1. What can you tell our readers about your new book The Zombie Room?
The Zombie Room is a dark tale that centres around the sex trafficking industry and friendships forged amidst turmoil and loss.
2. Where did your inspiration come from for the novel?
The inspiration came from a desire to see true depictions of characters in this type of novel. I've read so many crime thrillers over the years, and the genre often tends towards stagnation. I felt I had something to offer that I didn't see on the shelves in bookstores.
3. The book touches upon, some may say, the taboo subject of sex slavery, so what made you want to write a story about this?
Sex slavery can be a taboo subject, but one that seems to be gathering momentum and becoming more prolific. Since I began to research and write the book, news reports of trafficked girls who were either kidnapped, sold into the industry or economic migrants promised a better life, grew more prominent and I knew I had to represent the story with as much accuracy as I could, while maintaining an exciting and gripping plot.
4. The three central protagonists start off in prison; did your time in prison affect your writing of this novel?
The time I spent in prison hugely influenced the writing of the three main male characters. They are in fact very loosely based on individuals I got to know during that time. I met many unpleasant people, as you would expect, while serving my sentence for cannabis cultivation, but I was surprised by the number of regular, decent individuals, many who had found themselves in impossible situations and reacted accordingly. Don't get me wrong, I'm not endorsing or advocating breaking the law, but wanted to convey that not everyone behind bars is a ruthless or despicable animal.
5. What drove you to create characters that were anti- heroes as opposed to traditional heroes in Mangle, Decker and Tazeem?
I think the traditional hero role is becoming something of a played out concept. The whiter-than-white good guys are something that I personally don't relate to, and know that many other disillusioned readers feel the same. The Decker, Mangle and Tazeem characters are real and relatable. You understandably might not like everything they do, but at no point did I try to either vilify or glorify their previous transgressions of the law.
6. Your previous book was called The Elephant Tree, so what can you tell us about that for those who have not read it?
My first novel, The Elephant Tree, was the initial journey around the streets of the fictitious city Garden Heights. It focusses on Scott, a small scale drug dealer who gets caught up in a tangled web of organised crime and despite his best efforts, quickly gets out of his depth. It's compelling, thrilling and deeply psychological, likened to a cross between Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) and Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), according to reviews from readers and the press.
7. This is a crime novel, so what can fans of other genres get from reading it?
Both books are classed as Crime Thrillers, mainly because they have to be categorised as something, but I think they appeal to readers with a much broader scale. I think the Trainspotting / Fight Club reference from the previous question would testify to that.
8. When did you decide that you wanted to start writing novels?
I decided I wanted to start writing novels in 2008. It was while I was in jail, reading everything I could get my hands on, and grew increasingly unsatisfied by the repetitive and formulaic plot lines and characters of many of the best sellers. I figured if I was going to criticise, I should at least see if I could put my money where my mouth was and attempt to do better.
9. There is endless praise for your books on Amazon, but which comment has touched you the most in response to your books?
The praise from readers on Amazon and Goodreads is fantastic, but I think the most touching comment I ever received was at a library reading I did following the release of The Elephant Tree. I read a passage and took some questions from the floor before signing copies for those present. A little old woman approached, not the target audience I wrongly assumed as she stuck out her hand for me to shake and proudly said 'Well, I never thought I'd be rooting for a drug dealer.' with a big smile on her face. I was somewhat flabbergasted but thanked her and shook her hand. I guess when you give readers the credit to come to their own conclusions by presenting the story in an honest fashion, rather than dressing up deeds to be either good or bad, the satisfaction they get is a lot more rewarding.
10. What is next for you?
I'm currently writing a third book that is set in Garden Heights. More of the twisting and psychologically disturbing thrills. But a fourth book that I've been planning for a few years now will break the Garden Heights mould and is set in a grim dystopian future. But more on that next time.
Female First Lucy Walton