Today I’m pleased to welcome GJ Moffat to the blog. GJ Moffat’s novels include Daisy Chain, Protection and Blindside. His latest, Blackwater, was published by Fahrenheit Press on 16 May 2017.
He kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Blackwater.
I replied to a blogger asking me to describe what the book was about as follows: “A good man. Some very bad men. A love story. A crime story”. That sums it up perfectly. I’ve had five books published now and I think it’s the best thing I’ve written and I’m so pleased that Fahrenheit Press picked it up for publication.
It’s a small town crime noir set in Cape Cod. The central character is Early Simms, a local sheriff’s deputy who grew up in the town with big plans on being a professional football star. But a tragedy in his teenage years led to him never leaving the town. While it is absolutely a crime novel at heart, I never lost sight of the relationship at the core of the book between Early and his returning high school sweetheart, Kate Foley. When I was writing it I had a post-it note permanently stuck to the bottom of my screen to remind myself. It just said: “It’s a love story”. Early ultimately finds himself in the middle of a storm of violence that threatens the life he has built and he has to confront the men responsible for the violence or risk losing everything.
2. What inspired the book?
I love American crime fiction and I wanted to write something that I would like to read myself. I particularly like small-scale dramas with a focus on characters; books by James Lee Burke and Elmore Leonard. I’ve been to Cape Cod twice now on holiday and it just seemed like the perfect setting – juxtaposing the idyllic New England setting with dark criminality. The fictional town of Blackwater is actually based on Falmouth – both where it is located on the Cape and the layout of the town itself.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I’ve written books in different ways. For this one, it was mainly the latter – letting the story evolve naturally. I felt that for this kind of book that would work best. I’m really glad I went with that. I have felt in the past when planning a story in detail that it sort of hemmed me in; and didn’t allow for a natural flow.
4. Is there still anything about the process of creating a novel that still surprises you?
It’s weird, I think, but I still get quite emotional at times when writing the book – as if I am reading it myself for the first time and just getting immersed in the characters and their lives. I’m always surprised by how that gets to me.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
Well, I have a very full time job as a litigation partner in Scotland’s leading law firm, Burness Paull. There are nearly 500 people in the firm and I’m on the board. So that fills a lot of time as you might imagine. Outside of the day job and writing, there’s no one thing, really. I try to keep fit as I get older – running and circuit workouts. I have two teenage daughters and I love spending time with them and my wife. Simple things, like dinner out and then going to the cinema. As a result of having a hectic professional life, we’ve always socialized as a family to make sure we stay close. I do love movies and have a home cinema set up with a 65” TV and a full-on surround sound system. My real sporting love, as you might guess from Blackwater, is American football. My wife and I went to Arizona a couple of years ago to watch the Superbowl. That was an amazing experience and the only thing on my bucket list. I also read comic books.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
That’s such a tough question because, believe it or not, I’ve never read a book more than once. For me, it’s different books for different times in my life and different moods. If I was forced at gunpoint to choose one, it would probably have to be American Tabloid by James Ellroy. It’s an incredible piece of work.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Who’s your favourite superhero? Batman.
About the book
Deputy Sheriff Early Simms of the Blackwater County Sheriff’s Department knows about the violence that incubates within the souls of men – and that sometimes it needs a release. As a high school football player he relished inflicting pain, until he made a tackle that left a promising young athlete dead from a broken neck. Early did not play another game and his dreams of leaving the small town that he grew up in never materialised. Instead, he followed his father into the town’s police force.
Now older, Early is outwardly content with the life he has made for himself in Blackwater. But that life is about to be turned upside down. Kate Foley, his high school girlfriend, arrives in town on the run from an abusive husband and it stirs feelings that Early thought he had forgotten.
Jimmy and Marshall Cain are brothers – men with the capacity for the kind of violence that Early Simms knows all too well. A botched home invasion by the brothers goes horribly wrong, leaving a man and woman dead and their teenage daughter kidnapped.
Events spiral further out of control, with the brothers embarking on a killing spree that leads them to a confrontation with Early Simms and an FBI task force. At the same time, Kate Foley’s husband is armed and on the hunt for his wife.
Early is about to find himself in a fight not just for the life he has known, but for the future he has glimpsed in stolen moments with Kate. And to defeat the maelstrom hurtling towards him, he must once again confront the violence in his own soul.
About the author
GJ Moffat has been fascinated by courtroom melodramas starring the good and the bad guys since he was a boy.
Although he became a lawyer, he always had the urge to write and bring good guys and bad guys to life in glorious Technicolor.
He is married with two children and is struggling to learn the electric guitar (hitting more bum notes than good ones).
You can follow him on twitter @gjmoffat