I’m thrilled to welcome Ian Skewis to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today for an Author Influences. I was lucky enough to see Ian at Newcastle Noir earlier this year and I got a copy of his novel A Murder of Crows. Due to my massive TBR pile I haven’t managed to read it yet but it is on my list so watch this space! Anyhow, I will hand you over to Ian for a brilliant Author Influences.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
The first book I remember reading and really enjoying was The Treasure Hunters by Enid Blyton, which my grandmother bought me. I loved the whole mystery of the story, and much of it was set outdoors in the country — and this echoed my childhood surroundings. Dinosaur books fascinated me too, and I loved the Doctor Who Target books series.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was good at English, and in particular creative writing. I always had a fertile imagination — and still do! I was also good at art, but dreadful at anything remotely mathematical!
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I mainly write crime but came at it completely new, in that I had no preconceived ideas of how it should be written. I read a lot of crime now, in order to learn from the best. I used to read horror and science fiction when I was young. I still dabble in those genres too. Then, when I was an actor, I moved to literary fiction, and classical and modern stage plays — Shakespeare, Chekhov, Liz Lochhead etc. The genres I read depend on where I am in life. I’ve just finished reading Ian Rankin’s Rather Be the Devil, which is an example of my trying to learn from the best.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
As mentioned, I also write horror and science fiction, and this is because of my childhood influences. I am still a big Doctor Who fan, and Quatermass And The Pit is probably my favourite fictional story ever. I would like to return to literary fiction though, and I’m hoping to publish some, probably next year. Watch this space, as they say!
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write, and if so who, what and why?
I’ve always written stories, and, to be honest, I was more influenced by music and film than by other authors. Sometimes I would hear a song or watch a film and then wonder what would happen if it went a different way. Alan Moore’s comic book series, Swamp Thing, was an early influence on my work. Other writers always inspire me though, simply because the act of writing is such a huge undertaking. No matter how famous or unknown a writer may be, their ability to get to the finish line with their work is always admirable, and I’m fascinated by how they got there and what inspired them to do so.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Ian McEwan for one, and Kate Atkinson for another. I had the pleasure of travelling to St Petersburg with Kate many years ago. However, I’ve been so caught up in crime writing that I’ve fallen behind with their latest works — they’re still sitting unopened on my bookshelves! My TBR list seems to grow bigger every day, so it’s increasingly difficult to keep up to speed with what everyone else is writing — but I try.
Which books have you read that have made you think ‘Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
There are so many amazing works out there, but I am happy with what I write and hold no envy for other people’s work. If anything, it would be their ability and not the work itself that I would wish to emulate. The craft is what it’s all about for me. I write what I want to write and hope that it finds an audience. I loved Atonement by Ian McEwan though. And Life Of Pi too. They both centre on the healing process that fiction and storytelling can give, and they both do it in very surprising ways. Brighton Rock is another great piece of work, with both the novel and the film versions giving entirely different but equally amazing endings. The crime genre is such a good broad genre though, that you can tackle pretty much anything and still fit it into the category of crime writing. It was the main reason I chose to be an author instead of an actor — it gave me a much bigger palette to work with. However, it’s beginning to look as if I will be returning to some form of acting in the near future. Again, watch this space!
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/ people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
My debut novel stemmed from a disturbing experience I had as a child, (see my website for more on this) but none of the details are present in the book, though the dark mood of that day is very much prevalent in the narrative and the environs of the story. As for my other works, it really depends on where I am and who I’m with. Some characters are based on real people, others are entirely fictional. Some are an amalgamation of several individuals, or a projection of myself. It’s a wonder I stay sane with all these ‘voices’ in my head!
Ian’s debut novel A Murder Of Crows is out now. Here is what it is about:
The most violent thunderstorm in living memory occurs above a sleepy village on the West Coast of Scotland. A young couple take shelter in the woods, never to be seen again…DCI Jack Russell is brought in to investigate. Nearing retirement, he agrees to undertake one last case, which he believes can be solved as a matter of routine. But what Jack discovers in the forest leads him to the conclusion that he is following in the footsteps of a psychopath who is just getting started. Jack is flung headlong into a race against time to prevent the evolution of a serial killer…
About Ian Skewis
Ian Skewis was born in Scotland in 1970.
He wrote articles for a local paper and had his first poems published at the age of 19. He trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and became an actor, appearing on film and television, and providing his voice for radio. He performed in numerous stage plays that toured internationally, including Like Thunder, which received a Fringe First Award in 2001. He is the author of several short stories, including Inkling, which was published in an anthology, The Speculative Book, in 2016. His debut novel, a psychological thriller entitled A Murder Of Crows, was published by Unbound in 2017. It went on to become a multiple No.1 Best Seller on Amazon. He is currently working on his second novel, as well as numerous other projects.
He lives and works in Glasgow.
Ian Skewis can be contacted via his website and you can receive exclusive news and previews of his latest works by subscribing to his forthcoming newsletter. The first issue comes on 31 October 2018 with a FREE short story: https://www.ianskewis.com
He also hosts a Facebook page called The Crow’s Beak:
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Thank you for taking part, Ian. I really enjoyed reading your responses and look forward to reading A Murder Of Crows soon.