Wednesday, 13 February 2013

PUSH-UPS: Keith Nixon

So, what are you pushing right now?
My debut novel, The Fix. It’s a multi-layered tale of crime and dark humour in one neat package.

What’s the hook?
The Fix is set just before the financial collapse in 2007. Josh Dedman is fired when £20 million goes missing from the bank he works for. Then his sociopathic boss, Hershey Valentine, winds up dead and he’s the prime suspect. Life gets a bit shit for Josh after that...

And why’s that floating your boat?
For several reasons really.

I have a problem with misplaced hubris, i.e. arrogant bastards who believe they can get away with anything, regardless of the consequences. In The Fix pretty much everyone tries to get ahead in life by fair means or foul. It works out for some, not for others... Basically don’t trust one of the characters in The Fix, they’re all lying bastards. Setting some of the action in a bank, with all the problems they’ve caused over recent years, felt like the perfect location.

Secondly so many stories comprise characters with extraordinary skills. But, who actually knows people like that? I don’t. I probably never will. So the players in The Fix are just ordinary, run-of-the-mill people that get thrust into shitty situations almost entirely of their own making just to see what decisions they make.

Last, but not least, is the prose. It’s deliberately written with alternating chapters in first and third person, present and past tense respectively. Sounds more complicated than it actually is. The benefit this approach delivers is additional breadth to the story (which first person on its own cannot), but mainly a high pace (which present tense provides). I wanted readers to keep turn the pages and then feel dishevelled afterwards. I get pissed off with books that drag out explanations and situations - just get on with it, tell the story!

Oh, one more. It’s got a fantastic cover... (Designed by Jim Divine)

When did you turn to crime?
Only recently and The Fix is my first shot (pun intended). I’ve always admired crime as a genre but thought I could never write anything good enough to compete. The quality of some of the authors is just so high.

Instead I wrote historical fiction (I’ve a book due out in the next few months originally written well before The Fix) and comedy screenplays. However, everything I produced had an underlying tone to it – crime. Then I had an idea about this guy who was being fitted up by his boss, oh wait, that was me...

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?
Three out of the four. Hardboiled and noir both, I love the seamier side of writing. Contemporary because life always goes on. I’m not a great one for looking back. Although there are some consistently performing authors such as Ian Rankin I’ll turn to every time, the list is bloody short.

And, what’s blown you away lately?
I’m an indie book reviewer as well and I’ve had a fantastic time discovering new writers. Most recently I’ve been belting through Gerard Brennan’s work, really excellent stuff. His novel Fireproof is something else. Then there’s a novella titled The Obituarist by Patrick O’Duffy, a really intriguing and original story. Ryan Bracha’s Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet too ... and pretty much anything by some bloke called Tony Black.

Wouldn’t happen to be a relative, would he? (Editor's note: I couldn't possibly comment.)

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
Don’t get me wrong, I love movies, but I can only think of two books (and the title of one of those escapes me) that have been better on celluloid so I don’t want to bugger it up by suggesting any. For example the film version of Philip Pullman’s brilliant Northern Lights was just shite in comparison to the book.

Lee Child recently said (I’m paraphrasing here) that reading a book and building a relationship with the characters is a very personal, one-on-one experience. A film can standardise this. I agree with him. Short arse Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher? Come on!

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?

There’s room for both mainstream and indie, one can co-exist with and needs the other, I think. Competition is always good. A mainstream outlet only would mean conforming to the mass market to maximise sales, which these days means celebrity autobiographies (yawn). Indie provides choice, albeit largely unproven, and allows writers to break the mould. Some will be crap but for sure, but there are, and will continue to be indie published books that would never have made it otherwise through the traditional route.

My day job for the last 21 years has been taking industries from analogue to digital so I have mixed emotions here. I love paper. I collect modern first editions - you can’t beat the feel of a book in your hands. However the e-book is a great invention. It’s bringing reading back in vogue again. Can’t argue with that...

Shout us a website worth visiting.
The indie review site Books & Pals blog, to which I contribute - .
You can link up with me on Twitter (@knntom) and Goodreads.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself.
I talk far too much, it’s about the only thing I’m good at. I’m not very good with commas. I don’t like wearing socks and my hair isn’t ginger it’s strawberry blonde, all right?
Good, glad we’ve got that one settled.

:: The Fix is available on Amazon UK  and Amazon US