#Q&A Ghost and Ragman Roll

I am pleased to host a Q and A session with Pete Adams for his new book Ghost and Ragman Roll, which was released on 18th May 2017 by Urbane Publications.

Blurb

Ghost and Ragman Roll is Book 4 in the bestselling Kind Hearts and Martinets crime series, featuring the eponymous Portsmouth detective DCI Jack (Jane) Austin.

DCI Jack Austin is trying to enjoy his honeymoon with Detective Superintendent Amanda Bruce. But it soon becomes a busman’s holiday (or the crime busting equivalent) with news of a turf war in Portsmouth, a missing obese gangster who turns up skinny, and the seemingly unconnected murder of a banker in Paris.

When an ambitious new detective arrives on Jack’s patch and starts making waves, he knows the time has come to get back to Southsea and protect not just his rather tarnished reputation, but those who truly matter to him.

Ghost and Ragman Roll is another criminally funny romp with the world’s greatest – or is that worst? – police detective, DCI Jack (Jane) Austin.

It is available to purchase at Amazon UK or Amazon USA

My Review

This is the first book of Pete’s that I have read and, even though it is book four of the series, it works really well on it’s own.  Due to the fact that I haven’t read any of his books before I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but it is a very funny book, with the main character DCI Jack Austin being extremely funny when he is in Paris and tries to blend in, even when half the different police forces in the world happen to appear and meet him whilst he is supposed to be off duty on his honeymoon.

Jack (or Jane as he is known) is a very funny character, who speaks his mind and has to be reigned in by his wife throughout, and uses colourful language throughout the book, but it all adds to his charm.

The story follows him as he helps investigate a missing gangster in England and a murder in Paris, and the story flows really well throughout.

If you enjoy your crime books with lots of humour then this is the book for you.

Q and A Session

Can you tell us about yourself and how you got into writing?

 Like many things in my life, I wander into them. I’m an architect and I recall at 15 a friend of mine got a job after leaving school, working in an architect’s office – I liked the sound of that and Art college was out, I needed to earn a living.  Turned out I had an aptitude, and after a while of misspent youth, wandering lonely as a cloud, I ended up at Portsmouth School of Architecture – a late applicant, an application on a whim – I was called for an interview. I went along for the ride and got in – nobody was more surprised than me, especially as I had failed English O-Level – I had missed some of the checks and balances, and well, they liked me, things worked a bit like that in those days. I had a chequered first year, cruising on whatever I could muster before I had two large awakenings:

  1. I was called into a tutor after a submission of a design paper, and the tutor expressed surprise that I was English, and tore into my inability to express myself in my natural language – having said that, she liked what I was saying in my paper, just it took her a while to unravel my chaotic postulations – I immediately decided to work on my mother language – never to be so humiliated again, but strangely encouraged – I ended the 5 years with a distinction and left a confident designer, and writer.

 

  1. As I came to the end of my first year, a design tutor pulled me aside and said I had a talent but until I took it seriously I was wasting everyone’s time – this man was a scientist and became my mentor all the way through the next five academic years and the early years of setting up my practice that is still going.

Following that Road to Damascus experience, I began to take my life seriously, and threw myself wholeheartedly into every aspect of architecture; obsessed is what some called it. And so it was with my writing. Late on in my life, my imagination was given forty thousand volts listening to a radio interview of writer Michael Connelly, and guess what, he starts at chapter one and doesn’t know where his book will go – that was me, and as a voracious reader, and more importantly an inveterate daydreamer, I started writing, a sensation of fulfilment but trepidation.

I’d completed three books before my son suggested I send them to someone, and to my surprise, two agents liked book one, one said it needed a serious haircut, but they liked it and then the bombshell – we cannot place comedy, but they were confident if I self published, I would be signed by a publisher, and I was. I signed for book three A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza,  and following that success, my Publisher contracted with me for the next in the series, Ghost and Ragman Roll, which was published on the 18th May this year.

And guess what, the first words my Publisher said to me was, “I like your crime thrillers, they make me laugh” – see, it was not comedy, it was a funny crime thriller.

Can you tell us about your new book?

   Ghost and ragman Roll is the fourth book in a series called Kind Hearts and Martinets. Each book can be read individually although there is a continuing underlying thread. I have had reviews of this book in the past couple of weeks where readers have enjoyed Ghost as an individual novel, and have gone on to buy the first 3 books, not just to fill-in any narrative gaps but to enjoy the development of the characters, because my books are every bit character driven as the narrative; I love my characters.

Here is the book blurb by the Publisher:

Ghost and Ragman Roll is Book 4 in the bestselling Kind Hearts and Martinets crime           series, featuring the eponymous Portsmouth detective DCI Jack (Jane) Austin. 
DCI Jack Austin is trying to enjoy his honeymoon with Detective Superintendent Amanda Bruce. But it soon becomes a busman’s holiday (or the crime busting equivalent) with news of a turf war in Portsmouth, a missing obese gangster who turns up skinny, and the seemingly unconnected murder of a banker in Paris.

When an ambitious new detective arrives on Jack’s patch and starts making waves, he knows the time has come to get back to Southsea and protect not just his rather          tarnished reputation, but those who truly matter to him.


Ghost and Ragman Roll is another criminally funny romp with the world’s greatest – or is that worst? – police detective, DCI Jack (Jane) Austin.

It is a sad fact that DCI Jack (nicknamed Jane) Austin, is probably the only police detective never to have solved a crime. But, he has surrounded himself with a motley, though clever, set of monkey spanner cohorts, including a meddling Priest – you just couldn’t make it up, but of course, I did…

The book is part of a series, can you describe the series and how many books there are going to be?

 

There are eight books in the Kind Hearts and Martinets series and they are all written. I am hoping that my Publisher will bring out my two self published books one and two with coordinated covers, (an edited) but in the meantime we are currently discussing book five. The great thing about being way in advance of your Publisher, is that you can write the final and concluding book, and go back to say book 5, and add or amend stuff, and it makes the whole ‘joined-up’ story gel even more, so much so that subliminal hooks can be placed in earlier books that reveal themselves later and contribute to plot twists and turns.

Each book deals with a part of the Establishment, the goal of our cockney spiv, barrow boy, inept DCI Austin, is to seek social fairness, justice for all, and believe it or not, for the many not the few – the Establishment rotten to the core, or just a few?

 

The books are:

Book 1 – Cause and Effect  – Social Services and life’s safety net.

Book 1  This books sets the scene, Cause – hints at reasons why certain things start to happen – Effect – the results of one line of inquiry into Local Government.

 

Book 2 – Irony in the Soul – The digital world, internet – real life.

Book 2 There is here an series of crimes, some related to events in book 1, the dilemma of Jack (Jane) Austin, is his struggle to stop an inevitable outcome, that in his heart, he supports – the irony of the ability to stop something or to allow it to happen?

 

Book 3 – A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza – the military – is there a mastermind?

book 3 The first by my Publisher, Urbane, and here is the blurb: DCI Jack Austin – Jane to his friends and the not so friendly – knew he shouldn’t have come in to work. Following a terrorist bomb, an incident with a tutu and a hangover that would fell an elephant, investigating dead dogs, dodging bullets and being pulled sopping wet from a naval harbour is not conducive to a sunny disposition. But when the Head of Armed Forces and a City Banker are brutally murdered what is a dashing DCI to do? FORCE, a powerful Star Chamber, is under threat and Jack will need to go deep undercover to get to the bottom of the sinister plot. As revelations and rocket attacks threaten to turn his world upside down (and ruin his best pair of trousers), Jack will need courage, skill and a huge dose of lady luck if he is to bring the perpetrators of a nefarious plot that goes all the way to the Prime Minister’s office to justice. As the trail leads to a showdown at the Albert Hall, Jack Austin, quintessential jumped up barrow boy and Portsmouth’s very own self-styled national icon, must fight to save his reputation, the country, and the lives of those who matter most. And work out just what a dead dog has to do with it all

 

Book 4 – Ghost and Ragman Roll  – Polar extremes of society, and how they can be manipulated.

Book 4

Book 5 – Merde and Mandarins – the Civil Service and the puppet masters.

 

Book 6 – The Duchess of Friesian Tun – this book is written almost as a stage play. It forms the linchpin in the series, a way of summarising the narrative to date, and then a taut mainspring leading onto the concluding two novels – conundrums are resolved and everything feels complete, except, it isn’t…

I loved writing this – it was a departure but not – in this book each character is given a highlighted role and is energised by a resemblance to the Canterbury Tales, except the key protagonists do not go anywhere, and woven into the script is  the story of Lady Blanche.

 

Book 7 – Rhubarb in the Mammon – the story goes off in an incongruous tangent, and it soon becomes apparent that the mystery was not resolved, that there are even darker Machiavellian strings being pulled – in this book a new set of characters, led by the Priest, drift off in a blind direction, The City of London, and where are the Austins and now, there is a whistleblower.

 

Book 8 – Umble Pie – this concluding  book of the Kind Hearts and Martinets series is loosely set around the Stravinsky ballet, The Rite of Spring.

An interesting aside is that I wrote a lot of this book before book 7 – it was at a certain stage I realised that another book was needed to form the link between books 6 and book 8, and in writing book 7, book 8 and the whole series, was given a soul.

          Umble Pie suggests absurd theories that can only be comprehended in the abstract – in this book I have interwoven a DNA of real and surreal helical threads into the narrative, the strands giving life’s breath to, not so much the reasons or even the questions, but the answer to life, and all that,  which is revealed in a breathtaking and spectacular scene that still moves me, even though it was written nearly a year ago.

Sometimes, in order to convey a simple truth, a lie has to be told, or a distortion of life created, characters made just a little larger than life – and this characterisation and expansion of reality, throughout the series of novels, becomes relevant in this fantastical tale – and, following  the growth of the narrative through the seasons, life is reborn, Umble Pie is a new spring.

This final book gives life to the quote that inspired the whole series, “Comedy is a funny way of being serious”, Peter Ustinov – I have received reviews that suggest to me I have succeeded, at least in my earlier books, one reviewer saying “these books made me laugh, cry and think”, and Skadi Winter, German author, said of A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza “…probably the best modern British novel I have read in a long time”.

How long did it take you to write this book and also how does that compare to your other books?

 

It is difficult to quantify the time because the first draft can sometimes come easily and then there is an extended period of editing and rewriting, and as I mention above, sometimes you have to be brutal and remove whole sections or, as in this latest book, Ghost , three front chapters written and inserted.

Since you asked the question, I would guess Ghost and Ragman Roll  took about a year.

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

 

It is the inspiration for the whole series, and this is defined by the Ustinov quote, “Comedy if a funny way of being serious”, and my desire to see a fair and just society, good -v- evil, and Ghost and Ragman Roll  carries on the underlying thread of social fairness; Kind Hearts,  the good, against the Martinets, the entrenched views of the Establishment; evil, or for the greater good, and what is that, and who decides what is the greater good

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Throughout the whole the eight books there is an underlying message of social justice, and it would be reasonable to say that each of the eight books challenges a particular part of the Establishment; Kind Hearts -v- the Martinets.

Not everyone picks up on this, and not everyone picks up on the fact that the stories are more often than not female character driven – the central protagonist, DCI Jack (Jane) Austin is but a foil, a larger than life character who is the intuitive catalyst to a lot of what happens, but the female leads are, in the main, the solvers. In fact, this may be the only crime thriller where the main protagonist, a DCI no less, has likely never solved a crime in his life…! But then he has other qualities, and you will have to read the books to discover what they are.

What can we expect next from you?

 

I am currently writing my ninth book and it is a whole new scenario, new characters and setting; the story of a young lad with disabilities, growing up in late 1960’s East End of London. A youngster born into a family of gangsters but spurned and bullied because of his deformities, by his own family as well as the Arch rival gangland family – it is called Larkin’s Barkin’, and after a shaky start, where I thought it was too dark, and after many conversations with fellow writers about my concerns, it is now moving on really well – following, I might add, a hefty rewrite.

I have also written and illustrated, three nonsense books that Beta readers have likened to Spike Milligan, and again, I am immensely flattered. The stories are called Whopping Tales and tell of a granddaughter, Isla Rose, aged 8, and more mature than her Granddad, whom she calls Fevvers, and written in the words of the 8 year old, they write wrongs in history in order to correct Isla Rose’s teacher. Below is an extract from Tale two, Isla Rose and Fevvers meet Francis Drake and the Armada, and dispel many of the myths we now call history – sample below:

 

Fevvers told me that the Spanish were a lot like camels, lumpy animals that I saw a lot of in Egypt, and he is right as they often got the hump. I wondered if my teacher was a camel or indeed a dinlo Deigo. Fevvers said she certainly looked like a camel, and I said she was always getting the hump; I think I might ask her after half term.

image 1

A picture of my teacher, you can see that she looks like a camel – the hump is behind her, but if you could see it, then you would agree that it is a very big hump.

 

The Spanish were always getting the hump with the English, Fevvers says, and they were all called dirty greasy Deigo Dinlos, after the famous camel Dinny (these days the modern name is Denny or Dennis), and the Spanish were to be pitied if they couldn’t take a joke. Fevvers also said they spoke funny and clacked Oyster shells in each hand all the time, and stamped around with their feet on the deck of their boats to the tune from Dr Who. But does that confirm the Leg-softer was Spanish? I’m not sure, it could be Egyptian, but you can make your own mind up after you have read this Chronictickle. Certainly the Spanish sounded a funny lot to me, and, “Fancy coming with boats with Ole’s inside”, I said to Fevvers, “that was asking for trouble”, and he agreed with me, so I knew I was right, and ignored that sinking feeling.

image 2

This picture shows the Spanish clacking and dancing to the Dr Who tune – it is a bit far away, but you can just hear them – if you can’t, then get someone to blow some imagination into your earole. I have drawn an oyster in case someone reading this is not posh and has not seen an oyster before – the girl oysters are called Mychelle and the boy oysters Reg – David Hatinborough told me that and he should know because my Fevvers told him.

I am currently looking for a Publisher, 3 stories are written , Isla Rose and Fevvers meet King Alfred, meet Francis Drake and in the third, they meet Pharaoh Cheops, now, what’s not to like about that, it’s bleedin’ history for crying out loud.

 

Finally, I have sketches for Book 10, working title,  Flummery – Milkman, A Syncopated Palaver – Dead, Dying or Gorgeous… with Blossom Dearing.

Finally, are there any books that you wished you had written?

 What a good question, and I would struggle to answer that, but probably could better say which author I would have liked to have been, and that would unequivocally be, P G Wodehouse. My writing has been likened to Tom Sharpe (I like that) with the pace of Janet Evanovich, and I like her books, but one reader did quite insightfully say, my books were like a cockney P G Wodehouse – I floated on air for a few months after that.

Thank you very much for your time Peter.

To find out more about Peter and his books please click here for Peter’s Amazon page or here to see his author page on Facebook.

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