Author Zach Abrams joins me for this week’s interview about his newest release, 133 Hours. Find out all the details in our interview below.
SJJ: What genre does your newest book fall under?
ZA: Psychological Thriller
SJJ: Is this a genre you normally write in or are you trying something new?
ZA: Both. My fist novel, Ring Fenced was also a psychological thriller but it could hardly have been more different. It was written in the third person with an obsessively controlling male protagonist. By contrast, my new thriller, 133 Hours, is the first time I’ve written a book in first person present tense. Its female protagonist is a victim, desperate to know what’s happened to her.
SJJ: Who is your target audience for this novel?
ZA: My novel is aimed at an audience of fiction loving adults who enjoy suspense.
SJJ: When was your newest book released?
ZA: The scheduled release date for the e-book version was 20 January 2020.
SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.
ZA: ‘Arriving at work to find she’s lost more than five-and-a-half days (133 hours), Briony Chaplin, has no recollection of where she’d been or what had happened to her. She is distraught. Has she been ill, or had a breakdown, or could she have been drugged and abducted?
Doubting her own sanity, Briony is fearful of what she’ll find. Yet she’s driven to discover the truth. When she trawls her memories, she’s terrified by visions, believing she may have been abused and raped.
Assisted by her friends, Alesha and Jenny, and supported by a retired detective, she’s determined to learn where she’s been and why.’
SJJ: Where does the story take place?
ZA: The story is set in and around Glasgow, in Scotland.
SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?
ZA: I awoke one morning, with the concept of a character coming to realise that she’d been missing for several days, where she had no recollection and no one she knew had seen her, or heard from her. Initially, I tried to dismiss the idea, but it persisted. I knew it would form the premise for a book.
SJJ: What kind of research did you have to do?
ZA: I spoke to a range of people with expert knowledge, including medical professionals, police, support officers and social workers. I visited locations I used and, of course, I used the internet.
SJJ: Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?
ZA: For me, giving voice to a twenty-five-old female took a bit of imagination and a lot of help, which was resolved by speaking to others and asking them to check that my efforts sounded authentic.
SJJ: How did you come up with the title? Did you have any other working titles?
ZA: I wanted a title which was different and stood out but would also be relevant to my story. My protagonist was missing for a period of time in excess of five and a half days. This, I calculated, amounted to 133 hours. It seemed right and it’s the only title I’ve used for this story.
SJJ: Who designed the cover? Did you have much input in the design?
ZA: The cover was produced by Cover Mint, commissioned by my publisher Next Chapter. I gave them a synopsis and told them the sort of impression I wanted to make and they took it from there.
SJJ: What is one of your favourite lines or quotes from the book?
ZA: “I know who my real parents are – they’re the ones who’ve cared for me and raised me for the last twenty-five years. Just because some man and woman went through a random act of fornication, resulting in an egg being fertilised, doesn’t make them parents. It certainly doesn’t make them my parents.”
To explain the context – Briony had been adopted at birth and this quote is her response when questioned (insensitively) by the police about her birth parents.
SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene? Please tell us a little about it if you can.
ZA: I enjoyed writing the opening scene of the book, trying to introduce my protagonist while showing her to be vulnerable and in a confused state.
SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?
ZA: The book was mainly written for entertainment but there is a subtext of the importance of honesty and the consequences of trust being breached.
SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?
ZA:133 Hours took longer to write than the title suggests. It took about three months to write the first draft and then was ready for presentation after another two.
SJJ: Who is your favourite character? Your least favourite character?
ZA: Although Briony has, by far, the biggest role, I enjoyed writing the character, Alesha, her newly discovered friend. She’s kind and caring, but there’s a hint of mystery as to her past and her motives.
SJJ: Just for fun! If this book became a movie, who would you like to see play the main character and if there’s a villain, who would play that role?
ZA: I think Margot Robbie would be ideal in the lead as Briony Chaplin. As well as acting ability, having Scottish parents might help her adapt to the location.I do have ideas of who I’d like to play my villain, but as the whole story is about Briony trying to discover the identity of the villain, it would be a spoiler to tell you who it was.
SJJ: Is this book a stand alone or part of a series? If part of a series, please name other published works in the series.
SJJ: Please provide links to where your new book can be purchased.
ZA: Available from Amazon – non-geographic link is http://mybook.to/133
Direct to US and UK sites are
Zach Abrams is a writer of thrillers and crime novels. He lives in Scotland but spends much of the year in the Languedoc region of France.
Having an unusually varied education and work history, Zach was equipped with an extensive range of life experiences to draw on when developing his characters and stories. Following a science degree, a management post-grad and a professional accountancy qualification, he spent many years working as a CFO, business director and consultant in a range of industries as varied as transport, ostrich farming, manufacturing and public service.
Although having considerable experience of writing reports, letters and presentations, it’s only fairly recently he started creative writing of novels – “a much more honourable type of fiction,” he claims.
Prior to ‘133 Hours’, he has six novels published plus his collaboration with Elly Grant on a book of short stories and a nonfiction business guide book. So far there are four tartan noir books in his Alex Warren Murder Mystery series, set in his hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.
The first is ‘Made a Killing’. This British Police Procedural features Detective Chief Inspector Alex Warren as the senior investigating officer, assisted by female detective Sergeant Sandra McKinnon and supported by a team of detectives, scene of crime technicians and other specialists. They carry out their investigation after the discovery of the corpse of a much hated criminal, found with an elephant tusk impaled in his chest. Besides the main murder investigation, the team research a range of other criminal activities including financial crime, fraud, blackmail and extortion. Away from the crime investigation, there’s family drama as well as a touch of romance and more than a sprinkling of humour. Readers familiar with the geography of Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, may well recognise locations as the detectives tread their weary path on their way to researching the crimes to solve the mystery.
The second in the series, ‘A Measure of Trouble,’ sees Alex’s team seek the murderer of a CEO, killed within the cask room of his own whisky distillery. There’s no shortage of suspects. Investigations lead them to interview the victim’s family, employees and colleagues as they consider the varied motives of greed, revenge, adultery and nationalism.
The third, ‘Written to Death,’ begins with the mysterious death of a successful author, the murder taking place on stage during a writers’ group meeting. Alex and Sandra are swamped with work as they must deal with a second enquiry, this one into organised crime, and it runs in parallel with the main murder investigation.
The fourth, ‘Offender of the Faith,’ follows the investigation after a young Asian girl was sexually assaulted and murdered in the home she shared with her Scottish boyfriend. With Sandra of work on maternity leave, imminently due to give birth, Alex and his team require to use kid gloves to handle the ultra-sensitive investigation with both the victim and her boyfriend’s families brought under intense scrutiny. Potential motives of racism, islamophobia, hate, jealousy and honour killing all have to be considered. But who is behind the killing… and what is the real reason?
These are fast moving, gripping, murder mystery novels set in and around the tough, crime-ridden streets of Glasgow.
Zach’s first novel was ‘Ring Fenced’, an unusually themed psychological thriller. It’s a crime story with a difference, following one man’s obsession with power and control. The main character, Benjamin, uses five separate personae to independently control the different divisions of his life. The story shows how he juggles the five separate existences and follows what happens when the barriers break down. The anti-hero, Benjamin, was nominated and shortlisted in the category of best villain in the 2013 eFestival of Words.
Zach’s quirky thriller, ‘Source; A Fast-Paced Financial Crime Thriller’ centres on financial crime. It sees three investigative journalists travelling across the UK, Spain and into France. They suspect economic terrorism as they research corruption and sabotage in the banking sector. Resulting from their investigations, they face personal threats and all the time they’re trying to cope with their own fraught private lives. Despite the weighty subject matter, it’s a light and amusing read with plenty of humour, family drama and romance.
A collaboration with Elly Grant produced ‘Twists and Turns,’ a book of short stories, which range from flash fiction to a novella. They all have mystery and an element of the unexpected, with content ranging from Gothic horror to mild comedy.
All of Zach’s books can be purchased from Amazon as eBooks and paperbacks. Audiobook versions of both Ring Fenced and the Alex Warren series are already available and the other titles are in progress.
Alike his central character in ‘Ring Fenced,’ (Benjamin Short), Zach Abrams completed his education in Scotland and went on to a career in accountancy, business and finance. Married with two children, he plays no instruments but has an eclectic taste in music, although not as obsessive as Benjamin. Unlike Benjamin, he does not maintain mistresses, write pornography and (sadly) does not have ownership of a mega internet distributor. He is not a sociopath (at least by his own reckoning) and all versions of his life are aware of and freely communicate with each other. More in keeping with ‘Alex Warren’, Zach was raised in Glasgow and has spent many years working in Central Scotland.