It’s a little while since I was privileged to ‘stay in’ with Tony J. Forder to discuss his novel Scream Blue Murder in a post you can read here. I always love featuring Tony on Linda’s Book Bag because he’s such a generous and warm hearted man whom I’ve met several times, and am thrilled to welcome him back again. I’m also really looking forward to Tony being part of the Deepings Literary Festival where I live next May.
Tony always provides really fabulous guest posts and today is no exception as he celebrates his latest novel Cold Winter Sun.
When Bad to the Bone was published, Tony wrote an inspirational post about becoming a writer here.
Tony also wrote about writing outside his comfort zone here and he allowed his characters Bliss and Chandler from The Scent of Guilt to introduce one another here.
Published by Bloodhound on 1st November 2018, Cold Winter Sun is available for purchase here.
Cold Winter Sun
A missing man. A determined hunter. A deadly case.
When Mike Lynch is contacted by his ex-wife about the missing nephew of her new husband, he offers to help find the young man with the help of his friend Terry Cochran.
Arriving in LA to try and track down the young man, the pair are immediately torn away when the missing man’s car shows up, abandoned on the side of a deserted road in New Mexico.
When two fake police officers cross their path, Terry and Mike know there is more to the case than meets the eye, and soon they find themselves asking exactly who it is they are really looking for…
The Cold Winter Sun Imperative
In my previous offering to Linda’s wonderful blog, I mentioned how my 2017 book, Scream Blue Murder, began life as a stand-alone novel. I’d had the idea for the first part of the story several years before completing it, cobbling together the first third in fits and starts before setting it aside as everyday events took over. Having eventually returned to the piece and blown the metaphorical dust off it, however, by the time two-thirds of the book had been written I knew I was going to have to write a sequel. And long before I had written the final words, I had already started working on the first few chapters of the follow-up, unable to ignore the storyline which had been rattling around inside my head – where there’s plenty of space for it to take root.
Scream Blue Murder was an important book to me personally, but I also realised that its lead character, Mike Lynch, had wormed his way beneath my skin to the point where I felt I had to write about the next stage of his development. In that first book, the reader comes to Mike at a bad time in his life, and it quickly gets even worse for him. Across the length and breadth of the story, Mike slowly but surely becomes the man he once was and yearned to be again. Even so, while the book does stand on its own, I felt Mike’s character had more mileage in him.
There was also another reason why I wanted to revisit Mike: quite simply, writing Cold Winter Sun was the most fun I’ve had writing. Putting together an action thriller, and taking it on mainly from my lead character’s point of view, was such a dramatic change (and challenge) for me as a writer, that I felt an adrenaline rush every day that I sat down to write another scene. I confess that I felt sad when the ride was over, and I wanted to go back around and enjoy it all over again.
Don’t get me wrong, I get an enormous thrill out of writing my DI Bliss series, and I got a real buzz out of my stand-alone, Cold Winter Sun. But with Cold Winter Sun I felt the thrill of the roller-coaster I was trying to create on the page. The challenge, the different POV, the change in pace, all added to the sense of freedom I felt in just letting the characters blossom and take charge of where we were headed. Essentially, they wrote it by their actions, and I hung on for dear life.
Although I had a decent amount of the plot in my head when I began writing its sequel, Cold Winter Sun, I also had some choices to make. The first was whether or not to go for another fuel-injected thriller, or to reign it back in a little. The second was how many characters to carry over into the second book. And the third was where to set the book.
The first decision was dictated by the storyline, in which I pull on those reigns a little, creating a mystery, throwing in some thrills and spills, a tablespoon of action, a pinch of fun, a soupcon of humour, grate a little conspiracy over the top, garnish with complexities, and carefully fold it all into the mix. The second decision: Mike was involved, so I simply had to have his friend, Terry Cochran. I also included Mike’s ex-wife and his daughter, Wendy. The inclusion of them largely indicated to me what my answer to the third question would be: I had to set the book in the US, and almost as soon as I knew that, I decided the right place was the New Mexico desert that I had seen so much of when watching the great TV series, Breaking Bad.
In Cold Winter Sun, Mike’s story is not about damsels in distress as it was in the first book – but it does arise because his ex-wife asks him for a favour. Her new husband’s nephew has gone missing, the cops are not overly interested, and Mike reacts instinctively. The search for the missing young man takes Mike and Terry to some extremely interesting places, where they encounter some extremely interesting characters and situations. As the mystery unravels, so the danger levels increase, and in the unfamiliar New Mexico landscape, neither Mike nor Terry are on certain ground. With a wily county sheriff on the prowl, plus a determined Native American ‘fixer’ and a bunch of gangsters also hunting for the nephew, the intrigue of a seventy-one-year-old mystery muddying already murky waters is not what Mike and Terry need. The pair are good at what they do, but last time out they both ended up getting wounded. Will this time be any different, given the odds seem so stacked against them?
This is a sequel because it features the same main characters from the previous book. But I hope that people don’t expect a Scream Blue Murder II, with a foot-to-the-floor, high-octane ride from one skirmish to another. I’ve throttled back a little this time around, but I hope that the unfolding story is intriguing enough for readers to be drawn along by characters who came to mean a lot to me. There is action along the way – you can be sure of that. There is danger, too. Thrills? I certainly hope so. This is the same flint-edged Terry Cochran, but a different Mike Lynch. This book sees a continuation of his development, and his relationship with everybody changes for the better because of it.
At least, that’s the way I see it all in my head. Other people may take different things from it – that’s the nature of the beast. Cold Winter Sun is a book I simply had to write. For me it is pure escapism. I had to get these characters out of my system. You’ll have to read the book to know whether I closed the door on any future Mike Lynch stories, or kept it ajar. Either way, it was great fun to write, gut-wrenching to edit when I had to prune back the parts many of the characters had to play in the story, and I hope people will enjoy reading the book as much as I did writing it. With Cold Winter Sun I got my fix, so for the time being it’s back to DI Bliss and finishing up his fourth outing, plus the odd stand-alone, the first of which will hopefully be the one I am currently working on: FIFTEEN COFFINS.
The first of November 2018 sees the release of Cold Winter Sun – the book I was unable not to write…
(My goodness Tony. I love the sound of Cold Winter Sun. I’m looking forward to seeing if I agree with what you’ve told us about it.)
About Tony J Forder
Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed, best-selling crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first three books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, and If Fear Wins will be joined by a fourth in the series in 2019.
Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This is a stand-alone novel. Another book that was written as a stand-alone was Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller. Before it had even been published, Tony had decided to write a sequel, and Cold Winter Sun will be published in November 2018.
Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK, and is now a full-time author.
You can follow Tony on Twitter @TonyJForder, visit his website and find him on Facebook.
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Check out this guest post from Author Tony J. Forder as featured on Linda’s Book Bag Blog
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