J S Carol – Q&A

Today I’m pleased to welcome J S Carol to the blog. J S Carol is the author of the Jefferson Winter novels, Broken Dolls, Watch Me, Prey andThe Quiet Man. written under the name James Carol. His latest book, Kiss Me, Kill Me, a standalone novel, was published by Bonnier Zaffre on 22 February 2018.

J S Carol kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about Kiss Me, Kill Me.

One thing that has always fascinated me is seeing how people react in extreme situations. In Kiss Me Kill Me, Zoe is trapped in a nightmare marriage. On the outside, her life looks perfect but the reality is light years away from that. She decides to make one last-ditch attempt to get away from her husband and that’s where I pick up the story. Something I like to do is play with the readers expectations. You’ll think you know where this one is headed, but I bet you’re wrong.

2. What inspired the book?

My ideas tend to come when I’m minding my own business. I might be out walking the dog or emptying the dishwasher and my subconscious will come up with a little what-if. Most of these what-ifs tend to wither and die on the vine but occasionally one will sink it’s teeth in and won’t let go. I can’t remember what I was doing when I came up with the idea behind Kiss Me Kill Me but I can clearly remember the idea itself. Basically I saw a woman holding a pregnancy test stick that had a little pink cross on it. She wasn’t jumping for joy and I assumed that was because she didn’t want the baby. It quickly became apparent that she did want it, and that what I’d actually taken for devastation was in fact fear. But why was she so scared?

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

I believe the technical term for someone who doesn’t plot is a seat-of-the-pantser, and that’s what I am. I get an idea and run with it. Or rather I get a question in my head that I’m compelled to find an answer to. With Kiss Me Kill Me I wanted to know why Zoe was so scared. This initial question will inevitably be followed by another, and another. It’s by following this trail of questions that I find my way through the novel. When I start a book I have no idea where it’s headed, which can be disconcerting. Of course, the bonus here is that if I don’t know where it’s going, what hope has the reader got?

4. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I have two young children, which although not always relaxing, is a lot of fun. The great thing about working from home is that I’m able to do things like go to sports day and school concerts. Basically I’ve been around to see them grow up, something I wouldn’t swap for anything.

When it comes to relaxation I’ve got music. For the past year or so I’ve been working on my solo album. Technology has progressed to the point where I can do all the recording at home and get results that are comparable with a pro studio. This means that I can work on things at my own pace, which is basically an hour here and an hour there whenever I can grab some time. The album is really starting to shape up. With luck I should have it finished by the summer.

5. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

The Stand by Stephen King is my all-time favourite book. I first read it when I was eighteen and I’ve read it twice since then. It’s the only book I’ve read three times … what’s more I feel a fourth visit coming on. It really is an awesome read. The first five hundred pages see King wiping out 99.4% of the world’s population. The next thousand deal with the aftermath of that apocalyptic event. Of course, the added bonus with choosing this book is that it’s so long it’s like having three novels in one. Does that mean I’m cheating?

6. 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?

What is your hallmark? In other words what makes your writing unique? I seem to have a knack for showing the reader the dark stuff in a way that makes it almost acceptable … actually acceptable isn’t quite the right word … understandable doesn’t cut it either … thinking about it, I’m not sure that there is a word to describe what I do. My wife still talks about a scene in one of my early books where a woman’s body is found. The killer has removed her eyes and filled the sockets with crushed glass. He also left behind some candles. When the detective lights one, the candlelight dances in the crushed glass making the eyes look alive. My wife’s first thought when she read this scene was that she wanted to see this because it sounded so beautiful. Her second thought was that she was disturbed and horrified that she could think like that. According to the comments I’ve had from readers this isn’t an isolated event.

About the book

She thought she could trust him. She was wrong . . .

When Zoe meets Dan, he’s everything she is looking for in a man – intelligent, charming, supportive.
It’s only after they’re married that she realises that he’s controlling, aggressive, paranoid.
And there’s no way out.

Or is there?

Zoe knows she has to escape, but Dan’s found her once before, and she knows he can find her again.
But Dan has plans of his own. Plans that don’t necessarily include Zoe.

Be careful who you trust . . .

About the author

J. S. Carol is the author of The Killing Game, which has been shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award. As James Carol, he has also written the bestselling Jefferson Winter series. Broken Dolls, the first of these, was published in 2014 to rave reviews and reached #1 on the Amazon fiction and thriller charts. In addition James is writing a series of eBooks set during Winter’s FBI days. Presumed Guilty is the first of these. James lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children. When he’s not writing he can usually be found in a pair of headphones, recording and producing music.

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