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Soho Honey – AW Rock Q and Q – Blogival Tour

For my second act of the Blogival festival I’m delighted to welcome A.W. Rock to the ‘stage’ author of the gripping Soho Honey.

Hi and thanks for joining me. I believe you spent a while working in Soho, are the characters in your novel inspired by real people?

I have spent both my working and social life in Soho. I have worked in the film industry shooting, editing and dubbing tv commercials, pop promos and short films. Then at the end of the day socialising with with a wide variety of people that I have met in the bars and clubs. Some of these people have influenced the characters I have created in Soho Honey. No character is based on any one person but I have taken a variety of characteristics from people and distilled them into the characters in the book. A couple of the characters are a combination of only two people I have known e.g. Snowman and Mikey. Whereas others are a mixture of people I have known.

There was a lot of characters within your first novel, do you have any kind of system for keeping track of them?

I know them all so well that they are like real people to me and so I  don’t have a problem keeping them in mind. Also when they appear in the story they are relevant to that particular scene and since I know them so well I don’t have to give their characteristics a second thought.

What is your typical working day like, are you still involved in directing?

When it’s a day that I am going to spend writing I break the ice by taking an empty foolscap pad and writing my first thoughts down without trying to make any particular sense or being grammatically correct. I speed write one or two pages and then I’m ready to start the day on my latest project. It is a free thought process that allows me to open up my mind to work on the book or the screenplay. I then find it much easier to get involved in to the world that I’m writing about. I’m not making as many films as I used to but we had great fun shooting, editing, creating the music and dubbing the one and a half minute film trailer for Soho Honey which appears on the website sohohoney.com .

What is your ideal afternoon off work?

To go into Chinatown for a dim sum lunch. Then to Bar Italia for an espresso and one of their custard tarts. Then to watch a film in the cinema on Shaftsbury Avenue. Then go to one or two of my favourite bars in Soho and see who I bump into.

Do you read a lot yourself and if so who are your favourite authors?

Ross Macdonald – for his strong storytelling and strong dialogue. He comes from a crime writing period in the USA that for me is story-telling at its best. Raymond Chandler – for his wry observations of human behaviour and his dry ironic dialogue.  Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley books – because of the sense of foreboding that saturates her stories and her insight into the strange character of Ripley. Gogol – although not exactly a crime writer I love his engaging short stories that contain elements of crime, in an existential way.

What are you working on next?

I am writing a 60 minute pilot episode for a new tv series called Lying Low in Soho. It incorporates some of the characters from Soho Honey but with a totally new story. I have not shown it to anybody yet so it is as yet uncommissioned but I’m looking for a tv production company who would be interested in producing it. I have also got the skeleton of the story for Soho Honey, Book Two and will be writing it ASAP.

Thanks very much for joining me and I look forward to reading the next installment of Soho Honey.

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Soho Honey by A.W.Rock – a review BLOG TOUR

I was sent a copy of this by the publishers Clink Street in exchange for an honest review.

The premise of this novel sounded interesting, and not like my usual choices which can often be a good thing. As the title suggests Soho Honey is set in Soho, London. The main character Branen had to leave the UK six years earlier due to his criminal past. He returns when his daughter is brutally murdered and Branen is asked to return to hunt down her killer. However he soon realises that unless he wants to spend the rest of his life running he will have to face up to his past.

I must admit to being slightly overwhelmed by the start of this novel. The book begins with a long list of names of characters such as Snowman, and Whitey and abbreviations of the varying secret agencies that are involved in the story. It looked like an awfully long list, however I skipped over that and carried on.

This is a very gritty novel that covers pretty much all the darkest elements of society including drugs, gangsters, and prostitutes, even a bit of bee keeping. It was quite an evocative novel with descriptions vividly conjuring up the seedy side of Soho that you imagine would make a great film.

Soho Honey was quite a slow story to begin with. You know from the blurb on the back that Branan’s daughter is going to get killed, but it takes a good third of the book for things to start to happen. Despite the ending I suspect that this is the start of a series, and therefore this book was very much about setting the scene for later novels.  Once the story gets going however the pace picks up.

The writing was good and it seemed to flow well. The book is split into different parts with very short chapters which I liked. Once you understand whose viewpoint each part comes from then it was easy to follow. None of the characters, including Brenan, were I thought particularly likeable but that’s not always a bad thing especially in a book like this.

Overall despite the slow start this was a good novel. There were some elements such as the writing style I really enjoyed although I suspect it was not really my kind of thing. I would imagine that for fans of 007 this would be a real treat.

 

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Where the devil can’t go by Anya Lipska – a review

Every year at the festival Val McDermid runs the New Blood panel which is a group of brand new authors who she thinks are worth reading. If it is good enough for Val it is good enough for me.

I must confess I was a bit sceptical of this book to start with. Another crime novel set in London with a young, naïve woman who would no doubt catch the criminal at the end and all would be rosy. However I was completely wrong. Despite a bit of a slow start (more to do with my attitude than the writing) this book soon gripped me. At the heart it is a murder mystery but told from the perspective of two very different characters.

One is Janusz, a polish immigrant who is seen as a kind of private detective / fixer within the polish community. He is asked to help find a missing girl. He suspects she has just run off with her boyfriend, but agrees to look into it anyway. The other main character is Natalie Kershaw, the young police detective. She is tasked with investigating the death of a young woman found floating in the Thames. Another body soon appears and she connects the two. Both characters paths cross and Janusz becomes both a suspect and a source of information.

This novel was not only an intriguing murder story, it also gave a fascinating insight into the history of Poland, and the Polish community living in London. However unlike some novels which can get bogged down in detail, none of this detracts from the story. In fact it simply enhances it and at no point do you get the feeling that you are being preached at. This was probably testament to the quality of the writing.

I thought both the main characters were equally likeable and annoying, which I find tends to be the case with most human beings anyway and meant that they seemed very realistic.  I also enjoyed the way that the story was interspersed with polish words as it seemed to give a realism to the dialogue that added to the feel of the book. You get a real sense of how it must be to have lived both in Poland under communist rule, and now as a settler in a foreign country. The descriptions of London, and then Gdansk in Poland had a certain darkness to them that gave an almost gothic feel. This was interspersed with bits of humour that  lifted what could have been quite a dark novel.

I would definitely recommend this book and look forward to hearing about future books featuring these characters at the panel at the theakstons crime festival.

 

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