My guest today is UK author Ian Jackson. I recently read and reviewed his debut novel DEAD CHARMING, a psychological crime thriller I found confronting but, paradoxically, compelling.
Alana: Ian, welcome. First a little about yourself if you don’t mind. You were born in Liverpool but now live in Cheshire. Why Cheshire? Did you choose it for a particular reason?
Ian: My father moved us from Liverpool to the Wirral when I was about ten years old and when I became old enough to buy a house myself I moved closer to Chester. I think of Cheshire as my home now rather than Liverpool.
Alana: The Wirral, you’re going to have to explain that.
Ian: The Wirral is a peninsular on the opposite side of the River Mersey from Liverpool…it’s a beautiful place!
Alana: And you’ve just been married—am I right in thinking that?
Ian: Yes, June 6th this year. It was a wonderful day and I married the girl of my dreams!
Alana: That’s what I like to hear—a besotted bridegroom. ☺ You’re not new to the writing world. You’ve been a magazine and features writer for over 20 years. What was the catalyst for turning to fiction?
Ian: When you write to a contract the content is pretty much set and whilst you can be creative there’s no room to explore themes. Writing fiction means that I can write as I feel and then answer to readers, which is refreshing.
Alana: And why did you choose the crime genre?
Ian: I’m fascinated by the relationship between criminals and their crimes. I wanted to explore the psychological driving-force and the necessary impact that crime has on both perpetrator and victim—plus I love a great crime thriller myself!
Alana: DEAD CHARMING, your debut novel, is set in Manchester. Why did you pick that city for its location?
Ian: I know Manchester very well having worked in the city for a number of years. I love the city and the people and I wanted to set the novel in a place populous enough to help make the narrative believable.
Alana: I have to say that I found the subject matter difficult to read at times but even while thinking that I found myself thinking how well you dealt with it. How did you decide how graphic you should be?
Ian: I was careful to balance the murders with emotional response and bring in private lives as a shield against the natural horror of the crimes. I contemplated the psychological effect of the crimes on the characters themselves, thereby insulating the reader to a certain extent—I hope I managed to do that!
Alana: Thinking back on it I’d say you did a pretty good job of that. You have a new novel out I believe, in ebook format at the moment but a paperback edition isn’t far away. Would you tell us a little about it.
Ian: Yes, it’s called DEADLY DETERMINATION and is available throughout the world as a Kindle download. The paperback will be ready before the end of July and I have arranged book signings at Waterstones across the North West of the UK for late July and August—visit www.ian-d-jackson.com for further information.
The story is set in Liverpool and follows the trials of DI Karen Bellows as she navigates her way through a difficult investigation where honesty is not necessarily synonymous with the truth—I’ve written the book as a fast-paced crime story with an un-guessable and breathtaking ending—I hope!
Alana: It sounds like another good one from you! It may be a bit premature to be asking this, but have you started on a third novel yet or, if not, have you one in mind? And can I ask whether you’ll be continuing in the psychological crime genre?
Ian: Yes, my third novel Deadly labels will be out for Christmas this year and readers of DEADLY DETERMINATION get a sneak preview as the introduction and first chapter are at the back of the book.
Alana: Ian, thank you so much for talking with me today. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about you and your work.
Ian: Thank you Alana and thank you for your comments and review of DEAD CHARMING. I find it truly inspirational hearing readers’ thoughts.
John L Work’s novels are both a product of his experience as a career policeman and his opinions about what’s going wrong in American society. He’s not afraid to use either to get a message across and his books are the more hard-hitting because of it. John is my guest author this week.
Alana: John, welcome. Am I right in thinking you’re a Colorado boy born and bred and that you’ve not strayed too far during your career and personal life?
John: Hi, Alana. Thank you for the invitation today. Actually, I was transplanted to Colorado from Pennsylvania via Southern California. I’ve lived in Colorado pretty much since 1978.
Alana: I’ve read several of your books now, the last two being my featured book reviews this week: The right angle murders and A dark obsession times 2. Both continue the career of Detective JD Welch, the character who stars in four of your books, the other two being A summons to perdition and Murder for comfort. They focus on different periods in Welch’s career and I’d like to ask several questions related to this. First, why not a time consecutive following of his career? Second, did you have a series in mind when you wrote the first Welch novel? And last, will there be any more of his exploits in books to come?
John: A dark obsession times 2, Murder for comfort, and A summons to perdition, are time-consecutive. At the beginning I didn’t intend to write a series. The idea sort of materialised after I published A dark obsession. As it turned out the first two books became the groundwork for A summons to perdition, which is the grand finale. Altogether the original trilogy was a two-year project. I thought I was pretty much finished with Welch as a retired old man by then.
Alana: But you realised you weren’t?
John: I received enough requests from readers for more JD Welch adventures that I wrote The right angle murders, putting Welch at the very beginning of his career as a rookie police detective. Hence the out-of-sequence stories.
Alana: How closely does Welch’s career parallel yours?
John: A dark obsession times 2 is based on a true case from my professional life and anecdotal events from my police career. Nearly all of it is true, although names and places are changed. (I did take some liberty with the very end of the story.)
Alana: I won’t give it away, but I’m glad to hear that. It made me very sad.
John: If I told you about the real-life ending here, I’d spoil it for your readers. In the sequel, Murder for comfort, Welch sets off to some places and encounters situations that are his own—yet there are elements of the story that are also from my career. By the time we get to A summons to perdition, Welch is doing things I never did. He’s become his own man.
Alana: Let’s look at your other works now. The canal, a futuristic police investigative novella, is one that brings to the fore your interest—if that’s the right word—in military injustice. What was the impetus for writing it?
John: Actually, I wrote The canal with two real-life situations in mind—the imprisonment of 10 American soldiers who killed terrorists in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars and came home to find themselves wrongfully prosecuted for murder; and the ongoing incremental Islamisation of the United States. The plot flips back and forth between now and the future. As one of my reviewers put it, it’s a story of life, love, war and survival in today’s world—and in an Islamised America, forty years from now.
Alana: And then there’s The barter and A well regulated vengeance, (a futuristic look at firearms’ legislation which I think I’m going to have to read) a novella that also looks at crime from a victim’s perspective. Both with subject matter close to your heart, I suspect, yes?
John: Near and dear to my heart, yes. Both of these books also have threads of real-life events running through them. A well-regulated vengeance puts an aggrieved father named Kirkbaugh, living five years or so in the future, in the position of planning to avenge his daughter’s brutal murder, because the cops botched the investigation. The killer is walking about free. At the same time Kirkbaugh himself becomes a fugitive from justice because he has a handgun which Congress has decided to outlaw. So, he’s the hunter and the hunted, the righteous avenger and a criminal on the run. I wrote The barter on a suggestion from my best-seller author friend Diana West. It’s set a few years in the future (I do seem to go there rather frequently) wherein the very sovereignty of parts of the United States is up for sale—to relieve our crippling national debt. There are two main characters, a retired army sergeant and his wife, whose lives are terribly, horrifyingly, nightmarishly turned upside down as the result of the land-exchanged-for-debt barter.
Alana: It sounds very dark.
John: Well, it’s not at all like Mary Poppins, Alana. But, then again, these are not particularly happy times in which we live right now. Oh, to be sure, there are some laughs in The barter along the way. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s a very intense thriller. So, yes, I do try to capture our present time in my books and, in the microcosm of fictional characters’ sturm und drang, present a believable prognostication of what’s ahead for all of us.
(Readers, I had to look that one up. Here’s the merriam-webster.com definition: a late 18th century German literary movement characterized by works containing rousing action and high emotionalism that often deal with the individual’s revolt against society.)
Alana: I notice a theme flowing through all of them, John—crime. I know you were a policeman and that you’re obviously very familiar with the subject, but has it been a conscious decision to focus on the crime genre in your writing?
John: It’s true there is a lot about crime in my works. I began this writing business with the sole intention of spinning a true-to-life yarn or two. But, as things progressed, a few political threads also began to elbow their way into some of my books. You can’t separate police work from politics, since the police are part of the executive branch of any Constitutional or Parliamentary government. A summons to perdition is really a hair-raising crime/political thriller, as are The barter, A well regulated vengeance and The canal. The right angle murders and Murder for comfort are purely crime fiction with an authentic feel.
Alana: Until very recently you had a blog—Here’s The Right Side Of It—which was an eclectic collection of posts about books—yours and other authors—news and opinion pieces. You hold very strong opinions about what affects and influences American society such as military injustice and Islam. I mention those two in particular because, as we’ve discussed, they’ve found their way into some of your books. Would you tell us a little bit about why these are matters dear to your heart?
John: I come from a family with a deep history of military and police service. Not everyone who served made a career of it, but each of them answered the call. I believe I owe them a debt for their sacrifices. What’s happened to some of our returning soldiers and Marines coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan is nothing less than criminal. That’s a major thread in The canal. Since you’ve asked me about the Islamic jihad theme in my books, I hope you can hang with me here for a rather protracted explanation …
Alana: Oh, I’m sure I can.
John: There is a distinct parallel between the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s’ absence of news reporting regarding the Soviet infiltration of the American government pre and post WWII—and the current infiltration of our culture, institutions and government by the forces of Islam. Just as there were scores of communist agents in the White House, Treasury Department, and State Department during WWII (and they exercised strong influence on Roosevelt’s prosecution of the war), today there are Muslims in the Pentagon, the armed forces, the CIA, the White House and State Department. And they also exert a tremendous influence on what is amounting to our evolving shariah-compliant public policy. The similarities between the two eras are astonishing. Islamic doctrine is one very hot potato that few in political life or media outlets want to handle—in any straight-forward way. Ergo, nearly 13 years after the 9/11/01 attacks in New York and Washington, DC, very few Americans, including those in positions to shape public policy, have any clue as to what’s really Islam’s end game.
Alana: What is the end game?
John: Great question. Firstly, most Americans don’t even know about the beginning of the game (the war against the Infidels of the world actually began in 622 AD). Political leaders abjectly refuse to actually read the doctrines or to pay attention when Islam’s mainstream leaders throughout history tell us where they intend to take us. So, the WWII Big Lie was that Soviet Russia was our ally, a wonderful bastion of individual freedom, and that Josef Stalin was really a decent guy (even though he’d already murdered four million of his own people by the time WWII got under way). My friend Diana West wrote about that in her latest book, American betrayal. Today’s corresponding Big Lie is that Islam is a religion of peace and intends to peacefully co-exist with Western Civilisation. We’ve been spoon-fed that lie since 2001, beginning with George W Bush, a few days after the 9/11 attacks here in America. That’s a mind bender, huh?
Alana: John, you’re going to have to spell it out for me. What do you believe the end game is?
John: It’s not what I believe is the end game. It’s been clearly spelled out for us in writing by mainstream Muslim authorities throughout history. The end game is complete subjugation of all the world’s people and nations under Muslim Law. Convert to Islam or become a dhimmi—one who lives under the protection of his Muslim masters as a second class citizen with few rights. That’s the choice Islam gives us. Refusing to convert or to submit to dhimmi status is grounds for us to be killed in violent jihad. It certainly wasn’t my idea. It was written down in the Quran and in the shariah (Muslim law) centuries ago. Mainstream Muslim authorities today speak about that goal—often and in public. The problem is that our leaders and news outlets aren’t paying attention to them. Our elected officials and the majority of the press corps have their blinders on when it comes to violent jihad’s roots in the doctrines of Islam. Let’s put a sharp point on it here. Ignoring readily available books and public discourse, especially when the writers and speakers clearly state their intentions for us, can have sinister consequences. Mein Kampf comes to mind.
Alana: And that’s why you’ve pursued that issue in some of your books?
John: Absolutely. If no one writes or speaks about the jihad movement, our ongoing step-by-step surrender will go on. Not too many authors are writing fiction about jihad with authenticity. It’s just not polite. And it’s dangerous. Any criticism of Islam, in writing or spoken, is a capital crime—punishable by death. It’s called blasphemy. Nonetheless, I decided to spin a few detective suspense thrillers, especially A summons to perdition, around that end-game theme—grounded in fact, doctrine and in Muslim history. It’s a great detective story. I’ve had many readers, especially women, tell me they had difficulty sleeping for few nights after reading ASTP.
Alana: Me included, I confess!
John: Mission accomplished! You’re very kind. Thank you for saying it. Islamic law is repressive and brutal in its treatment of females. Everything that unfolds in the plot of ASTP has its foundation in the shariah. What happens to the victims in ASTP could happen to any of us—including you wonderful Aussies there, down under. It’s a disturbing, terrifying novel. If you want thrills and chills, read on!
Alana: Before we finish I’d like to ask if you have another book or project in the pipeline and, if so, would you tell us about it?
John: I’ve taken a little break from writing books, at least for the time being. I just published The barter in August of 2013. Nonetheless, I have to confess that there are already a few pestering thoughts which have begun to circulate through my head about beginning another novel. But they’ve not taken sufficient shape for me to decide what the story will be about.
Alana: Another Welch novel?
John: Oh, sure, JD Welch is a remote possibility for another encore. But a real-life cop is limited in what he can do by the constraints of the law and by his department policies. I try to keep my stories authentic and believable. So, I don’t know how viable good old JD the cop really is for a reprise. We’ll see soon enough. It’ll come to me.
Alana: John, thank you so much. It’s been both thought-provoking and a pleasure.
John: And I thank you, Alana, for your kind invitation.
The author spent 20 years in law enforcement in the US and the believability level in all of his stories and novels that encompass crime is sky high.
This novel, like most of his others, once again has as its protagonist Detective JD Welch. I’ve read all of the Welch books now and have enjoyed following his career. To me this one actually comes across as a thinly-disguised accounting of Work’s own career—although I could be wrong about that—and it makes for compelling reading. Welch is now working in the Roberts County, Colorado Sheriff’s Office Jail Division. Still a policeman, but working inside the jail investigating crimes perpetrated by inmates. Work covers a lot of ground, situations, crimes—and there are some nasty ones—locations and time periods that are all in some way connected to men who are serving time or have served time and therefore come within Welch’s ambit.
As I say, we cover a lot of ground but one crime investigation weaves its way throughout. It’s the one that opens and closes the story and every time I thought we might be in danger of wandering too far from the central theme it pops up again—a measure of Work’s weaving skill.
It is apparently a true story and it’s one that affected me.
If you want happy-ever-after endings to your books don’t look for them in Work’s novels. His are definitely reflections of the injustices and inequalities of real life. However, don’t let that put you off. Even though at times the subject matter may be hard-hitting they are well worth the read.
I’m a fan of Work’s. I’ve read several of his novels and novellas now and each displays the same tight writing and attention to detail that I’ve come to expect. This one is no exception.
This is a short novella that takes us back to the beginning of JD Welch’s career as a detective. (Welch is the central character in many of Work’s novels.) He and his senior partner, Joe Bryerson, are assigned to a nasty rape case that has all the hallmarks of a murder gone wrong. Unfortunately for them they have no clues as to the perpetrator and as murder follows murder and the media intensity puts the Sheriff’s office under the unwanted spotlight the detectives feel increasingly frustrated at their lack of progress.
The story opening has a definite feeling of noire about it and the ending is shocking but I can understand the sentiment behind it. I imagine many a cop would like a nasty case to end similarly.
Work’s history in law enforcement and talent for telling this kind of tale once again delivers a believable case with believable characters.