Q&A: Tony Black - Julie Morrigan
_Today I'm delighted to welcome Tony Black, author of the highly acclaimed Gus Dury series (Paying For It, Gutted, Loss, and Long Time Dead) and a police procedural, Truth Lies Bleeding. He was in a bit of a state when he stopped by, having just read about the Krankies and their exploits after seeing them in panto. ('It's behind you!' 'I know - get a bloody move on!') After I'd given him a cup of hot, sweet tea laced with whisky to steady his nerves, we talked about what he's been up to lately.
_Tell me about your book.

Which one? I suppose the most recent is Truth Lies Bleeding which features a DI, but I'm loathe to call a police procedural. It probably is, but if I had to think about 'procedure' at any point writing it I'd have spewed on the keyboard. There's a murder, quite a nasty one, and a psychologically-damaged cop using the case as a means to reconnect with the world he's fallen out of sorts with. DI Rob Brennan is back in Murder Mile next year, mid-April, but before that there's a wee heist caper called RIP Robbie Silva that I wrote for Danny Hogan's Pulp Press.

What was your motivation for writing it?

Truth Lies Bleeding was my way of getting as far from possible from raving-lunatic alky Gus Dury ... Brennan is a family man who refuses to drink with colleagues. He's as far from Dury as I could imagine getting. And after nursing Dury through four novels I could imagine getting quite frickin far ...

What's your favourite part of the creative process?

The actual writing ... putting words down on the page. Erm, creating, I suppose. Sorry, smart arse answer, I know ...

__How much difference does an editor make?

Well, in the early days, quite a bit. My first editor was my first agent and I can still remember her asking me where the plot was? My latest book, Murder Mile, went from my RH UK editor to the proofreader with precisely zero changes. I was beyond chuffed about that because no matter how happy you are, there's always a nagging feeling that you're deluding yourself and your editor is about to tell you so. That said, I wouldn't publish as much as a par' without another pair of eyes on it.

How important is a good title?

Very. I sweat buckets over them.

How important is a good cover?

Very. I sweat buckets over them.

How do you feel about reviews?

It's a double-edged sword. My books are not fat truck-stop thrillers and it does piss me off when reviewers are clearly annoyed by this and go on about 'but so-and-so doesn't do it like that'. I had a lot of comparisons to Ian Rankin because the books are set in Edinburgh — which is very flattering — but in all honesty my writing is not a bit like his, and if a reviewer's first line is 'Well, it was actually nothing like Rankin ...' it shits me that they've kind of missed the point. All that aside, the crime genre has some of the most insightful reviewers around and I've always been well served by them. People like Ali Karim and Jeff Kingston Pierce made a real difference to my early works getting noticed and I'm grateful to them.

_ What makes you keep reading a book? And, what are you reading now?

I'm beginning to wonder about that myself after abandoning so many bad books this year. I think, more than anything, it's a voice I care about and characters I'm interested in. I'm less moved by plot as a device, but there certainly has to be a story — some reason for the characters interacting on the page. The setting can be here or there for me, I'm not all that choosy. I do like small-town American noirs, but I do like inner-city Brit noir too.

In the last year or so I've been moved by Ray Banks's Gun and by Allan Guthrie's Bye Bye Baby — both seemed to possess a kind of alchemy that kept me hooked from beginning to end. They're both short works — though by no means small — an indication perhaps that less is more. They packed a lot into those pages, and both writers made me think, it seemed, without really trying. Always a good sign ...

What are you currently working on?

I'm serialising a novella for a Scottish newspaper, it's called The Storm Without. It features a bashed-up PI called Doug Michie and it's set in my home town of Ayr on Scotland's west-coast. I grew up there and recently moved home after trooping all over the world. It's been interesting re-connecting with the place and putting down those observations. I'm actually writing the story week-to-week, too, and tackling the serialisation process has been an eye opener for me. The Storm Without's going to be published after the serialisation (about May 2012, I think) in paperback by Pulp Press and in e-book by Blasted Heath.

How can we keep up to date with your news?

Crimewatch UK is a good start ... or Pulp Pusher or my website.

Great stuff, thanks, Tony.

Tony's books are widely available, including at Amazon in the UK and the US. Those of you lucky enough to get a Kindle for Christmas know where to click first. (And if you don't, you can always pick up a 'proper' book instead.)

That's it for this year's author Q&As, but they'll be back in the new year. Many thanks to all those who have taken part so far.

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