The Writing Life of: Dan Laughey
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Dan Laughey. Dan will be sharing with us details of his writing life, telling us all about his book ‘Chloe – Lost Girl‘, which was released on 6th March 2019 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
Dan Laughey is a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University where he teaches a course called ‘Youth, Crime and Culture’ amongst other things. He has written several books on the subject including Music and Youth Culture, based on his PhD thesis. Turning from fact to fiction, he is now a crime writer as well as an academic. His novels featuring Inspector Carl
Sant have been warmly acclaimed. The first in the series, Chloe: Lost Girl, recently topped the Amazon Kindle Best Sellers chart.
Dan was born in Otley and bred in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, a hop and a skip away from the Leeds setting of his novels. He now shares his time between England and Thailand, where his in-laws live. His wife and two sons keep him occupied when he’s not lecturing or writing, and all three are technologically savvier than him.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
At infant school we had fancy dress costumes, and all the boys (me included) rushed to get the policeman’s hat and attire. So maybe I wanted to be a police officer, but instead I write novels about them. Is that an improvement? At least I’m safer writing than doing.
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
Enid Blyton. I loved reading mysteries, especially those weird ones you had to solve yourself, with the answers at the back of the book. I still love reading Blyton stories now, as a father, to my sons. They’re a bit dated (the books, not my sons) but oh, just as thrilling.
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
Quite early in life. I can’t recall when exactly. I enjoyed creative writing at school, then wrote a few short plays while studying at university. My first serious job was lecturing and that’s when I started writing textbooks for students, but they said they preferred stories, and I realised I did too.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
Every writing day is different. I don’t have a set routine. I like silence. No music. Maybe the low chatter of talk on the radio, not loud enough to hear what’s being said. Sometimes I write at home, sometimes at work in my open-plan office where silence is a friend I rarely find.
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
Two books. More in progress. Several unpublished plays.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Both. I need some sense of direction before I start, but where the tale will end is not fixed in my mind until I get there. The great thing about crime/mystery fiction is how it remains a mystery, for writer and reader, until the very last page.
I’m a believer in the idea that there’s no such thing as finality. Loose ends are better untied. Those connections, combinations and permutations are endless, as with true crime and true investigations.
Concerning your latest book:
Carl Sant Murder Mysteries Book One
Publisher – Creativia
Pages – 216
Released – 6th March 2019
ISBN-13 – 978-1798897928
Format – ebook, paperback
A missing student. A gunned-down detective. A woman in fear for her life. All three are connected.
Detective Inspector Carl Sant and his team get on the case. But what links the disappearance of a university student, the death of an off-duty police sergeant, and a professor reluctant to help them solve the case?
Their only clue is a sequence of numbers, etched on a misty window. Soon, both the past and the present are on a collision course with the very heart of Sant’s profession.
Racing against time, D.I. Sant must find out what’s behind the mysterious events – before the bodies start piling up.
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
CHLOE: LOST GIRL is the first of my Carl Sant Murder Mysteries and it was inspired by a true crime – the murder of a police officer and attempted murder of another in Leeds in 1984.
Research involved excavating the finer details of what happened back then, aided by newspaper microfiche, as well as exploring how cold-case detection works in the twenty-first century. The wild wild west (sorry, I mean the world wide web) is invaluable for many purposes, though it’s not as reliable and comprehensive as some people think it is.
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
It’s difficult to define a time period because my first book became two (the second Carl Sant novel is called CHLOE: NEVER FORGET and is actually ‘Part 2’, directly following on from CHLOE: LOST GIRL). The whole project took several years with a few long breaks in-between. The next novel should be a lot quicker to pen because it’s a single entity, or so I think and hope.
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
Lots of working titles never quite fitted the bill, but CHLOE seemed a nice anchor. It’s the name of the missing person Inspector Sant is trying to find at the start of Book 1. So the character existed before I lent her name to the title. It’s French I think. I like it. If I ever have a daughter, I might call her Chloe.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
The novel’s central character is Detective Inspector Carl Sant – a big Yorkshireman with a short temper he tries to control through meditation. His temper isn’t helped by the hostility his chief officers, cold-blooded Edward Lister and conniving Bill Gilligan, direct his way. Working alongside Sant are lovebirds Sergeant Amanda Holdsworth and Constable Lee Capstick. But the fourth member of Sant’s team doesn’t survive the opening chapter. Ambitious Sergeant Liam Dryden is gunned down following a clandestine meeting with an informant who soon proves pivotal to investigations. I won’t say much about her, or Chloe, otherwise I’ll give the game away.
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
First, I looked for an agent. Several months later I found one. The agent pitched my book to the big publishing houses without much success. On her advice I made my own (unsolicited) submissions to independent publishers, and finally I found one. It’s called Next Chapter Publishing and it’s all about Kindle and Audiobook sales, though paperbacks are also produced. The guys who run Next Chapter are devoted to what they do. I’ve reached #1 in Kindle Store (UK and US) so they’re doing something right, and hopefully I am too.
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
Book 3 in the Carl Sant Murder Mysteries series. A departure from Chloe, but not from Sant and co. Watch this space…
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
I’d like to be invisible. I won’t say why. Needless to say, it would be a helluva lot of fun.
2) Do you have any pets?
No, though as a child I had dogs. Mongrels. Three of them. One at a time. I was sad when they passed away. Maybe that’s why I don’t own one these days.
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
I’ve an unusual surname – Laughey (Irish I think) – so I’d probably play a word-association game and call it THE LAST LAUGHEY or LAUGHEY IS THE BEST MEDICINE or LAUGHEY AND THE WORLD LAUGHS WITH YOU… any better suggestions, let me know.
4) Your book has been made into a feature film and you’ve been offered a cameo role, which part would you choose, or what would you be doing?
I’d play the recorder (badly) in City Square. I won’t say when, how, and from who’s perspective this scene unfolds because, again, I’ll give the game away.
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
I travel to Thailand every year and do quite a bit of writing in the humid heart of downtown Bangkok, but I prefer getting out of the smoke and touring the small islands around Phuket, which are truly out of this world. Out there the whole of nature is at one with humanity. The sand is white. The sea is hot and a wonderful green. I love sea swimming, the thrill of the open water.
As far as England goes, Cornwall is probably my favourite retreat. Closer to home, Scarborough and Whitby are charming seaside towns on the equally charming Yorkshire Coast.
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
The square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides. (Like me, this duck is a wannabe mathematician who thinks the word ‘hypotenuse’ is the finest of them all.)
I would like to say a big thank you to Dan Laughey for sharing with us details of his writing life and for a wonderful interview.