Author Pete Adams joins me today to discuss his upcoming release Road Kill – The Duchess of Frisian Tun.
SJJ: Thanks for joining me, Pete. Can you tell our readers what genre(s) does your new book fall under?
PA: Crime thriller, but really is:
An au courant, romantic comedy, crime thriller with scary bits. A droll and saucy insight into the Middle Class, Haute Monde and, Geography. Tales of a reclusive England with: The Journalist, The Professor, The Synchronised Swimming Instructor, The Fish Wife, The Dame, The Actress (really Jack Austin), The Geography Teacher, The Gossip Columnist, The Spy, The Police Inspector, The Man from the Council, The Priest, The Knight, The Super-grass (deceased), The Gangster, and, The Lady Blanche.
SJJ: Wow! That’s quite the list of interesting characters and obviously a multi-genres novel.
Are these genres ones you usually write under or are you trying something new?
PA: My books are crime thrillers – The DaDa series is essentially this but with brass knobs on. An idiosyncratic development of the miniseries ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets’ (5 books)
The DaDa Detective Agency is a cosy crime series with amusing notes:
Dadaism was an arts movement that flouted the conventional by producing works marked by incongruity.
The DaDa novels have an idiosyncratic narrative, the intention being to create a DNA spiral of the real and surreal narratives, but there is a rational design with a significant and satisfying, ending.
The central protagonists in the Kind Hearts and Martinets, miniseries, an elderly DCI, Jack (Jane) Austin and Detective Superintendent Amanda Bruce, have a growing following and, it was suggested I develop them into a new series. It has also been said, more than once, that Mandy and Jack are akin to a modern day Jeeves and Wooster; not intentional, but too tempting to ignore. Jack Austin (a cockney Wooster), and the more adroit and decorous and, definitely stronger, Amanda (Jeeves), retire from the police and establish the DaDa Detective Agency.
Picasso said, “Everything you can imagine is real”, and the DaDa Detective Agency books are strangely, real.
SJJ: Who is your target audience for this novel?
PA: It is for readers who enjoy crime stories that have intricate plots with a satisfactory conclusion, but also develop a thread to continues over several books – this is book 1, I have written book 2 (to be published soon) and book 3 is at the editing stage, book 4 – the start is sketched.
I am currently writing my 13th book and although there are various different series, all can be related to each other. In other words, there are familiar characters and plot references so readers will get that ‘Oh yeah’ feeling – an alternative angle on narratives elsewhere, previous support characters now in lead roles etc.
SJJ: When do you expect your new book to be released?
PA: This book is out on 19th August 2020.
SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.
Cataclysmic events have occurred in the decorous upper middle class enclave within Southsea, Portsmouth, on the south coast of England.
But what were the circumstances that contributed to this violent clash involving a Sherman tank and a bazooka? The strange occurrence is investigated by Lord Everard Pimple, a naive, upper class twit who not only inadvertently opens a can of worms, but has an introduction into the world of womanly wiles.
Everard’s life is about to blow up like an atom bomb… he just doesn’t know it yet. But after the dust settles, will he still be standing?
Here is a response from a beta reader who has also read and reviewed all 5 books of the Kind Hearts series:
Road Kill marks the first book as we step away from Pete Adams’ ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets’ series. In some ways it is a big step, in other ways small. Imagine a person with long legs taking small steps – that’s the kind of thing!
The first thing you note is a gentle shift in the characters. No longer are we are in the orbit of Jack/Jane/Dick Austin and the Community Policing department in Portsmouth. We are certainly in the same universe, the same city in fact but our points of reference for the majority of this book are new characters. Pimple is as inadvertent a main character as you will ever meet, a court reporter for the local Portsmouth newspaper, given a tip-off about a big story and following it in the hope of his big break.
The one thing that you will not get in this book is travel. The author cleverly sets almost three-quarters of the book in a single house in Frisian Tun; the road Jack and Amanda Austin reside on and saw so much military firepower in the previous series! The story unfolds as the occupants of the house try to explain to Pimple and his glamorous colleague, Cecilia Crumpet what has happened and their part in it. This approach to storytelling is great fun, with the personalities of the different storytellers becoming more pronounced throughout the story.
Everyone will have their own favourite. Whether it’s Aedd, the geography teacher with the wandering accent, the wandering hands of Georgiana Lovebody – the synchronised swimming teacher, the Professor daydreaming about goatherds, or Dame Pimple herself! In truth, the bickering, the personal relationships and slow destruction of the room add a huge amount to the story and make it a fun read.
One other change I would comment on is that Pete Adams has utilised a different writing style for this book compared to the previous books in the ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets’ series. Throughout the book the author makes asides to the reader directly. Whilst this starts as a surprise, it almost becomes its own subplot allowing the author to ponder on characters and their behaviour without interfering with the story’s narrative.
This is the first book of Pete Adams’ DaDa detective agency (Jack/Jane/Dick and Amanda/Duck’s) retirement venture, and it feels like we are in for another fun ride. If you enjoyed the first series then DaDa should be savoured.
SJJ: This sounds like an interesting read!
Where does the story take place?
PA: Portsmouth – south coast of the UK
SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?
PA: It is a natural sequel the ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets series’. The real and surreal narratives enable me to stretch plots but always with the reader seeing it in ‘reality’ – in other words, it is believable; just. This is what I like to do as an author – to expand comprehension but not to slip into ‘fantasy’ – well, maybe a little bit?
SJJ: What kind of research was involved in writing this story?
PA: None – It comes out of my head – not sure what that says about me?
SJJ: (Smiles) A great imagination.
Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?
PA: I find all of my writing a challenge / difficult – it requires immense concentration to control complexity of the storylines I create and over many books but, I love it. I am almost obsessed by it.
Alison Baille, author said this “Pete Adams writes clever twisty tales, eccentric characters, crackling dialogue, a talented writer who has complete control of his material”
SJJ: How did you come up with the title? Did you have any other working titles?
PA: I love titles. I more often than not have the title before I start the book. The title inspires me. With ‘Road Kill’ it was the following on from an unlikely (but believable) pitch battle in an upper middle class street. The sub-title: The Duchess of Frisian Tun – is an elusive character, in the ilk of John of Gaunt’s wife, ‘Lady Blanche’ from the Kind Hearts series – for those perceptive enough, you may see that it is also an extrapolation of Chaucer’s Pilgrims Progress, but in a story where the characters do not go anywhere; it is mainly set in one room of one house.
SJJ: Who designed the cover? Did you have much input in the design?
PA: My Publisher uses Mint – I love it
SJJ: What is one of your favourite lines or quotes from the book?
PA: From the Prologue:
Before and After – What follows is before, and then, afterwards, is after. Not afters, as that would be a dessert, say, apple crumble and custard. Suffice to say this is a scary story when you get to the after bits, especially if the custard has gone cold. You, the innocent reader, will be lured into a sense of a secure world of haute-monde and geography and, when you are least aware – Bam!
Warning – What was lovely, could turn ugly. Not Jack Jane Dick Austin, because he was already ugly. However, his wife, Mandy, Duck, Austin, well, she is lovely but, can turn ugly even when Dick had done absolutely nothing wrong, like say, blow up an idyll, kill some gangsters an shit…
SJJ: I can see why that would be one of your favourites
Did you enjoy writing any particular scene? Please tell us a little about it if you can.
PA: I often think about this and it is difficult to select something that was special to me. I do find that with all of my books, scenes and especially the emotions I felt when I wrote them, return and I relive them in my head. For instance in book 12, there is a scene that even now makes me cry.
Road Kill is largely humorous but as Peter Ustinov said, “Comedy is a funny way of being serious.”
However, in Road Kill, I do love the innocent posh junior reporter being lured into taking on a dynamite story by the luscious sex bomb journalist Cecelia. In many ways the story is about the growth of this boy into manhood but in all of my stories, as in all of my life, it is the strong female characters that drive the plot and this scene, and this book, is no different.
SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?
PA: All of my books have a message of social justice, fairness. This book not so much, because it is tee’ing up for the sequel, where the messages are built into the narrative; I love it when you find a book that you read and know you have to read the next one and the next…
SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?
PA: This is difficult to say. I can never work to a deadline and I am always 2 or 3 books in front of my Publisher. I have 3 books written and submitted and now under contract with my publisher. I have 3 further books completed (I continually return to edit and rewrite sections) and another 2 books that are started and at various stages – again they are linked back to the previous 3 and so, it is a mobile feast.
Whilst writing this book one of the part characters, ‘The Man from the Council’, suggested himself as a lead in the DaDa book 3, just completed and editing, called ‘Wigs on the Green – A Blood Sport’.
If I had to guess, I would say Road Kill took about a year, but during that time I was also pushing on with the sequel ‘Rite Judgement’.
SJJ: During editing, did you have to delete a scene you liked but because it didn’t move the book forward, it had to be removed? Can you describe that scene?
PA: I have done this before and invariably I forget it. In my 3rd book the editor removed a whole chapter and when I objected, she showed me how it didn’t work and suggested I make a short story of it.
I find that nowadays, as I have become more experienced, I edit in a tougher way myself, before the publisher’s editor input, as I am writing and so, I can say, in Road Kill, there are no scenes that were not, in my view, important. I also write a sequel as I am going along and because I am under no deadline pressure, I can go back a book, or even two, and change things so the storyline tee’s up something that happens in latter books and, I have to say, I love it when that happens, when it all starts to hang together.
SJJ: Who is your favourite character? Your least favourite character?
PA: Oh that is tough. I have a male central protagonist, but as I mentioned above, the female characters I use are strong and I love developing those. What is interesting is that not everyone picks up on the fact that the female characters play such a big role in the plotting.
If I had to choose, then Amanda Austin, the wife of Jack Austin.
I do not have a least favourite because even the villains I enjoy writing and, every character plays a part. It is because of this that I commence a new series with previously sidelined characters playing a more central role.
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?
PA: I have been asked this many times and my feelings change, but for the character Jack Austin, I would choose Geoffrey Rush. For Amanda Austin, this is difficult but often I settle for Abigail Thaw.
SJJ: As this book is part of a series, can you please provide a list to the other novels.
PA: Here is the list: as I have mentioned, all the books are interrelated in plot references, even Larkin’s barkin’ which is set in 1966, has references that aficionados of my books would read as an ‘oh yeah’ moment, as something happens that recurs at a later date and in another book
Books by Pete Adams – Published or, written and under contract or, completed and editing or, commenced
The Kind Hearts and Martinets mini-series (5 books): all published
Book 1 – Cause and Effect – Vice Plagues the City
Book 2 – Irony in the Soul – Nobody Listens like the Dying
Book 3 – A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza – In dead Flat major
Book 4 – Ghost and Ragman Roll – Spectre or Spook
Book 5 – Merde and Mandarins
The Dada series:
Book 1 – Road Kill – The Duchess of Frisian Tun – Published 19th August 2020
Book 2 – Rite Judgement – Heads Roll, Corpses Dance – submitted and under contract.
Book 3 – Wigs on the Green – A Blood Sport – written, Publisher aware – editing.
Proposed Book 4 – Hosanna (sub-title to be decided) – commenced
The Rhubarb Papers series:
Book 1 – Dead No More – Rhubarb in the Mammon – submitted and under contract
Proposed book 2 – A Misanthrope’s Toll – Spanish Practices – Sub Rosa to be started.
The Larkin’s Barkin’ series:
Book 1 – Black Rose – A Midsummer Night’s Chutzpah – submitted and under contract.
Proposed book 2: A Deadly Queen, 4 Wars – George George and George are dead – Long live Queenie – commenced.
The Avuncular Detective series:
Book 1 – Murder in a Royal Peculiar – PART ONE – Seven Fingers – written, publisher aware.
Book 2 – Murder in a Royal Peculiar – PART TWO – A Choir of Assassins – Commenced
PS – I’m loving writing this series and the term ‘an Avuncular’, is used by Agatha Christie – the word avuncular meaning, an advisor or a consigliere in this context
SJJ: Where can your new book be purchased when it’s released?
SJJ: To learn more about Author Pete Adams and his newest release, you can follow him on his blog tour.
Pete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.
Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some ten years ago and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his thirteenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales (seeking a publisher).
Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.
My Facebook book Page:
The Kind Hearts and Martinets series: