Welcome to my stop on Ray Clark’s Ryder On The Storm blog tour, with Love Books Tours!
Many thanks to Kelly @ Love Books Tours for arranging the following interview with Ray Clark…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
From an early age I have loved stories, firstly listening to them, and eventually wanting to write them. My first came when I was at school and if I remember correctly it was a story I entered as part of my English ‘O’ level. I remember you had to submit something like 6 stories. I put forward one I had started writing a couple of years previously and had never finished. At the time, I still couldn’t finish it. I think I had run of out steam. I rushed and pretty much put any old ending to it. Many, many years later I stumbled across it, read through it, and decided I could make a far better job of it – because I had more patience. I even gave it a title – One Rainy Night, which eventually became part of the collection, A Devil’s Dozen. Since then I have written many stories, and a number of novels. I am also the author of the Gardener/Reilly books, known as the IMP series.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
This sounds awful but whenever that question is pitched to me the answer is always the same: usually other people. I don’t mean I plagiarise other people’s work but often they will make a throwaway comment and I will seize upon it. One classic example was a conversation between a friend and myself about a classic, 60’s sci-fi series, Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. I absolutely loved it. So did he, and he said to me, I’ve seen loads of those but I’ve never seen the same one twice. I replied, neither have I. When I asked a number of other people, they all said the same thing. I simply had to write something. The title was Lost & Found, and if I remember correctly that was also part of A Devil’s Dozen – or it might have been A Detective’s Dozen.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Only once: all my characters are usually fictitious with either a little bit of me or a hint of someone I know. Only once did I ever use a colleague. His mannerisms and his speech pattern were far too good and far too funny to ignore. I suppose if he ever finds out he’ll have a few choice words for me. He featured in the second book in the IMP series, Imperfection, which was set in the world of film and theatre, featuring a killer who had an obsession with the one time film idol, Lon Chaney, who was so good with make-up that he was dubbed, The Man of a Thousand Faces, which the killer was able to use to great advantage. The research on that book was very absorbing and time consuming but I learned so much about a world I love, allowing me to blend fact and fiction to support what I wanted to say. I suppose I’m giving far too much away now but he had a minor role, looking after the stage door of the theatre where the first murder took place, on the stage, in front of the audience, prompting the question that if your killer was that good with a make-up bag, how were you going to catch him?
How do you pick your characters’ names?
Names are very important, and I simply don’t think you can pluck them out of thin air: you really have to think about them. I believe that the plot and time period that you’re writing about play a very important role. When I wrote Seven Secrets, the lead role had to have a very old-fashioned detective who used old-fashioned policing methods to solve his crimes. I knew that he was going to be approaching retirement age and he’d never had an unsolved crime. After some serious thought, a very simple name of Arthur White dropped into my head and it fitted perfectly. As did his young sidekick, Stuart Robinson, who was the polar opposite of White. Strangely enough, for the IMP series, which have been my most successful crime novels, I really can’t remember how I came up with Stewart Gardener – how bad is that?
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
It’s quite a long one for me because I such a stickler for detail. The whole process will take me something around a year. I’m usually inspired by a throwaway comment in a conversation. I know when it’s going to work for me because the comment will continue to spin around in my head, and then I find myself adding to it. Before long I’ll have lost of pieces of paper all over my desk. Once I decide to put them all on the computer in a file and I can finally make sense of those mad ramblings, I join them up into some kind of skeletal framework. And then I start to get really serious with the research. I usually have around 150 pages of ideas, which include plot, synopsis, characters, and a variety of other bits and bobs, before I actually start writing the novel. The beauty of that for me, with all those notes, it virtually writes itself.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
If you’d asked me that question two or three years ago I would probably have gone for one of the past masters like H.G. Wells, or Bram Stoker, but today it has to be L.S. Hilton, author of the trilogy that has become a global phenomenon. First you had Maestra, then Domina, and finally Ultima. The books have been described as The Talented Mr. Ripley meets Fifty Shades of Grey. I would simply have to ask what one thing inspired those novels. I might be tempted to ask her what experience she had to write those novels but I might end up with a black eye.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Not really. I don’t think I started to take a real interest in reading until I started school, and even then it was later in life, around the age of eleven when you were properly introduced to books in your English classes, when the teacher would read a book to the class. I think one of the earliest I took an interest in was John Stienbeck’s Of Mice And Men. After that I think it was Black Beauty, but the one that really caught my interest was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
When did you start to write?
Definitely at school, around the time of my ‘O’ levels. I remember having to submit 6 pieces of fiction. One of those stories featured an old stationmaster, out in the sticks, checking and locking the station for the night in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm when suddenly he comes face to face with an intruder. I got so carried away building that story up that I couldn’t finish it: I had no ending, I didn’t know where to go. I remember rushing something down. It was many years later that I revisited it and I did know where I was going, so it ended up with the title, One Rainy Night and was the first story in the collection A Devil’s Dozen.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Lots of them. When I read The Manitou by Graham Masterton I simply couldn’t believe anyone on the planet could capture my imagination so much. Straight after that I picked up a couple of his political thrillers entitled, Ikon and Sacrifice, and I was so absorbed by the quality of his writing and the conviction of the plot that I actually started to believe what he was saying: that America was being run by Russia.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
I think there’s only one title it could be, The Lord of Misrule. The only problem there is, I would be stepping on the toes of the acting legend, Christopher Lee.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve literally just finished writing a new cross genre novel entitled Spirit. Last year, I took a trip to Romania, a country I’ve always wanted to visit because I seem to remember spending my childhood watching old Universal and Hammer horror films, most of which were set in Transylvania. I realise that neither cast nor crew were anywhere near the place and most – if not all – of the films were made at Bray Studios. But the atmosphere and the haunting sets drew me in.
I joined eleven other people on a guided tour and we had the most fabulous time, taking in all the popular locations and sights, Bran Castle being one of them, reportedly the home of Dracula. On a visit to a small village called Viscri, where time has stood still since the dawn of mankind, the guide was drawn into conversation with one of my fellow travellers, where I overheard him mention an old custom for exorcising ghosts in Romania. The conversation would not leave my head and as the rest of the party knew I was an author, we all found ourselves discussing possible ideas for the book whenever we met up for food and drink.
The trap was set and I simply had to write something. When I came home I immersed myself into the research, which is always my favourite part of any book. A year later, the end result is a 400-page cross genre novel set in Whitby (also reportedly the home of Dracula), entitled Spirit, which also gave me the chance the revisit (six years later) the characters from Seven Secrets.
Tell us about your last release?
The last one was the third book in the IMP series, entitled, Implant, featuring detectives Gardener and Reilly. The idea came from a book talk I was giving locally, and in the audience were a number of young people – some of them teenagers, which is quite staggering because you don’t really think of them as book readers. They are, but they do it in a different way – on their phones. In fact, they pretty much run their whole lives on phones, which I find quite amusing. I spoke to a number of them afterwards and I couldn’t believe how much trust they placed in those small gadgets. An idea suddenly struck me, what if someone was clever enough to use that machine against them – possibly even control their lives before finally taking it?
Bramfield, near Leeds, a sleepy little market town nestled on the borders of West and North Yorkshire.
Monday morning, as the clock strikes 9:00, Detectives Stewart Gardener and Sean Reilly discover the naked corpse of Alex Wilson, nailed to the wall of a cellar in his uncle’s hardware store. His lips are sewn together and his body bears only one mark, a fresh scar near his abdomen.
Above his head are two plain white envelopes. They do not contain any answers – only further problems, especially when they find out the scar is hiding a very sinister secret.
Within twenty-four hours, they have one body, one suspect – with a motive but no evidence – and a number of other possible suspects.
But they’re all missing.
Within forty-eight hours, their investigation results in dead ends, more victims: no suspects and very little in the way of solid evidence.
Gardener and Reilly have a problem and a question on their hands: are the residents of Bramfield prepared for one of history’s most sadistic killers, The Tooth Fairy?
Do you have a new release due?
Yes, in fact it came out July 1st. Ryder On The Storm was inspired by an article in a local publication I have, entitled, Heroes, Victims & Villains of Leeds, written by Stephen Wade, a writer who specialises in the history of crime and law. The article was all about an unsolved crime in 1855 when police found a body on the line of the Lancashire to Yorkshire Railway near the Bowling Tunnel:
When builder Terry Johnson spots what he thinks is a bargain he can’t resist but to succumb to temptation. The large, detached house stands on the side of a railway track and would be perfect for his needs … and it’s cheap! But Billington Manor has a very tainted history, and the grounds upon which it stands were part of an unsolved murder back in the 1850’s. Terry is about to discover that the road to hell is not always paved with good intentions.
Based upon a true incident, Ryder On The Storm is a stand-alone supernatural crime novella, featuring one of the characters from the IMP series, desk sergeant Maurice Cragg.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
To be honest I don’t really do much of anything special these days. If it’s going to be anything, a meal and a glass or two of wine with a small group of friends often hits the spot.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
The best way is through my website (www.thelordofmisrule.net). There is a contact page on there. I do also have an Amazon page, as well as a Facebook and Twitter account, so there are any numbers of ways.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
When I’m not writing I am usually heavily involved in music. I pretty much grew up as a working musician cutting my teeth on the workingmen’s club scene in Hull. My interest in music has continued to this day and I still do live performances but these days it mostly in theatres and for charity, raising money and awareness for the OPA (Oesophageal Patients Association). They are a small charity that receive little or no government backing but it’s a pleasure working with them. One of the patrons is Emmerdale actress Fiona Wade.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Ray 🙂
When builder Terry Johnson spots what he thinks is a bargain he can’t resist but to succumb to temptation. The large, detached house stands on the side of a railway track and would be perfect for his needs … and it’s cheap!
But Billington Manor has a very tainted history, and the grounds upon which it stands were part of an unsolved murder back in the 1850s. Terry is about to discover that the road to hell is not always paved with good intentions.
Based upon a true incident, Ryder On The Storm is a stand-alone supernatural crime novella from the author of the IMP series, featuring desk sergeant Maurice Cragg.
happy reading 🙂