Today I am pleased to welcome Toby Forder on to the blog with a quick interview! He’s written some fantastic answers to my questions so I hope you enjoy!
What is your favourite thing about writing books?
Being able to uncork my imagination. I have all these ideas and characters flapping around inside my head, and I think it would be cruel and unusual punishment if I was unable to decant them. I love creating something I would like to read, and I also love the feeling when I know my work has touched someone else. But that sense of relief I get from being able to tap into my imagination and pour it out into a story is overwhelming.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
That’s a tough one. I admired Frank Rogers’s sheer bloody-minded determination in Degrees of Darkness, and Jimmy Bliss from Bad to the Bone and The Scent of Guilt has overcome a lot to stay in the game, but in terms of pure character it has to be Mike Lynch from Scream Blue Murder. I took a huge risk in him starting out in a bad place and having readers not like him very much, but I wanted readers to grow to like and admire him as the book developed. By and large I think I achieved that.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
As much as I like my beer and filtered coffee, my writing drink is tea. I do love a steaming hot cuppa when I’m working.
Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I allow myself to get distracted too often and I am overly self-critical. I’m a procrastinator at certain points during the development of a book, and I’ll happily allow myself to become distracted by the Internet or knocking up a blog article or something along those lines. My worst habit by far, though, is to beat myself up over my work. I have always been my biggest critic and I guess I always will be, but sometimes I do wish I’d give myself a break.
How do you research your books?
That depends on what information I need. In the past I have communicated directly with the press office staff from the Met, NCA and RAF. Sadly, whilst my main series is based in Peterborough where I live, my local police have been the least forthcoming. I had a long and interesting telephone conversation with a taxidermist for one plot, and I have also exchanged mails with a criminal psychologist. The Internet is, of course, a valuable tool, though you have to find a reliable second source I think. Google maps is great, but you always have to bear in mind that it is also out of date – I spent a while checking out one place and writing down a description of a building only to discover it no longer existed!
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Panster all the way. Mainly because I lack the necessary patience to be a genuine plotter. Rather than bang away for days putting together a detailed plot, I would rather get stuck into the book and allow it to reach its own conclusions. I have a very basic outline, usually written longhand, and that kicks me off in a general direction. It doesn’t suit everyone, I know, particularly those who consider themselves to be ‘serious’ writers, but for me it allows the story and, in particular, the characters, to grow and develop and create the plot as it/they go along. That wide-eyed, caught-in-the-headlights feeling when you’re two-thirds of the way in and still don’t know how it’s going to end is a real adrenaline boost.
If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
What a great question. I’d quite like to live in Castle Rock, because a lot seems to happen there. Although, given you’d be one of Stephen King’s characters, almost anything could happen to you, and it would probably be pretty gruesome.
If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Another terrific question. Toughest one yet. I’m going to plump for someone slightly obscure. One of my favourite childhood books was The Man Who Was Magic, by Paul Gallico. In the book, young Adam comes across the mountains to the walled city of Mageia, supposedly home to the great magicians of the time. In fact, it is populated by conjurers, and the naïve Adam does not realise that his own genuine magical abilities will make him despised – he believes all magic is real, for it is all he has known. Adam leaves the city at the end, in a heart-wrenching scene where he disappears around a bend never to be seen again. I would love to know what became of Adam, and in befriending him I guess I would.
About the Author
Long ago, back in the mists of time, when I was filled with ambition and brimming with ideas, I wrote a short story for a national competition. The competition was judged by an edior from Pan Books, who liked it enough to choose it as the winner, and to also publish my work in the forthcoming Dark Voices series, which had replaced the famous Pan Book of Horror Stories. And so it was that Gino’s Bar and Grille became my first published piece, in Dark Voices II.
Over a short period, three more stories of mine were published: Character Role, in Fear magazine; A Grim Story, in Rattler’s Tales; and then Book End, my second story for Pan in Dark Voices IV.
Following a conversation with author Brian Lumley, at a book signing for Dark Voices II, I began to feel as if I belonged amongst the writing fraternity. I also started to think that maybe, just maybe, I had a novel in me.
What followed were two horror/dark fantasy novels of moderate quality. But, I told myself, I am learning my craft. The first book of mine I even came close to liking was Degrees of Darkness, and I delighted in scaring the crap out of friends and family who read it. A follow-up never really saw the light of day.
On 1st February 2017, Bloodhound Books announced they had signed me to their stable of writers. On Saturday 29 April they released Bad to the Bone. Bloodhound have also signed me to write a second title in the series, which will be available in 2018 and is called The Scent of Guilt.
With Degrees of Darkness published on 19 September 2017, and Scream Blue Murder following swiftly afterwards in November, I am currently busy working on book three in the Bliss & Chandler series, as well as a follow-up to Scream Blue Murder.