Today I am delighted to feature author Neil White whose new novel, From The Shadows, is published this week.
I grew up in Yorkshire, in my home city of Wakefield and then my teens were spent in the small seaside town of Bridlington, where I failed all my exams and loafed around for a few years. I don’t look back on those years as wasted, as there is nothing I like more than just loafing around, but I seem to have acquired a busy life since then. I’ve always thought I’d make a great lottery winner, just slobbing around watching Netflix for the rest of my life.
One of the things that held me back was my love of going on scooter rallies, and I spent most of my time on my Vespa, travelling up and down the country to seaside resorts and trying not to get into trouble. I turned down a few job opportunities because it would have interfered with that, but it was Thatcher’s Britain of the eighties and I was able to hide amongst the unemployment statistics.
I went to university in my twenties and became a lawyer, eventually, and worked as a defence lawyer before switching sides to the prosecution. I was a Senior Crown Prosecutor for eighteen years until I left in 2015. I still practise in the courtroom though, but as a freelancer. I need it to get me out of the house, or else I’d just gather dust somewhere. It’s the only thing that gets me shaved.
I started writing more than twenty years ago, but it took me more than twelve years to get a publishing deal. I self-published a book called Salem during that time, which got me an agent who got me the deal, and was in fact rewritten as my third book, Last Rites (without the typos and grammatical errors I’d left in).
Only 500 copies of Salem exist in the whole world, and I’m happy for it to stay that way.
I’m married with three teenage children, and I live in Lancashire because I met my wife in Lancashire and she won’t leave. That was one of the first of many battles I’ve lost over the years. I expect to lose a lot more.
You can keep up to date with Neil White and his books on the following sites:
Favourite book as a child?
There are so many to pick from because I was a voracious reader as a child. The Dr Who novels (I was more of a fan of the books than the television series), the Famous Five, the Jennings books.
The one I’m going to go with, however, is The Mystery of the Moaning Cave, the tenth book in the Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigator series, which followed the adventures of three young investigators who got themselves into various scrapes in San Francisco, usually as a result of something found in a scrapyard belonging to the uncle of the main investigator, Jupiter Jones. They were a level up from the Famous Five but still very much a series for children.
The reason I’ve chosen that one is that I remember still the terror when reading it, that churn in the pit of my stomach, the “I can’t go on but I must go on but I’m too scared but I like being scared” feeling that is the essence of mystery writing.
Favourite book as a teenager?
I’m going to choose Salem’s Lot by Stephen King for same reason as above. Stephen King was the author who got me into horror fiction and I just loved his books as a teenager, and again I remember the delicious fear.
What turned me to crime fiction in the end was that I stopped being scared. A mystery, however, always needs solving.
Mickey Haller is the one who immediately came to mind, Michael Connelly’s “Lincoln Lawyer” character.
As a lawyer for more than two decades, I dreamed of it being made to look brave and cool and edgy. Mickey Haller does that, with his business conducted out of the back of his car and with a biker gang acting as his protector. He adds colour to the greyness of my other profession.
Favourite book to movie adaption?
This isn’t a crime book, or film, but still one of my favourite books and films, and that is Field of Dreams, which started life as Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella.
I just love the rural drawl of it all, and there is some innocence about the book that the film manages to capture.
What sums up both the book and film is when the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson asks Ray Kinsella, “Is this heaven?’ after Ray built a baseball field in his cornfield, so that the ghosts of the disgraced Chicago White Sox players could play baseball again after being banned for throwing the World Series. Ray responds, “No, it’s Iowa,” but in such a way that perhaps it really is heaven, with it’s lazy summer days and simple way of life.
Favourite drink or snack while reading?
Tea and sweets.
I’ve given up coffee, I end up drinking too much of it, so have tried to stick to tea. I’ve tried writing to a glass of wine, but I find that better suited to late-night movie watching. If I go to the shop, I will often come back with some sweets, which I put away in my drawer until I’m writing.
Midget gems are the usual choice, but Lion midget gems, not Maynards. I’m a purist.
Favourite highlight of your writing career?
Over the whole career, getting to number one with my fifth book, Cold Kill, is an obvious highlight, but I’m going to plump with the moment I signed my first publishing contract. After all those years of trying and failing, the elation at finally doing it was intoxicating. To be still doing ten years later with the wonderful people at BonnierZaffre is sometimes hard to believe. It has turned out to be more than I ever expected.