Monday, 21 May 2012

Author Interview: Danny Miller

Danny Miller's new novel, The Gilded Edge, is out now and I'm delighted to welcome him to my blog for a bit of a chat.

The Gilded Edge is the second book of a series featuring the rather gorgeous-sounding detective Vince Treadwell, set in 1960s London.

Danny's debut novel, Kiss Me Quick, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in the Crime Thriller Awards 2011. When not writing novels, he's a playwright and a scriptwriter.

Can you summarise new novel The Gilded Edge in a Tweet?
No. Yes. Doh! A stylish and sexy thriller set in London in 1965: fast, furious, and fun.

How would you describe detective Vince Treadwell?
Someone described him as “A hero men would like to be, and women would like to be with.” He’s a handsome young guy who’s smart and knows how to use his fists. He’s a little impetuous, which could be put down to his age. But Vince being a little hot-headed invariably makes the story more exciting - he jumps into the action and never gives up. He also has a dangerous habit of getting romantically involved with women he shouldn’t - the femme fatales, always more deadly than the male villains.

Both your debut novel (Kiss Me Quick) and The Gilded Edge are set in the 1960s. What attracts you to the decade?
I love film noir. And I have a strong image in my head of black and white movies and men in sharp suits and women done up to the nines. And I think the 60s was probably the last time that happened, that real suited and booted dressing up thing. Knowing that you’re a fan of vintage, Jayne, I think you’ll understand. It was also an era I felt that really belonged to England; it’s very recognizable and full of iconography. Great music, great films, great clothes - we won the World Cup! It was an exciting time. It was a time of classic English villainy, with daring robberies and cops chasing them in classic MK 2 Jags. It was also the height of the cold-war with lots of spies and intrigue in the air. So in terms of a crime series there’s a lot of fun to be had with the 60s.

How much research did you have to do for The Gilded Edge?
Quite a bit for this book, because a strand of the story is based on ‘alleged’ real life events. And I used lots of real life characters, like Michael X, a black gangster based in Notting Hill who went on to front the British Black Power movement; Billy Hill, a famous and powerful gangster of the day; and members of the ‘Clermont Set’, a group of aristos who gathered around the gaming tables of the Clermont Club, that included John Aspinall, James Goldsmith and Lord Lucan amongst their ranks. I’ve changed some of the names, but I still had to do quite a bit of research to get their characters right, which I enjoyed.

Did you always want to be an author?
No. At the age of 18 if you’d have said I’d be sitting at a desk writing 120,000 words, it would have sounded like a prison sentence. I wanted to travel and see the world, not sit on my arse all day. But I was living in New York and taking acting classes – like you do when you’re a waiter – and started keeping a diary, and then started to write monologues and plays. When I got back to England I had some plays put on, then got into scriptwriting for TV. But all my favourite writers were novelists, and the novel was always the form I held in the highest esteem.

Do you have a writing routine?
In the morning I tend to plough on with the narrative, the fresh stuff, from about 10am to 1pm. Then I re-write in the afternoon. On a writing day, and I try to have five of them a week, it has to be 1000 words plus, and usually it works out to about 1500.

As well as the computer, my desk is home to an empty mug, bottle of water, phone, notebook, and pen-lid (fate of pen unknown). What’s on your desk?
A pen, with no lid…mmm.

What are you currently working on?
The third Vince Treadwell book, about halfway through, and outlining the fourth. And just finished a bumper outline/treatment for a novel independent of the series, that I’m about to start. Also got some TV stuff I’m working on.

What advice can you give aspiring authors?
For me personally, I really love the process of writing. The planning, the plotting, the getting the words on the page. It’s that simple. If I found it hard work and just did it because I thought there was going to be money at the end of it, I probably wouldn’t do it; because I’m lazy. Bone idle. I watched a great documentary about Charles Bukowski the other night, and in his slow and low and lyrically booze smeared voice, he said, and I’m paraphrasing slightly, that he found  ‘Writing an easy and nice thing to do, and it remains an easy and nice thing to do, and that’s why I do it.’ That sounds about right to me. As for getting published, I’m not an agent or a publisher, I don’t know what they look for. But the bookshelves are full so read as much as you can.

Thank you, Danny!

The Gilded Edge is out now.

London 1965, and Vince Treadwell investigates the seemingly unrelated murders of a playboy aristocrat from Belgravia and a young black nurse from the wrong side of town. It takes the detective to the illegal drinking dens of Notting Hill run by the self-styled Black Power leader, Michael X; the nightclubs of Soho owned by the legendary gangster, Billy Hill; and the exclusive gaming tables of the Montcler Club in Berkeley Square, where the blue bloods and power players of England gamble thousands on the turn of a card. But as Vince Treadwell digs deeper he finds himself not only embroiled with a beautiful society girl, Isabel Saxmore-Blaine, but a world of espionage and corruption where the underworld mixes easily with the aristocracy, and no one is innocent.

Read more: The Gilded Edge at Amazon
Twitter: @DannyMillerKMQ

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Impish ideas

The sound of silence is cloaking my blog at the moment. I picture it silver and dense; you can step into the billowing clouds and sweep away sections to reveal forgotten words and pictures, and then the fog rolls back in, obscuring and hiding all the features.

But it’s not a desolate landscape – silver shimmers with possibility and is the colour of slow moonlight on dark water, the slanted light of illumination piercing through a shadowed forest. Ideas crouch, giggling – they occasionally stick a foot out into the circle of hazy grey and admire their shiny buckled shoes, their elongated silhouettes. Mostly they play a frenzied game of tag and will stop every so often to tug my clothes and whisper in my ear. They think me a great, lumbering thing – such a human! – but clap their hands like proud parents when I correctly interpret one of their hushed communications. They also hand-on-hips scold when I get it wrong and disapproval makes me slink away for a while, but their wild games call to me from beyond the stream. I always turn my head and listen.

Can you hear them too?

Girl Beside A Stream, Arthur Rackham