Would I lie to you?
I make stuff up for a living. I’m not a professional liar; I’m an author of fiction books. It’s a weird contradiction considering one of the things I dislike most is telling a lie. I try to temper both aspects of my psyche by reassuring myself that when writing fiction it’s more a bending of reality than a downright untruth. So I’m happy enough with that. Except sometimes reality can prove not only stranger than fiction, it can sometimes overtake it to a point where it is almost unbelievable.
When I was writing my most recent Joe Hunter novel, Marked For Death, I had him stumbling into a terrorist plot to attack soft targets in the US. Some of the scenes I’d written reflected too closely the shocking attacks that subsequently occurred in London and Manchester, so I went back and changed them. It wasn’t because I wanted to shy away from the horror experienced by the victims of the attacks, but neither did I want to cause them any distress. I don’t write action thrillers to glorify violence, but to show how ugly and damaging it really is. I stuck with the plot, if not the individual scenes, and instead of avoiding the issue altogether I wove the incidents into the narrative to add a touch of realism to my fiction. In one way, I guess that by still sending Hunter up against the bad guys I was thumbing my nose at those lunatics trying to terrify us into changing our way of life. But then, maybe I’m thinking too deep.
No. I write primarily for entertainment’s sake. The Joe Hunter books aren’t some social, political or religious comment on the state of the world. They’re there for fun and a visceral kick of adrenaline. I make ’em up, so that readers can escape reality for a few hours, where they can cheer for the good guys and boo and hiss at the baddies. For this one I’ve ramped up the action to please my long time fans, and hopefully to give new readers another hero to root for.
If you haven’t tried a Hunter book before, it’s probably a good idea for me to introduce him. Hunter is British, an ex-soldier who once worked for a fictional counterterrorism unit, but is now out in the world with little direction and a heap of physical skills. In the books he works for his friend Jared ‘Rink’ Rington’s private investigations firm in the USA. But Hunter isn’t an investigator; he is employed to do the kind of work where some physical intervention might be required. He tends to be a protector first, and sometimes a vehicle for vengeance. He isn’t afraid to use his fists or his gun when trouble arises, and he’s the type to attract trouble. In some respects he’s a throw back to earlier days, a bit like the lawmen of the Wild West, tough and uncompromising, with a set of questionable morals, but also good at heart. His adventures aren’t what you find in your typical British crime fiction novel, and aren’t whodunits or police procedurals, they’re more race against time thrillers. There’s a reason why I chose to write in this style and it’s because it’s the type of book I prefer to read. I grew up reading what used to be termed men’s action adventure books (now more commonly called action thrillers) and was hugely inspired by them when I set out on my own writing career. American authors wrote many of those books, and so I’ve absorbed more of their tropes than I have of classic British crime fiction writers. Crime obviously plays a huge part in the Hunter series, but viewed from a different angle than a mystery to be solved, and more a problem to be dealt with.
Marked For Death is the twelfth book in the Joe Hunter series, but fear not, it is a standalone adventure, and a good place at which to meet Hunter if you choose to pick up the book. Despite the dark and fearful nature of the crimes involved, it’s a fun and frantic ride. And like I said, it’s makey-up stuff, although set against a very real backdrop, and genuine threat. In my humble opinion I believe it’s Hunter’s most explosive adventure to date. Honest. Would I lie to you?