Aidan Thorn is an emerging crime-writing star, what Paul D Brazill might call a Brit Grit writer. He has a highly entertaining short story collection out now, Criminal Thoughts, so I thought I’d kick a few questions at him to see if he put them away like Sturridge, or flapped a bit like Manchester United’s current attack.

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Aidan Thorn, thinking about something criminal.

Hi Aidan, do you write for pleasure, or would your soul burn in torment if you couldn’t get your stories out.

I write for pleasure, but part of that pleasure is  having my stories out there and being read. Creating the story is great fun but for me there’s no greater pleasure in writing than having people tell me they enjoy what I’m doing, and it’s even better when it’s another writer that I respect. So, getting my stories out is part of the pleasure. It would be great to one day make a living from this thing I love doing, but forgive me if I get a little buzz every time a Gareth Spark or a Paul D Brazill says, nice work about a piece of mine.
You have a novel placed out of sight in a dusty drawer. What is it about, and when do we get to see it?

I think it’s unlikely you’ll ever see the novel, in its current shape anyway. It’s the first thing I ever started to write, and if I was starting it today I wouldn’t write it the way I have. There are around 30 pages before there’s any dialogue and some of the writing is embarrassingly clumsy. What I’ll say is I still think the story and characters are strong, and so one day I might try to reshape it, but it needs a significant edit. Rather than tell you what it’s about here’s how I used to pitch it when I was trying to get the attention of publishers and agent…

The Anti-hero is king, Tony Soprano, Dexter, Ray Donovan… When the Music’s Over introduces the reader to a new anti-hero, Wynn MacDonald and he’s been in the game since the others were in diapers.  When Wynn’s ex-employer’s son is murdered he is called out of retirement to find the person that committed the crime and see justice served.  Wynn is not a well man but returns to his employer out of duty.  Wynn’s investigation leads to some shocking discoveries and he learns that the organisation that he gave his life to was not all that he thought it was and when he eventually tracks the murderer down he is left with some difficult decisions.

When the Music’s Over is a story about relationships and families, tackling the themes of betrayal, murder, dealing with terminal illness and evaluating how life has been spent. This is all explored through the lives of members of a criminal organisation and the families affected by their actions.  The story explores how changing circumstances and environments leave once powerful, confident and fearless people feeling vulnerable, isolated and obsolete.  This is a character driven story spanning two decades of deceit.

So, that’s it… As I say, I still love the story and characters so if a good agent, publisher is reading this and fancies working with me to edit this into shape, I’m all ears!

You also have two novellas in progress. When do we get to see them. What are they about?

My novellas are, I hope, a little closer to being out there than the novel. I’m in the middle of writing both. When I’m finished I’ll send them to a couple of people, including writers that I respect and ask if they’d mind looking them over. If they think that the books are up to it I’ll then self publish them. I’m hoping one will be out this summer and both by the end of 2014.
They’re both crime themed, but very different beasts. ‘Worst Laid Plans’ is a comedy of sorts, about a group of young lads who accidentally kidnap a rock star and as he’s disillusioned with his life he ends up advising them on what they should do in return for a cut of the ransom. The second, is currently untitled but takes a recurring character from my short story collection (Criminal Thoughts – out now etc…), Detective Alan Simmons. I’ve retired him and put him out of his comfort zone in Las Vegas, he has a gambling addiction and is trying to stretch his police pension a little further. Basically, Simmons meets a young woman who went to Vegas to become a Showgirl and has ended up in prostitution, Simmons tries to help her change her life.
Do you have any plans to write more about Mikey and Ricky?
I love my characters Mikey and Ricky from Criminal Thoughts stories, After Hours, Personal and A Present and so I’m sure there will be more from them. A couple of people have said they’d like to see a longer piece with these two. A Present had the potential to expand into a bigger story, but I’ve put that out there now and so have no interest in telling that story again… maybe a mistake, but I like it as it is. I’m sure I’ll find a way of getting Mikey and Ricky out there again.
Can you bring out character in crime fiction? Or are they all avatars heading towards a nasty conclusion?
I hope I’m bringing out character in my crime writing, characters are what draw me to crime stories. I love the complexity of a criminal character, particularly when making them the hero of a piece… Anti-hero’s are cool, right? Who are the most memorable characters in TV and Film? For me it’s Michael Corleone, Travis Bickle, Tony Soprano and recently we have Walter White and Jessie. Making someone bad but also likeable is a great challenge and I try to do that with most of my main characters, sometimes I might aim and miss but I think I’ve achieved it most of the time.
You wrote a horror short recently for Thrills, Kills, & Chaos. Which is easiest to read, which to write? Which do you prefer?
I’m a crime fan through and through so to me that’s always easiest to write. The Guest at Thrills, Kills & Chaos was, for me, a challenge I set myself just to see if I could do horror. I’d got into reading a bit after some recommendations from David Barber and seeing the work of the likes of Lily Childs. I couldn’t resist having a little go myself and I was really chuffed when David got in touch and told me he liked my story enough to publish it on Thrills, Kills & Chaos. I may venture back into this area again some time, we’ll see – I might not though, it’ll make naming my second short story collection too difficult, I can hardly just call it Criminal Thoughts 2 if I start experimenting with other genres, can I?
Who is crime fiction’s master?
Big question, I’m going to cheat a bit. Mario Puzo introduced me to crime fiction when I was a young lad, I started with Fools Die and couldn’t stop reading his work after that. I wouldn’t say he was the most complete writer but he got me started. After that I got into Michael Connelly in a big way, he used to be brilliant, unfortunately I think some of his later efforts have been a little below his top standard. For me the writer that is consistently good is George Pelecanos, across around 20 books I don’t think he’s ever dropped a beat. He’s got a style that makes you feel like you’re listening to an old friend tell a story. He never wastes a word but manages to give such a rounded description of character and environment in tightly drawn stories. Stuff that I often find annoying when other writers try it, describing clothing, food, music etc… Pelecanos does with such passion and expertise that it just enhances the experience of reading him… Brilliant! Now, can I also give a shout out to an indie spirit? Darren Sant, that boy writes tales of modern Britain with such authority that I really think he should be getting bigger audiences, I really think he’s a modern-day Dickens.
The best crime novel, ever? Why?
The Big Blowdown by George Pelecanos. For all the reasons I list above about his writing, but also because it’s probably the only book I’ve read by Pelecanos that feels like an epic, despite it being Pelecanos’ usual short length. There are huge characters, families and stories in this one great book. I can’t speak highly enough of this writer and particularly this book.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I’ll still be writing, in about four years of writing so far I’ve got a novel (needs work) 20 short stories and a couple of novellas in the works. So in 10 years there will probably be 100 shorts, and a couple more novels. Maybe I’ll make some money from it, but if I’m honest as long as I’ve got money to look after my family and self I don’t need much more than regular trips to the cinema, a PC and books.

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Click to buy Criminal Thoughts from Amazon US and UK

More Liverpool than Man Utd, then. Result.

You can read my review of Aidan Thorn’s Criminal Thoughts here.