After his reading in Noir At The Bar, Chris McDonald steps into Book Pub for a pint or two ..
If there is something we learned about Chris, he is one busy guy. He also has his fingers in alot of pies which is great for the reputation of his book. We labelled him as the King of the North because of the way he stormed into the literary scene like Jon Snow would have. He’s one of the youngest out of the great writers like Steve Cavanagh and M.W Craven. We hope you like the analogy.
A Wash Of Black was honestly a series to watch out for. If you like James Pattersons’ Womens Murder Club then this is something you can relate to. Try it and tell us what you think!
BPR: We see you are a huge film fan! What film was behind the ‘Blood Ice’? Is it based on an actual film you like? You mentioned Sin City towards the end..
Chris McDonald: I love films! I’ll watch anything except horror (I’m a bit of a wimp!) Some of my favourites are In Bruges, The Blues Brothers and Pulp Fiction. Blood Ice was just a figment of my imagination though. The opening scene of the book was the catalyst for the whole thing – the red of the blood on the white of the ice. Maybe Fargo inspired it subconsciously! Sin City gets a brief mention in the third book, too. I hadn’t realised it’d cropped up in this one too!
BPR: You said with Linda’s Book Bag that you could see Emily Blunt playing Erika Piper. Does this still stand? What made you decide she should be the one?
CM: I do, though I think I’m reaching a bit there! I just think she’s a fantastic actor – I think she’s really shown her versatility in her roles, from action in The Edge of Tomorrow and Looper, to comedy in The Five-Year Engagement. I think she could bring a lot to the role of Erika Piper.
CM: Your murders are very well thought out. How did you plan on who to kill first?
CM: Like I said before, the whole book was born from the opening scene of the actress with her throat slit on the ice. That was the only thing I had in my head before I started writing, and I wanted to explore what happened after that. I’m not a planner, so everything that came after sort of wrote itself.
BPR: What inspired each murder?
CM: I wanted to kill each of the victims in a different way, just so that it would be fun to write. When I was writing it, I had every intention of self publishing on Amazon, so I was really just writing the story for me and trying to make it as fun as possible. I’ve been told that the book is very dark and a bit gruesome, and as a massive wimp, it’s surprising as I don’t think it’s too bad!!
BPR: Yes, it is very grusome! Though, it suits the book well! We hate horror too but enjoy the film Halloween .. work that out! Do you think you’ll murder more people in the next book than the last?
CM: The body count does rise in book two and then comes down again in book three. I think it’s important that the deaths for the story, rather than there being a huge mound of bodies for the sake of it. Each death has to play a part and move the story on, so I think carefully about who dies and why. Once that is established, the how is the fun part.
BPR: Why was it important to you to give Erika Piper such an horrific past?
CM: When I was writing her, I didn’t want her to be an alcoholic or anything like that as I think it’s been done before. I wanted her to have a past so that you could get to know her, and know why she is so driven to catch the killer. She knows what it’s like to be a victim, so her need for justice for other people burns bright. The books I read have shaped that too. My favourite detectives have a back story and I wanted Erika to have one of her own – I think it makes the character feel more real.
BPR: What themes/plot did you like in the book most?
CM: I really wanted to explore the lengths people will go to for a cause they believe in. I also wanted to make the deaths as cinematic as possible – I think if it was a film they’d be fun to watch, more so for the audience reaction.
BPR: You have been praised well for your research in forensics but then you also show a knowledge of Media Studies. Did you go to Manchester Uni? What did you study there?
CM: I did a lot of forensic research as I think it’s so important to get it right. On the flip side, I didn’t want to go into too much detail as, at the end of the day, it’s a story, not a dissertation. I went to the Lancaster campus of the University of Cumbria (formerly St. Martin’s). I studied teaching and English. I am still a full time teacher and write my books at night. I think the media studies element of the book comes from watching a load of films!
BPR: What can we expect from the second novel?
CM: The second novel, Whispers In The Dark, is a bit darker, I think. I’ve been told by the select few who have read it so far that the writing is stronger, which is nice to hear!
BPR: Will we see any future ‘easter eggs’ that you have mentioned in the first book and might continue in the series?
CM: That’s a great question! I don’t think so – Easter Eggs require a certain amount of planning, and I don’t plan ahead! Maybe it’s something I’ll try from book 3 onwards, now you’ve put the idea in my head!
BPR: Blood Brothers! How did this come about? Why is it you, Sean Coleman and Rob Parker? What made up the famous three?
CM: It came about from Sean’s PR company asking if any of Red Dog’s authors had a podcast at the start of lockdown. No one had, so by the end of that day, Sean and I had set one up! Rob Parker had very kindly compered my book launch and we got on like a house on fire from the moment we met. We invited him to come aboard and were delighted when he agreed. I think it’s an interesting trio as Sean is an author as well as a publisher, Rob is a well-established author and I’m just starting off. To be honest, I feel very lucky just to be involved!
BPR: Are there any guests that have inspired you for any parts of your book?
CM: Every week I leave the recording inspired to write. Everyone has been so generous with their time. I find it very weird to be talking to authors that I look up to like MW Craven, Louise Beech, Chris Whitaker and Will Carver, and they treat you like one of them! At the start I was quite star struck, but I’ve found my groove. Each week, we have such a laugh. I’ve learned so much and I’ve been recommended so many books that have fed into my own writing.
BPR: What are you currently reading?
CM: At time of writing, I am reading Bang Bang, You’re Dead by Evan Baldock. It is due out on 18th August through Red Dog Press and is the story of a 65 year old woman who gets mugged, so she becomes a vigilante when she finds a gun. It’s very funny and totally original.
Second Novel Synopsis:
Who will heed the call when Death comes whispering? Small time drug dealer, Marcus Stone and DCI Clive Burston had never met until one night in August. By the end of that night, both had been shot dead in a small bedroom in the heart of gang territory. DI Erika Piper is called to the scene but is at a loss to explain what’s happened. How did these two even meet, let alone end up dead in what appears to be a strange murder-suicide? As Erika leads the investigation, another two bodies are found, killed in a similar fashion. One murder, one suicide. But who is controlling this macabre puppet show? As Erika delves deeper into the lives of the dead, the pieces begin to fit together and a number of nefarious characters crawl out of the woodwork – one of whom is almost certainly pulling the strings. A catastrophic event and a personal miracle threaten to derail the investigation. Erika must find the strength to continue, before the whispers catch up with her too…