A Quickie with Simon Toyne

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

My latest book is “The Boy Who Saw”, the second book in my Solomon Creed series, though you don’t have to have read the first one to understand what’s going on.

It starts – as all good crime books should – with a murder. An old tailor is brutally killed in his workshop in southern France and a message daubed on the wall in his blood saying “Finishing What Was Begun.” It turns out the tailor was one of only four survivors of a notorious Nazi death camp and the dead man’s granddaughter, fearing that her own research into her family history may have revealed his identity and inadvertently put her and her young son in danger, takes it upon herself to seek out the other three survivors to warn them. She must embark on a journey across France and into her own family history with her young son in tow to find people who have stayed hidden for seventy years before the killer gets to them first.

And you have to read it to find out what the boy saw. 🙂

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

It would be called “Confessions of the Luckiest Bastard Alive” because that’s what I feel like because I make a living telling stories, which is what I’ve always ever wanted to do.

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

Quite a few readers of my first three books, the Sanctus trilogy which revolved around a mysterious and semi-mythical ancient religious artefact, believed I had some kind of special knowledge of something real and the books were non-fiction. I got asked quite a few times where the (totally fictional) city of Ruin was in Southern Turkey and wouldn’t believe me when I said it only  existed in my head. I think they thought I was holding out on them.

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

Lee Child. Because I love Jack Reacher and because I share an almost identical CV with Lee – we both worked in commercial British television before writing our first novels aged around 40, only Lee got fired from his job whereas I quit mine. So I win….kind of.

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

I am going to be the 14th Doctor. If you don’t believe me just look at the way I dress.

Recommend 3 books you’ve read recently and say why you chose them.

A Lesson in Violence – Jordan Harper.

One of the very many perks of being a writer is that nice people send you books to read in advance of their publication in the hope that you might say nice things about them that they can put on the cover or on the Amazon listing. Most of these books I like, some of them I really like and a few I flat out love. ‘A lesson in Violence’ falls squarely into this last category. It’s about an ex-con who made some heavy enemies inside and who has to take his daughter on the run with him in order to protect her from battalions of bad men who want her dead. In the process of making her safe he and his daughter form a bond, rebuilding their burned bridges, while he teaches her to be a total bad-ass. It’s a debut that reads like the work of a master.

The Force – Don Winslow

This was another advance copy, though it’s out now and has become a huge bestseller in the States. The best way to describe it is that it’s The Godfather of cop novels. It constantly baffles me that Don Winslow is not more famous. He’s a brilliant writer and his books are never less than lyrical epics. I first came across him when I read “The Power of the Dog” as part of my research into Mexican drug cartels for ‘Solomon Creed’. The follow up “The Cartel” has been optioned by Ridley Scott and David Mamet (‘The Verdict’, ‘The Untouchables’, ‘Glengarry GlenRoss’) is adapting the script. You should read them all immediately before Hollywood ruins them.

Reacher Said Nothing – Andy Martin

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Lee Child recently and part of my advance research included this book, a fascinating and beautifully insightful, forensic study of the writing of the 20th Jack Reacher book – Make Me. Doctor Andy Martin – a top flight, Cambridge academic with a penchant for surfing and hard-boiled fiction – decided to play Boswell to Child’s Johnson and, sometimes literally, looked over his shoulder as Lee wrote an entire novel and tried to kill his amanuensis with passive smoke. It’s a great read on its own merits but utterly essential for any writers who want to put themselves in the room with a modern master at work.

Who is Simon Toyne? Simon Toyne is the international bestselling author of the Sanctus trilogy – Sanctus, The Key and The Tower – and the Solomon Creed series. He wrote Sanctus after quitting his job as a TV executive and it became the biggest selling debut thriller of 2011 in the UK. His books have been translated into 27 languages and published in over 50 countries.

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