Today’s guest is Neil Stenton, author of Saving Carrie. He’s here to speak with us about his new novel, his work in progress, and his advice to new authors. Before we begin the interview, let’s take a look at the cover and blurb for Saving Carrie…
After preventing the murder of a high profile witness in a major crime trial, events quickly spiral out of their control; placing both their lives in danger. With Detective Sam Burcell and the rest of the NYPD High Profile Operations Unit coming under pressure from within their own ranks, and struggling to keep control of the situation and the trial on track, James has to face the supreme test; one with far reaching consequences and which will change his life forever.
Neil Stenton’s debut novel, Saving Carrie, will take you on a thrilling journey with twists and turns at every corner. As events race to a conclusion, the stakes get raised and no one can be trusted, it asks the ultimate question. If it were you, how far would you go to save the life of someone you love?
Welcome, Neil. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m 49 years old, married with 2 cats and I live in Yorkshire. I’m a civil servant and have been for 30 years, but on top of that I’ve also worked in retail and I spent 3 years with the Royal Air Force Reserves where I rose to the heady heights of Corporal.
I enjoy reading (mostly crime fiction – my own genre, but also bios and history – mainly 20th century USA), films and travel.
When did you begin writing?
I guess I’ve always written to some extent. I studied part time whilst working, and gained a degree in social science and social history so there was a lot of essay writing involved there. It was during that time that I had the idea to try my hand at something much larger, a novel. Over the next few years ideas came to mind and I found that they would actually string together and make a believable story. That set me off once my studies had finished and my first novel, Saving Carrie, was born from that.
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
I guess you could call it a fish out of water novel mixed with a plain old police procedural (along the lines of NYPD Blue, CSI, Law and Order). It centres around an English couple on holiday in New York who get caught up in a major crime trial. Things go from bad to worse for them and there seems to be only one way out.
How did you get the idea for the book?
Saving Carrie came about from a ‘what would happen if?’ question which hit me whilst we were on holiday in New York. We watch a lot of American crime TV and I read a lot of crime fiction. With the sights and sounds of the city all around I wondered what would happen if I got caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time. How would that work out, what would I do, what would happen etc. Matching that question to the police TV shows lead me to the basics of my story.
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
It would have to be the lead detective, Sam Burcell. He’s one of the main characters and most of the viewpoint is from his angle. I based him on Kiefer Sutherland for no other reason than I needed a picture of him in my head, and he was the closest to the vision I had.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
Because it’s based in another country I don’t have the ‘on the ground’ knowledge. A lot of research, other than from memory of being there myself on holiday, came from books, maps, leaflets, photographs and good old Google maps! Ideally I’d have preferred to walk the streets where the story is based, if only to make sure I had the flow of traffic heading in the right direction. Someone, somewhere, would spot that I’m sure. I used quite a lot of famous NYC landmarks and again I’d have preferred to go and look again at them, just to get the finer details nailed down. But I eventually realised that I shouldn’t get too worried about the very fine details. It was the narrative that was important, and making it believable.
What is your primary goal as an author?
To make sure that whoever buys my work not only enjoys it, but recommends it to others and then comes back for more. There are a lot of independent authors out there, all fighting to be recognized, I’m just a small fish in a very large pool. I certainly don’t expect it to make me rich – but would love to be proved wrong.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m almost at the end of my first draft of the follow up to Saving Carrie. The new one starts as the first one ends, and whilst it’s not important to read the first beforehand it does set the characters out as it uses the same team of detectives (the NYPD High Profile Operations unit – a ficticious squad I created) but in a new case. I’m hoping to keep interest going by building a series of novels around them.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
Don’t think about it, do it. And don’t worry too much about the detail, just get the story out of your head and onto paper, the detail comes later. I think it was Hemingway who said the first draft of anything is usually crap, that’s very true – but at least it’s a first draft and you can work on it from there. The hard part is starting, once you’ve started you’re half way there (well almost).
Where can my readers go to learn more about your work?
My website is www.neilstenton.com – a work in progress at present but it will be developed shortly to provide more details, a blog and promotion for book two.
Twitter – @neil_sten
Where can readers buy Saving Carrie?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Neil Stenton was born in Sheffield, England, in 1965. He has worked in the retail trade and served three years with the Royal Auxiliary Air Force during the early 1990’s. He’s been a Civil Servant since 1985 where he currently works in communications.
Saving Carrie is his first novel and he’s currently working on his second which he hopes to release in mid 2015. It will also feature the detectives of the NYPD High Profile Operations Unit.
Married to Elaine since 1994 they live in Yorkshire with their two cats.