Hi and welcome to my stop on Jason Minick’s Arcam blog tour 🙂
Many thanks to the author and to Kelly at Love Books Group Tours
Interview with Jason Minick…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I have been a railway signalling engineer for twenty-eight years. I am currently a self-employed consultant in the design discipline. I’m pleased to say that my profession keeps me busy presently; but, as you can probably imagine, this poses a challenge in terms of fulfilling my writing passion.
I am married, with three extraordinary children. The kids are currently aged fourteen, eleven and eight. So, of course, I take my role of husband and father seriously. All this means that I could really do with there being just another couple of hours in a day. Something I know many of you will empathise with.
Nevertheless; I find that if you really want to do something enough, you will find the time. So it is for me with writing.
I am a fan of reading several genres, but I was in no doubt that I would begin my writing journey with a crime-fiction series.
I began writing Arcam, my debut novel, at the very beginning of 2017. The book is a crime/conspiracy thriller, based predominantly in Somerset, England. It is the first book in what I intend to become a series, based around the main protagonist – DCI Jack Robson.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
There is no doubt that the inspiration for the Arcam story came from the location in which it is based.
North Somerset is an area I have become very fond of. In particular, I find the Quantocks and coastal area of St Audries Bay, Watchet and Porlock to be rather enchanting. My first novel was always going to be a crime fiction and it could only have taken place in one area.
I had several ideas in my mind as to what sort of sinister events a novelist could make happen in this area, but I was surprised at how, once I’d started writing, the events almost unfolded by themselves.
I was intrigued by what might happen if one got beneath the surface of such an understated, relaxed haven of tranquillity. In contrast to many thrillers that are based in well-known city locations, I wanted to use this ostensibly sleepy area to bring out the potential for the unexpected.
There are certainly a small number of specific, key locations in the book.
As I soon discovered, one of the key factors in plot development is identifying early on what the perpetrator wants. Without wishing to give too much away in this post, I can absolutely confirm that the locations themselves provided the answer to this challenge.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to spend quite a lot of time in the area, which really was a blessing in terms of location research. In fact, among the many enjoyable elements of writing this book has been the opportunity to try to bring the area to life on the page, as it were.
Having the main character being from a totally different location also provided the opportunity to highlight the contrast.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Not particularly, no.
I suppose DCI Jack Robson was quite easy to ‘build’. He’s not based on anyone specifically but is more an accumulation of various character traits.
First and foremost, I wanted Jack to be a ‘good man’. I wanted him to be strong, maybe even tough; but not in the stereotypical sense perhaps. It seemed important to me to be able to show vulnerability, to make Robson believable.
I don’t know if it’s because I am a father of young children, but it seemed obvious to make Jack a father, to add to his relatability for readers. This eventually evolved into the back story regarding his late wife, Isabelle.
Trying to put myself in his place, that of a single father, was not particularly comfortable. But I think it enabled there to be quite an interesting dimension to his relationship with Emma Wilson.
It seemed a natural development to incorporate some degree of romance in the story, given Jack’s sad past. I also wanted a strong detective partner for him, who also possessed a high level of intelligence and a personality that complimented Jack’s foibles.
Enter the remarkable Inspector Emma Wilson, of Somerset CID.
Emma is an attractive young woman and a fast-tracked high flyer in the force. But she soon proves to Robson that she isn’t one of the ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ new breed of recruits. Wilson has common sense and is street-wise.
These two main characters were really a product of how I wanted the tale to develop. Others, such as Superintendent Thorpe and Sir Geoffrey Charlesworth were also conjured in my mind. Although, when I think of Thorpe, I remember a grumpy, brusque college lecturer I once had. Perhaps I’ve also met someone like Sir Geoffrey before also.
Jonny Searle was based on a man I saw drinking at the Ship Inn at Porlock Weir, while I was still writing the first draft. He looked, to me anyway, like a typical man of the sea. He had an unassuming ruggedness and I couldn’t help noticing his rather large hands. He also seemed quite jolly and appeared as though he enjoyed life’s simple pleasures. (Perhaps the latter characteristic made its way into Jacob Miller).
The core characters were Jack, Emma, Sir Geoffrey and perhaps Thorpe. The other characters were developed around this core group, out of necessity as the story developed. I think I probably found the process of developing characters as equally rewarding as developing the story. After all, what could be more creative than producing new human beings!
I have been delighted by the feedback I’ve received so far, regarding Robson and Wilson in particular. I very much hope that I do these characters justice in book number two!
How do you pick your characters’ names?
Often, I lean back in my chair, close my eyes and imagine the character. But also, to pick some of the surnames that featured in the Arcam story, I did a little research into common Somerset names. Eventually, I found I would come across a name that ‘felt right’.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
Phase 1 – I think about what I want to happen in the book, very much in generic terms. I also consider locations. I spend a few weeks scribbling ideas in my notepad. I also use this initial period to carry out any obviously key research that is necessary; whether it be locations, technology or protocol (police, military, etc).
I also like to visit any pertinent locations in person, to get a feel for the surroundings, including taking in the sights, smells and sounds. Where this is not practical, then it’s a matter of desktop research of course.
Phase 2 – Begin first draft. The best advice I have absorbed is to write, write, write! The first draft is essentially a brain-dump. It’s the most creative period really. I may know what key events I want to happen and I will have a vague idea of the ending; but I don’t know what’s going to happen in between until I write it.
Phase 3 – Start to turn the waffle into a decent piece of writing. For Arcam, I wrote five drafts, before I was happy to submit my manuscript for proof-reading. This re-writing process not only involved trying to make the writing good; the plot was also developed further – some scenes deleted, some added.
Phase 4 – Proofread/editing – I paid a professional to carry out a kind of hybrid ‘proof-edit’. This was money well-spent. No matter how carefully you check your own work, it is never possible to pick up everything. So, an independent, professional review is a must.
Phase 5 – Get a cover design and publish!
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
Tricky … I’ll settle on these:
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would like to meet H.G. Wells (using his time machine, of course!).
I’d visit him in 1895 and invite him to come and sample 2018 for a short while, so that I could ask him what he thought of society in our time.
I would ask him if civilisation had evolved into all that he had feared, or whether he saw any unexpected positive developments.
I suppose I’d also have to ask him … “Would you have voted for or against ‘Brexit’”!
Were you a big reader as a child?
Honestly … no.
There were certain books that captured my imagination, but I remember being an impatient reader. I’ve always loved the idea of getting lost in books, but my reading didn’t really take off until I was in my early twenties. I do, however, remember wanting to write my own stories from a very young age.
When did you start to write?
Very recently! Many people speak of how they would “love to write a book, but don’t have the time”. That was me, until a couple of year ago, when I decided to finally take some action.
For a while before I finally began work on Arcam, I found myself wanting to write down thoughts and snapshots of storylines that occasionally popped in to my head, when I wasn’t thinking about work, family, or other daily issues that tend to occupy our minds almost constantly!
I was slightly surprised at how cathartic I found the process of writing to be – that of simply putting one’s thoughts and ideas on paper. I believe that’s what drove me on to proceed with my first novel.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
Romeo and Juliet.
It’s a great tale, but the ending is far too harsh! We studied R & J at secondary school and I remember being possibly more invested in the story than any other I had encountered up until that point.
It was such a cunning ploy they came up with to ultimately be with one another; and I found it quote disappointing when it failed so disastrously.
But then again, it wouldn’t have qualified as a ‘tragedy’ otherwise, would it?!
Is there a book you wish you had written?
The Book Thief (By Markus Zusak).
There are some books you read, that you never forget. This is one of them, for me. I think I’m in awe of this work for several reasons.
But, in a nutshell, it’s the way Markus has written about a deeply sad subject and still portrayed human traits that we can relate to, with great clarity. The narrative is just so very clever. I remember being hooked from the first sentence.
A masterclass in writing.
(I haven’t included Markus in my list of favourite authors, because this is the only work I’ve read of his so far).
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
‘Help me, I’m scared!’
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
We’d visit a convention or exhibition for Artificial Intelligence.
What are you working on right now?
The second book in the DCI Robson ‘series’ – It is a sequel to Arcam.
Tell us about your last release?
Arcam is the first book in my ‘DCI Robson’ crime series. In the first book, the investigation that Robson is appointed to lead turns out to be a little more than your average crime.
I wrote book one in such a way that I hoped it would be a ‘standalone read’, as well as setting the scene for the story to continue further.
I am currently working on the sequel – watch this space!
Do you have a new release due?
Not yet. I’m probably three quarters of the way through my first draft. So, I estimate an Easter 2019 release.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
Well, nothing formal took place when I released my debut novel, Arcam. However, we subsequently got together with friends and drank Prosecco to recognise my accomplishment!
How can readers keep in touch with you?
My website is: www.jasonminick.com
I’d also be delighted for people to keep in touch via social media:
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. I hope you will give Arcam a try and I would be glad to receive your feedback, whatever it may be, good or bad. Happy reading!
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Jason 🙂
A FAST-PACED CRIME/CONSPIRACY THRILLER THAT IS FULL OF SUSPENSE:
DCI Jack Robson believes he is hunting a kidnapper…
Away from his posting in London, Robson is asked to lead an investigation in the south west of England. But what begins as a baffling local kidnapping mystery, quickly escalates into something far more sinister.
In pursuit of the perpetrators, DCI Robson joins forces with Inspector Emma Wilson and the rest of the regional CID team. Together, they attempt to make sense of the lack of evidence or motive, eventually getting drawn to the tiny island of Steep
Holm, in the Bristol Channel.
As the investigation progresses, Robson, Wilson and their colleagues find themselves facing something far beyond normal detective work. Unthinkable connections lead them to a conspiracy, so great it could change the course of humanity. The question is, can they intervene before it’s too late to prevent the appalling future that potentially lies ahead …
Jason Minick is an engineer living in the south-west of England. He has a passion for the written word and reading.
Jason is a fan of many genres. His debut novel, Arcam, is a crime/conspiracy thriller set in his favourite part of the UK.
He lives with his wife, Emma, and his three children, Lucy, William and Sophie. The family share their home with two very small dogs, Digby and Tizzie.
The author is currently working on the second book in the DCI Robson series, the sequel to Arcam.