Guest Post: A 69 Crime Q&A with Aidan Thorn and Nick Quantrill

Yesterday I posted my review of the inaugural release from 69 Crime, Bang Bang You’re Dead / Worst Laid Plans by Nick Quantrill / Aidan Thorn (you can check that out here). Today I’m really excited to host a Q&A to support this fantastic book. Not just your typical Q&A though, I had a huge amount of fun with these stories and the format they’ve been published in, it would appear that Nick and Aidan did too as they’ve come up with the idea of interviewing each other. I have the pleassure of hosting Aidan’s interview with Nick and all round good egg and my partner in #Fahrenbruary crime Mart over at the Beardy Book Blogger will soon be hosting Nick’s interview with Aidan. Thats about enough from me I think, apart from a quick reminder that the book is available to buy direct on the links below, I’ll hand you over to Nick on the Qs and Aidan on the As. Enjoy!!

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                       Aidan Thorne           Nick Quantrill

I love “Worst Laid Plans”, and if I had to pick a writer it reminded me of, I’d go for Elmore Leonard. It’s that combination of screwball comedy and characters who quickly find themselves out of their depth that reeled me in. Are you a fan of his?

Well that really is a huge compliment. I’m a big fan of his work. I never thought my work was like his but I guess if I think about it, it makes perfect sense that it would be influenced by him this time. Worst Laid Plans actually started life as my first attempt at script writing – I found I didn’t enjoy it, but I liked the story idea and so converted it to a novella. So, that it puts you in mind of Leonard would make perfect sense because I first came to his writing through the film adaptations of his books. I suppose unconsciously I kept writing Worst Laid Plans as if it was a quirky movie – I think novellas lend themselves well to that. I’m glad that you picked up on the screwball comedy element of the story, I really wanted to write a crime story of mishaps that was great fun not only for the reader but also for me. Making it a blackly comic crime piece where I could have loads of fun with the characters was my main aim here.

The novella opens with a bang, or should I say a dead corpse. Tell me more about where that came for because I’m wishing I’d thought of it first…

I’d had that idea for years, where it originally came from I can’t say with 100% certainty but I know it was one of the first ideas I ever had as a writer, long before I’d thought of the characters for my first novella When the Music’s Over or my second, Rival Sons. As I said earlier, this book started life as a script and I just thought it made a great visual, four really young lads laughing and joking in a car after a great night out and their world being completely flipped when they run someone over. I pictured their faces changing from glee to dread as they realised what they had done and then that almost Michael Caine Italian Job moment when one of the group says, don’t worry lads I’ve got a plan…

I’m a frustrated musician and never progressed beyond selling t-shirts for mates at their gigs. Tell me more about your attempts to get a band together and how that fed into the story?

Oh I’m equally frustrated. I had numerous attempts to get bands off the ground, but none of them were very successful. We spent more time arguing about lyrics and which songs to play than doing anything of much use. A lot of that frustration came out in When the Music’s Over – Benny, the main character in that is a bass player (as I was/am I suppose) and his frustrations are very much my own. I remember 3 hour rehearsal sessions where only about 30 minutes of rehearsal would happen, a guitarist who would sit behind the amp stack because he didn’t want to be seen by the audience, and having to carry a 200 Watt bass amp up a ladder into a loft hatch and back down again because one band member had ‘booked’ a space to play in but hadn’t been given a key – hmmm.

With Worst Laid Plans, I took the opportunity to put the rock star in serious trouble right from the first scene – It can’t get much worse than dead! Yes, I definitely think it’s fair to say my frustrations as a musician have influenced things heavily.

“Worst Laid Plans” reads like you had a lot of fun writing it. Is the lean and mean format of the novella where you find yourself naturally fitting?

I definitely had a lot of fun writing this. This was my bit of fun that I would pick up and write in between the more serious crime fiction. It’s my first comedy, but it’s still a black comedy and a crime tale. It just doesn’t take itself too seriously. Everything I’ve written to this point has been in the novella format and yes, this is where I’m most comfortable. For me the novella is the perfect format, as a writer and more importantly as a reader. Life is busy and I also love to read, but I find when I dive into something that’s 600-700 pages long I have to either be away on holiday or it’s likely to sit on my bedside table for months – I’ve often forgotten the start before the end. With a novella I can read a whole book on a long train journey or over a couple of nights away on a work trip and so they fit nicely in my life. I also think the novella format keeps the writer honest, you have to think about every word, you can’t waste them and you don’t have time to spin out useless details that don’t move the story along. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy novels, or that I won’t write one one day (that’s definitely still an ambition) it’s just that at the moment they suit my style and my life.

It’s cool is it for us to launch the new Fahrenheit imprint with our shared book, but let’s be honest, we’ve got to share the royalties – shall we fight to the death over this?

It’s very cool. I do love what Fahrenheit Press are doing, and what Number 13 Press (now Fahrenheit 13) did too. Its innovative publishers like this with a true indie spirit, prepared to put their neck on the line for stuff they love, that really attract me. Other more gutless and bound by corporate norms publishers wouldn’t touch the likes of Jo Perry, Mark Ramsden etc… but those are two of the best writers I’ve read in years doing really imaginative stuff, that Fahrenheit exists to enable true book lovers to discover such work is fantastic. And now, with 69 Crime, well it’s just brilliant. It’s an innovative way to get the novella into the hands of readers, a great way to discover a new writer in that if you buy a book for Nick Quantrill (and let’s be perfectly honest mate, I’m the Ringo to your John Lennon here) you get to discover Aidan Thorn and, it’s packaged up really nicely in a pocket-sized format with great covers. I’m extremely proud to be part of the first one, and hope it’s the start of something really enduring.

As for royalties and fights, no way Nick, I love everyone involved in Fahrenheit and I’m more than happy to share.

It’s fair to say both of our stories contain some dumb criminals, right? But whose are the dumbest? Do you reckon your southern softies could thrive up here in the north?

Oh I think my main characters are definitely the dumbest, I mean they didn’t event intend to commit a crime, at least your lot knew they were engaged in a criminal enterprise from the start. That said, I reckon a fight between the supporting casts of both books, those criminal kingpins in the background of the stories, pulling the strings whether the main characters know it or not, would be really interesting… Maybe that’s a pitch for a future Fahrenheit imprint – cross over character death match! Nah? No, me neither… maybe that’s why I write the fiction and the two Chris’ are the brains behind the whole Fahrenheit Family.


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