Monday, 30 May 2016

PUSH-UPS: Julie Morrigan

So, what you pushing right now?

Cutter’s Fall, the final novella in a three-part north-east gangster series. (I think the last time I was here I was pushing Cutter’s Deal, which was book one.) It’s an extremely violent, sweary tale, with high stakes and an even higher body count.

I’ve also put out the combined Cutter Trilogy, and I’m currently pulling together a paperback edition, which will be out soon.

What’s the hook?

Gordon Cutter is a monster. He doesn’t care who he hurts – or destroys – just so long as he gets his own way. He’s relentless, cruel, and violent, but he’s also supremely arrogant, and that’s his Achilles’ heel.

The Armstrong family have been brutalised by Cutter and his gang, and young Jack wants revenge. Cutter damages everyone he comes into contact with, then just moves on without giving them a second thought, but in this final part of the Cutter story, even the untouchable crime boss learns that actions have consequences as his past actions threaten to catch up with him.

And why’s that floating your boat?

It’s the clash between the little people – normal, everyday folk who just want to get on with their lives – and the big, scary ones who will do anything to gain power … and to hold on to that power once they have it.

I try to balance things out by finding room for a bit of dark humour in amongst all the torture and murder – whether it’s Dennis on his allotment who disposes of the bodies and feeds the victims’ blood to his award-winning tomatoes, or the local reality TV stars who make the mistake of crossing Cutter (to the cost of their dental veneers and breast implants), or Cutter’s wife, who with her orange tan and duck face selfies is starting to look like ‘a world shortage of fake tan has been announced and she’s taken the news badly’. I think that light and shade is important.

When did you turn to crime?

As a reader, long ago – I started out with Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Famous Five and the Three Investigators, and just kept going, right through to Ian Rankin, Mo Hayder and beyond.

Knowing that, it probably comes as no surprise that when I started writing fiction, it was crime that I tended towards. The first stories I sold were published in Bullet magazine, and my first novel was about a missing child.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary? 

As a reader, as long as the story keeps me hooked, I don’t really give too much thought to genres, subgenres or style. A good plot, interesting characters, high stakes, conflict and drama … those are the things that capture my interest and keep me reading.

As a writer my most successful books and short stories have been at the more brutal end of the noir crime spectrum, but other stuff I’ve written has veered into police procedural, occult horror, science fiction and even magical realism.

And, what’s blown you away lately?

I really enjoyed Jeremy Bates’ Suicide Forest. It’s one of a series of stories set in real locations, and this one is set in Aokigahara, just outside of Tokyo. It’s arguably the most famous suicide location in the world.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?

I recently read While My Eyes Were Closed, by Linda Green. I think that would make a good film – there’s some nice imagery in it alongside the high-stakes drama.

Mainstream or indie – paper or digital?

Again, as a reader I don’t care about the format or the source so much as the story. If it’s entertaining, then it’s all good. As a writer I appreciate the speed and ease with which an ebook can be published and immediately made available to readers, compared to traditional print publishing – and I say that from the perspective of someone who worked for years with a traditional publisher as a non-fiction author.

While it may take months or even years to write, rewrite, edit and polish a book to publishable standard, the actual process of publishing now is so much more streamlined and accessible. Needless to say, I’m a big advocate of indie and self-publishing. It’s not right for everyone, but I’m grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been afforded by the rise of digital self-publishing.

Shout us a website worth visiting …

Well, for anyone with too much time on their hands, there’s this: Beware, though – those evil puzzles are addictive!

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …

I used to be a Sunday school teacher. Hard to believe (even for me) and yet it’s true.

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