Interview with M. J. Heywood, Author of “The Web Across the Water”

What is your book about?

The Web across the Water is about two lonely souls, living on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Lily and Brad meet on an internet chat room; Lily is a prolific internet thief and fraudster, who has been using the internet to trap victims for years. However, she throws herself into danger when she meets Brad and travels across the water to get closer. Brad has sinister intentions of his own. Once the pair have met, they are thrown into a tangled battle of wits in which both are in the deepest peril.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I am greatly inspired, if that is the correct word, by True Crime. The abhorrent nature of the master thieves and serial killers of the UK and USA are very fascinating to me, as I find them so difficult to understand. For this project, I enjoyed getting inside the heads of the two characters and describing actions which I found to be so against my values.

Who is your most likeable character?

Brad’s friend Phil, who works as a janitor in the apartment block where Brad resides is probably the most likeable of the characters. He provides the comic relief in the story, and has a light hearted view of the world, despite him having a difficult life living away from his sick daughter in order to find work. He is slightly naïve, and is a fun and charming man.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

There is certainly a deep moral to the story. We live in a world which is now largely in the shadows after the beginning of the internet. Online we can be whoever we want to be, which can give us false confidence, and even if we have dark intentions ourselves, there is no telling who is looking through the other end of the wire. We give ourselves an access into worlds which would not have been accessible, but we can also be opening the door to people who we should not have any dealings with.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on my second thriller novel, and have so far written about 40,000 words. It is a similar style of story, also looking at the darkness within, and it features one of the lesser characters from the first novel in a more central role, despite not being a sequel.

Does writing come easy for you?

I can get stuck from time to time, but overall, it comes a lot easier than I thought it would when I started. The only problem is, I deviate from my plan every so often, when I see an opportunity for a different outcome or a new story arc. I then have to go back through everything that I have written, in order to avoid plot holes.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

I have a notepad where I jot initial premises down. I also like to write a few chapters when the idea occurs, and I save them for a later date. In fact, before I started working on The Web… properly, I had the first chapter saved on my computer for a few months.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

At the moment, just one more after this one; I started with three clear ideas, so once I reach the end of book three (which will be a direct follow-on) I will start to spend a little more time on letting the new ideas loose again.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

Number one – characters with depth; they must have strengths as well as flaws and deep weaknesses. Number two – I believe everyone in a story should be disposable, and that no-one should be invincible. Invincibility makes a story weaker for me, as if you know that the main character(s) will survive, there is less tension. Number 3 0- A living, breathing place, described well enough to set the scene, but not too deep so that you restrict the imagination of the reader; I want to give them just enough so that they see what I need to see. For example, Eastport, Maine was the main focus of much of this story. I believe that it was a great choice for Brad’s hometown, as it was a pure and unspoilt location, relatable to many people who.

How do you deal with exposition give readers the background information they need?

In this story, it was a mix of flashbacks, time jumps and material such as newspaper articles and police interviews.

Describe your writing in three words.

Tense, fast, different.

Would it matter to you if you were never published? (In other words, would it matter if no one ever read your books?) Why or why not?

Yes. I write to entertain, and the thrill of writing is achieving the moments of suspense and tension, and the whole point is to know that it is having an effect on people. The reviews so far have shown that I was successful in my aims, so this was a rewarding feeling. I don’t mind how many read the story, but I wouldn’t be satisfied if nobody read it.

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

When writing Lily, I had Rosamund Pike in my mind, but this was before seeing her as Amy in Gone Girl, and she was totally brilliant in that role. Since then, I could only see the Gillian Jacobs as Lily, as long as she can pull off a British accent, which I am sure she could. She has been captivating in Love and plays a role of emotions and traits so convincingly. For Brad, I think Zach Efron would be a good fit. I feel that he could play the lighter, charming side of Brad very well, and I think he has a talent for portraying aggression too.

Who designed your cover?

I designed my cover myself, using royalty free images and the fantastic Gnu Image Manipulation Software. I was thrilled with the result, and have continued to do this with book two. I feel that I can achieve a professional looking cover which fits my vision. It is also good fun to do.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about your book?

I am keen to connect with readers. My work can be found at the following link, and my wordpress is attached to this account.

Steven Hart, Author of “We All Fall Down” (Interview)

What is your book about?

“We All Fall Down” is a police procedural, a crime novel set in a fading New Jersey town. The heroine, Karen McCarthy, is the town’s first woman cop. When the police chief and his wife are murdered in their home, Karen bungles the capture of the prime suspect. Her efforts to run him down, and to prove she has the mettle to be a cop, brings her face to face with the dug-in corruption within the force.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

During my years as a newspaper reporter and editor, I sometimes encountered women cops and found them to be nothing like their counterparts in film and television. In one of my towns, the government of a pretty well-off and forward-looking community had to settle with a woman cop who had been viciously harassed by the male officers on the force.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I don’t know about “myself.” Certainly bits of my experiences and my observations turn up in all the characters.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite?

Karen McCarthy is more than a bit of a misfit, an unattractive woman of the sort men tend to ignore — except she has a job that makes her impossible to ignore. She has a lot of buried rage to deal with, and a moral code.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

To be involved in a long-term creative project, to bring it to completion and see that you have willed something into existence using nothing but your own talent and determination, carries enormous personal benefits regardless of what happens next.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I go for realism in my writing, and my newspaper background has aided me immeasurably in seeing how the world works.

What’s your writing schedule like?

I’m a morning man. I aim for a page a day at minimum.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

Getting vertical, mostly. And coffee. Oh yes — coffee.

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

I know what you’re getting at, but I wouldn’t exactly put it that way. It’s more like everything goes stale and dead if I’ve established a character’s personality and motivation, then try to make that character do something out of step with those qualities. That’s when I try to shake up the plot and see how things develop.

Have you written any other books?

Yes. I have a nonfiction book out called “The Last Three Miles: Politics, Murder, and the Construction of America’s First Superhighway.”

How do you deal with exposition give readers the background information they need?

Do it on the run whenever possible. Your character’s actions and reactions should do as much of the heavy lifting as possible.

Do you keep a pen and notepad on your bedside table?

No. I don’t keep a journal, either. It’s a cool idea, but it’s not how I roll.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

P.D. James, a late bloomer as a writer, explained in a “60 Minutes” profile that she became a serious writer when she realized that nothing was going to happen unless she made it happen, and that she would have to change things in her life to accomplish that. It could be as simple as getting up an hour earlier in order to have uncluttered creative time. But it’s all on you.

What one word describes how you feel when you write?


Where can people learn more about your books?

Come visit my blog or my Amazon author page: