Ever since I began blogging just over three years ago I have had a special place in my heart for Urbane Publications. Consequently, it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome another of their authors, Jonathan Whitelaw to Linda’s Book Bag to tell me about the latest of Urbane’s books today.
Staying in with Jonathan Whitelaw
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Jonathan. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
The pleasure is absolutely mine. Thank you very much for having me. Nothing I love more than a good night in – although I’m not sure the old me, which ironically was the YOUNG me, would agree. But I’m in charge now so yes, can’t wait.
(Ha! Absolutely. I’m very much the old me looking back at the young me and I wouldn’t have wanted an evening in then. Now, however…)
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I have brought along my second novel – HellCorp – which is unleashed on the world on July 5.
(Well Happy Publication Day! Congratulations.)
It’s my latest work and the first to be published by Urbane – which I am incredibly excited about. It’s actually a book of firsts for me in many ways. It’s my first foray into the thriller and crime genres and also sci-fi and fantasy. My debut – Morbid Relations – was a dark comedy about family life. So this is a bit of a departure.
I’m a huge fan of all those genres and getting the chance to be a part of such a vibrant, popular set all at once is actually beyond words. Terrible I know for an author and journalist but I really can’t describe my excitement.
(Not at all! Of course you’re excited! I know I would be.)
And it’s that excitement that’s led me to bring it along. I think there’s something for everybody in this novel and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
I’ve always liked to push my own boundaries as a writer and try new things. The challenge with this book was striking a balance and telling the story the way the best it could be. And hopefully I’ve done that and the readers will enjoy and love the characters and story as much as I did creating them – and putting them through the mill. Backwards!
(I think this sounds brilliant.)
What can we expect from an evening in with HellCorp?
Blimey – that’s the question isn’t it. Is it too much of a cop-out to say expect everything?
(Hmm. I might let you get away with that…)
If it’s not and I’m allowed to then yes… it has everything. Quite literally.
There’s mystery, suspense, action, some sci-fi and fantasy, thrills, spills, a hint of romance and at its heart a cracking story.
(I bet allocating a genre for this one was a nightmare!)
In short it’s about The Devil who wants to go on holiday. But first he has to prove to God he’s not pulling a fast one. Dumped into human form he has to solve the murder of a man who took decades to die. All while struggling to cope with being without his powers and dealing with humanity and fate up close and personal. And you can imagine how much he HATES that.
I’ve always been fascinated by crime and I finally got round to giving it a right good go. What’s always frustrated me about the genre is the sheer amount of flawed anti-heroes out there. And while I love a good anti-hero you can really get your teeth into, I thought ‘wait a minute, who’s the ULTIMATE anti-hero’ and what would he be like stripped down, out of his comfort zone and thrown right into the thick of it.
I guess it’s a story about coping and learning about, forgiving and better understanding other people.
And while it might seem like a daunting prospect of spending the evening with The Devil – you might just find yourself rooting for him in the end.
I’m not saying giving too much away but there’s ALWAYS a bigger, badder fish. You’ll just have to read to find out what I mean.
Cruel, I know, but I’m a rotter.
(Yes you are. Of course, now I HAVE to read HellCorp just to find out!)
What else have you brought along and why?
I’m a big music fan and it’s always been a big part of my writing. So what better way to accompany this evening than with some cracking tunes.
Whether it’s some classical like some Handel or Carlos Gardel to classic AC/DC, Rory Gallagher and Prince there’s really nothing I wouldn’t listen to. And on top of that wouldn’t listen to while writing. It’s an eclectic taste and I know it’s influenced HellCorp and my writing in general over the years. It’s been fantastic to put together a playlist that acts as a sort of accompaniment to the novel which should be available around today’s publication.
(I’m quite fond of a bit of Rory Gallagher myself actually but if there’s nothing you wouldn’t listen to, we’ll have to have some Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music too.)
Music was my first big break into journalism too so it’s been an important part of my professional life as well as my personal one. When I left university my original degree was in psychology but I didn’t want to pursue that. So after some post graduate modules in creative writing and journalism I left to make my way in the big bad world. Straight into Scottish politics!
I had a fantastic time there and learned so much but I also yearned to write more regularly. I had been reviewing gigs, singles and albums on the side and eventually got the chance to work on the entertainment desk of STV (Scottish Television), X Factor, I’m A Celeb, Dancing on Ice, I was an expert. And from there I’ve gone on to work for some of the biggest names in the UK media including The Sun and the BBC.
I’m lucky enough to be able to do what I love every single day – writing as a journalist and as an author. I’m very thankful and grateful for that because I know, in modern life, it can be hard to achieve.
So yes, a good playlist for a good night in – what could be better.
(Oh I agree. Let’s get some music on whilst I recover from hearing about your career. I feel worn out just thinking about it!)
And while I would have loved to have brought Old Nick for this evening – unfortunately my Ouija board is in the shop. Sorry.
Thank heavens for that. It’s been brilliant hearing all about HellCorp, Jonathan. Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about it and Happy Publication Day!
Life is hard for The Devil and he desperately wants to take a holiday. Growing weary from playing the cosmic bad guy, he resolves to set up a company that will do his job for him so the sins of the world will tick over while he takes a vacation. God tells him he can have his vacation just as soon as he solves an ancient crime.
But nothing is ever easy and before long he is up to his pitchfork in solving murders, desperate to crack the case so he can finally take the holiday he so badly needs…
This is a perfectly-pitched darkly comic crime novel that is ideal for fans of Christopher Fowler and Ben Aaranovitch.
Published by Urbane, HellCorp is available for purchase here.
About Jonathan Whitelaw
Jonathan Whitelaw is an author, journalist and broadcaster. After working on the frontline of Scottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste – with everything in between. He’s also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV. HellCorp is his second novel following his debut, Morbid Relations.