Ross Greenwood comes out the coffee shop and stops dead at the look I give him. I’m here to take him to lunch. He wants to answer the questions I have for him face-to-face. He popped in the cafe to get us both a coffee, but he scans the busy street to see what I’m looking at. A man in a fedora leans on his car door, triggered.
I can see the “Shit” on Ross’ lips from here. I jerk my head and he explodes into a run, coffee in each hand. He jumps in and I slam the accelerator as soon as his arse touches the leather. Fedora Man screeches after us in his Audi. Ross hasn’t closed the door yet. He looks for a place to rest the cups but I’ve got both cup holders stashed with silver for parking meters.
“Are you kidding me?” Ross shoves a coffee in my hand and goes to slam the door, but Fedora Man smashes it from its hinges and attempts to push us off the road.
“I need my hands,” I yell and shove the coffee back in his claw. Fedora Man smiles death at us and I lean forward as if I need to giddy this old banger right up. I make a hand-break turn down a tight side road and check my rear-view for our attacker.
Shouldn’t have done that. I slam into the dead-end wall and the airbags smack us silly. We jump out, dazed, but Ross manages to hotwire the motorbike which rested against the wall. I now have the coffees he managed to save. He does a wheelie up Fedora Man’s bonnet and we’re away. I sip my coffee and I manoeuvre his to his lips to give him the adrenaline boost he needs.
“That man doesn’t give up.” Fedora Man is in the bike’s mirrors, closer than he seems. He’s in full reverse and spins out of the side road to face us again. Ross weaves us in and out of traffic, through red lights, and over bumps. I hold Ross with the sides of my outstretched arms, the coffees firm in my grip.
Our chaser smashes through traffic. A BMW obliterates a bus shelter after he nudges it from his path. An old Robin Reliant topples, meek, onto its side as if it’s given up. Police sirens come out of the distance, too far for us to stop yet. We miss a grandma by a hair’s-breadth and a bus by its mirror’s width.
Fedora Man pops a shot at us and blows a tyre. We wobble, we slide, Ross manages to control us into a safe stop – right outside a second-hand bicycle shop. The bikes are all padlocked, except for a tandem. We sip on the coffee and I take the front, which has no seat. Ross jumps on the back, now in control of the coffee. We pedal hard on the pavement. I have to stand as I pedal. The coffee forces Ross to pedal hands-free, but we escape, for now. Pedestrians dodge and tut and throw their hands in the air. Sorry, people, but we got to get out of here. We take an alleyway, and the corridor of some corporate building. We’re safe.
No. We’re not. The Audi bursts through the double doors and arrows after us. We speed through papers and folders thrown in the air from panic and make it out the other end of the building, down steps, over a bridge, and back onto the roads.
Ross shouts, “Nooooo.”
“What happened? What’s wrong.” But I can feel it. The bike is shaking and coming apart. A rivet shakes free and the bike splits in two. We’re back on our feet and exhausted. Can hardly move. The Audi prowls round the corner. He knows he’s got us on this lonely road. An old man drives past on his mobility scooter.
“Sorry, fella.” I drag him off and slip him a twenty in compensation. The man shakes his fist from the ground, but he can’t do a thing.
“You evil bastard.” Ross wrinkles his nose at me, appalled at the action. But he’s as knackered as me and hands me the coffees. Jumps on with me on the back. We crawl away and wince at the Audi’s rev. Fedora Man is about to pounce when flashes of blue surround him and coppers force his hands into the air in surrender.
We arrive at the restaurant, a little traumatised, but ready for the Q&A. We sip the coffee and spit it out. It’s turned lukewarm.
Ross Greenwood’s latest, Abel’s Revenge, is a serial killer thriller with an ending that’s had a lot of reviewers talking – in a good way. Ross is a Peterborough, England, native, and former prison officer. He also wrote the highly rated Dark Lives trilogy.
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?
Ross Greenwood (RG): They must have a lot of free time, although I find most of these people watch made-up stuff on TV instead and are poorer for it!
What must a protagonist have to make you read on?
RG: They have to be believable; too cheesy, too strong, too skillful, too bad!
Do you need a likeable protagonist?
RG: Hell no. See above. Most people have at least one unlikeable quality, many of us loads. Actually, you could say yes, as we tend to like flawed people — people like us.
Name a great antagonist, novel or movie, and what they do for you.
RG: Leon, with Jean Reno. Awesome, sad, poignant, and full of action!
What makes you throw a book out the window?
RG: Cliché. Angst ridden detectives. Goody two shoes etc. I can cope with spelling mistakes but have more issues with poor comma use as you can’t get into any flow.
Do you grit your teeth all the way to the end of a dodgy novel?
RG: I used to. Speedread if not great, now if I’ve only paid 99p/c for a book I’m more ruthless, although I’m sure I’m missing out on some good stuff that way, but generally it’s the right call.
What gets you writing? A great novel? Something you saw on the street or on TV? Something else?
RG: The main thing is getting a story in my head and thinking about the characters and wanting to get it down. I wrote a fair amount of all my books around 4-7 am, as that’s the only time it was quiet in our house. Now our puppy has even ruined that time for me.
What did you learn about writing from the last book you wrote?
RG: I struggled for free time and I suppose you could call it relearned: Just get on the computer and tap away, even if you only do 500 or 1000 words, it adds up, and keeps you involved.
What’s your next book, in 30 words or less?
RG: A woman leaves prison after fifteen years and struggles to rejoin this crazy world. She decides she doesn’t want to and takes revenge on those who wronged her before.
Where can readers connect with you?
RG: Facebook and Twitter are easiest. I love hearing feedback, good or bad, it’s how we learn 😊