I have the pleasure of welcoming Richard T. Burke to Chat About Books today 🙂
Many thanks to Caroline Vincent for arranging the following interview….
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
After following a career in engineering, I turned my hand to writing eight years ago. I published my first book, The Rage, in late 2015. Like most first-time writers, I naively assumed a long line of publishers would come knocking at my door, desperate to offer me a lucrative contract. I soon learned that the publishing industry is far more demanding than I first supposed.
Since that initial foray, I have published another three books with a further two due out this year. My second book, Decimation: The Girl Who Survived, seems to have caught readers’ imaginations. The theme of the book, a deadly virus, is particularly apposite in these strange times of Covid-19. As it happens, I started the sequel, Termination: The Boy Who Died, in 2019 before the pandemic began. I am now nearing completion of the third in series, Annihilation: Origins and Endings.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
I know Dan Brown is bit like Marmite with readers, but I’m one of the many who enjoy his work. I was discussing the plot of Inferno with my wife (terrorists plan to release a plague that will sterilise the human race) when I had a flash of inspiration. I asked her what would happen if, instead of simply making women infertile, a virus killed mothers immediately after giving birth. Rather than the main character trying to prevent the disease from spreading (as in Inferno), what if the virus had already been around for fifteen years? And what if the main character was pregnant herself?
That’s how the concept of Decimation originated.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
The main character of Decimation, Antimone Lessing, is a teenage wheelchair athlete who, through no fault of her own, discovers she is pregnant. At the time of writing Decimation, my daughter was a teenager, so I guess much of the inspiration for Antimone’s character comes from her. I hasten to add that my daughter has neither been pregnant, nor does she need a wheelchair!
How do you pick your characters’ names?
The name Antimone (AN-TIM-OH-NEE) just came into my head. I suspect my subconscious mind was influenced by the Harry Potter books (which my daughter loved as a child) and the character of Hermione (HER-MY-OH-NEE) Granger.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I’m somewhere between a plotter and a pantser. After developing the main theme, I plan the major events of my books and sketch out the contents of each chapter. I then go back and fill in the details. As I suspect most writers discover, the final novel will often change significantly from the initial concept. I’ve also concluded that sequels are far harder to write than standalones; everything has to stay consistent between books, and I can’t just go back to edit those inconvenient plot points that cropped up in earlier parts of the series.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
I read widely, so narrowing down to five is hard, but here goes.
I love the work of Blake Crouch. Dark Matter and Recursion were both hugely imaginative books that left my head spinning by the end.
John Marrs is a writer I initially discovered through recommendations on The Book Club (TBC) on Facebook. His mix of thriller with a hint of near future Sci-Fi (for example, The One) is something I aspire to in my own writing.
Arian Tchaikovsky is another Sci-Fi author I really enjoy, particularly his Children of Time novels.
Gregg Dunnett knows how to write an excellent thriller. I discovered him by reading The Wave at Hanging Rock and have since read all his books.
Last but by no means least is Ross Greenwood. Ross and I started writing at around the same time. We critique each other’s work and offer each other advice. I frequently tell him his books are a bit gloomy (particularly the prison-based ones), but they are certainly well written!
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I’d like to meet Ross Greenwood and ask him for that warm shandy he owes me for beta reading his books. On a more serious note, it would have to be Blake Crouch. I’d like to ask him how he got the ideas for his recent novels.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Absolutely. I can’t remember much of what I enjoyed as a child, but I do remember reading some Biggles books (that shows my age a little).
When did you start to write?
It must have been around 2014. The daughter of one of my friends, who was thirteen at the time, mentioned that she had started writing a book. I had been meaning to write myself, but life always seemed to get in the way. At the time I remember thinking to myself, if a thirteen-year-old can do it, so can I.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I’m not going to be specific, but I hate books where the story is left unresolved. Cliff-hangers are a particular pet hate. Even in a series, I think an author owes it to the reader to resolve the major plot points.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
I’m going to go with Recursion by Blake Crouch. When you find your dreams are affected by a book, the author has done a good job!
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
Made in Blackburn: the tale of an engineer and author
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I’m fascinated by new technology, so I’d invite Marty McFly (Back to the Future). I’d take him to a coffee shop a hundred years in the future (if they still drink coffee).
Tell us a random fact about yourself
I was a Sax maniac in my twenties and once played in a band at Wigan Rugby League Club.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on Annihilation: Origins and Endings, the third part of the Decimation series. The story will answer some questions about the origins of the virus and will bring all the remaining threads to a close (see previous answer about book endings!).
Tell us about your last release?
My last release was Assassin’s Web, the story of a schoolteacher who goes for a walk and discovers a note containing a link to the dark web together with a username and password. The site is for hiring hitmen. The dark web is supposed to be anonymous, but somebody knows what he has seen. Soon, he is the target.
Do you have a new release due?
Yes, Annihilation is out on September 12th 2021.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
Publication day is both satisfying and scary. It’s like watching a child leave home and set off into the big wide world (although my daughter hasn’t left yet). You hope they’re going to be okay, but there’s not much more you can do. I normally have a quiet beer or two to celebrate.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
I’m on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RichardTBurkeAuthor/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/RTBurkeAuthor), and I also have my own website at https://www.rjne.uk. I’m always delighted to hear from readers and try to respond to any direct contact.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
In 1939, Adolf Hitler was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Richard!
Antimone Lessing returns in book two of the ground-breaking Decimation trilogy.
Nearly twenty years after the Orestes virus swept across the earth, finally there is hope. Women are no longer dying within seconds of giving birth. For the first time in two decades, the global population is on an upward trend.
As the world returns to normal, Antimone is back on the athletics track and a single race away from achieving her lifetime goal of winning the Olympic 1500-metre Wheelchair gold medal.
But a deadly new threat has emerged, one that could reverse the fragile recovery and spell the end of humanity’s time on the planet. Could Antimone’s unique biology once again provide the vital clue to develop a cure?
When the details of her past become exposed, ruthless forces prepare an audacious plan to kidnap the first woman in a generation to survive childbirth. Now, the only hope for her survival and that of her young family may rest with the one person she trusts least in the world.
buy your copy now!
If you’re new to the series, Book 1 is currently FREE on kindle (for a limited time only!)
Richard T. Burke is the author of crime thrillers with a twist. To date he has written six novels, The Rage, The Colour of the Soul, Assassin’s Web and the Decimation trilogy: Decimation – Termination – Annihilation (out 12 Sept 2021, now available for pre-order).
Richard also contributed short stories to anthologies by Bloodhound Books and Corona Books.
Richard lives with his wife, Judith, and daughter, Emily, in the village of Rotherwick in north-east Hampshire, UK.
Richard T. Burke on Social Media –
Author Website: www.rjne.uk
Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/RichardTBurkeBooks
Amazon Author Page: author.to/RichardTBurke