I was so intrigued by the sound of The Weight of Shadows by Karl Holton that, even though I sadly couldn’t fit it into my TBR, I wanted to know more about it. Karl kindly agreed to an interview to tell me more.
The Weight of Shadows was published by Thuja on 13th July 2017 and is available for purchase here.
The Weight of Shadows
When you have spent your life in the shadows, what would you do at the dying of the light?
Three years ago the best murder detective in London is blamed for the death of his colleague and kicked out of the Met.
A man with secrets buried in the past and present returns to London, the city that started the mysterious career which made him a billionaire.
The two need each other.
But they have no idea how much.
A gripping crime thriller mystery with twists from the beginning to end.
An Interview with Karl Holton
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Karl. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and The Weight of Shadows in particular. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?
I’m a husband and father of two; girl of thirteen, boy of ten. I live in Surrey in England. I’m a chartered accountant that had worked in and around the financial markets in London for over thirty years.
You used to work in the financial markets sector. How did you make the decision to follow your dream and become a writer?
I hit one of those moments where I needed to make a very big decision. Writing the stories I was carrying in my head was something I had dreamed of doing. But I knew that there was no way I could write at what I think is a reasonable pace and work at the same time. Like many potential authors, when you do twelve to fourteen hour days during the week, it’s hard to come home and write. Then when you add your family commitments it becomes almost impossible to isolate the time to produce quality writing. I decided that if I wanted to give my writing the best chance of success I had to commit to this full time so I could put everything behind it. Bottom line, I had to take the risk.
Why did you choose the mystery thriller genre for your first book?
It really wasn’t a hard decision. I’ve had the two main characters in this book in my head for about twenty years and added others in that time. This story, which will play out across a series of books, is shaking around inside … I just needed to get it out.
You’ve just begun a writing career. Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
Well I am fairly new to this, but I think I find dialogue easier than most other parts. I imagine the characters in front of me speaking and I just copy it down.
Maintaining character and plot continuity is hard; you just need discipline and attention to detail.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
Once I have had enough coffee, I try to get focused on the piece I am writing and avoid all the other tasks that a self-publishing author needs to do. Once I fail at that, I start writing … after more coffee.
Most of my writing is done sat on the sofa. I do try to work towards a daily target number of words but I can vary quite widely from it.
Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about The Weight of Shadows?
The main character is Danny Benedict, a murder detective, kicked out of the Met when blamed for the death of a colleague in 2013. A second character, Ray Hanson, a mysterious billionaire returns to London in August 2016. The series plot begins in The Weight of Shadows and shows a period of six days during which events happen across London bringing these two together. The two men need each other, but they have no idea how much.
I know you’re self-publishing The Weight of Shadows. What advice would you give to other new authors thinking of self-publishing?
If I was giving one single piece of advice it would be that self-publishing does not mean you can avoid editing. It also does not mean self-editing. If your book is fiction with a twist, I don’t think this is possible and you must have your work edited and critiqued by a third party. Once complete, you must listen to the editor and trust them and go through everything in detail. You might not agree with every point but make sure you know exactly why. To give you an idea my edit process ended up taking far longer than it took me to write the complete first draft.
(I think that might be true of many writers Karl!)
The Weight of Shadows has a cover that suggests quite a conflict between light and shade, good and evil to me. How did that image come about and what were you hoping to convey (without spoiling the plot please!)?
That is spot on. The plot is very much looking at the variations between good and evil and how we perceive and ultimately measure these as individuals. The image is attempting to illustrate the dispute and combine it with elements of the story. Without saying too much, the Thames, London, and money are all drivers in the narrative.
The Weight of Shadows is the first in a proposed series. How do you manage planning for a series of books?
Primarily, you must have a very good handle on the core story arcs not only within the singular book but also across the whole series. You need to know how and when you will introduce them, develop their flow in the narrative and reveal the conclusion. But you must do this at the same time as making the individual book engaging.
In a series, you need to consider this over a longer period. So for example, there are series story arcs in The Weight of Shadows which you can see that I have obviously introduced; but others are more subtle and will be harder to spot. Some in the series will be introduced later, so with these, you must ensure you don’t compromise them with anything earlier in the narrative.
I also think the timing of character building is critical. If I want to make a character have longevity then I need to begin the back story reveal at the right time.
The Weight of Shadows has a series of twists. How far did these arise naturally in your writing and how far did you need to plan each one (Though don’t give any of them away!)
The main twists within The Weight of Shadows I had planned. Obviously, I cannot explain which ones they are but I will say that I have tried to give the reader clues. Some of the twists could also be called story arcs and these present themselves in the single book and others will take longer to uncover.
But certain twists did develop during the writing and edit. I think this is what you do as a writer and especially within the edit stage. You let the writing process enhance your ideas and add colour to the way it integrates within the story. Then in edit you might change their shade, making them darker or lighter, possibly being more pronounced or less pronounced. There was a significant one that I can think of, but I cannot explain it without giving too much away.
If you could choose to be a character from The Weight of Shadows, who would you be and why?
The obvious choice is Benedict, especially as I am a man. I shouldn’t say too much about Hanson here and let readers decide. But there is a female Flying Squad DI named Wallace. I really enjoy writing the chapters that include her and the way she interacts with Benedict.
And when you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
I tend to read lots of different things. In fiction, my preference today is for the crime thriller genre books and I will normally have something by Agatha Christie, Ian Rankin and Anthony Horowitz on the go at any given moment.
But if you were asking about non-crime thriller fiction influences, they are numerous. Off the top of my head and starting at ‘A’, let’s say, Douglas Adams and JG Ballard. I better stop because I will go on for too long.
If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that The Weight of Shadows should be their next read, what would you say?
The Shadows are dark and what would you do at the dying of the light?
Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions Karl.
I just want to say thank you so much for this interview. It’s been a pleasure.
About Karl Holton
Karl Holton is a brand new self publishing author. His first book, The Weight of Shadows, is available now on Amazon. This is the first book in a crime thriller mystery series, with twists from beginning to end.
Karl previously worked in financial markets for over thirty years, before deciding that he had to write. He couldn’t leave this dream any longer.
He lives in Surrey with his wife and two children.