This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of my moving to Brighton and/or Hove. 2016 is also the year of the publication of my first novel to be set in Brighton and Hove, Late Whitsun. More than one person has said to me of my previous series, The Danilov Quintet, set in tsarist Russia, that the cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg almost become characters in their own right. I hope I can achieve something similar for Brighton and Hove in the Charlie Woolf Mysteries. The challenge is for me not to be too familiar. Moscow and Petersburg are cities that I’ve only visited a couple of times and have mostly learned about from books; I have to be careful not to overdo things with my home town.
1938 …As usual my authors are asked a few questions so that we can get to know them, and probe a little bit below the surface. And so with Jasper, let us begin;
Charlie ‘Big Bad’ Woolf thought it would be easy money, and there’s precious little of that for a private detective in a seaside town. It was just a trip up to London to hand over an envelope – a favour for his old partner, Alan O’Connor. But Woolf couldn’t resist taking a peek inside.
The pictures were unadulterated smut; a man and a girl in a hotel room. Blackmail, pure and simple – right up O’Connor’s street. Woolf was happy to be rid of them, handing them over to a masked man in a London park.
When he gets home, O’Connor’s waiting for him, which is a surprise. The bigger surprise is that he’s dead; a bullet through the eye. Woolf is the prime suspect, but when he discovers that the man in the photographs is a German diplomat and the blackmail is being run by MI5, things get more complicated.
It seems obvious who killed O’Connor, but Woolf soon realizes that he’s the only one who cares. With war looming, the good of the country counts for more than the arrest of a murderer. If he’s to see the killer caught, Charlie Woolf must prove that the crime has little to do with the world of espionage …
What is the saddest story you've ever read?
That’s a surprisingly tricky question. It may be just my outlook on life, but even when I read something like Les Misérables, where sadness is ingrained into the very title, I find enough that is positive for me not to think of it as essentially a sad book. Possibly something by D.H. Lawrence? But then I hate D.H. Lawrence. If I have to go with one it will be The End of the Affair by Grahame Greene, though it’s been a while since I read it. My cynical older self might find it laughable now.
What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
My dog, my rats and Frasier.
Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!
It has to be Iuda, the main villain of The Danilov Quintet. His real name is Richard Llywelyn Cain, and he picked up the alias of the Russian form of Judas when he was working with a group of vampiric mercenaries named after the twelve apostles. I pictured a scene a bit like the one in Reservoir Dogs, where everyone is trying to avoid being Mr Pink, except here everyone was hoping to be Judas.
The thing I like about Iuda is not so much that he has a desire for evil, but that he is merely unrestrained by any need for goodness. His prime motivation in life is not power or cruelty, but merely curiosity – he’s a scientist, a Fellow of the Royal Society, no less (admitted thanks to his paper on the natural history of the scolopendra in the Crimean Peninsula). He is as happy to carry out vile experiments on vampires as he is on humans – more so, in fact, since vampires are of greater scientific interest.
A scene that sums him up is the first time he flies in an aeroplane. He’s on a desperate mission to either save or destroy the Romanov dynasty (he hasn’t quite decided which at this point) and yet he takes the time to marvel at the new technology and to take in the spectacular novelty of Moscow viewed from above. I’m not sure that classic supervillains are so easily distracted from their goals. He’s a little more ‘human’ in that way.
What is your favourite biscuit?
Anything with ginger.
Tea or Coffee?
Wine. (ooh a maverick, I like your style)
If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a potato and a sloth...could you get a lazier creature? (my soul mate)
A cow with a grapevine (see above).
I'm looking forward to reading Late Whitsun, particularly as Brighton is so close to me, it's nice to feel you know the places where a story is set. Jasper's blog tour continues. See below
You can win a signed copy of Late Whitsun (using the RaffleCopter thingy below) or if you just can't wait then you can buy it here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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