I wake up to Dominic Adler emerging from the surf of a clear blue sea. He’s tanned, his face is carved from granite, and he throws that plastic cup of sea water in my eyes.
I wince and grunt and garble words the best I can through the gaffer tape, wrapped over my mouth twice round my head. I wriggle and rock but Adler has bound me tight to the chair. The sun blinds me and the sea washes over my raw feet. The beach is deserted.
“Well, what a proper Cnut we have here, eh.”
My eyes bulge at the situation and I blink some morse code for him to understand. He raises an eyebrow at the recognition of a word or two, but he puts it down to the heat on his brain and coincidence, I’m sure.
I Roger Moore my eyebrows, but he’s not having it. He opens a beer bottle, a Belgian IPA I wouldn’t mind down my parched throat right now.
He sits on a beach chair beside me and slides a hamper over. Swigs from the bottle and opens the basket. He’s got iced crab and all kinds of goods in there.
“I just want to know why you’ve been on my tail. What is it you know? No … don’t answer yet.”
He runs into the water and dives beneath the waves. Does the crawl and takes his seat by me again.
“I don’t know who you know, and I’m sure you have some fancy contacts, but know this … I know people in higher places.”
He gulps the beer and bites into a pita slice after he dunks into a dollop of hummus. He spots some seal and dives back into the sea to mess about with it.
He sits by me again and wipes himself dry. He munches on a crab stick and downs a stout. I lick the sticky tape in desperation. I could eat my tongue at this torture.
“Do you like tarantulas?”
I groan and attempt to launch to my feet, but I can hardly move. He reaches deep inside the hamper and his hand emerges with a tarantula on his forearm. He plants it on my thigh and the gaffer tape holds my screams tight. I wish the tide higher to wash away the beast. Adler heads off for another swim so I can get acquainted with my new friend. It crawls up my thigh, rests on my belly, and fingers it’s way to my sweat-slick neck.
“I hope you got answers for me. You’re an agent, but for whom?” He rips the tape from my mouth. I’m sure it tears my lower lip from my face. I’m scared to move my jaw as that’ll move my neck. That might freak the tarantula into doing whatever horrific thing tarantulas do.
“The tape on – you can’t speak. The tape off – same thing. The tarantula got your tongue?”
My voice is hoarse, but it creaks out. “I just got some author questions, that’s all.”
He out-Roger Moores my eyebrows and chomps down on a celery stick. Swigs his beer as he examines the white rocks in the distance.
“You’re not an agent, then?”
I shake my head as vigorous as possible.
Adler swigs, nods, reaches around, and cuts the bind. Plants a cold one in my hand and clinks it with his.
“Well, we better get started, then …”
Dominic Adler writes top-notch military thrillers. His Cal Winter series is highly rated, and the story he contributed to Ryan Bracha’s The Thirteen Lives of Frank Peppercorn is one of my favourites in the anthology.
A friend of mine doesn’t read fiction, paraphrasing Frank Skinner about it all being made-up and he has no time for any of that. What words do you have for such a philistine?
Dammit, avoid movies. And video games. TV too. And definitely the internet. Especially the internet.
What must a protagonist have to make you read on?
Motive. I need to give a shit about why he or she’s doing what they’re doing.
Do you need a likeable protagonist?
Not at all.
Name a great antagonist, in a novel or movie, and what they do for you.
Anton Chigurh, the dead-eyed assassin from No Country for Old Men. Gas-powered shotguns and dodgy haircuts aside, it’s the palpable sense of whimsical nihilism he exudes. He’s like Alex from A Clockwork Orange, but spookily real.
What makes you throw a book out the window?
Vampire Romance. Badly-written sex scenes. Excess exposition. Dinosaur porn.
Do you grit your teeth all the way to the end of a dodgy novel?
Nope. Life, I would suggest, is far too short. Look the fucker up on Wikipedia or something if you want to know how it ends. There are too many good novels to read to waste oxygen on bad ones. Having said that, I seldom give up on books quickly. I give them a chance. For example, the first fifty pages of ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ are shit. Then this marvelous, wholly magical story appears, which you might otherwise have missed.
What gets you writing? A great novel, maybe? Something you saw on the street or on the TV? Something else?
Guilt, usually. That and booze.
What did you learn about writing from the last book you wrote?
Your best book won’t necessarily sell as well as your other books. Ha ha ha.
What’s your next book, in 30 words or less?
Dystopian crime thriller set in London, featuring transhuman uber-people and retro-communist terrorists. Private eye takes on bizarre missing person case. Think Children of Men meets Die Hard.
Where can readers connect with you?
My Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/dominicadlerauthor/
My website is currently being revamped, but you can always find it on my FB page.