“When rookie private detective, Errol Black, gets mixed up in the killing of gangster Dutch Schultz, he vows to clean up his act. But when former partner Dyke Spanner is shot to death, Black is drawn into a violent and bloody quest for a mythical, priceless diamond . . .”
How did you start writing ?
I have always been a writer. My earliest memories contain the writing of stories. As a child, I had dreams of being a film star, a spy or an author. It was clear that of the three, writing was my real passion, and dreams aside I was never going to be cut out to be the next James Bond or Marlon Brando! Every opportunity I got, I would write whether it be stories, poems, reviews and I am sure, quite a lot of nonsense along the way. As I grew older my writing became more serious and I continued to produce a range of stories covering a variety of genres, often handing in extra work to my High School Literacy tutor for review.
How did Errol, the main character of Black Shadows, come into being ?
Errol has been developed over many years. I suppose he was born from a thousand mysteries, encapsulating Sam Spade, Phil Marlowe, Mike Hammer and more recently Max Allan Collins’ Nate Heller. And of course with a good dose of Simon Swift mixed in there. I wanted to make him much more three dimensional than the typical wisecracking private eye, but not lose that authenticity and hardboiled grittiness.
What for you were the most important plot factors to include/maintain in Black Shadows ?
Black Shadows is such a labyrinthine mystery, it was a constant worry, ensuring I maintained all the interweaving plotlines, subplots and red herrings. My intention was to steep it in history, the real life death of Dutch Schultz being the inspiration, and to weave the fiction around this.
How did you start writing Black Shadows ?
I started writing Black Shadows many years ago. After reading Politics and Philosophy at The University of York, I embarked on a 12 month odyssey of adventure, traveling the world with my beautiful girlfriend. Alongside the odd pair of clean clothes and a stack of paperbacks, my most treasured possession was the notebook, which contained the chrysalis of my own hardboiled novel.
Who or what do you feel influenced your narrative style most ?
That’s a difficult one. For Harper Collins to compare me to Chandler and Hammett is an unbelievable compliment. I guess there is plenty those guys in there, as well as a splash of Spillane. More recent authors that have influenced my style and panache would be the amazing Max Allan Collins and the legendary James Ellroy. If I have got even close, I am a very happy man.
Current and upcoming projects ?
I am currently putting the finishing touches to the sequel, The Casablanca Case, a much darker novel, which reveals much about the friendship of Errol Black and Hermeez Wentz. This is a crime mystery story, but also a tale about murder, betrayal and love.
Which writer(s) past and present would you like to recommend to your readers (in addition to you, naturally!)
James Ellroy is the greatest living crime writer and the LA Noir series is an absolute must read. Anti-hero Dudley Smith is one of literature’s finest creations. As far as other authors, there are far too many to list although David Peace, Haruki Murakami and Khaled Hosseini are current faves, alongside old classics like Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
Do you have a special place where you like to work ? Do you have a timetable or is it as and when you can manage ?
With young children, a beautiful wife, and a very demanding day job, it is a matter of write when and where you can, although I do like nothing better than to be out in the natural beauty of the Yorkshire countryside, letting inspiration wash over me.
Do you write mainly on a computer, or does it start with pen on paper ?
Always starts with pen and paper. The computer is just the icing on the cake. There is nothing better than starting with a fresh, white page and the germ of an idea. I’m a big believer in writing down your first thoughts and just letting it flow. I have never written a book in order and probably never will.
Are there any favourite websites or writing communities you would like to recommend to other writers ?
Authonomy was great to me. It was a rollercoaster journey, and getting the great review from Harper was swell, but it also introduced me to so many great people, offering invaluable advice. There is as much bad as good, but that is the nature of all advice! I learnt an incredible amount during my time there.
Since then I have spent more time on Nightreading, a community of writers set up by old authonomist Tim Roux. This is a truly wonderful place, full of splendid people who constantly offer support and best wishes. They also publish about 50 books a year, which has brought some great books to print.
Lorraine Holloway-White’s Authors on Show is also a great site and offers invaluable support and promotion of published an unpublished authors. Lorraine works tirelessly and has built a great team around her.
What have been your experiences on Kindle so far ? How does ebook publishing compare to print ? Do you think ebooks are going to overtake print, or will they settle into being a handy ‘extra’ to traditional publishing ?
Wow. Too much to think about here. I kind of like kindle, but am very new to it. It feels wonderful when your book hits a top 100 list (Black Shadows has recently got as high as 14 in the mystery / hardboiled section) and yes I think eventually kindle will take over the world, a bit like Tesco is doing! But ultimately I remain a traditionalist and will always cherish the feel of a ‘real’ book in my hands. It’s even better when it’s your own ‘real’ book!
Where can we read/buy your work ? Website links :
Publishers website: http://wildwolfpublishing.com/SSwift.aspx
Amazon paperback (UK): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Shadows-Simon-Swift/dp/1907954082/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1301345022&sr=1-11
Amazon paperback (US): http://www.amazon.com/Black-Shadows-Simon-Swift/dp/1907954082/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1301345022&sr=1-11
Amazon kindle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Shadows-ebook/dp/B004TAFNCM/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=A3TVV12T0I6NSM&qid=1301345022&sr=1-11
Waterstones online: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/simon+swift/black+shadows/8542180/