerpt from The Corruption Of Chastity.
There’s also a behind-the-scenes blog from author Frank Westworth, who shares some of the secrets of Stoner’s shady existence.
Please note that Six Strings is intended for an adult audience and contains explicit violence.
Feedback from reviewers for the Killing Sisters / Stoner stories:
‘When the fighting starts, you want JJ Stoner on your side.’
‘A fast-paced, high-powered thriller… Terse and stiletto streamlined and sharp as the blade of a knife.’
‘Imagine an intimate encounter between Jack Reacher and the girl with the dragon tattoo: that’s JJ Stoner and the Killing Sisters.’
‘Gritty story-telling at its best, with a plot that fires from the hip.’
‘It launches you straight into the mayhem and, like its protagonist, JJ Stoner, takes no prisoners.’
‘Fast-paced action, gritty dialogue and hard-nosed, resolute characters.’
‘Sharp. Staccato. Smart. Lovers of long, luxurious, lyrical prose should read this to see how the other half writes.’
‘The tightly-written prose has more than a touch of the Elmore Leonard about it – sparse, sharp and often witty as well.’
‘There is hardly time to draw breath in this fast-moving adventure introducing a frighteningly capable executioner.’
‘Serial killings and strange sisters, hard as nails hit men and shady superiors, sleazy blues and sometimes seedy sex.’
‘A punchy and compelling tale of an ice-cold assassin, more nuanced than your average hired killer. The writing is sparse and crisp, the dialogue frequently laced with sardonic British edge.’
‘Clever dialogue and plenty of descriptive narrative providing context for the violence, depth to the characters and shape to the story.’
‘Your first meeting with JJ Stoner does nothing for the man’s chances of being nominated for any awards for unbridled compassion or for turning the other cheek.’
‘Oh my, this book surely packs a punch. The writing is bold and blunt, with horrific things said in a matter of fact way.’
‘The writing is clever and inventive, paying few dues to existing genres or styles… There is a hint of Derek Raymond in the more visceral physical descriptions and the sense that we are looking at a dark and dystopian oil painting.’
‘A brilliant read, along the lines of Jack Reacher.’
‘The dialogue is snappy, the characters are sharply developed, and the plot moves effortlessly forward.’
‘Intelligently written, with excellent characterisation, sharp wit and punchy back-n-forth dialogue.’
‘The author makes no apologies for Stoner’s pragmatic attitude towards the elimination of his targets, and the result is a solid, well thought through action thriller, intelligently handled.’
‘Rich and ambitious, this violent tale plays out with memorable scenes interspersed with writing to savour. A feast of poetic prose wrapped in noir.’
‘Sophisticated story-telling, written in a mature style, and targeted at a mature audience.’
‘The novelette has a terse, spare style and winds the reader in – definitely a page-turner. Move over Ian Fleming, JJ Stoner could replace James Bond…’