‘Jack Steele’

jsToday, I’d like to welcome Jack Steele, author of “Long Shot” to The Thursday Interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!

I live in Nottinghamshire but was born in Hackney, London and grew up on the Bannister House Housing Estate in Hommerton. I work full-time in the printing industry but with the help of a very understanding wife I manage to find time to indulge in my favourite passions of reading and writing. It can be a balancing act trying to fit it all in but as I enjoy writing so much it doesn’t seem like too much of a trial. I spent five years researching books, magazines, documentaries, movies and internet articles on various subjects as well as completing a creative writing course and attending workshops run by the Nottingham Writers Studio. It was a great achievement in 2016 when I published my first Crime Thriller novel ‘Loose Cannon’. It was the first in the Detective Joe Stone series and I was encouraged to write the sequel ‘Long Shot’. My writing style is a fast-paced page turner with cliff hangers, moral dilemmas and believable characters.

OK – HERE WE GO !!

No.1: Would you break the law to save a loved one? My instant reaction is YES if there is no other option. To relieve the misery of a loved one’s suffering has to be my number one priority but I would weigh up the repercussions of my actions too. If their life was truly in danger, life or death situation, yes, I would.

No.2: What is the difference between being alive and truly living? There was a time when I would go to work for 12 hours a day, six days a week and the only day left to enjoy being with the family was a struggle due to fatigue. The bills had to be paid and what precious little money we could save, went towards a few weeks of holiday in the UK, where it usually rained the whole time! This for me wasn’t truly living but just being alive. Of course I was lucky that I had a family and a home but I realised something needed to drastically change if I wanted to spend more time with our children. I took a new job which meant the family had to relocate but once things settled down we all agreed that it suited our needs. I had the time to enjoy life with my family and feel that I was truly living.

No.3: What motivates you to write? Years ago I had a lot of ideas written on paper which were unfinished and stuffed in a wicker basket. I would read Crime Thrillers in my spare time and when a few disappointed me I felt that my stories were just as good if not better. The big turning point came when a good friend subscribed me to a monthly writing magazine. That really did give me the motivation to open the basket and get to work. An inner drive to get a book finished led to years of research and courses to ensure it was as good as I could make it. I realised halfway through writing it that I was enjoying the characters and the scenarios so much that I potentially had a series here.
Once I had completed the first novel I sent it to friends and family who gave their opinions which led to a few changes and then it went to editors who flagged up even more changes. So when it was finished. I sent it to book clubs, readers, bloggers and more friends. When the first official reviews came back with excellent comments it made me so happy and they demanded the next in the series. This gave me the ultimate motivation to continue writing and I can’t thank all those that reviewed and left their thoughts on Goodreads and Amazon. So now I have written the second in the series and already the reviews have blown me away which motivates me to keep writing.

No.4 : Why do humans want children? I have already mentioned in a previous question how important my children are to me. Personally, the urge to nurture and love something so precious is so fulfilling. Now that they are grown up they have in turn shown love and kindness and an appreciation of the love bestowed on them. I know quite a few couples who have not had children preferring to concentrate on their work and financial needs instead. They tell me that they don’t miss having their own children because they have brothers and sisters who have kids and so they regularly see them. Like Grandparents, they enjoy time with the children and then hand them back. This way they have the best of both worlds. Historically, Kings and Queens have needed children to keep alive the family name and have successors to their realm. If everyone stopped having children then quite simply the world would end for the human race.

No.5: What was the biggest challenge in creating your book, ”Long Shot”? The biggest challenge in creating my new book was that it is a sequel. In a series there has to be an overall story arc and significant threads which are gradually resolved with each novel to keep the reader wanting more. The growth of the characters is also important and I took great care in developing not merely the central character but also the supporting cast. Another challenge was the backstory. New readers who have picked up the second book in the series may need some form of introduction to the characters and setting but this has to be balanced with those readers who have read the first book. Providing too much detail for the new reader could risk boring the dedicated series reader who has already grown to love the characters.

No.6: What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far? I’ve learned a lot so far in life. Because, even as you get older, you still keep learning. Achieving your goals requires hard work, strong determination and the support of family and friends. When you reach that stage enjoy it and appreciate everyone that enabled you to get there.

No.7: How did you come up with the title “Long Shot”? It is a play on words because one of the threads running through the series is the sniper who will appear in each book. We don’t know anything about him yet but ultimately there is a connection between him and the central character. The other reason for the title is that when all around him seems lost the detective has to do something extraordinary in which to find out who is responsible for the murders and destruction. He has to take a long shot.

No.8: How do you handle personal criticism? I would like to think that I handle it a lot better than I used to. If it’s coming from someone with experience who knows what they are talking about then I’m fine. When I was just out of my Apprenticeship I had to grow up fast with plenty of knock backs and jibes. I took it on the chin and treated it as a steep learning curve. If it was to do with time taken to do a job then the person criticising should know the realistic time frame in which to do it. When I saw the same person with feet up on his desk falling asleep it made me wonder whether this man should be dictating time management to me! If a job had been estimated incorrectly or something had inevitably cropped up that delayed the job in some way. If the person arguing belittles you when they have no conceivable understanding of the point you are trying to get across then I would get angry and frustrated with them. Now I am a lot older and wiser and have been in the job a long time so it is known that I will produce a job efficiently whilst maintaining quality to the best of my ability. If someone criticises my DIY around the home then I would probably have to agree with them as I am useless at it. I would have looked up on the internet videos of how to repair whatever only to find that it doesn’t want to unscrew or come apart as it is supposed to!. Occasionally I will surprise myself and do a good job when that blue moon is in the sky.

No.9: Why should people read your book? Well, I love to write about love. I write crime thrillers. My writing style is a fast-paced page turner with cliff hangers, moral dilemmas and believable characters. Reviews for Long Shot have beaten all my expectations and I have been thrilled by the readers and bloggers comments.

No.10: Why is there something rather than nothing? This question took some time to figure out an answer. In order to get a jump start I typed the question into Google just to see what came up. Nearly every answer related to the universe and how the big bang or God brought existence from nothing. I wasn’t expecting this to be a scientific question debated by eminent physicians because the question is not ‘something from nothing’ but more the fact that something is better than nothing. If I tried to achieve something but the result was nothing then I can console myself with the fact that at least I tried. The amount of effort doesn’t always equate with more of a reward it has to be a conscious reward to one-self.

Thank you 🙂 For taking the time to answer
my questions & the best of luck with your new book:

“Long Shot”

Detective Joe Stone and his team investigate a major terrorist attack on one of London’s most iconic buildings. They soon draw up a list of suspects who are highly respected members of the community and government. When most of his team is attacked, it soon develops into a war of nerves and a race against time before a deadly weapon is unleashed with horrific consequences.

longshot

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‘John R McKay’

sun-sToday, I’d like to welcome John R McKay, author of “The Sun Will Always Shine” to The Thursday Interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!

John R McKay was born and raised in Wigan, Greater Manchester and after serving in the Royal Air Force for seven years he joined Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in 1997 until leaving in 2014 to take up other pursuits, including writing. John has released four novels, The Journal, The Absolution Of Otto Finkel, Mosquitoes and The Sun Will Always Shine. John is currently working on his fifth book which will be set during the Arctic convoys of World War Two. He lives just outside Wigan in the North West of England with his wife, Dawn and has two daughters, Jessica and Sophie.

OK – HERE WE GO !!

No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?
Without a doubt. I think most people would. The most important thing in your life is the people around you, family, friends etc. and should any of them be in any kind of danger then I would expect that the natural thing to do would be to save them, even if that meant breaking the law. You would worry about the consequences of your actions after the event, and even then, you would probably not care. I know I wouldn’t!

No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Truly living is to enjoy life. I live by the code that I will enjoy myself as much as possible and as long as doing so does not upset anyone then it is fine. There is so much to enjoy about life; so many places to visit, people to meet, books to read, parties to hold etc. I believe people should embrace the opportunities they have and try to get the most out of the life they have been given. Living in the UK, it sometimes irritates me when some people moan about their lot, especially when I turn on the TV and see how others in the world live, in much worse places than we do, enduring so much more hardship. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that our society is not perfect, but it sure isn’t as bad as other places in the world.

No.3 What motivates you to write?
The stories in my head and the fun I have writing them. I just want to share them with everyone. After writing my first novel, The Journal, I was encouraged by many people to keep on doing it and after some excellent reviews for my second, The Absolution Of Otto Finkel, I realised that this was not only something that I enjoy, but that I actually may have an aptitude for! The encouragement from people outside my family, the reviews I receive and the sheer enjoyment I get from the writing process spurs me on to continue. I am a lover of history and have ideas for more novels which I am hoping to complete over the next few years. My biggest motivation comes from my family whose support and encouragement cannot be underestimated.

No.4 Why do humans want children?
Because it is a natural thing. It’s not only humans but all animals that procreate, so we are not unique in that respect. Children offer unconditional love and, for me, this is what living is all about; having that ability to love and be loved. On a personal level, I have two wonderful, beautiful daughters and my life would not have been the same, as enjoyable or as fulfilled, if I had not had them.

No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book “The Sun Will Always Shine” ?
The frustration in getting it completed. I had the plot laid out, the characters developed inside my head and the themes and ideas all good to go. I wanted it to be as historically accurate as possible and so read many, many books, visited the Imperial War Museum and gathered information from various other sources before I could put pen to paper (or fingers to laptop!). I wanted to get this book right. I wanted no errors at all as the subject matter is very emotive and highly relevant right now due to the centenary commemorations. The sense of achievement when the first draft was completed was immense. However, it took many edits, partial re-writes and re-reads before I was totally happy with it, which I now am. I am very proud of the completed work.

No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
That money and material things are not really that important. What makes a man rich is not the amount of money he has in his bank account, but the amount of love and respect he gives and receives. The richest man I ever knew was my father who never had two pennies to rub together. In my opinion, you are born naked and get buried in a suit, so the only material thing you really gain in life is that suit. It’s what you do in between that matters. The other, more important stuff.

No.7 How did you come up with the title “The Sun Will Always Shine” ?
The novel’s themes are war, love, death, grief and sacrifice and it can be very dark in places due to the nature of the story. But it does have a certain amount of hope. The title ‘The Sun Will Always Shine’ is a reflection of that hope and is taken from a passage of dialogue between two of the characters. I always seem to struggle with titles for my books and the publisher of my second novel told me to maybe look for a phrase within the book that summed up the whole thing. I feel it is a good title for the book.

No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?
It doesn’t really concern me too much, if I’m being honest. I am who I am and if people don’t like that, then that’s up to them. I try to treat all people with respect and maintain my own personal morals and dignity. Regarding criticism of my writing – as long as it is constructive then it is all welcome, it can only make you a better writer in the long run.

No.9 Why should people read your book?
Why should people read my book? Because I believe I have produced a thought provoking and informative novel with believable characters that you can get attached to. I have always wanted to write a novel based around the First World War but did not want to produce just another account of what took place. I believe this is a different approach and will keep the reader wanting to know more and keep the pages turning. I also wanted it to be educational as the situations the characters find themselves in actually happened and maybe it will inspire more people to take an interest in what took place all those years ago. However the main reason people should read it is because they will enjoy it!

No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
Not exactly an expert in philosophy or theology, I don’t feel that my answer to this question can be anything other than that I am just glad that there is something rather than nothing! There would be nothing worse than opening up a Christmas present to find that the box is empty, opening a packet of crisps to find only a few crumbs stuck to the corners or asking for a pint of beer in my local pub and being handed an empty glass. Give me something over nothing any day of the week. The reasons why, that’s for cleverer people than I.

Thank you John 🙂
For taking the time to answer
my questions & the best of luck with your new book!

sun-shine

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Set before and during the First World War The Sun Will Always Shine tells the story of brothers Harry and Charlie Davenport, who live on a farm in northern England, and their attempts to protect their mother and sister from their abusive and violent father. They believe that their father’s increasing brutality needs to be stopped and they will need to carry out strong action to do that in order to protect their family. With war approaching they realise that these actions could have terrible consequences upon the very people they have sworn to protect. As suspicions grow ever stronger, could they find an escape in the trenches of the Western Front before their secret is revealed and their world is ripped apart?

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**Q6. To answer, Pick Only One (A, B, C or D) and explain.

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