My enormous thanks to Dylan (get well soon) and Sean at Red Dog Press for inviting me to participate in today’s blog tour. I’m thrilled to welcome one of their authors, Matthew Ross, to stay in with me and chat about his new book.
Staying in with Matthew Ross
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Matthew, and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
It’s an honour to be invited. And we’re all staying indoors now aren’t we – thank you, Baked Potato!
We are indeed! So tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’m very pleased to bring you my debut novel, Death Of A Painter – I hope you enjoy it. It’s been described as a darkly comic crime caper, and perhaps during these difficult times a little humour may lighten the mood – some levity in our murders, as it were.
You’re absolutely right Matthew. I’m only sorry I haven’t had time to fit in Death Of A Painter to my reading yet as I’ve been hearing great things about your debut. Tell me more about what we can expect from an evening in with Death Of A Painter.
Death Of Painter is a comic crime caper featuring an electrician by the name of Mark Poynter as our reluctant protagonist. He comes back to his work site one day to discover his colleague has been murdered – Mark finds himself the prime suspect whilst at the same time worried he was in fact the intended target for the killer. And so, he tries to get himself out of the situation helped and hindered by his crew of idlers, slackers and gossips.
Interesting! Why did you choose a building site as that seems quite an unusual setting?
I chose to set my characters in the building trade because firstly that’s my own background but also I’m a big fan of crime and mystery fiction, and I’ve always been a bit partial to stories where the lead character isn’t necessarily a detective but an ordinary person thrown into an extra-ordinary situation.
Interesting point! I think we’re all in extra-ordinary situations now!
I’ve been asked how I feel about launching my first book in the middle of a global pandemic, and to be honest I’m simply far too busy at the moment to worry about not getting to pop the champagne with friends and family at a launch party. Life’s been turned upside down. Everybody’s normal world has been put on hold. At home, we’ve turned spare corners of the house in to operational office spaces so my wife and I can work remotely. We’ve had to somehow cram in full-time jobs whilst prioritising home-schooling our two young boys. Add on top of that the constant desire to keep in contact with elderly parents living alone: my mother-in-law is in New Zealand and my own mother is forty miles away. Near or far, distance is irrelevant right now, with the lockdown restrictions in place they may as well be on the other side of the Moon. There’s no question: trying to maintain communication and trying to organise groceries and essentials to them is more pressing in the grand scheme of things. There’ll be plenty to celebrate once we’re all through this and back together again.
You’re absolutely right. I couldn’t agree more. But tell me a bit more about Death Of A Painter too.
As for the book itself, I actually feel rather positive. In recent months, the way the politics, the culture and the attitudes were turning, it felt as though people were looking for a return to the ‘cozy crime’ sub-genre, seeking something modern but nostalgic at the same time, something with a bit of humour and a bit of escapism. And so, I hope, this is the right time for Death Of A Painter – because tonally it’s neither the traditional body-in-the-library ‘cozy crime’ nor is it graphic, dark Scandi-noir, but somewhere in the middle. I like to think it has a similar tone to, say, the wonderful ‘Montalbano’ series by Andrea Camilleri insofar as the murders if looked at close-up would be pretty gruesome and savage, but they happen off-stage and instead we see how they affect and influence the lives and behaviours of our characters who have already got concerns of their own to be getting on with.
Some early readers of Death Of A Painter have said they thought it was more a novel about family and friendship than solving a murder – I’m happy with that.
I bet! That sounds exactly my kind of read Matthew. I shall have to bump Death Of A Painter up my TBR!
What else have you brought along and why?
Here’s a Father’s Day card made for me by my seven-year old son (Proud Dad!).
That’s very cute. But why a Father’s Day card?
It seemed apt for a number of reasons.
Firstly, in Death Of A Painter my character Mark still finds the loss of his father quite raw and it influences his decision-making as he tries to navigate his path along the grey margins of criminality.
I can sympathise with that. I miss my father dreadfully.
Secondly, I’ve come to realise that Mark’s loss was actually my own way of expressing mine. To cut a long story short, I had a fun hobby as a comedy writer that was gaining traction with the potential of becoming a possible new career. However, in the same three-month period my work situation changed, my father died and my first child was born – as you can imagine it was a bit of a head-scrambler. Something had to give, and it was the writing. After a few years the itch to write came back itchier than ever however I felt the full-length novel was more where my focus was, and so I began to write. The end result was Death Of A Painter.
I wonder why life has a habit of throwing everything at us in one go Matthew? You must now be so pleased that you’ve actually scratched that itch after those two life altering events.
And then, thirdly, my absolute most favourite feedback received was when my book was described as “Father’s Day Fiction” by which they meant it was the sort of novel you could buy for someone as a gift, someone that doesn’t ordinarily read books and feel confident that they’d get stuck in and enjoy it. Exactly what I wanted to hear because having been influenced by that kind of fast-paced, commercial fiction such as Dick Francis and Lee Child, and a lifelong lover of TV’s light-hearted criminal capers such as Minder, New Tricks, Death In Paradise and so many more, that was exactly what I’d aspired to write – something I’d want to read on holiday.
I think that Death Of A Painter sounds truly wonderful Matthew. Thank you so much for staying in with me to chat about it. I wish you every success with your debut and here’s to many more books in the future.
Death of a Painter
IN THE BUILDING GAME TIME IS MONEY AND MONEY IS EVERYTHING. UNFORTUNATELY FOR MARK POYNTER, HE’S RUN OUT OF MONEY AND HE’S FAST RUNNING OUT OF TIME.
When Mark Poynter discovers a murder on his worksite all of his financial problems suddenly seem a lot closer to home: was this a warning his debts are overdue?
Suspected of being the killer and worried at being the intended victim, the murder only makes Mark’s money problems worse, leading him to turn to the local villain, Hamlet, who has his own unique repayment plan in mind for Mark.
When two more deaths plunge him even further into debt, Mark finds himself faced with a choice – help the police and clear his name or help the villain and clear his debt.
Set in the Medway Towns on the grey margins of criminality, where no job’s too big, no dodge’s too small …
Death Of A Painter is the first in a new series of darkly comic crime fiction novels featuring the beleaguered builder Mark Poynter, aided and hindered in equal measure by his trusted crew of slackers, idlers and gossips, and the lengths they go to just to earn a living.
Published by Red Dog Press yesterday, 27th April 2020, Death of a Painter is available for purchase here.
About Matthew Ross
Matthew Ross was born and raised in the Medway Towns, England. He still lives in Kent with his Kiwi wife, his children and a very old cat.
He was immersed in the building industry from a very early age helping out on his father’s sites during school holidays before launching into his own career at 17. He’s worked on projects ranging from the smallest domestic repair to £billion+ infrastructure, and probably everything in between.
A lifelong comedy nerd, he ticked off a bucket-list ambition and tried his hand at stand-up comedy. Whilst being an experience probably best forgotten (for both him and audiences alike) it ignited a love for writing, leading to various commissions including for material broadcast on BBC Radio 4 comedy shows.
Matthew moved into the longer format of novel writing after graduating from the Faber Academy in London in 2017.
Death Of A Painter is his first novel and the first in a planned series of stories featuring Mark Poynter and his associates.
Matthew enjoys reading all manner of books – especially crime and mystery; 80s music; and travelling and can’t wait for the next trip to New Zealand to spend time with family and friends.
There’s more with these other bloggers too: