With a bit of background, who is Howard Linskey?
I am a Country Durham lad from Ferryhill, who has been a bit of a nomad, having lived and worked all over the country. I’m settled in Herts these days though. I live in Welwyn with my lovely wife Alison and beautiful daughter Erin but the north east will always feel like home too. I go back there whenever I can, to see family or friends and to launch and talk about my books, which are set in Newcastle. I am a lifelong Toon fan and have started to indoctrinate my six year old into a life of misery and disappointment following Newcastle United. Please don’t call Social Services.
What inspired you to pick up a pen and start writing?
It was a combination of really wanting to give it a go, along with a feeling at the time that I wasn’t much cop at anything else. I think I was looking for something I was good at, during a time in my life when my confidence was very low. I was quite young when I started and I wrote for the Newcastle United football fanzine ‘The Mag’ at first. Eventually I became a journalist, wrote for newspapers, magazines and web sites then turned to writing books, as I had always wanted to write fiction. On some level I must need the outlet writing gives me. If I am not writing, I feel more stressed and my wife says she can spot a difference in me. Clearly what I really need is therapy, electric shock treatment or strong medication but I didn’t realise that at the time, so I went for writing instead.
There are lots of hard parts of writing a book, as I am sure you will agree. Finding the so-called ‘spare time’, whatever that is, to write a 90,000 word novel then edit it over and over again until you are happy with it, is the first one that springs to mind. I then had months of waiting while my literary agent sent it round publishers, all of whom said they really liked it but didn’t want to publish it because it was too gritty for them. It was incredibly frustrating, as I was so close to getting there but not close enough. Then Ion Mills from No Exit made an offer for ‘The Drop’, which was a very big day indeed for me. Hopefully his faith in me has been vindicated.
David Blake is not based on anyone I know, thankfully. I’d love to spin you a yarn that I am a retired gangster but I’m only five foot eight, which is a bit small for an enforcer. Blake is just a figment of my twisted imagination. My starting point was the idea that if you are a ‘white collar’ gangster can you really enjoy an easy life in that world without the constant threat of violence, death or imprisonment. In Blake’s case, the answer is an emphatic ‘no’.
I’ve been told they are page turners that are hard to put down, which is lovely. I think they are gritty stories but not gratuitous and I spend a lot of time trying to create interesting characters and giving them some snappy dialogue. David Blake is a reluctant, criminal who is forced to become a hard core gangster when his luck runs out. He is not a typical hard man and has to rely on his brains and wits to get him out of trouble rather than his fists, which I think makes him atypical in the crime genre. He’s a bit of a bad lad but he has his good points and female readers do seem to love him but then gals do like a bad boy don’t they? The books have both had great reviews thankfully and The Drop was shortlisted by ‘The Times’ as one of their Top Five thrillers of the year so that’s better than any endorsement I could give it.
What is next for Howard Linskey?
I am currently working flat out on the third David Blake book, ‘The Dead’, so the social life is on hold until I crash through to the end of that one. I also spend time marketing the previous books and my agent has just sold the second book to Germany, as the first has been on the Krimizeit Bestenliste Top Ten Crime books for the past couple months, which is a big deal out there, so we are all really happy about that.
So here’s where I cheat a bit and get some more info out of you.
Bonus question: You are stranded on a desert island. You can have 3 ‘luxury’ items and one person with you. What and who would they be and why?
A lap top so I could write my next book but this isolated desert island has got Wi-Fi hasn’t it? I can’t write without all of the associated guilt feelings that come from internet procrastination and Facebook fixes between chapters.
A kindle so I could keep reading in between bursts of writing. Generally I prefer a physical book in my hand or on my shelves but even a Luddite like me can appreciate the value of a kindle on a desert island. A hand held library that can be topped up, as and when.
I bought a wine fridge a couple of years back as a Christmas present to myself so, assuming that my desert island has an electricity supply, I’d like it filled with beer and wine and placed on the sand dunes next to me please. If the Red Cross could parachute replenishment stocks to me at regular intervals that would be good too.
The person would have to be my daughter Erin, as I would her miss her far too much if she wasn’t on the island with me. She is six years old and loads of fun, bless her. Can her mum come too? If so, I think we wouldn’t mind being shipwrecked on this desert island of yours David, away from the hassles of day to day life. How do I sign up for that?
I’m working on it, Howard. It was a pleasure having you over. Thank you and best wishes with everything.