I am delighted that Will Patching author of the
The Hack, which is currently free from all major online retailers across most countries, has dropped by to take take part in my Q&A Interview. Not only that but Remorseless is free to new members of the Readers Group who sign up for Will’s occasional newsletters. Links can be found at the bottom.
Good morning Will welcome to Chelle’s Book Reviews. Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
I am a Brit who opted out of corporate life in my early forties when the company I was running was sold. I was fortunate and chose to use the money I received to semi-retire and downshift from my hectic seventy-hour plus weeks. Since then I have had number of business interests in a variety of places, having lived outside of my home country for the last 16 years.
My travels and my varied life experiences help me in my writing: I have done all sorts from working on a sewage treatment plant ‘weeding’ filter beds, to piloting a jet in the RAF; hod-carrying on building sites, to mingling with the brightest business minds at Harvard; and from building an MGB based kit car in my garage in Bristol to building a 34-metre yacht for charter in Thailand. All good stuff – although the yacht sank in the South China Seas five years ago and took most of my nest-egg with
When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? and how did you go about it?
I loved books as a child and used to spend hours in my local library while my pals were out bike riding or fishing etc. It was during those formative years that I dreamt of having a book on the shelves with my name on the spine.
In my mid-teens I won a county schools writing competition for something boring – computerisation in banking – way back in the seventies when computers were the size of cars and the concept relatively new. Winning that award prompted me to start a novel… Thankfully, it was never completed and will never see the light of day. Dreadful, of course, but the ambition was there!
For the next thirty years I was too busy, working hard at various jobs, and my writing was limited to business reports. When I downshifted I finally found the time to write fiction and started with some short stories before eventually moving on to novels.
Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
When I began the research stage I decided I would write two novels, not one, as you hear the old saying ‘everyone has a book inside them’ so had to prove to myself I could deliver more!
I also chose to write in two related genres but with different styles: I wrote The Hack, an out and out international thriller, then Remorseless, a more psychologically oriented Brit crime thriller. I always had plans to turn them both into trilogies, but sales were so poor to start with I ended up focusing my energies back on business – hence the yacht, which was built for charter in a beautiful part of the world: South-east Asia. Then she sank, so the Remorseless trilogy is now complete and I am working on book two in The Hack trilogy – The Hunter.
My style is not for everyone as I don’t shy away from difficult subjects. The Hack centres on a VIP paedophile ring, and, although it was written before the Savile scandal hit the UK, that suggests such things are all too real.
Remorseless is also hard-hitting as it takes the reader inside the mind of a genuinely psychopathic character, from his deep point of view, so the thrill ride is not for those who prefer their crime fiction to be cozy. Some of my characters use profanity too, just like in real life, and the violence is often brutal so the imagery is disturbing for some readers.
Having said all that, I have thousands of loyal fans who have joined my Readers Group, and both those first novels have plenty of five-star reviews, with an average of well over four stars. It’s horses for courses, and my readers are those who willingly join me on an exciting roller-coaster ride into the darker side of the human condition.
What is your writing process? and how long does it take?
Well, those first two novels were drafted by hand – each well over 100,000 scrawled words that then had to be laboriously typed into a computer during the first edit. Both drafts were written in a finger-crushing, thumb-numbing, RSI-inducing flurry of inspired activity over the course of just a few weeks.
Before settling down at the kitchen table with a dozen pens and a stack of paper, I spent months cogitating, researching and coming up with ideas. Although I don’t plan each chapter or scene, or write detailed character profiles, I have a good idea of where the novel will go, but the detail comes about as I write. The characters often surprise me as they come to life and do their own thing, taking the novel in a new direction at times. It is a fascinating experience and one of the great joys of writing.
At first, I did try planning novels in full, having read a ‘how to write a blockbuster novel’ book, but became bored very quickly during the writing process as I felt I was just rewriting rather than creating – there were no surprises for me and if I was bored, I decided the readers would be too. Stephen King’s brilliant semi-autobiographical instruction manual, On Writing, gave me the inspiration to just ‘get the story down’ – so that’s what I do.
Editing takes an age as I am a little OCD and have been described by one of my beta readers as ‘a perfectionist’ because the novels appear to be ‘perfect’ even at that stage. Each of those frantically scribbled early drafts, and my more recent typed drafts, have had some fifteen or more editing passes, including at least three where I read the entire novel aloud – I do that to ensure the narrative flows and that the character voices are as authentic and distinguishable as I can make them.
So, how long? Several months, I’m afraid. They are full-length novels, at an average of 122,000 words, as I like complex characters and intricate plots. Some authors can turn out a book every couple of months, but I don’t think I will ever do that! Two per year is possible, now that I am full time.
Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
All my characters are fictional, but often take character traits from people I know or have read about. I create an amalgamation in my mind as I write, so, for example, for a villain I may visualise an actor or celebrity as I write, but give him characteristics of a real-life killer, or mix of killers. The same applies for my heroes and minor characters – I am visualising a person but filling out the personality by mixing aspects from all sorts of people.
Have you wrote about a personal experience in your novels?
No. However, I am now considered something of an expert on psychopaths, and even have a website to share knowledge about these damaging individuals – Psychopaths in Fact & Fiction. Most are not killers, and many inhabit senior positions in government and business, in medicine and law.
So, why the fascination and what personal experience do I have?
Funnily enough, because I write about villainous psychopaths from their point of view, sharing their perspective, some readers harbour suspicions that I may be one! I am not. But psychopaths love to lie, so I’ll leave you to mull that one over!
The truth is, the reason I write about psychopaths, became fascinated by them, is that I had the misfortune to unknowingly invite one into my life, into my home, and suffered terribly as a consequence.
As I said, they are not all killers, and they are adept at hiding in plain sight, masquerading as normal folk while manipulating, exploiting and damaging those around them, often while appearing to be charming and successful to others.
What research do you do?
A great deal.
My background allows me to imagine all sorts of scenarios, but the detail has to be authentic. I know it’s fiction, but I like to give that sense of realism throughout, so do my best to make sure the tales hang together in a factual way.
It’s no hardship – I am a news junkie and love to read about areas that are outside of my own experience and expertise. For my latest psychological suspense novel, the last in the Remorseless trilogy, Gaslighting, I learnt a great deal about explosives and even the recipe for making chloroform. I am probably on the NSA/GCHQ’s watchlist thanks to my internet search history!
Who would you like to co-write with and why?
Stephen King or James Patterson. King is a master of the written word, unsurpassed at creating exciting scenarios and memorable characters, whereas Patterson is brilliant at his genre and more market focused. They have no respect for each other’s work, but I respect them both!
What’s your favorite book?
Non-fiction: On Writing by King. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in writing.
Fiction: There are so many I have read and wished they had not ended, so I cannot name just one. Sorry! If I had to name just one author who influenced me, it would be Wilbur Smith whose fabulous sweeping saga novels about Africa brought a previously unknown level of adventure and thrills into my boring life as a teenager living in suburban south London.
Of my own novels: Remorseless. It has taken me into a whole new realm, brought me thousands of eager fans, and I’ve also discovered some new imaginary friends I love being with.
What’s your favorite food?
Curried crab, Thai style. Delicious!
What’s your favorite film?
The Silence of the Lambs. Probably. Ditto my comment on my fiction favourites above.
What’s your favorite song?
Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac playing Need Your Love So Bad.
How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?
Lots of ways! I send out an occasional newsletter to my Readers Group Members, and anyone signing up for that will get a free copy of Remorseless – just head here.
I have a lot of information on my websites for each of my trilogies plus the psychopath resource:
And a new site, still under construction: www. willpatchingauthor.com.
Plus social media:
Please check out ‘Lucky 13’ prize draw where I am giving away 13 signed hard copies of books from myself and eight other authors (including two signed by Stuart MacBride). I organised the event for the launch of Gaslighting at the beginning of this month to encourage a buzz and some sales, but entry is free and the answer can be found within the Gaslighting pages on my website, so no purchase is necessary. Closes on 31st of this month.