An average Londoner sees everything go wrong, all at the same time. He feels powerless, emasculated, and blames his soon-to-be-ex-wife. Like any cold-blooded Londoner, he thinks about killing her, but he’s a coward who won’t get his hands dirty. He turns to the DarkNet for help, and plots to have her murdered… by somebody else. For free.
Can you find the solution to all of your problems by plotting murder? Will your hitman work for free? These are the questions that Edwin Murphy must answer in the crime thriller ‘Dead on Demand’. And today I’ve been lucky enough to be joined by one of the two minds behind the mysteries, Sean Campbell. Sean, thanks for agreeing to sit down with me today to unravel the depths of deceit and danger within the pages of ‘Dead on Demand’. Can you kick off today’s discussion with how the tale developed?
It all started on St Patrick’s Day back in 2012 when Dan (my brother/ co-author) and I made a bet to see if we could write a book. We did, and Dead on Demand is it. Since then we’ve written three (soon to be four) more, hit the UK top 100 bestseller chart, become Kindle all stars and have turned a silly bet into a full time career.
And they say nothing fruitful can come from betting! Did your characters start to develop on that first day?
Yes, in a drunken stupor.
And as you’ve managed to build a career from these characters I’m guessing that you put a bit more work into character development once the liquor wore off. Do you ever think of any actors who could do great justice to the characters if you were lucky enough to have your work translated to the screen?
I’d love someone like Jeremy Irons to play Morton.
I feel that he’d do a good job with Morton. He’s got that ability to give characters an edge to them. Let’s say instead of your characters being brought to life by actors like Jeremy and instead came to life in their own right, would you be tempted to meet them? Maybe have a cast party of a few drinks?
Nope. I wouldn’t trust them.
*Laughs* Fair enough. When you’re planning to murder your own wife, I don’t think other members of society can particularly trust you. Now did you find that research was an essential component of writing this novel to make sure the characters felt like they fit into the section world that they were playing in?
There’s a lot of research on forensics, DarkNet markets, and the like. Thankfully I knew the law pretty well.
Where did you knowledge from the law come from? I’m hoping it’s not from personal experiences with the wrong side of the law.
I’m a barrister so the legal side of writing a crime novel was easy.
Did you find it just as easy to get your main message communicated to the audience, and can you tell us what the most important thing is that you hope readers will take from the tale?
Be careful who you trust.
And your trust in yourself and your brother has been well placed as together you’ve managed to bring a book to market. What did you find most satisfying in this journey from St. Patricks day to when it was ready for purchase?
The challenge. I hadn’t written so much as a post it note before undertaking this so just finishing was a big ask, and for it to have been so well-received is humbling.
That has been amazing progress and it’s easy to see why that has been most rewarding for you. Earlier you mention that your crazy bet has turned into a full-time career so that guarantees that you’re currently writing something. What can you tell us about your current projects?
At the time of writing, I’m finishing off Missing Persons, the 5th DCI Morton crime novel which is due out in May.
Good luck for your upcoming release! Aside from being able to call yourself a published author, what keeps you coming back to write each successive instalment of the DCI Morton series, or keeps you writing in general?
I enjoy it. It pays the bills.
Paying the bills is always a great start! Speaking of starts, when you’re at the starting line of a new story, how do you take those first steps? Are you a meticulous planner with a decided end in sight? Or is your writing of a more spontaneous nature?
I start with the puzzle including the ending, adjust as necessary during the research phase, and work backwards from there. I typically consult with policemen, psychiatrists, doctors, forensic specialists, etc and this helps firm up the bones of the story.
Once the bones of the story are firm how does the documenting process transpire?
I write every day. It’s all ‘bum in chair’. You can’t write if you don’t sit down and stick to it. Eight am to eight pm, I’ll be writing something. Sometimes that’s a story, others it’s just answering emails or interviews, or dealing with the business side of being an author.
Do you find that any music helps you keep your bum in the chair efficient during those 12-hour days?
Anything loud. I don’t usually listen to the music but use it to drown out any distractions.
Do you ever find that you aren’t able to drown out distractions and instead find yourself in the midst of writer’s block? What gets you out of the writer’s block spiral?
Are you effective at using time during the editing process?
I have three alpha readers who are other authors. I use their feedback to get the structure ship-shape. Then I have three copyeditors, a libel reader, and two proofreaders.
Wow, with so many pairs of objective eyes the editing is going to be effective! As you’ve successfully transition into the position of a full-time author, is there any top writing or self-publishing tips that can help other authors attempting to make the transition within their own lives?
Try everything. Look at the numbers. Split-test descriptions and ad copy. And write, write, and write some more.
Practising the craft of writing is never something that should be overlooked. Before I let you return to the world of DCI Morton, I want to make sure that I haven’t overlooked all of your best qualities, and the best tool that I have to do that is by using the quaint and quirky quick fire question round. Let’s kick it off with: Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
Play hard, work harder.
As a hard working author you must have a favourite word, what is it?
I just love the way that one just slips off the tongue! In addition to your favourite word, do you also have a favorite quote?
“We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us.” -Edmund Burke
What is your zodiac sign?
What is your favourite ocean?
Mediterranean Sea (as seen from Malta)
I’m glad you specified the direction we need to look at the sea to get the best angle. Finally, are you a valuable asset on a quiz team?
Yes. I collect random titbits of trivia.
You never know, random trivia housed in the mind of an author may one-day change from trivial to significant. Sean, thanks for sharing your insights of ‘Dead on Demand’ with the audience and myself today and I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming new release!
Want to find out more about Sean Campbell? Connect here!