A Quickie with Simon Kernick

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

The Hanged Man begins with the discovery of the remains of seven women at a farm in the Welsh countryside. DS Ray Mason knows exactly who the killers are, but he has absolutely no proof, and just one lead: an accountant with links to the farm who’s now on the run. Teaming up with private detective, Tina Boyd, he must find the accountant before the killers silence him, but it seems they’re always one step ahead. The story’s very fast paced with several major twists, and a good dose of cliffhangers, so if you like books that drag you in and keep you reading, you’ll enjoy The Hanged Man.

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

The Long Hill to Success

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

I was once asked to come round to the house of a female fan by her husband, so that I could jump out from behind their lounge curtains with my latest book, and give her (in his words) a nice surprise when she came home from work. Although they lived 200 miles away, he very kindly offered to pay for my train fare as well as a taxi from the station to their house but asked if I could supply the book. I politely declined, citing work commitments, and never heard a word from him again.

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

Don Winslow. I love his books.

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

I’ve just taken up the Israeli Special Forces streetfighting technique, Krav Maga, and have installed a punchbag in my garage that I assault every morning while listening to salsa music.

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

The Force. Don Winslow. A brilliantly written, hugely powerful tour de force about corruption in the New York police department. Not only is it a fantastic thriller in its own right, it’s also hugely moving.

When you disappeared. John Marrs. A clever, troubling, and highly original novel telling the story of a man who walks out on his wife and children and disappears off the face of the earth for 25 years. The story is told from the point of view of both the man and the woman he left behind, and it moves relentlessly to an unpredictable, and hugely tense, denouement.

In a dark, dark wood. Ruth Ware. A tense and unpredictable thriller about four women on a hen night at a house in a Northumberland forest that ends in murder. It moves along at a hell of a pace but what sets it apart from its rivals are the very well drawn and believable characters Ware creates. And it has a great ending that immediately made me go out and buy her next book.

Who is Simon Kernick? Well where do I start? I wanted to be a writer ever since I was old enough to pick up a pen. I started with one page stories that I illustrated myself (badly) and, as I grew older, the stories got longer. For a long time I just wrote for myself, enjoying the process of disappearing off to new, imaginative worlds, but eventually, while working as a salesman in London I experienced this desperate desire to get published.

I’ve always been a huge crime fiction and thriller fan so I wrote a crime novel that, unfortunately, pretty much every literary agent and publisher in the land rejected. So I wrote another one with exactly the same result. I have enough rejection letters to decorate a whole house- three hundred in all-but finally I struck gold with my first novel, The Business of Dying, about a cop who moonlights as a hit man named Dennis Milne. It was released in 2002 (seven years after I first tried to get published!) and was described as ‘the crime debut of the year’ by The Independent, which was a very nice compliment.

Since then I’ve written a book a year (fifteen in all now) as well as a total of three novellas. I specialise in very fast-paced thrillers set over a short space of time which I like to think grab the reader from the very first page and don’t let go. My fifth novel, Relentless, was a Richard and Judy summer read, and the ninth and tenth, The Last Ten Seconds and The Payback, both reached number 1 in the UK book charts, so they’re good, I promise!

I don’t have a series as such and most of the books can be read as standalones, but I do have recurring characters. Dennis Milne, my vigilante cop, returns in A Good Day to Die and The Payback, and my female detective, Tina Boyd- a woman who finds herself in dangerous situations seemingly at every turn- appears in the vast majority of the recent books.

Anyway, I hope you get a chance to take a look at one or more of them and please feel free to let me know your thoughts.


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