For the final Sunday Interview of the series, Allan Hudson joins me and shares an excerpt for his latest release, Shattered Figurines.
First a little bit about my guest.
I live by Cocagne Bay in Eastern Canada where the summers are hot by the seaside and the snow is deep in the winter. I married the greatest gal on earth, Gloria, and have a wonderful son Adam, two great stepsons Mark (Nathalie) and Chris (Mireille)Young. Three grandchildren Matthieu, Natasha and Damian.
I love reading. My mother was my school teacher and taught me to read and write when I was young. I’m thankful for that.
I’m a carpenter, woodworker, aspiring author and I sell jewellery for a living at Peoples Jewellers.
I love jazz music and am a HUGE fan of JJ Cale.
I have a wonderful life. I hope that you will read my novels – Wall of War and Dark Side of a Promise and Shattered Figurines . I trust you will enjoy them and if so please tell someone.
Now time to find out which of the questions Allan has selected to respond to.
First, let me thank you Sally, for having me on your popular blog. I appreciate all you do for your fellow authors.
My pleasure and delighted to have you here Allan… can you tell us how long have you been an author, and how has your writing changed between your first and most recent book?
I started writing later in life. One of my favorite authors – Bryce Courtenay – started writing in his fifties and went on to pen more than twenty bestsellers. It was then that I decided it was never too late to begin and I too started writing in my fifties. Ideas for stories were always in my mind. I was always fascinated by international intrigue, especially stories by Robert Ludlum, and lands not often wrote about, such as Bangladesh, Peru or Ulan Bator. I wanted someone for a main character that was unselfish, strong willed, a fierce sense of right and wrong, a soldier, a vigilante, a person that is not afraid of what might be around the corner. Drake Alexander was born.
The first book – Dark Side of a Promise – was a learning experience. Helpful critiques were the best thing that happened to me. The next books are tighter, less detail (although I love detail in a story), fewer characters and more suspense. I feel I accomplished that with Wall of War, the second Drake Alexander adventure, as well as the new adventure I’m working on.
Which books have made the most impression on you over the years, and which three would you say inspired you as a writer?
Looking back over the course of my reading life, there are way too many favourites to talk about here but several books really stand out from memory. I’d like to mention a couple. The first is Shibumi by Trevanian, published in 1979. I always loved this story. The main character, Nicholai Hel, is a genius, mystic, master of many languages, an artful lover and one of the world’s most highly skilled assassins. The whole setting, his life, his hobbies, his origins are done masterfully by Trevanian. The story contains all the elements that I enjoy and I’ve read this book many times. The pages are thick from usage and yellowed from age but I’ll never part with it.
Another is Matthew Flinder’s Cat by Bryce Courtenay. I love all his stories but this one really touched me. It’s a strong emotional and good feeling story that I’ve read several times.
These two inspired me to write, to tell my own stories.
Are your books indie or mainstream published and please tell us about your publishing process and the pitfalls you may have encountered?
By the time I finished my first book, I had no idea of the publishing world or what was entailed in bringing a book to the public. In fact, I’m still confused sometimes. There are so many avenues. So many paths to follow. I had a finished manuscript in my hands, a story I thought worth reading and no idea where to go. I remember reading about waiting years for a publisher to pick up the story, rejection letters, agents, distribution, people offering to publish my book if I gave them $2000.00, scam alerts… it was almost enough to discourage me from even trying. The someone mentioned self-publishing.
There was a way for me to get a copy of my book and it wouldn’t take forever. I decided to go that route and followed advise of other self-published authors. Hire an editor, a professional cover and heavy marketing. I know that indie authors are sometimes frowned upon by traditionally published authors and how difficult it is to be published but it fit with my goals. I have total control. My success, or my failure, lies directly on my shoulders. I’m extremely happy with the results so far and wouldn’t do it any other way.
Where did the inspiration for your featured book come from?
I’ve always enjoyed detective novels. The digging around for clues. The use of science and forensics to hunt down the criminals. I wrote a short story about a lady detective that was searching for the killer of three young girls. With a clue left on the last corpse and a strange email, she discovered who the executioner was. I wondered how terrible it would be to find out the person responsible is a close relative. Over the course of a couple of years, other short stories followed using the same characters with the parents (or parent) of the slain girls wanting revenge. It became the foundation for a short, fast paced thriller, something I wanted to try, a novella. Shattered Figurine.
What is your writing process from first concept through to final editing?
In the beginning I have a vague idea of what I want the main story to be about. It starts there. I’ve already decided who the main character will be, what his or her abilities will be, usually a small cast of characters to help and if it’s a thriller, I already know who the bad guy will be and the terrible things he’s or she will be doing., Often, I already know the location(s) of where the story will take place. Other than that, I do no story outline, no chapter outlines. I let it develop as I write.
I enjoy the early mornings to write, total silence, no distractions. My writing desk is in my workshop, my private space, and it faces a window where I can see the sun rise over the bay near my home in eastern Canada. When I have those moments of “what’s next”, I stare out the window until new thoughts form. It’s very peaceful and makes writing even more enjoyable.
I usually read the story several times, making changes, cutting, checking grammar and such until I feel it’s ready for beta readers. One last change and it’s off for professional editing. By then I will have a cover designed by a graphic designer with an abstract thought of what I might like and he always pulls through.
Upload and order some books. What a thrill!
Please tell us about your next project and when we can expect to see the book.
Another genre I enjoy is historical fiction. I’ve read all of James Mitchener’s novels and many of Edward Rutherfurd’s books and I wanted to try one. I have a completed manuscript which begins in Scotland in 1911.
Young Dominic Alexander (Drake Alexander’s grandfather) must go live with his bachelor uncle as a result of a dire predicament his mother finds herself in with six other children, a dead husband an no money. Through a series of events, both happy and unfortunate, Dominic learns a trade and experiences happiness and grief in his new home. Misfortune strikes again and Dominic must decide about his future. With an unexpected inheritance, he emigrates to Canada and his life journey begins in a new country.
Instead of chapters, I have broken the story up in years. It covers a decade in Dominic’s life. From 1911 to 1920. I hope to make it a series, told in ten-year increments. I am on the final draft and expect to have it to the editor by the new year. I’m hoping to have the cover designed by the end of January and the book available for a launch in the summer of 2020.
Here is Allan’s latest release. Shattered Figurine – A Detective Jo Naylor Adventure.
About Shattered Figurine.
Detective Josephine Naylor receives an email telling her where to find the last body. The messenger tells her “only you can stop this madness”. Discovering a shattered figurine on the corpse, she’s overwhelmed by the possibility it might be the one she sold in a yard sale. If so, she knows who the killer could be. She prays that she’s wrong.
Shattered Figurine Excerpt.
Josephine Naylor, shoulders slumped, stares down at the frozen corpse. Even though rime disguises the otherwise naked body, the Detective knows it is the missing teenager. The remains are female, about five feet, maybe a hundred pounds without the frost. And the body has been left in the same position as the two previous victims: face up, ankles and hands neatly tucked together, bound with duct tape. The same parts are missing.
This regrettable murder left no doubt in Jo’s mind that the killer is the same person, based on the method of execution. Forensics had confirmed as much with the second body. That murder had brought forth the criminal psychologists to create a profile that would tell them what type of individual might commit such a crime. The scene before her is, therefore, extremely important, so she stands well away. She is still able to discern an unusual shape upon the victim’s forehead, which, once uncovered from its icy envelope, will likely prove to be a piece of broken crystal similar to those found in the same spot on the pale dead skin of the two other bodies.
Jo is standing at the edge of a wide field shadowed by alders and tall spruces that front the extended forest behind her. The rising sun is just cresting the pointed tops. The body is lying parallel to the tree line at the rim of the pasture. It’s early December. The night fog turned solid as the temperature dropped below freezing, cloaking everything in stark white. Jo is startled from her contemplation of the scene by the sensation that someone is watching her. She turns toward the open field, scanning the perimeter of the woods. Nothing moves; not even a breeze disturbs the black-and-white scene. A rise in the field blocks her view to the road and her car, but she would have heard a vehicle approach. The silence is intense, nature seeming to mourn the young girl’s death. Jo would definitely hear the crunching of frost under someone’s boots.
Satisfied she is alone, she calms her nerves with deep breaths that turn smoky in the cold air. She decides to wait until the sun melts away the victim’s icy mask before calling her partner. She has to see what is on the forehead first. Folding her mittened hands across her slight chest, she tucks them under the armpits of her down jacket. Keeping the body to her left and her back to the woods, she thinks about the e-mail that led her here, alone. She has a hunch about who the killer is – a dreadful hunch she desperately hopes is wrong. The other bodies had been left where they would easily be found, but in the email she was told where this one would be. She remembers the message word for word.
Route 114-A, east of the Black Farmer’s Road 11.4 miles. Over the hill on your right.
Only you can stop this madness. I can’t. Unicorn
She had been torn, thinking she would find another victim, but it was the word Unicorn that had bothered her the most. She and her peers had recognized the pieces of crystal left behind on the previous victims – their only clues – as legs from a miniature figurine. The consensus was it could possibly be a horse, but she was the one who had suggested it could be a unicorn. She’d had one as a child. Her grandmother had given it to her when she turned ten. Her little brother had dropped it and broken off the delicate twisted horn when she was fifteen. She sold it at a yard sale four years ago, when she was thirty-seven, and she remembers who bought it. She hadn’t given it a thought since then. In her mind, there had been no reason to. The message this morning changed that. She can’t ignore the possibility, no matter how horrific it seems. She prays silently that she be proven wrong.
By 8:30 the sun begins to melt the ice from the cadaver, turning the white, twinkling coating into clear drops of water that pool in the body’s cavities or run like tears. The crystal perched upon the head flashes rainbow-colored rays when Jo moves. She walks a wide arc around the body, knowing she should stay away. But she can’t, so she creeps closer. The frost groans with each step she takes. She crouches down near the head, thinking the girl might have been pretty once. She peers closely at the crystal. The figurine has only one leg and it props up the glass animal’s nose. Focusing on the tiny head, Jo gasps when she sees the horn is broken off, only a short stub to suggest there had ever been one. The image strikes her like a fist. She shrinks back from the discovery, losing her balance and falling abruptly on her ass. The shock is too great. She panics, arms flailing and feet scrambling, wanting to flee the awful truth.
Holding a hand to her mouth to stifle her sobs, she runs aimlessly along the edge of the forest. Her moans break the eerie silence to echo through the trees. Tears stream across her temple and are absorbed by short dark curls that stick out below her toque. When she stops, she bends to put hands on knees, panting from the exertion of crossing the field to the opposite corner. Deep breaths once more ease the tension she’s feeling. She needs to think clearly. Staring at the stubble by her feet, she loses focus. Indecision and disbelief rage in her mind. Foremost in her thoughts is that it’s impossible for the person who had bought the unicorn to have committed such heinous crimes. It can’t be, she tells herself. She’s known the man all her life.
An early review for Shattered Figurine.
Shattered Figure by Allen Hudson hooked me within the first few pages. Detective Jo Naylor’s plight with her father immediately intrigued me. The scenes move quickly and I enjoyed the chase for three criminals’ intent on inflicting pain and suffering on the detective for the crimes of her father.
The story is written in omniscient present tense which was new for me. After settling into the story I became accustomed to the author’s voice. If you’re looking for a suspense story written in a fresh, new way- add Shattered Figurine to your reading list.
Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US
and: Amazon UK
Also by Allan Hudson
Connect to Allan
My thanks to Allan for joining me today and I am sure he will be delighted to respond to any questions you might have about his work. Thanks Sally.