I’m interviewing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival: http://bit.ly/24eOVtl. The initial interview was with Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF . The second was with Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh. Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing them all and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance.
Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Matt Johnson,who tells a fascinating story.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? How long have you been writing?
Write what you know. I served for a little under twenty-five years in the Army and then in the Metropolitan Police working in a number of specialisms and departments. In terms of exposure, my career spanned a time that saw my involvement in a number of high profile incidents. For example, I attended the Regents Park bombing in 1982 and, in 1984, I escorted my mortally wounded colleague, WPC Yvonne Fletcher to hospital.
Unfortunately, my career came to an abrupt end when I was diagnosed with PTSD. I was referred for counselling and initially found expressing myself very difficult – I would be overcome by emotion. To help my progress, my counsellor suggested I try recording my experiences, emotions and feelings in writing, and then bring my notes to be discussed at sessions. One day, many months later, she commented how much she enjoyed my writing and ‘had I ever considered writing a book?’
I hadn’t, and at the time had no desire to do so. But, several years later, with my police career over and my personal circumstances having changed, I pulled those notes from a drawer and started to weave them into a novel. And so, to answer the question, I am very knew to creative writing. Wicked Game is my first book.
What is it about being an author that you particularly enjoy?
Many things. I’ve always been very self-motivated and have been equally happy working as a member of a team or as an individual. But, I now find that I do like working on my own, setting my own deadlines and managing my own time. I enjoy research, learning about new things and brushing up on gaps in my knowledge. I enjoy the moment the words start to flow, that realisation that you are ‘in the groove’ and the story is unfolding, sometimes faster than I can type. I often lose track of time, forget to eat and have been known to write into the early hours.
All that said, what I most enjoy is the eventual interaction with readers that the book produces, particularly when it comes to meeting and having the chance to chat.
What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
I was motivated to write fiction after reading a book on creative writing. I recall reading the expression ‘show don’t tell’. The explanation discussed the use of words to enhance reader experience but for me this struck a chord. I realised that to really explain to readers how service men and women are affected by PTSD I would be wasting my time writing just another book on the subject that ‘told’ people. I hoped that, through the medium of fiction, I might be able to show people and to help understanding.
Are there misconceptions that people have about your book? If so, explain.
Some, yes, but from the reviews it appears that many have overcome them. The main misconception is that Wicked Game is a ‘boys only’ book, as it is a military/police thriller. But readers have discovered that it is much more than that, it is a story about family, secrets, friendship and coming together to face a threat. I’ve been so please to read the comments of readers who have said that the book has delivered so much more than they first expected.
What process did you go through to get your book published?
When I finished my first draft I did the usual thing and sent a synopsis to a few agents. Having failed to secure any interest I self published through KDP Amazon. The book did surprisingly well and I was enjoying the pocket money. Then, an author working in Afghanistan with the Chinook force stumbled upon a soldier reading my book on his kindle. He asked what the book was and decided to download it himself. He liked it and decided to recommend me to his literary agent. With a few months I was in London signing with Watson-Little Ltd and it was they who secured the publishing deal.
Where can we find your book?
In e-book form, Wicked Game is available on Amazon, Kobo, Ibookstore, Nook etc. In paperback it’s available in Waterstones, WH Smith, Hive, Amazon and through many independent book shops.
For signed copies, I’m supporting Book-ish of Crickhowell who were the winner of the Wales and west independent book shop of the year 2016. Order from Bookish and they will call me in to sign a personalised copy for you.
A sequel to Wicked Game, called ‘Deadly Game’ is scheduled for publication Spring 2017.
You will also find Wicked Game on sale at a number of literary events this year.
I’m at Crickhowell and Berwick Literary Festivals, Tenby Book Fair and Bristol CrimeFest. I will also be touring with the Orenda Author Roadshow.
Wicked Game, Published by Orenda Books, had been long-listed for the CWA John Creasy Debut Dagger Award 2016.
You can find Matt here: