Bookpleasures.com is pleased once again to welcome James Raven whose recent crime novel, Random Targets has just been published.
Norm: Good day James and thanks for participating once again in our interview.
Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.
I’ve been a journalist for most of my working life in both newspapers and television. I was a reporter, news scriptwriter and then a programme producer. I ran my own TV production company until about four years ago when I became a full time writer.
Norm: Why do we read fiction?
I’ve enjoyed reading fiction since I was a small boy. My mother was a big fan of Agatha Christie and this helped me get hooked on crime books, especially those written by Mickey Spillane.
Norm: Are you a plot or character writer and what helps you focus when you write?
I guess I prefer to be seen as a plot writer. I believe that in crime fiction it’s the plot that carries the reader forward. That’s not to say that I don’t try to create good believable characters. But I do think that some writers concentrate too much on characterization and this lessens the tension and slows the pace of the story.
Norm: What do you think of the new Internet market for writers and where do you see book publishing heading?
I think it’s great. I
publish some of my books through a traditional publisher – Robert
Hale of London. But I also self-publish through my own company –
Global House Publishing. I have to say it’s much more fun
I can get the books out much more quickly and I’m in total control. I’m really glad that publishers and agents no longer determine what books are published. Under that regime so many good books never saw the light of day. Now things are different and self-publishing is bound to grow along with the e-book market. This has to be a good thing for the reader.
Norm: What motivated you to write Random Targets and did you write the story to express something you believe or was it just for entertainment?
I wrote it purely for entertainment. I was driving along a motorway in the UK one day when it occurred to me that if a sniper started firing on traffic from the embankment he would cause utter chaos. So I started doing some research and among the stories I looked into was the case of the two Beltway snipers who brought fear to Washington in 2002. It made me realise how awful the consequences would be so I started to work on a story.
Norm: What would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read Random Targets?
I like to think that it’s because it would provide an exciting reading experience. I’ve tried to make it as relevant as possible and at the same time ensure the tension builds throughout the book to the very last chapter.
Norm: How did you go about creating the character of Detective Chief Inspector Jeff Temple and was he based on someone you knew?
Temple isn’t based on anyone I know. I decided to create an ordinary guy who happens to be a detective. I also wanted to give him an interesting and realistic personal life. He’s middle-aged and a widower who has had a tough time trying to get his life back on track again. But now things are looking up because he’s with a new woman. But because she’s younger than him by some years there are issues to contend with in the relationship.
Norm: Did you know the end of Random Targets at the beginning?
I had a very rough idea of how I would get to the end, but so much of the story changed during the writing process that the last couple of chapters didn’t come to me until I was well over half-way through the book.
Norm: How much of the book is realistic?
I carried out a great deal of research into motorways and sniper rifles. I also looked into what impact it would have on traffic if someone started shooting drivers who are traveling at high speed in heavy traffic. I believe the book is very realistic in that respect. When I presented the manuscript to my agent her first words were: ‘This is pretty scary. Let’s just pray it never happens in real life.’
Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
I think the most difficult part was to get the right balance between the death and destruction caused by the sniper with the personal problems faced by DCI Temple as he investigates.
Norm: Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owe something to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would that be?
I think we owe it to readers to produce the best product we can every time. And that means always putting in a hundred per cent effort. Readers are valuable customers and we have to encourage them to come back for more in a world where the competition is growing by the day.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and Random Targets?
Norm: What is next for James Raven?
Robert Hale have just acquired worldwide rights for the next Jeff Temple book called Dying Wish. It should be published early next year. I’m now working on a new book which I plan to self-publish.
Norm: Do you have anything more you wish to add to this interview?
Just that I hope that those who read Random Targets enjoy it.
Norm: Thanks once again
and good luck with all of your future endeavors