I am extremely honoured to have author Graham Smith on my blog today. Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. For the last fourteen years he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.
An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com for over six years.
Firstly, many thanks for joining me today on my blog. You actually were a reviewer yourself for crimesquad.com, can you tell us how that came about and what it was like reviewing for them?
I was lucky enough to meet one of the Crimesquad team at the Harrogate Crime festival when I went outside for a smoke. I got chatting with this stranger as you do and when I found out about Crimesquad, I jokingly asked if there were any jobs going. He advised me to write a review and a synopsis of the last book I’d finished and submit it to the editor who was also at the festival. In between panels I scratched out a review of Pig Island by Mo Hayder. I then sweet talked the hotel receptionist into typing up my scrawls. The editor liked what I had to say and I was fortunate enough to be taken on as a reviewer. Chris Simmons is now a good friend of mine and someone whose opinion I value greatly.
Any tips for what makes a great review?
This is a subject I’ve discussed with many authors of all standing. The consensus seems to be that it is a balanced review which is neither fawning nor damning. Personally I’d add that reviews should be positive – the Crimesquad ethos is “if you’ve nothing nice to say, say nothing” – constructive and should be about the book and the authors skill rather than the reviewer or the reviewer’s agenda.
You got to meet and interview quite a lot of authors, what was that like? Any in particular that made you very nervous about meeting them?
I’m not the type to get terribly nervous about meeting people but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous about meeting Jeff Lindsay the creator of Dexter. I was to meet him at his hotel which was away from the convivial atmosphere of the Harrogate festival. When I asked him if he’d like a coffee or tea and he suggested a beer my nerves left me. He was great company and put me at ease.
The Major Crimes Team is a novella made up of short stories which gives the reader an introduction to the team that feature in Snatched From Home. Did you have any concerns about writing The Major Crimes Team?
It was actually my idea and something I pitched to my publisher. It was an idea I’d always had as I thought it was a great way to introduce the five key members of the team to readers. My publisher agreed and once he’d read them he suggested we have a short story collection or novella between each novel in the series. Naturally I agreed at once as it lets me spend more time in the company of Harry Evans and co.
Snatched From home is mainly a story about 2 children being kidnapped. Why did you decide to choose this type of crime for your first book and having a child yourself did you find it difficult to write?
My central idea for Snatched from Home went along the lines of “what if someone was kidnapped and their family couldn’t afford the ransom?” The idea fascinated me as most kidnappings occur to wealthy families who can afford the ransom. By taking away the family members’ financial resources, I was able to add extra layers of drama to an already dramatic situation. The way I set it up allowed me to create conflict between Nicholas and Victoria and yet have them forced to work together for a greater good. As a parent myself some scenes were tough to write, but the fact my own son was roughly the same age as Kyle also made research really easy.
The bond between the two children really stands out in this story, the braveness and mentality of Samantha was just outstanding do you think you would have been as brave if you found yourself in the same scenario?
Firstly, thank you very much for the compliment. That’s a very good and incredibly tough question to answer. As a man in his forties, I’d like to think I can stand up for myself when the need arises. For most females, the violation of rape is a terrible fear. Yet what I tried to do was create Samantha in such a way as to depict her as a strong character who was astute enough to recognise there could be worse consequences. To help her along with this I had the threat of a terrible amputation hanging like a Damoclean sword.
There are a couple of mentions to Guns N Roses in this book, by any chance would you be a fan?
I’m a huge fan and have seen them live three times. The scene where Campbell is driving home from the hospital is exactly what I did when my son was born. I also think the line from You Could be Mine – When I come home late at night, don’t ask me where I’ve been. Just count your stars I’m home again – at the start really encapsulates what a victim of kidnapping may feel.
Are you able to give us an insight in to what a typical working day for you involves?
I have a full time day job so when I get home I spend a few hours with my wife and son. I also use this time to catch up on social media and email admin. Once my son goes to bed, I will start pounding the keys for a couple of hours writing or editing.
How difficult was it for you to get your first book published?
I have been extremely fortunate in that I managed to secure a publishing contract for the first book I wrote. (Although not the first version) I run a series of crime writing courses called Crime and Publishment at the hotel I manage and one of the things included in the syllabus is the chance to pitch your novel to a publisher or agent. To date Crime and Publishment has saw three authors secure publishing contracts and one author sign up with an agent. I was the first to be signed up but I have derived as much pleasure from the success of my C&P co-conspirators.
Finally are you currently working on the next DI Harry Evans book and if so are you able to give us a taster of what we can look forward to?
I have submitted book two – I Know Your Secret – to the publisher and have the first draft of a novella – Matching the Evidence – completed to first draft status. I have also submitted the first in a different series to one of the top UK agents. I’m about to start the sequel to this and can’t say too much other than it features white supremacists, lots of action and a kick-ass hero.
For more information about the author and his books please click on the links below:
The Major Crimes Team Vol 1: Lines of Enquiry
Snatched from Home