Somebody’s Hero – Writing process and Cast List

I began work on the follow-up to Naebody’s Hero a few weeks ago.

Having now completed the planning and research phase of the new book, Somebody’s Hero, I’m moving into the writing phase. This normally lasts around 90 days for me. 90 days of writing when everyone’s asleep, during spare moments on the train, in coffee shops, during my lunch break or in the early hours.

I’ve learned to be very productive in very little time (1000 words a day is my target. I never fall below this and frequently exceed it) and to write by instinct. There’s always time to rewrite later.

I’m not the sort of writer who plans out every chapter. I have a beginning, middle and end (sort of) in mind and I take the book a chapter at a time and see where the characters go. This is the only way that I can write and helps put an unpredictability into the story as I don’t know what’s going to happen until it does.

Plenty of writers have much more detailed plans for writing their novels, using percentages and mechanisms etc, but this is the most natural way for me to write.

Here’s to 90 days of torment and fun.

Here’s an early cast list from Somebody’s Hero:

Somebody’s Hero (SH)

Dramatis Personae:

Frank McCallum Jr – Born in 1952, joined the Marines at 18 and MI5 at 21. Currently on loan to SvetlaTorrossian-Vasquez, at the American National Security Unit (NSU). In SH Frank Jr is 49 years old.

Arif Ali – Former al-Qaeda recruit, current British Intelligence asset. Born in 1983; In SH Arif is 18 years old.

Svetla Torrossian-Vasquez
– Head of NSU, an American Intelligence agency which oversees all others. In SH, Svetla is 49 years old.

Robert Hamilton – Hero. Born in 1973. In SH Rob is 28.

Frank McCallum Sr – Retired Marine and British Intelligence legend. Born in 1930, joined Marines at 17 in 1947, joined MI5 at 20. In SH Frank is 71.

Mike O’Donnell
– Born 1962, Joined the CIA at 25, joined Homeland Security at 30. In SH Mike is 39 years old.

Kim Baker – Retired head of CTA. Born 1944; In SH Kim is 57 years old.

Jack Foley – Head of CTA, Kim’s Successor in the position. In SH, Foley is 50 years old.

Naebody’s Hero is on special offer at 77p in the UK and 99c in the US until the end of April 2013.


Interview – Keith Nixon: Author of The Fix

I reviewed Keith Nixon’s wonderful novel, The Fix a week or so and at the risk of becoming his own personal Cathy Bates, I invited Keith along for an interview:

What inspired you to write your first book?

Fundamentally I’ve always wanted to write, it’s one of my earliest memories. However in the case of The Fix I was made redundant in 2009, the run up to the event wasn’t the greatest of experiences. I’ve (perhaps!) included some of the people and extrapolated some of events that occurred during that time. So, a negative turned into a positive.

How did you come up with the title?

I’m awful at thinking up titles, I usually ask opinions of beta readers, which occurred this time around as well!

Are characters and plots based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

All of the characters are borrowed to a lesser or greater degree from people I’ve been unfortunate enough to meet but no-one is entirely ‘real’.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Wow, this is really tough. I’ve read a lot over the years and my tastes have shifted as I’ve aged (gracefully). So what influenced me as a teenager wouldn’t do so now. I really appreciate books that build strong tension and interest through the characters and their activities where not a word is wasted & they move at pace. Overall I want to be entertained so I tend not to read incredibly deep and meaningful novels.
Pre-teen I used to read a lot of adventure books. Once in teenage years I moved into sci-fi, and influencers were the Foundation series by Asimov and Lord of the Rings. Early adulthood I shifted into thrillers and now I read a lot of crime / noir. The more recently influential books are Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials series, brilliant, epic stories that encompass many challenging aspects of life.

What book are you reading now?

Abide With Me by Ian Ayris. I recently read his novella A Day in the Life of Jason Dean and was totally blown away by the story telling.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I’m lucky enough to review for the Books & Pals blog so I get to read a lot of new authors. So the aforementioned Mr Ayris, Nick Quantrill, Ryan Bracha, Gerard Brennan, Heather Hampson, Tony Black & some guy called Mark Wilson are all new to me in the last 6 months or so. All great at their craft.

What are your current projects?

I have two on the go – a follow up to The Fix (of course as yet untitled) which is in a second draft & I aim to have out in May / June, plus a historical fiction novel I wrote some years ago that’s in edit & I will finish once the other is released.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I write in an evolutionary process, like being a landscape garderner without a complete plan. Some plots grow and take over, others wither and die. So I end up having to re-jig my plot at times. It can be a bit frustrating.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I’d probably swear a bit less…

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Sure, it’s a crime / humour story seing a return of the enigmatic Mr Lamb and the Russian tramp, Konstantin. The main character this time also appeared in The Fix, but in a blink & you’ll miss it capacity – David Broadie. He’s a down on his luck reporter who has some old scores to settle. I’m writing it again in the mix of alternate chapters of 1st person / present and 3rd person / past. I like this for pace and economy and the ability to tie together multiple story strands.

Who designed the covers?

The brilliant Jim Divine. He has an uncanny knack to get to the heart of the story and how to represent it in an image. Way beyond me.

Which characters will you find hardest to part with?

Probably Konstantin, he has a devil may care attitude to life that I like. David Broadie has also been great fun too. Like me (!) he has a very sarcastic outlook on life. but he’s able to express it totally.

What’s the best thing and worst thing about the writing/publishing Biz?

The best thing is the people – I’m a natural networker and relationship builder (it’s my day job) but the people I’ve come across, in particular other writers, couldn’t be more friendly, helpful & supportive. There’s a natural desire to see everyone do well. Incredibly refreshing.

The worst thing is the old analogue based business model of the publishing industry. Good writers should be celebrated, whatever the medium. Thankfully the world is changing.

The Fix, by Keith Nixon is FREE on Amazon on 13th and 14th March 2013:


Tellin’ Stories and Confessions

I read a book a few years back called “California Schemin'” by a Scottish guy called Gavin Bain. It was a hugely entertaining story of a young rapper and his mate who conned the music industry, gaining a record deal and big advance in the process. It was also a true story (See the upcoming BBC documentary “The Great Hip-Hop Hoax”).

Gavin’s new band “Hopeless Heroic” were mentioned fleetingly at the end of the book so I decided to give them a wee try. They were and are awesome. I posted a comment on the FB page saying so and Gavin replied.

We realised we had many interests in common and have been friends since. However the first time I met the guy, I started telling him all my past and secrets for seemingly no reason. Bless him, Gav sat there with a knowing smile on his bearded wee face, nodding along and offering his own insights. I was far from the first person to do this I suspect.

Since I wrote Paddy’s Daddy, my autobiography, each new person I’ve met or old friend I’ve re-encountered after a few years has done exactly the same thing with me.

I’ve been given others’ history, problems, worries, background and confidence. People have shared their own experience with depression either first-hand or of a partner. Sometimes I get stories shared with me that haven’t been told to anyone more close to the individual in the person’s life .

I do the same thing Gav did with me. I sit and nod. I feel for them, and am very grateful that they’ve felt that they can trust me with their innermost thoughts.

I think we do this with people who’ve biographies we’ve read, subconsciously to even the score.

I think we feel that we have the other person at a disadvantage because we know so much about their feelings, life and emotions and we want to give them something of ourselves in return. I also think that there’s something easy about confiding in someone who’s been so open in their own life.

I hate my book Paddy’s Daddy. I tell everyone that, though I do love my fiction novels (you will too. go buy them). It was a difficult story to write and I’ll write some more some day, but for now I never look at it. I don’t understand why it seems to help people to read it, but I’m very grateful for every reader and friend who share their stories with me in response. Subconsciously or not.

I recently unpublished Paddy’s Daddy as I want to revisit it and do the story justice, but you can buy my fiction books Bobby’s Boy and Naebody’s Hero, here: