A Quickie with MJ Lee

Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.
He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.
When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, researching his family history, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?

WHERE THE DEAD FALL is a nail-biting crime thriller, full of breathtaking twists and turns in this fast-paced and extraordinarily original novel. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham, Peter James and Faith Martin.

That’s the blurb.

The truth is the novel is a love letter to Manchester.
With a committed copper, determined to prove himself after recovering from bone cancer.
With a series of killings that threaten a gang war to rival the Gunchester days of the late 1990s.
With an apparent death by drowning which is not supported by the post mortem.
With a coroner desperate to make sure her role actively serves the victims of crime.
With secrets hidden in plain sight for twenty years.
With a race against time to uncover the truth.
Like I said, a love letter.

If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?

He came. He saw. He conked out.

What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?

To stop writing nasty things about Donald Trump.
Apparently, I had defamed the President repeatedly when he was a candidate in the elections. I looked in all my books and could find not one reference to the Orange person. I eventually discovered there is a political reporter in America with the exact same name – M J Lee. The fact that she is of Korean ancestry, female, five feet tall, and far younger than me, had no effect on my emailer. Despite my protestations of innocence and sending this man one of my hairiest publicity shots, I still received emails throughout the campaign castigating me for criticising such a wonderful man. So it goes.

If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?

Samuel Pepys. I love the diaries, reading them every day online. They have such wit and wisdom, as well as being a welcome relief from reading the English newspapers. Entries are published daily if anybody wants to read them. https://www.pepysdiary.com

Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).

I used to dub Hong Kong Kung Fu Movies. Yes, I was that awful voice who never managed to make the words sync with the lip movements. I did learn how to make some devilish kung fu noises though and enjoyed every second of it. Dubbing porn movies wasn’t so much fun…you hyperventilate after ten minutes.

Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.

Find the time to read is difficult these days. I actually have to set time aside in my diary to do it…but here are some books I’ve read in the last couple of months.

Seven Miles Out – Carol Morley. Achingly truthful novel about a young girl coming to terms with her father’s suicide. Non-fiction presented as fiction by a film maker born in Stockport.

Exit Music – Ian Rankin. The Master. Not merely for his characterisation, his people buzz with life, but for his technical ability to move people around the page. Rankin’s books flow because he is the consummate writer. I read this again recently and was wowed by the ease of it. I am not worthy….

Flicker -Theodore Roszak. Picked up at a charity shop for 20p. What a great read. Written in the early 90s, it somehow brings together the Cathars, the strangeness of America society, the Golden Age of Hollywood, horror movies and cinematic theory, all in one rollocking adventure story. Far better than Dan Brown, this man can actually write. Couldn’t put it down…


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