Alex Caan is the author of Cut to the Bone. His latest novel, First to Die, was published by Bonnier Zaffre on 14 June 2018.
Alex kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about First to Die.
First To Die has become a very relevant book as it looks at a possible bio-terrorist attack on London, possibly with Russian connections. I wrote the novel a while back, long before the tragedy at Salisbury, but now it feels very timely. It brings back my main protagonists DI Kate Riley and DS Zain Harris, and as they hunt for a killer the body count rises.
2. What inspired the book?
I wanted to write something about terrorism as my lead Zain Harris is an ex-radicalised youth who then joined the security services and the police, so wanted to see how he would react in that situation. But I also wanted to explore the power of technology and science and just how far ethics play a role in our advanced world.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
Lol no I definitely need a plan or structure at least. So not a chapter by chapter summary, but definitely I need to know who did it and how and what my red herrings are.
4. Having been through the publishing process a couple of times is there anything about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
Yes the promotion. I’m very shy naturally, so having to go to events and talk to people (hello I’m a writer for a reason!) and put myself out there is terrifying. Luckily I have Twitter and selfies that I hide behind. Also just how fixed the market is as well. It is so hard to breakthrough and get your books onto the shelves, and you really need an agent and publisher on your side. Unless it’s your ‘time’ and things just fall into place for you. Also, nobody knows what is going to work. So write what you want to.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
Reading (is that too clichéd?) watching TV, I love watching author interviews on YouTube actually and seeing what makes them tick and how they write. I also love traveling as I was petrified of flying until about two years ago so now I try and get away if I can on short trips. Oh and I also eat a lot of cake while doing all this stuff. But to be honest everything I do ends up in my novels somehow, I just never switch off the writer brain.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Non-religious texts it would have to be A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. It’s a whole world in one book and it’s so long you can take ages to read it each time.
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?
Would you like to meet John Le Carre and tell him how brilliant he is? Yes please I really would! Also what advice I would give to people growing up now? I would like to just say stop caring about how you look and focus on the mind. There are people out there with the fake ideal body type and they end up on Love Island. Focus on your brain do something useful change the world and if you want to look like some silly notion of ‘good’ for a day do what I do-use every filter you can and take a selfie and then move on to something that matters. Wow I ended up preaching. Sorry!
Thanks very much for answering my questions and for appearing on my blog.
Thank you for having me it’s always an honour!
About the book
SOMEWHERE IN THE CROWD IS A KILLER
Bonfire Night and St James’s Park is filled with thousands of Anonymous protesters in a stand-off with the police. When a cloaked, Guido Fawkes mask-wearing body is discovered the following morning, Kate Riley and Zain Harris from the Police Crime Commissioner’s office are called in.
The corpse has been eaten away by a potentially lethal and highly contagious virus. The autopsy reveals the victim was a senior civil servant, whose work in international development involved saving lives. Why would anyone want him dead?
THEY WILL STRIKE AGAIN
As the research team looking into the origins of the deadly virus scramble to discover an antidote, first one, then another pharmacist goes missing. Meanwhile, a dark truth starts to emerge about the murder victim: he was an aggressive man, whose bullying behaviour resulted in the suicide attempt of one of his former staff members.
AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT . . .
With thirty lives potentially at stake, Kate and Zain have their work cut out for them. Can they find the two missing pharmacists in time, or will they too end up dead?
About the author
Alex Caan has spent over a decade working in Information Systems Security for a number of government organisations, and is currently specialising in Terrorism Studies. A lifetime passion for writing was sparked by the encouraging words of an English Teacher in school, and eventually led to Alex successfully completing an MA in Creative Writing, and write Cut to the Bone.
Cut to the Bone has been a Kindle Number 1 bestseller, was picked as a WH Smith ‘Everyone’s Talking About’ book of the week, chosen as Sainsbury’s best of summer reads and was Angela Marson’s pick for crime novel recommendation of the year. Alex Caan was also a rising star on Amazon in 2016.