I nabbed criminal fiction mastermind Keith Nixon on a freezing winter’s day in Margate, England. He’d dropped his guard and indulged in a little snow-drift diving, face first. As all around him enjoyed the show and laughed, distracted, I moved in to cosh him on the back of the nut.
I wanted answers to my questions, but Nixon proved a tough one to crack. I dangled him by his feet from the London Gherkin, but he folded his arms and calmly awaited my temper to blow over. I forced him neck deep into quicksand on the Dartmoor bogs, but he asked for a cigarette and a Fox’s Glacier Mint, and told me to do my worst.
Next, he woke up on a cold slab, his wrists and feet tied to make him a giant X.
“Who are you?” He wriggled and grunted, at last a little disturbed by my actions. His beard rubbed, all sandpaper, against the granite in his struggle, but this time I’d determined I’d get my answers.
“You know who I am.”
“I know you should let me go now, before I lose my rag.”
“You’ll answer my questions.”
“Or? What you gunna do, tickle me with that thing?”
I clicked the black button and the machine above Nixon manoeuvred into position.
“Really? You expect me to talk?”
I pressed the green button for go, go, go, and the laser started its journey towards splitting Mr Nixon into two equal slices.
“What would Konstantin do?” I asked. “What about Solomon Gray?”
“They’d tell you what you could do with your fancy laser, Beech, and punctuate it all with a middle finger.”
I turned the laser’s dial to ten and it hit. Sweat bubbled on his face, but the laser clamped his mouth shut into an amused half-moon, as if it had all the effect of a feather duster.
The time had come to dial the laser to eleven.
Keith Nixon has not only written the classic Konstantin series of books, he’s also an accomplished historical fiction writer, too. Check out his Caradoc series, set in Roman Britain. The man’s fingers must have turned to bloody stumps by now, because he’s deep into his Solomon Gray series, which you should definitely check out.
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?
Keith Nixon (KN): Frankly, it’s his own choice but why potentially miss out on a huge swathe of potential enjoyment? A friend of mine only reads books by specific authors and doesn’t listen to any music published from the 80’s onwards!
What must a protagonist have to make you read on?
KN: Depth and interest. More than just damage for the sake of it.
Do you need a likeable protagonist?
KN: I think you need a relatable protagonist – somebody you can root for through thick and thin. They don’t necessarily have to be likeable.
Name a great novel or movie, and what they do for you.
KN: Pullman’s Dark Material’s series – just superb, expansive writing. A shame Dust didn’t quite follow up…
What makes you throw a book out the window?
KN: Not getting to the point, tell the story rather than wallow in lengthy descriptions. I like brevity (as you can probably tell from these answers!)
Do you grit your teeth all the way to the end of a dodgy novel?
KN: No way. I used to, but time is too short these days to waste.
What gets you writing? A great novel, maybe? Something you saw on the street, or on the TV? Something else?
KN: Usually a single event, often something somebody has said sparks a thought and it snowballs from there.
What did you learn about writing from the last book you wrote?
KN: I’m currently on book eleven and I’m still learning (and being taught) – show not tell remains critical, try hard not to use ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ when answering questions in dialogue, use memorable descriptions for characters.
What’s your next book, in 30 words or less?
KN: The third Solomon Gray novel, can’t say much about it yet, it’s in its final edit. And I’m nearly finished writing the fourth too.
Where can readers connect with you?
KN: On my Facebook page(s), Twitter (@knntom) but I’m terrible with that platform, or at my website www.keithnixon.co.uk
Nixon managed to free his legs and kick the laser sideways. It blew a hole in the wall through which he escaped. He sits in a lair now, somewhere in Kent, masterminding his next criminal fiction. Be ready.
You can buy Keith Nixon’s books HERE.